Chedi Thai Bistro sets a traditional table with contemporary ‘twists’ in La Jolla
By Will Parson
By the way that Thawee Techathamnukool casually recounts how he made the switch from software engineer to restaurateur, you’d think the move was more easygoing than the impressively laid-out reality suggests upon walking through the door of Chedi Thai Bistro. Thawee (who goes by Tom) and his wife, executive chef Sutharin Pia Kampuntip, decided to create a multi-faceted experience that drew on a rich tradition in a refreshing way.
The experience begins with the décor. Custom-made replicas of towers known as Chedi — the restaurant’s namesake — make the centerpiece. Colorful lanterns hang near the windows. Clean lines blend with ornate elements such as the statue of Buddha smiling from an alcove, just past the full bar (an uncommon sight in a Thai restaurant). Sutharin, who is also a designer, made a deliberate effort to weave traditional Thai Buddhist culture into an updated fabric.
“She wants to present Thai culture in a contemporary way, a modern way,” said Tom.
Accordingly, Chedi Thai presents a diverse array of culinary experiences. As Tom says, “We don’t want to just reuse the same (traditionally Thai) ingredients on too many dishes like most of the other places.”
The result can be found in dishes like the New Zealand Rack of Lamb, which is stewed and served with a Massaman curry sauce. The Spicy Beef Salad delivers slivers of granny smith apple and a hint of lime along with the Angus beef, for a clean and fresh taste. One of the current specials is the Siam Duck, which is also stewed, leaving it much more tender than your typical roasted duck.
Tom also claims to be the first Thai restaurant to start serving Chilean Seabass, served with sautéed wild mushrooms. And, the popular Thai Crispy Calamari works well as both an appetizer and an entrée if you are so inclined.
There is no happy hour, but a “prix-fixed” lunch menu at $9 is available from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. And the traditional wok, curry or noodle dinner selections are unexpectedly affordable as well — especially considering the attention to detail present in the surroundings and extending through to the food presentation. Those traditional choices also do well to balance out the forward-thinking items on the menu, so you can still opt for something that is refreshingly familiar.
Chedi Thai Bistro
Address: 737 Pearl St.
The Vibe: Traditional, Contemporary
Signature Dish: Thai Crispy Calamari
Open Since: 2010
Hours: Lunch 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Dinner 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Friday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Phone: (858) 551-8424
Patio Seating: No
Take Out: Yes
Happy Hour: None
On The Menu Recipe
Each week you’ll find a recipe from the featured restaurant online at lajollalight.com. Just click Get The Recipe at the bottom of the story.
This week: Chedi’s Thai Crispy Calamari
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