One rare night, Mum decided to take her children out for dinner because she was in the mood to try something new and exotic. Hence Chili Club Thai House, thanks to a referral from one of her friends. This location used to be the Dallas Star-something something-Pho restaurant and is located in what feels like a sketchy basement, so I was definitely interested in seeing what sort of restaurant had replaced a pho haunt.
Insides were way dark and cool; a nice change because of the sun outside (it is summer) but a little disorienting because it was so dim inside. Uh-oh. Do all restaurants dim their lights just to hide bad quality food and/or poor presentation? We’ll see. A lack of Asians in a supposedly Asian restaurant also made me wonder a little (I don’t mean to offend anyone, but it is a thought that comes up in my head). We were quickly seated and brought menus. The restaurant’s atmosphere felt very chill despite all the browns and reds used in fixtures. Overall ambiance of the restaurant did feel off though; exotic decorations clashed with pop music in a jarringjuxtaposition of not-fusion. Oh well. I have to admit that with all these notes in my head I didn’t expect the food to be good until the appetizer arrived.
Oh goodness. The six sa-teh beef skewers (10) that landed on our table were each seared on the outside, juicy on the inside and tasty with or without the spicy peanut sauce. Maybe this review will be really good, I thought. Maybe.
And maybe I thought too soon, I thought. The swimming rama (14), which consisted of chicken on a bed of spinach with spicy peanut sauce, was tiny. First impressions count, and all we could comment on was how we’d have to get some other food afterwards to fill up. Also, being asked to pay for individual bowls of rice separately now seemed all the more ridiculous. Each bowl of kao mun (coconut rice) cost another $2. Because we were expecting to share the main dish like most Asian-style meals (except for bento boxes), we really were saddened at the amount of curry we received.
Now in terms of flavour the food was great. To quote my brother, there was taste after the spice and the food didn’t rely on its spiciness alone. I love sweet and spicy things and the dish was cooked very well. Nothing was ever extremely spicy; both the appetizer and entree had just enough spice to tickle the senses. We polished off the dish quickly, as well as a dish of Thai roti (4), which ended up being similar to Chinese green onion biscuits.
Overall my fellow diners thought the experience was decent, thanks to the redeeming factor of the food’s taste. For me, the incongruence in atmosphere, price and portion really stunk. The food isn’t entirely worth the price or the time spent listening to Call Me Maybe. Complimentary coconut ice cream at the end sweetened the deal a little, and service was quick and friendly, but I wouldn’t return for what would probably have been a $25 – $30 meal if I were to eat by myself to satisfaction.
Chili Club Thai House
5403 Crowchild Trail NW
Calgary, AB T3B 4Z1
Pros: Quick service, fairly enjoyable environment and really delicious food.
Cons: Ridiculously pricey for the amount of food served. And really, charging for individual bowls of rice alongside a tiny entrée? Meh. The attempt at fusion (trendy NorAm culture and “authentic” Thai food) didn’t work out either.
Sure, other places may charge the same price per entrée, but at least those entrées are filling. I’ll dream of those beef skewers but I’m bound to find the same great taste at a much lower price.