Food & Chefs: Breaking Chews! Chai Yo

Image Credit: David Danzig

Published by: David Danzig on Monday February 26th, 2018

David Danzig

Breaking Chews!  Chai YoBreaking Chews!  Chai Yo

The first family of Atlanta for Thai food for years has been the Niyomkuls, Charlie and Nan, and their daughter DeeDee.  This is a family of culinary geniuses that have brought us Tamarind Seed, Nan Fine Dining and Tuk Tuk Thai Food Loft.  Tamarind over in Colony Square is on hiatus for 2 years during the rebuild there, while Nan in midtown still delivers some of the most exquisite 5-star Thai dishes you have ever tasted.  Tuk Tuk in south Buckhead riffs on Thai street food, a casual and kinetic den of energy.  They all boast outstanding service.

Breaking Chews!  Chai YoBreaking Chews!  Chai Yo

Now chef DeeDee has put her heart and soul into the new Chai Yo Modern Thai (chai yo is a Thai toast, like “Cheers!” and is said three times in row with friends), a hip, modern work of art located in a thriving beehive restaurant excellence, next to Japanese standout Umi, Atlas at the St. Regis and the King + Duke.  Chai Yo sweeps you off your feet right as you enter.  Every stick of wood, every dish and every light fixture were freighted over from Thailand and you feel transported into a slick den of intriguing aesthetics and a simultaneous relaxing, yet stimulating energy. 

Breaking Chews!  Chai YoBreaking Chews!  Chai Yo

Of course, DeeDee’s interpretations of Thai classics are the real works of art, most of them belonging in the #tooprettytoeat hashtag and on Instagram.  The Lobster Tom Kha soup made with a sumptuous coconut milk and lemongrass broth is a near religious experience while the braised beef cheeks served in a holy Panang curry and jasmine rice might be the most tender and flavorful piece of meat I have ever eaten.  Other dished like the tapioca pearls filled with minced shrimp and chicken, the crispy pork belly with Thai chilies and the pan-seared Chilean Sea Bass served over crab fried rice and bok choy are mind-blowers. 

Breaking Chews!  Chai YoBreaking Chews!  Chai Yo

I took a newbie who was neither very versed on Thai cuisine nor very adventurous and he declared it to be the best meal he has ever eaten.  With exceptional creativity in the kitchen, a rockin’ cocktail program and almost-certain celebrity sightings, Chai Yo should be on everyone’s “It” list for 2018.

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