Thai Street Saigon: A Taste of Thailand in Thao Dien

Curry, fried rice and spicy soups dot the menu here. And the ambience is bright and colorful. This is definitely a good option for Thai food in Ho Chi Minh City.

Imagine meandering down an alley, looking for the perfect spot to eat. You read about it somewhere and maybe even saw its location on Google, but you’re unsure if you’re going the right way. For a moment, that was my experience at Thai Street Saigon. And I liked it!

You can’t see Thai Street from Tran Ngoc Dien street, but you can find pretty good Thai food there, if you’re willing to take a few minutes to look for it. It’s worth it. Trust us.

Location

Thai Street Saigon

Thao Dien, for those who are new here, has a good reputation for restaurants. Thai Street Saigon is just one of many that serves cuisine from around the world, to cater to a large expat population.

First, find Snap Cafe. You can park there. And there are other shops as well.

The day I went for lunch was even better. I was lucky enough to see a brilliant display of photos depicting the laborious housework that often falls to Vietnamese women. It’s tradition here.

In one of the photos, the women were lying down on the floor next to bowls of noodles, too tired to eat. My girlfriend and I felt the opposite at that moment: too hungry to rest.

We hesitated for a bit as we arrived at the corridor to Thai Street. A waiter at the neighboring cafe noticed our slight confusion and eventually nudged us in the right direction.

This might sound silly but the extra effort to find the restaurant somehow made it feel more special, like we knew a secret no one else did.

Atmosphere

Thai Street Saigon

What awaited on the other end was a big covered patio, full of colorful tables and chairs, lots of Thai-style decorations on the wall. A few of them are of the female persuasion. I laughed and thought to myself: “Maybe mommies and daddies have some questions to answer if their kids are with them.”

The seating includes benches for two to eight people. Or you can sit at the small island, where solo diners or small groups often gather, eat and talk. Gotta love the street feel here. 

The whole place, in fact, is decorated like a movie set, with fake building and scenery props that give the restaurant a vibrant aesthetic.

Beyond the open-air seating area is a small dining room. It has air conditioning, perfect on a hot day. (Or if you plan to eat spicy food!)

Cooking philosophy

This venue is not your typical restaurant. It provides diners with street food prepared fresh every day. Maybe there should be a name for this. Boutique street food? Googling it…damn it, Bangkok Airways already uses this term! 

Doesn’t matter, though. Thai Street Saigon is good enough to earn a cool name for its cuisine eventually.

The smell of grilled meat wafting from the kitchen and entrance of the restaurant can make patrons’ mouths water as they order their food and wait for their meals. 

The meat used in the Thai dishes is grilled every night. They also make fresh-pressed coconut milk every day. The chef, Sana, is from Thailand. She spends the bulk of her time in the kitchen preparing perfectly seasoned dishes.

The staff tastes every meal before it is delivered to the diners. This focus on excellent service and consistently high-quality food brings customers back to Thai Street again and again. Servers were even attentive to diners in the indoor dining room. 

The food served can be spicy, mild or bland. The meat dishes can become vegetarian upon request.

The venue has lunch specials that offer diners discounted meals with drinks from 12pm to 2pm.

Food

Thai Street Saigon

The menu has the classics, of course. Green curry and red curry, fish cakes and shrimp cakes.

But the catfish caught my eye. They deep fry it and serve it with mango salad. Only one problem: they really put the deep in deep fry. My catfish turned to dust at the touch of my fork. At least the mango was fresh and full of citrus.

As for the rest of my meal…

The shrimp cakes were soft and tasty and just chewy enough.

The tom yum goong soup had great flavor and the right amount of spice. (I just wish it had a bit more veggies.)

And the pineapple fried rice was nice, especially the presentation, the fruit cut in half, full of cooked starch. My girlfriend and I were split on this. The rice comes with raisins. She loves them. I hate them. (Although I love grapes and wine. Hmm…)

Wrap up

Thai Street Saigon was worth the visit. I gotta admit, I want to go back. Maybe my feedback will mean a meatier a catfish. Or maybe I’ll try a curry. I know this: When I go, I’ll never be too tired to eat, like the hard-working women in those beautiful photos.