Located on an off-street from Rue Opera, CHANG is a trendy Thai restaurant with a turquoise color palette and hanging industrial lightbulb decoration. This creates a confortable, stylish, and ever-so slightly exotic atmosphere.
The cocktail menu is concise but diverse. on my first visit, I had a mango-rum creation that was really more like a slightly spiked smoothie, but still very delicious. When I returned, my friend Dasha got a passionfruit spritz and I got the shiso mule. The spritz was tasty, but I thought that it should have come in a larger glass. Perhaps they keep the size small because it is made with champagne, not prosecco.
The star of the shiso mule, shiso is a Japanese plant that is in the mint family, so its placement in the cocktail was not startling but still very pleasantly interesting. I do want to try a different one next time, but it will be hard not to order the shiso mule again!
For the meal, I could not shy away from ordering the same dish both times I went! This was the first Thai curry I have ever had in a restaurant (and I was very proud of myself for ordering it even though it had a “spicy” label). My friend Dasha had tried this dish earlier in the year, and during confinement her re-creation of it became one of our very favorite dinners.
I thought CHANG had mostly terrific judgement with what ingredients to use in their green curry. The chicken was tender and soaked up the creamy, coconutty broth perfectly. Cauliflower was a similarly excellent flavor-soaker, then some mushrooms and pea pods came in to add their own complimentary mildness. Various herby leaves added more intense flavors, but I didn’t care much for the parsley or anise. To be fair, I’m not a big fan of either of these tastes in general. I think they are too intense to be added to an already flavorful dish. Dasha warned me against the red peppers because of their spice, and I took her advice! The heat from the broth alone was not unbearable, but definitely noticeable. I figured I should ease myself into these things.
On my first visit to CHANG, Dasha and I each ordered our own curries and then ended up each not finishing. So the second time around, we chose to share a curry but still have our own rice bowls. This turned out to be the right portion size, and still quite filling!
Not filling enough, however, to fight off temptation from the dessert menu! We shared a mango & sticky rice dish, which was the perfect hyper-sweet balance to a spicy lunch. CHANG’s rendition of mango sticky rice was very well executed and simple, with no bells and whistles beyond the expected (besides a somewhat fishy presentation).
I appreciated CHANG’s trueness to Thai cuisine, preparing traditional dishes well and beautifully without trying to be too edgy. I would love to go back for round 3 soon, but first I will have to find someone to share the huge curry bowl with!