Over the last few years, Chachawan’s sister restaurants, 208 Duecento Otto and 22 Ships, have upped the coolness factor of the city’s dining scene. And now, this just-opened Sheung Wan spot is joining the hip party. Chachawan is painfully street chic in that irreverent way (think vibrant vintage wallpaper prints and a street cart parked out front), serving up a selection of special Thai food from the country’s Isaan region with that same, modern vibe.
But the hospitality still needs to pick itself up. As we head in for dinner on a packed weeknight, we’re told to wait 20 minutes for a table. We’re fine with that, of course – but we ask for the restaurant’s special fish pia phao giua ($248) to be pre-ordered in the hope it hits the table as we sit down. However, we’re told that’s a no-go. And we also don’t eventually get a table in the restaurant at all, being encouraged to sit at the bar area instead. Once sitting, we’re then victims faced with the busy street’s endless rounds of incoming headlights.
The dishes we try – the som dtum goong salad ($108), consisting of pounded green papaya salad, cherry tomatoes, chilli, dried shrimp and salted duck egg drizzled with sweet and sour tamarind dressing, and the gai yung chicken ($158), marinated in garlic, pepper and coriander – taste every bit as colourful as they sound, with an intense (and slightly overpowering) spiciness to both dishes. The fish pia phao giua looks grand but tastes just like good steamed fish without any frills. We do thoroughly enjoy the warm kanom dtom dumpling ($58), though, which is stuffed with coconut rice and served in salted coconut cream.
All in all, it’s quite the party here – we just hope that party gets into full swing pretty soon.