Venues

Chai Yo (Mowbray)

Chai Yo (Mowbray)
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Cost
R90 avg main meal
Ambience
Comfy & casual, Contemporary cool
Food
Asian, Cape Malay, Chinese, Indian, Thai
Payment
Amex, Mastercard, Visa

Critic's review

Linda Scarborough

Food
Chai Yo is a neighbourhood gem offering great-value Thai food. Start with the sweetcorn cakes, which are more like lattice works of corn kernels than doughy fritters, arriving beautifully brown, crunchy and sweet, with a dipping sauce. The tom-kha gai coconut soup is complex, fragrant and flavoursome, with galangal and plentiful slivers of lemongrass, plus titbits of chicken, mushroom and tomato.

It’s a long menu with lots of seafood, but your best bet is to narrow it down to either the curry or one of the protein sections and then just drop your eyes and let your finger fall on something delicious. Most of the dishes feature some variation of all the good stuff: lemongrass, roasted chilli and garlic, fresh basil, coconut milk and crisp vegetables like beans and peppers.

There are a few options for vegetarians; the mak-khuer gra-prao (brinjal and basil) dish is redolent with a slightly smoky flavour in the black bean sauce – delicious. The nua pi-roed, or angry beef, is only just slightly peeved, so ask for it hot if you want a real kick. Choose your main with a portion of rice or noodles.

Don’t bother with the handful of pre-made La Veneziana desserts like brownies and malva pudding, and opt instead for more on-theme deep-fried bananas, drizzled in syrup, sprinkled in sesame seeds and served with a scoop of ice cream, or the Thai custard with rice, which is much like sago pudding but with creamy coconut milk.

Drinks
The wine list is surprisingly comprehensive for a Thai restaurant, whose cuisine is not typically easy to pair with the grape, with a page dedicated to bottles from the owner’s cellar, plus a number of choices for each varietal, some lesser-known South African names and even bottles of bubbly. A crisp Thai Singha beer goes down a treat, served in a frosted, gold-rimmed glass.

Service
Waiters are very friendly, efficient and eager to please, if not terribly polished, with the manager keeping an eye on the proceedings.

Ambience
It’s a cosy and comfortable spot in a slightly shabby converted Victorian building, with beautiful wooden chairs covered in cushions. Pale green walls, wall hangings, carvings and a few gilt touches evoke the Thai theme, and the green-orange-red of the changing traffic light on the corner adds character through the frosted windows.

And…
From the main dining area you can see through the pass into the working kitchen, where Thai and South African cooks work side by side; it’s very real and unfussy behind the scenes.

(September 2016)

Eat Out critics dine anonymously and pay for their meals in full. Read our editorial policy here.

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  • Sue Anne Allen

    Food
    Chai-Yo provides a relaxed and authentic Thai experience. The menu boasts a large number of popular Thai dishes, but also provides a few unusual items. The starter menu includes a selection of spring rolls, dim sum and ‘make your own’ spinach cones, and also offers dishes such as tempura vegetables with a mild chilli dipping sauce a stuffed egg dish, which is served with mixed vegetables and minced chicken. The sweet corn cakes are a favourite and are served crispy and piping hot, a must try. There’s also a delicately prepared, rather sublime prawn and calamari salad, which is served with a secret Thai chilli dressing sauce and crispy noodles. Main dishes fall into categories of beef, poultry and seafood, but there’s also curry, rice and noodle dishes on offer. The chicken and cashew nut dish with roasted chilli paste, although seen on many a Thai menu, is particularly good here. The flavours are well balanced and the dish is perfectly complemented by a side of garlic egg-fried jasmine rice. The noodle dishes are also well prepared, light, fresh and seasoned to perfection.

    Drinks
    There is a limited wine list available but it does provide a few good varietals and is well priced.

    Service
    Service is very efficient and really friendly. Patrons are very well looked after.

    Ambience
    Chai-Yo means “cheers” and the eatery has the feel of a relaxed indoor Thai street café. Although rather basic, it is warm and inviting.

    And…
    Do try the half duck, which is deboned, traditionally spiced and then served with either one of two sauces, red wine or cinnamon honey.

