I first tasted Thai food in southern California and it’s sort of messed me up for life. When I traveled to Bangkok earlier this year, I found the real deal to be too real for my tastes. The pad Thai wasn’t tangy enough and the curries tasted like burning. I wish I could turn back the hands of time and experience Thai food properly from the get-go, but what’s done is done.
When Thai Express opened a branch in Saigon in late July, The Astronomer and I were some of the first folks in line to sample their offerings. This Singapore-based chain of Thai restaurants can be found throughout the region with 34 locations in nine countries. Thai food designed to cater to the masses? This just might be up my alley…
The waitress recommended that we share an order of pork-stuffed tofu skin to start. It was more pork-intensive than I anticipated and tasted more or less like an Asian meatball. The spicy thick and glossy sweet and sour sauce that accompanied the dish was a lovely addition.
For my entrée, I had pad Thai. Just one bite and I knew that this was the faux stuff that I adored! The noodles were dressed in a sweet and tangy sauce and the sheets of scrambled eggs were thin and a bit crispy. The portion was heftier than it looked.
The Astronomer ordered a red curry with pork and potatoes that was creamy, but just a few notches too spicy. Why are we so weak?
For dessert we shared mangoes with sticky rice. The sticky rice was formed into a strangely dense log, while the mango was scored and placed atop. Both components were drizzled with coconut milk. The rice was much too sweet and the mango, which didn’t break apart easily, wasn’t sweet enough. While I preferred the pad Thai here to the ones in Bangkok, the street food vendors of Thailand could teach Thai Express a thing or two about preparing mangoes with sticky rice properly.
8A Le Thanh Ton Street
District 1, HCMC