The eatery is the brainchild of two unlikely individuals bound by their love for Thai cuisine; one is a businessman from the UK who has lived in Vietnam since the 1990s, and the other is a self-realized chef from northeast Thailand.
Reliving the Experience
Over the years, Dan Salter’s love for Thai cuisine grew. Yet eating Thai cuisine inside air-conditioned restaurants in Saigon just wasn't making the cut. That is when the idea of recreating an authentic Thai experience in Saigon came about.
“The concept I came up with was of an informal, unpretentious setting with street food carts, and decoration mimicking the Thai street food experience,” says Dan. “The idea came about five years before Thai Street actually opened. That was seven years ago.”
He adds: “My apprehension was always about food quality,” says Dan. “That diminished as soon as Sana showed how good she was.”
An Early Start
Sana Sridamrong hails from Udon Thani, in the northeast region of Thailand. Sana was already cooking and preparing Thai dishes like som tum (papaya salad), her version of tom yum goong (spicy and sour prawn soup, but without coconut milk), and nam tok nua (spicy grilled beef salad) when she was just eight years old.
She may have been in the kitchen early, but she never dreamed of becoming a chef. It was only after becoming a mother where she would prepare whatever her kids liked to eat, that her appreciation for cooking turned into a passion.
“I love everything about cooking,” she says. “I love going to the market. I don’t know what I’ll do with the vegetables that I see, I just buy and cook them at home; even cleaning up. I enjoy doing everything.”
She adds: “In the kitchen, I’m the queen.”
Thai Street owners, Dan and Sana’s business partnership was started through an introduction by a common friend. Sana was a Thai chef who had worked in Australia. Dan was looking to open a Thai restaurant. And the rest, as they say, is history.
It may have taken seven years for Thai Street to come about, but as many a satisfied patron will attest, the wait was well worth it.
Thai Street is at 26 Thao Dien, Q2, HCMC.
PHOTOS BY OLGA ROZENBAJGIER
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