Sure, when Big Boi and Andre 3000 first tipped their furry top hats and sang the words “So fresh and so clean clean,” they probably never imagined that the phrase might be used to describe a little Thai restaurant on Main Street in downtown Ventura. And sure, they might have been rapping about their gator belts and their Monte Carlos, not a steaming bowl of green curry. But still, there is no better way to describe Cholada, Main Street’s newest Thai eatery, than fresh and, well, yeah, clean.
387 E. Main Street is no stranger to the smell of lemongrass and Thai basil. Before Cholada took over a few months back, the address was home to the sleek and short-lived restaurant East. But Main Street has truly never seen a Thai restaurant like Cholada. Yes, Tipps is a local favorite and their garlic eggplant is hard to beat … but Cholada is the new kid on the block, and, as the new kid, is serving up the freshest, most innovative Thai food in town.
A friend and I swung in for a late dinner not too long ago, expecting an average Thai meal (because, in my humble opinion, even average Thai is good Thai). We sat down in the small, tidy dining area and considered the menu.
Thai food is meant to be eaten family style, which is always a relief for me because I can never decide on just one dish. For the two of us, we decided one appetizer and two entrees would probably suffice, so we went for the Cholada wraps to start, and drunken noodles and kio wan curry as the main course. Although I’m not a huge fan of Thai beer, I ordered one anyway. The fact that that it arrived ice-cold made up for the fact that it was just a bit watery.
Our Cholada wraps came first — steamed rice skins filled with fresh, unbelievably thin sliced veggies, basil and tofu — with a side of peanut dipping sauce. Like a more sophisticated, un-fried version of an egg roll, they were light, incredibly refreshing, and the peanut sauce was just a little spicy.
The kio wan, a green curry made with coconut milk, fresh eggplant, green beans, basil, bell peppers and tofu arrived next, accompanied by a bowl of white rice. Following closely behind was a huge plate of drunken noodles, spicy rice noodles stir- fried with basil, mushrooms and bell peppers.
The kio wan was what I consider a perfect curry. Overloaded with the freshest of vegetables, the green curry sauce itself was spicy and flavorful without being overly sweet or oily (the downfall of many Thai curries). Over a pile of rice, the flavors of the basil and the texture of the perfectly cooked eggplant were a real treat. The drunken noodles were wonderfully spicy and salty and, like the wraps, pleasantly light for a stir- fried noodle dish that could easily have been a greasy mess.
We ate till we shouldn’t have eaten any more. Then we proceeded to chat and pick at the food until every last bite was gone.