Next to Michelin moshing in France, noodling in New York, eating Venetian in Venice, or parsing ham in Parma, nothing gives yours truly more fun in food than discovering the next big thing in local dining…and beating my fellow critics to the punch in the process.
CHADA THAI & WINE will open officially on October 12th. Late next week, it hopes to be testing its recipes and service on friends and family. Any day now, owner Bank Atcharawan — for the last twelve years the manager/head sommelier at Lotus of Siam — hopes to secure his beer and wine license, which will lead to a list heavy on crispy Rieslings and mineral-rich whites from around the globe (“No first growth Bordeaux,” he told us with a wink). He also plans on offering a bevy of interesting brews — from Japan to Belgium — to compliment the highly spiced food of his homeland.
At a private tasting recently, Bank told me his menu will concentrate on the food of Southern Thailand — with all curries being ground in-house (very rare for Thai restaurants in America) — and that he thinks his small plates/sharing style of service (with very accessible prices) will prove popular with customers who have grown more sophisticated about Thai dishes, and want to try more authentic foods complimented by the Rieslings that Lotus made famous.
If our sampling was any indication, you can expect a no-holds barred menu of sharply-flavored dishes like none other you have encountered in our humble burg, and that make the average tom kah kai or panang curry seem like something from a Thai soup kitchen.
Expect more elegant presentations, lots of unheard of dishes (lo-ba (offal) anyone?) and cheaper prices too (that small plates thing again), than at your run-of-the-mill hot and sweet emporium. We tried a dozen such dishes, and there wasn’t a clinker in the bunch — with things like the tom saap (spicy soup with pork rib), braised black pepper-braised pork belly, and grilled eggplant salad being clear standouts. The baked whole tilapia – stuffed with lemongrass, chilies and garlic, and encased in a salt crust — had dimensions of taste we thought this fish was incapable of. Be forewarned, however, the bird’s eye chile/fish sauce they serve it with takes no prisoners, and had my lips and tongue screaming for relief for a good fifteen minutes.
All of this will be served in a delightful small room of one long banquette and 45 seats, with walls properly adorned with labels from the great white wines that go so splendidly with this food.
When you consider that Spring Mountain Road has but two Thai restaurants on it (clustered on its far eastern end), and that no one until now has ever challenged the Thai wine/food hegemony of Lotus, the whole idea of a chic, groovy little Thai restaurant on the west side of the Strip is long overdue.
What is also long overdue is a Thai restaurant that dispenses with all that “how spicy would you like your dish from 1-10?” silliness. Bank agrees with me that there are really only three degrees of spiciness — mild, medium and hot — and all the pseudo-scientific accuracy of a 1-10 system is a waste of everybody’s time. He’s contemplating putting a legend on the menu designating each dish as one of those three and leaving it at that and that sounds just peachy to me.
What is also very peachy is Chada’s location — right across the parking lot from China Mama and 5 minute walk from my office. From this Thai food lover’s perspective, it doesn’t get any better than that.
From the cognoscente’s standpoint, this place is going to be overrun by chile-heads and grape nuts from the get-go.
Gentlemen (and ladies), get your Rieslings ready. This classy little place is going to be huge.
You heard it here first.
CHADA THAI & WINE
3400 South Jones Blvd. #11A
Las Vegas,NV 89146
(no phone yet)