Destination: Chai Yo
This past Friday I went to Chai Yo, a modern Thai restaurant in Buckhead Atlanta, with my
boyfriend. I have been to this restaurant multiple times, and I know most of the staff. It is located at 3050 Peachtree Rd NW #8, Atlanta, GA 30305. The owner of the restaurant is part of a family of restaurant entrepreneurs who own many fine-dining Thai restaurants around the Atlanta area (Nan, Tuk Tuk, and Tamarind). Chai Yo opened recently this year and to say it has a beautiful atmosphere is an understatement. Many of the decorations in the restaurant come from Thailand, including the statement wood pieces that cover part of the walls. The cuisine is based on traditional Thai foods with a more elevated spin on the dishes.
Being a date night in a nice restaurant, my boyfriend, Stephen, and I dressed up for the occasion. The simple act of dressing up made the already unique experience of getting to eat Chai Yo’s food even more special. We decided that we would go all out and order a full three-course menu: appetizer, entrees, and dessert (and of course Chai Yo’s specialty cocktails).
The atmosphere of the restaurant is stunning. There are modern elements mixed in with
traditional Thai decor. We got to sit by the large windows of the restaurant, so there was lots of natural light which gave our experience nice lighting. There are also lots of candles interspersed in the decor to provide a nice warm glow to the interior of the restaurant
Our waiter was extremely pleasant and the manager of the restaurant, Tony, came over and asked how I was doing, as my mother and I are frequent customers at Chai Yo, and the other restaurants affiliated with it. I ordered a Gilded Lily ($15), which is a cocktail with Elyx Vodka, Lemongrass, Coconut, and Egg. It had a refreshing quality to it and had a light feel with hints of lemongrass and coconut.
Starting the meal, Stephen and I ordered Saku Sai Kai ($12), which is tapioca
dumplings that are made out of shrimp, chicken, pickled relish, cilantro root, peanuts, that lay on top of a leaf of lettuce with crunchy garlic. It is the perfect bite of food, and out of all the delicious food I had that night, it was my favorite. It combined sweetness, spice, and savoriness in one morsel.
For entrees, we ordered two different dishes so that we could get a wider array of cuisine. The price range for entrees ranges between $22-$38, which I think is fantastic for this level of food. I ordered the Lobster Khao Soi ($38), which was a curry dish that had egg noodles, prepared both
normal and fried with a lobster tail on top. There was also an assortment of vegetables surrounding the lobster, which I got to mix in at my discretion. I’ve ordered this particular dish before, and I remember how much fun it is to eat. The mixture of egg noodle and then fried crunchy egg noodle is a play on textures. I also enjoyed mixing in the green beans and red cabbage with my dish as it made it possible for me to play around with taste and texture with each bite. The noodles soaked up the delectable curry, which had a nutty undertone mixed with sweetness and spice, that complimented the lobster in a perfect way.
Stephen ordered Pad Zee U ($22), which had beef tenderloin cut into small bite-sized pieces on top of flat rice noodles. It also had Chinese broccoli, bean sprouts, and scallions, all of which were tossed in sweet and savory black soy sauce. It is a dish that I have had multiple times at other restaurants, but at Chai Yo it had a more complex set of flavors than I was used to. The chef was able to capture a traditional Thai dish while enhancing the subtly sweet and savory flavors to make it a new experience.
I am a big sweets person, and I could not end the night without getting some of the desserts at Chai Yo. We ordered a Thai tea cheesecake and the management was so kind as to add in a complimentary order of the mango chili sorbet (which we had been debating about getting instead of the cheesecake). Both desserts were incredible.
The Thai tea cheesecake is the best cheesecake Stephen, and I have ever
had. It had a light, luscious texture with the gorgeous color associated with Thai tea. The crust of the cake had a nice crumbly texture that went well with the smoothness of the top layer. In contrast, the mango chili sorbet had a fantastic zing of freshness that was a palate cleanser. I could taste the fresh mango with a slight tang mixed with the heat of the chili. Between the two deserts, I was in heaven.
Overall the dining experience was fantastic, and it made for a good date night. All of the dishes were presented with care, which made the dining experience memorable and exciting. It was interesting going to Chai Yo, with the express purpose of paying close attention to all of the details that make eating there a pleasant and exceptional experience. I was more aware of the deliberate construction of the restaurant’s atmosphere as well as appreciated the more minute details of the food and beverages.
A full three-course dinner (appetizer, entree, and dessert) is on the pricier end of the spectrum, but the food is worth it. Honestly, for people who just want an entree, it is possible to get spectacular dishes starting at $22, which is a very reasonable and affordable price. I also know from experience that Chai Yo has a great lunch menu during the weekdays that has a lunch box option which includes: rice, soup, and two dishes for under $20. It really is a place to go and try out for yourself. I would highly recommend this restaurant to anyone who loves delicious food and wants a good atmosphere.