San Antonio continues to surprise me from what lies buried within the city. Beneath the abundance of tacos and barbecue hides Thai Chili, an unexpected Asian gem which some San Antonians may find surprising.
Across the street from a Taco Bell, Biller Miller’s Bar-B-Q and an H-E-B grocery store stands Thai Chili off of Thousand Oaks and Jones Maltsberger. This award-winning restaurant is ideal for anyone who loves spice, fresh ingredients and a quality meal with an excellent presentation. And if you plan for a date or a small family dinner with a relaxed environment, Thai Chili is perfect.
The restaurant has a strong following of regulars, many whom take advantage of the on point carry-out. Instead of being made-to-order, the food is already prepared and available cafeteria style. You have your choice of three items, which include pad Thai, Thai barbecue, red curry and more for just a mere $9.95. Typically I get my food as takeout, but for the sake of this article, I decided to dine in.
To my surprise, the restaurant offers what they term a “happy meal” between the hours of 4 to 7pm Monday through Friday and 11am to 7pm on the weekends. These meals consist of an appetizer, entree and dessert and I decided to dive in.
My appetizer was a cup of soup, crab rangoon and spring roll. The soup, called Tom Yum Gai, has a light greenish broth from the lemongrass and cilantro, which tastes both sweet and sour. The straw mushrooms and chicken within the soup is hardy in texture yet tender when chewed. The crab rangoon was stuffed with cream cheese and seasoning, fried to perfection with a chewy filling and crispy edge. And the spring roll was fried and stuffed with vegetables that include mushrooms, carrots and cabbage.. Not a personal fan of veggies, the inside of the spring roll was blended finely and seasoned so well I even found it to be a treat to eat.
My main entree was red curry with steamed rice. I was able to choose my meat—chicken, beef or pork—and the level of spice. I ordered mine with pork and spiced it up to an “8” because I’m a spicy dude. The blended coconut milk with pork dressed with jalapenos, bell peppers and bamboo sprouts makes this curry a sight to behold. The dish is rich from the orange tanginess of the spicy curry-coconut milk, the gaminess of the pork and the crunch of the vegetables.
For dessert I chose a small tapioca dish that had small pearls buried within the thin pink milk. The tapioca was mixed with coconut milk and tasted sweet like yogurt. The pearls were flavorless yet gave an interesting texture that reminded me of gummy bears.
While my tastes are more accustomed to the foods famous to San Antonio, I didn’t expect to enjoy their food as much as I have. But that red curry was a gamechanger for me, opening my eyes to cuisines that I once was uninterested in. If you ever need a break from tacos and barbecue, give Thai Chili a try.