A House Salad Unlike Any Other from Cha Chah

Admittedly I didn't participate in Restaurant Week, not on purpose anyway. I ended up at lunch at Fido one day and, against better judgement, didn't order the local burger and had some sausage thing with mashed potatoes. Lesson learned: when in doubt, just order the local burger. Anyway...

One restaurant week meal I did plan to have was at Cha Chah for Mama Myint's House Salad. I first had the house salad a year ago at International Market where Mama Myint herself (Hi Patty!) taught me and Vivek and a few other people how to properly get the "flavor explosion" that is every bite of this salad.

How it works: you're presented with a smorgasboard of fillings like cilantro, kaffir, ginger, peanuts, pickled garlic and other pickled veggies, Thai chili (chili padi), carrots, pineapple, toasted coconut shreds, lime and a ton more. Each ingredient is carefully cut into equally sized pieces (knife skills ftw) and you fill your lettuce leaf with one or two of each and meat of some sort, drizzled with a sweet chili sauce. For restaurant week Cha Chah served pork and chicken to go with the wrap.

You wrap it all up into a compact package and consume it all in one bite to really get that flavor explosion which, if you can imagine, is fantastic - crunchy, sweet, sour, salty, spicy and refreshing all at once. Bear in mind, the lime has been cut into tiny triangles, rind included which you are also supposed to consume. You wouldn't expect it to taste good but give it a try at least twice before deciding because you will be surprised at the wonderful crunch and texture the rind adds as well as a strangely enjoyable bitter bite that complements the sour and spice from the other condiments.

My company that evening included The Husband, Vivek of Vivek's Epicurean Adventures (and my house salad mate the first time around) and Chris Chamberlain and his lovely girlfriend Lisa and we had a good time. This is a really really fun meal, it's interactive (which I enjoy) and how good it tastes depends on how well you construct each wrap/bite. You build your flavor explosion, and the best part is if you don't perfect it on your first try, you have lots of opportunities to work on it and find the combination that works for you.

Honorary mention goes out to the dessert we ordered - the "Brioche" with marmalade and cream cheese ice cream and the lightest Chocolate Mousse I've ever had the pleasure of eating. Heaven. The mousse came with rum-soaked raisins that are a LOT stronger than you'd expect.

If you did miss this abbreviated version of Mama Myint's salad during restaurant week you'll be happy to know that Cha Chah has added it to their tasting menu. Now, it's not something you can just show up and order, give them 24 hours and make a reservation (4 person minimum). For $35/person it's totally worth it - it's a ton of food, it's a fun experience and I'm ready to go if you are.

Cha Chah | 2013 Belmont Blvd, 37212 | ChaChah.com