It’s hard to find a decent Thai joint in Ho Chi Minh City. Most expatriates I ask about Thai food direct me to the Golden Elephant restaurant on Hai Ba Trung. I have been there a couple of times and found the food pretty tasty. However, I find the prices to be a bit expensive and not as spicy as I would like. When I ask for spicy in a Thai restaurant, I am expecting some serious heat! This just isn’t the case at Golden Elephant.
Luckily, I found a tasty Thai restaurant whose name itself gives no illusions of what it serves. Cafe Thai sits on a busy street on the north end of District 1, very close to Phu Nhuan on 28 Nguyen Huu Can and is a no frills restaurant. My kind of place. The menu runs your typical Thai fare at very reasonable prices. Dishes range from VND35,000 to VND110,000.
We started out with a Som Tam salad (VND50,000). Shredded green papaya, cherry tomatoes, string beans, chilis, peanuts and dried shrimp fused with the spicy dressing to give our taste buds a great kickstart to the meal. It was also super spicy and I went through a Thai iced tea (VND15,000) in no time. The only complaint I would have for the salad is the heavy handed use of dried shrimp.
A few minutes later, we received our mains. A Geang Phed Moo or Red Curry with Pork (VND60,000) was a cooling counterpoint to the super spicy Som Tam. Along with sliced pork, eggplant, thai eggplant and green beans rounded out the dish. We also ordered the classic Pah Krapow Gai or Holy Basil Chicken (VND55,000). Minced chicken, basil, green beans, chilis were stir fried in a sauce of oyster and fish sauce. This was definitely the highlight of the meal and I liken it to crack on a plate.
We finished out our meal with some mango and sticky rice (VND25,000). It was decent but was made much better with a little extra coconut milk.
While we went safe on our first trip to Cafe Thai, we definitely want to head back to try some of their other dishes. Mainly the steamed whole fish. A steal at VND110,000 to VND150,000!
The rundown: Cheap Thai restaurant that serves honest, no frills food.
28 Nguyen Huu Can