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Unique Thai cuisine that is worth every penny

Hugo Brito
Thai Chef Café is located in the lower 4800 block of Dyer Street in Northeast El Paso.

Thai Chef Café is a small corner building located in the lower 4800 block of Dyer Street.

When first arriving at the restaurant, I was surprised by its exterior appearance because it was not what I expected it to be. I discovered this old red building with painted letters on the side and got excited.

I knew that this rundown-looking building was like a hidden gem that most people would probably ignore. Let me tell you, those hole-in-the-wall looking places are always the best.

Walking inside, I was immediately greeted by my server who sat me at my table right away. About half the tables were filled, probably because it was a little chilly out. Five minutes later, I was chomping down on a platter of crunchy cream cheese wontons stuffed with crab, cream cheese, scallions and black pepper, served with their homemade sweet chili sauce.

I’ve dined in a few Thai and Vietnamese restaurants before that, and they only give you two or four wontons per order, but this one came with six. I immediately knew that I was going to get a good portion of food to fill my belly.

The ambience of the restaurant was quiet, mellow and the decor is intriguing. I noticed that some parts of the interior were unfinished and saw a pergola under construction. Since this is a fairly new restaurant that opened its doors to the public last year. I figured it was undergoing new improvements to their growing business. Not that it’s not decent looking, but it’s not renovated or modern looking either.

The waiter was very helpful in helping us select our dishes. They offer a great variety of soups, curries, salads, fried rice and noodle plates to choose from.

My daughter is a very picky eater and ordered chicken nuggets with fries from the limited amount of options listed on the kids’ menu, only because it sounded like a familiar choice, I assumed. But once our main dishes came out, she was picking off our plates.

Soon after we received a big bowl of Thai Poh Tak soup that my husband ordered on the side. It consisted of mixed seafood, Thai herbs, tomato, mushroom, ginger, red onion, cilantro and a signature lime sauce, all mixed in a clear broth.

We were warned that it would be very spicy, which is what my husband was hoping for. I’m more of a sweet, tangy kind of person so I decided to go with the chicken teriyaki noodle plate, while my husband’s main dish of choice was the Kang Ped Curry.

The Kang Ped was a mild green curry that seemed to get more and more appealing once you tasted it. This arrived with a separate plate of steamed jasmine rice, chicken, green beans and bamboo shoots. The Kang Ped curry paste was mixed with coconut milk and a fresh red chili sauce that had definite intent to harm.

The teriyaki plate I ordered consisted of rice noodles submerged in their homemade teriyaki sauce and sesame seeds. The dish came with marinated grilled chicken breast and was topped with steamed broccoli and carrots over jasmine rice. I ate every last bite of noodles left on my plate. It was that good.

You know you had a really good meal when you don’t feel extremely full or sluggish after. I felt extremely satisfied with the food offered and I could tell everything was created with the freshest ingredients.

The waiter was very attentive and a great multitasker, as he was greeting and seating incoming customers, serving tables and handling take-out orders at the same time. Yet he managed to keep our glasses filled with Thai iced tea and water.

When it came time to pay the check, I honestly thought it was going to be more expensive. The dishes and appetizers were reasonably priced given the good proportioned sizes and they even offer a military discount during lunch hours. Overall, we spent about $36 to feed a family of four.

wWhat also made our whole visit  worthwhile was the hospitality. Our waiter provided great and fast customer service and our food came out fairly quickly. We didn’t wait long in between entrees and were in and out within 45 minutes, especially given all the food we ordered. I was happy to see my daughter’s plate come out first without asking because kids do get restless when they are hungry.

Each dish served was consistent with taste, and nothing tasted bad at all. The unique aromas, homemade sauces and spices are what made this place stand out from other similar places.

Although it is located a bit further out than from where I live (Horizon), I definitely recommend trying out this unique cuisine of food. The quality of food was worth every penny and is definitely worth the trip.

Valerie Herrera may be reached at [email protected].

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Unique Thai cuisine that is worth every penny