  • This neighbourhood favourite in the suburbs serves consistent, tasty and authentic Thai food. Order dishes like the vegetable or prawn phad Thai; duck in red curry; and the ­angry beef with fresh basil, served extra hot.
  • Food
    It’s time to show off your chopstick technique at this landmark for authentic Thai fare. The extensive menu showcases regional specialties from all over Thailand, with a special vegetarian category among all the curries, poultry, seafood, meat, noodle and rice dishes. Explore the subtleties of spices prepared by Thai chefs in multi-layered yellow, green and red curries with their speciality, steamed fish and pad Thai. Indecisive diners should share a satay platter, angry duck, jungle curry and eight angels.

    Wine
    An affordable wine list is well chosen to match the spicy fare. By-the-glass options available.

    Service
    Friendly and knowledgeable staff assist diners to mix ‘n match an A-Z of Thai dishes.

    Ambience
    This ever-popular neighbourhood café has a laid-back vibe in the Thai spirit.

    And...
    Sit downstairs for company; upstairs for intimacy. (GH, October 2011)

User reviews

  • I have been visiting Chai Yo for over 6 years now on every birthday and anniversary I have with my husband. It helps that its walking distance from my house but the reason we keep returning is simply because this is the best Thai food I have ever tasted. We recently returned from a two month trip to Thailand and my husband and I were comparing the 'real deal' delicacies with what we have at Chai Yo. The Food is out of this world and better than what we found in most Thai restaurants! Angry duck, spinach rolls with a combination of amazing fresh flavours and the sweetcorn fritters are out of this world. I will continue to visit this restaurant for special occasions and recommend it to everyone. We would have got married here if my mother-in-law would have let it!
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  • I was a bit disappointed with my meal for the price I paid. We went on a Thursday night and there were only two other tables occupied, so not much atmosphere.
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  • I love Chai Yo. I grew up in Mowbray so it was always a treat. Good Thai Food, especially their Green Curry and Duck in Red Wine Sauce. Duck Spring Rolls are also very tasty. Usually get take away but atmosphere is lovely for a sit-down too.
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  • Sitting at my table on this public holiday. Brought someone special to this restaurant as we had a great time previously. Tonight was shocking! Poor understaffed restaurant with owner who do not want to pay overtime. But I have to pay full price for service and food that was never there.. Please help!!!
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  • This place is always busy. You have to try the angry duck. Crisp and tasty. Don't forget about the dedicated smoking section upstairs.

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  • This restaurant opened at Canal Walk in November 2009. It is situated right on the water and heavenly.The tempura starter was not the normal tempura, but a something Id never tasted before. The main curry and chicken cashew dishes were stunning. This was definitely one of the nicest food experiences I have had in a while and I will definitely be back.Thank you - there are still people able to cook in Cape Town
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  • We had lunch on Saturday, 21 Mar 09, and had absolutely wonderful food. For starters we ordered the corn fritters, which is quite a big portion for a starter. It was divine! As mains we had the green curry chicken (medium) which was very tasty and burned just enough, and the chicken and cashew nuts - absolutely fabulous! We did wait a bit long for the food even though the restaurant was fairly empty, but definitely worth the wait. Overall a very pleasant experience, and well definitely go again. Average price of a main meal is about R90/head, which includes noodles/rice.
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  • In the Top 3 as far as Thai Restaurants in Cape Town go! Might not be as fancy as some others, but their decor is authentic, and their food an experience! Whether you like Thai staples like spring rolls and Green Curry or more daring Masoman Curry, Red Curry (my favourite!), duck (my other favourite!) or for the sweeter tooth, honey chicken ...theyre all amazing! - Youll find yourself sitting back in your chair and closing your eyes just so you can savour the taste of it for as long as possible!The food is amazing, the portions very generous, and the prices so reasonable (you feel spoilt for what youre getting!) The service is very friendly and efficient and the manager attentive. It makes for a great night out with a bunch of friends, a meal out with the family, as well as a chilled Romantic one if thats what youre looking for. Ive lived in Cape Town my whole life and eaten at most of the Thai restaurants there - and Chai Yo remains my favourite!
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  • The best ever Thai prawns with a garlic and chili paste! Ecxellent value for money.
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Facilities

  • Accepts credit cards
  • Alfresco
  • Booking required
  • Child friendly
  • Dinner
  • Eat Out reviewed
  • Functions
  • Licensed
  • Lunch
  • Parking
  • Serves food
  • Smoking
  • Takeaways
  • Vegetarian
  • Wheelchair
  • WiFi

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