Can you tell me how to get to Chada Street? No, seriously, I’m late and they’re giving my table away.
I was terrified coming into tonight. A few days ago I received an invitation from the good people over at Chada to their soft opening at their new restaurant. Bon Atcharawan, the proprietor of both locations, certainly established something special and I had only met him once or twice before. I constantly talk about how good Chada is (I’m sure you’re all sick of it by now) and even though I was incredibly excited, I was also terrified that I would be disappointed by my experience at the faster, cheaper location geared towards Thai street food.
Well this is a load off my mind.
I was actually incredibly excited to be able to do a tasting menu. I had never been to an event like this before so I didn’t know what they were planning on doing but I love when I can just sit down, say nothing and just have food start arriving. First up was a simple appetizer of salty peanuts with Thai flavors.
I won’t say this blew us away but it was certainly no slouch. Planters certainly has nothing on these. I would like there to be more lime leaf and onions but the citrus notes went very well with the salty nuts. It’s quite salty and would be hard to eat an entire order by yourself. Definitely a one or two bite thing for me.
They jumped the gun and brought out the spring roll next, which I was very excited for considering my love for the spicy herb spring roll at Chada. This is described as a veggie and meatloaf spring roll I had a feeling it wasn’t a normal meatloaf.
This is one of few dishes where I feel like there was a direct analogue to a version at Chada and I was somewhat disappointed. The ones at Chada are filling but have a spicy sauce to go with the pork inside. The meatloaf here is overshadowed by the extremely strong herb flavor, which I enjoy, but I would prefer if the meat itself was the star rather than second fiddle. The basic sweet and sour sauce served alongside it could not save it. A very well executed dish but I think it could be improved on.
Ever present in southeast Asian restaurants, they brought out a chicken satay next. I enjoy grilled skewered meat and was looking forward to this, though satay is seemingly an afterthought at most places because it’s so easy to do well.
Wow. Definitely the best satay I’ve had. The chicken marinade was super strong and the chicken was cut thick so it was still juicy and delicious when the outside was crisp and extremely well seasoned. The peanut sauce I could’ve eaten with a spoon. Was disappointed I couldn’t have more of this dish but unfortunately they caught me when I tried to leave the restaurant with the plate.
I was glad they restrained me though because up next was a dish that everyone could agree on…
This pork belly dish might be the most delicious thing I’ve had all year. I was expecting something similar to the Pad Kra Pow at Chada but this was a completely separate entity. Thin cut super crispy pork belly with very juicy meat and a green chili sauce with many herbs. For the purposes of the review, it’s awful to say that something is indescribably delicious but it simply was. Most pork belly dishes are very heavy but this was a light and refreshing joy to eat. We actually ended up asking for another plate later on and I could’ve easily eaten another plate just by myself. At $6 a plate, this is something I could go for and just end up eating two orders myself. It’s worth coming here just for this plate of food.
After the feeding frenzy subsided, they presented us with a banana leaf that we were told is filled with a fish curry.
The curry inside looks like a small piece of fish and I took my first bite expecting a flaky piece of fish texture, but it wasn’t there. The curry is sort of congealed like a custard. I will say I kind of missed a bit of texture in the dish but the curry itself was delicious, subtly spicy but full of flavor. The presentation adds to it but I still wish there was some variety in the texture even if it’s as simple as a bit of rice underneath.
I love larb and this next dish was very exciting mostly because I’ve never had fish larb before. It was no slouch.
There are few things I love more than grilled meat, onion, spices and lime juice. This is the kind of dish I want to die eating. Just a perfect melding of flavors and good textures. Fish goes well in larb apparently.
The next dish may have been the biggest surprise of the night, however, if only because it’s so unsuspecting.
We knew the next dish was coming before we ever saw it because the aroma coming from this plate of food was so strong, and I have a terrible sense of smell. Crab has a great smell and our table REEKED (in a good way) of crab while we were eating this dish. They called it a crab fat fried rice so I’m assuming all the oil used in this dish came from the crab and wow if that’s a thing I want more crab fat in my life. One of the all time best fried rice dishes, the only critique I could possibly levy against it is that I wish there was a bit more crispy rice involved.
I was nervous as all hell with regards to the dessert. I had no idea what to expect.
I really really really wish I could say the meal ended on an upnote for me. Two of my three dining companions really enjoyed their dessert, but I couldn’t get into half of it. The shaved ice inspired vivid memories of snow cones to me and that was fine, and the coconut jelly was better than the ones I had experienced before but the other components didn’t seem to belong to me. Especially the red beans, which had a strange texture that I didn’t particularly enjoy. Thai desserts in general always seemed fairly strange to me and I don’t think I really got ‘into’ this one. Maybe that’s my fault, who knows.
I got to meet chef Aime right after the meal. I can say with no doubt that the execution on all these dishes was phenomenal and I look forward to eating all of her food for the foreseeable future.
All in all, this was an incredible experience. Bon and Aimee very much care about Thai food and presenting it in the best light possible. Chada Street is a much more approachable place for people who have never had Thai food before and certainly won’t break the bank with most plates being less than $10. This trip definitely exceeded my lofty expectations and I can’t wait to go back and try the rest of the menu. I expect this place to be a staple for years to come.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to do some laundry to stop smelling like crab.
3839 Spring Mountain Rd, Las Vegas, NV 89103
Hours: Tuesday – Sunday, 5 PM to 3 AM