The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Monday, 17 December 2007

Thai food @ Chao Thai, Tokyo

While in Shibuya, we went to an authentic Thai restaurant called Chao Thai, complete with Thai chefs and waiters (yes, I know this entry is somewhat delayed, but I've been busy!). We were fortunate to have Kim with us who was a fantastic authority on Thai cuisine. Honestly, I don't have much of an interest in Thai cuisine since I consider it an inferior cousin to is neighbouring Malaysian cuisine, which has bold in-your-face flavours and lots of variety. But in Japan, where Malaysian food is greatly lacking in the restaurant scene, I can't afford to be snubby towards Thai food without suffering from deprivation of that kind of food. Chao Thai is in a pretty good location close to the busy crossing in front of the Hachiko exit at the train station.

The restaurant was nicely decorated with Thai touches, and there is even a small area near the entrance where you can buy some Thai groceries. Service was great as always in Japan, although the Thai's hospitality and politeness are also world famous. The menu pricing was relatively reasonable, and exect to pay about 2500yen/person for a satisfying meal (incl drinks). We gave Kimmie full freedom to order since she was the expert on Thai cuisine.

Ordered some prawn springrolls and fried fishcakes to start. The springrolls were okay, a bit on the bland side if you don't use the dipping sauce. But the ingredients were fresh. The fish cakes were tasty but a bit too greasy.

Spring rolls and fish cakes:

Then our order of papaya salad and a spicy beef salad arrived. I'd heard about Thai papaya salad and was looking forward to it, but it wasn't really too impressionable and lacked a bit in flavour - I expected it to at least have some sweetness from the papaya. The beef was really spicy thanks to the glob of chilli seeds that came with the spoonful I took. The dish was okay, but other than the chilli spicyness (which was good), it didn't really have much pronounced flavours to talk about.

Papaya and spicy beef salad dishes:

The star dish of the night would have to be the fried whole fish. Lots of flavour, very crispy and not too greasy. I liked it a lot. Then we ordered some coconut ice cream, pumpkin custard and steamed rice cake for dessert. They were all pretty yummy, as desserts ought to be.

Yummy fried fish and assorted dessert selection:

Overall, it was an okay experience. Food was good, but not fantastically great. Perhaps I did have a slight expectation for bolder flavours more similar to the Malaysian cuisine. However, I do sometimes forget that yoshoku (foreign food) restaurants have to cater for the Japanese tastebuds which generally prefer mild subtle flavours.

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