Thursday, 6 October 2011

Restaurant Review: Chilli Cha Cha, Haymarket, Sydney

A casual Thursday night dinner took me to Chilli Cha Cha with my sister, Andrew, Oliver and Mary. Compared to the queues further up the street at Chat Thai, we didn't need to fight to get a table.

I'll be honest and say that I'm a bit mixed and undecided about the food at Chilli Cha Cha. Having lived in Thailand for a while I pine for authentic Bangkok flavours. There were flashes and tastes of the food I remember. They've definitely toned the food down for the local market (chilli levels were quite low), but done so without making it the generic westernised Thai I dislike so much.

It made me think that not all of the street stalls, food courts and restaurants in Bangkok are perfect. Chilli Cha Cha would fit somewhere in the middle.

The green chicken curry was quite sweet and mild. The curry didn't have the complexity of flavour you can get, but it did taste a bit like the ones I had in the cafe downstairs from my apartment in Bangkok.

The hot chilli beef was probably my favourite dish. The beef was nice and tender. It wasn't that hot, even when I ate the whole chillies.

Som dtum is my favourite Thai dish and the arbiter of a good Thai restaurant in my book. Unfortunately the som dtum was only passable. A good som dtum has a lot of chilli. While the chilli will make sweat pour from my brow, they just don't taste the same with without the chilli. This som dtum only just had enough chilli to stop it being dreadful.

I had an interesting moment with my Thai language skills as we left the restaurant. When learning French, for example, you learn that different objects have different genders. Thai is grammar isn't the same, the gender of the speaker not the object being referred to, is key.

As we left the restaurant the male waiter thanked us in the female term. I asked a Thai friend and apparently some gay Thai men speak in this way. The food at Chill Cha Cha might not have been inspiring, but at least I learnt some new Thai language skills.

Chilli Cha Cha
40-50 Campbell Street

Chilli Cha Cha on Urbanspoon


  1. I think they did serve laab. While I do like a magical laab from a street stall, it isn't quite the same in Sydney.