Finding Asian Streat is a little tricky. Walk through the art gallery alley opposite the Sheraton Hotel at 151 Dong Khoi, turn left and head to the end where there’s a sign pointing up the stairs to the left. Walk up two flights of stairs before turning right and proceed to the end of the verandah where Asian Streat is located.
Size Doesn’t Matter
Asian Streat is a delightful little find. It’s a narrow property with a small entrance that takes you past the kitchen on the left and then into a small colourful vestibule to the right. Interestingly, the owners have decided to retain the colonial-era decor — timber shutters, patterned floor tiles, high ceilings and vibrant colours — over one that is more typical of south Asian restaurants.
The result is a warm and welcoming atmosphere that feels more like entering someone’s living room than a restaurant. While cosy, Asian Streat seats up to 35 people for lunch and dinner, and up to 25 people for standing cocktail receptions. As well as serving up delicious street food favourites, Asian Streat is able to cater for small events off the premises, and in the future there are plans for cooking demonstrations. Because it’s open from 11am each day, Asian Streat makes a nice escape from the noise and heat in the middle of the day.
Overseeing the day-to-day operations of Asian Streat is restaurant manager Hazmi, who’s work in F&B includes stints at the Hilton Hotel in Colombo in his native Sri Lanka, Dubai, Seychelles, and Europe. He has helped bring together chefs from Sri Lanka, India and Vietnam, and it’s this small, eclectic team that creates the menu.
The Word on the Streat
The world of Asian street food is a mighty beast and one that can’t be sampled in its entirety across just one menu. Still, Hazmi and his team give it a go and offer samples of street food from Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia. The prices range from VND100,000 for an aloo tikki chaat — an Indian street snack made from pan-fried potato cutlets, topped with tangy spicy sauce — to VND250,000 for a Goan crab curry with roasted coconut.
The chicken tikka is a knockout with its tender pieces of chicken marinated with Indian spices and served with a light green dipping chutney. Other Indian options include a Hydrabadi vegetarian biryani (VND180,000), the southern favourite masala dosa (VND130,000) and the chicken chettinad — boneless chicken cooked in a coconut-based gravy (VND160,000).
The dish that sparks the most curiosity on the menu is the hoppers (VND130,000), a culinary remnant of the Dutch colonisation of Sri Lanka in the 17th and 18th centuries. The hoppers dish is a circular pancake similar in consistency to Vietnam’s banh xeo, but smaller, unfolded (until eaten) and with the edges turned up to resemble a small palm-sized bowl. The batter is made from fermented rice and coconut milk and served with a choice of chicken curry or fish with ambul thiyal — a sweet and sour condiment typically with a tamarind base — accompanied by a Sri Lankan dhal curry, katta and seeni sambol. This dish is impossible to find elsewhere in Vietnam.
Another dish that hits the spot is the restaurant’s version of the classic laksa (VND140,000), a spicy rice noodle soup with shrimp and tofu reduced with coconut milk and synonymous with Singaporean and Malaysian cuisine. Spicy, coconutty and packed with plenty of ingredients, like the rest of the menu here, it’s great value for money. — Matt Cowan
Asian Streat is at 151/6 Dong Khoi, Q1, HCMC. For more info, go to facebook.com/asianstreat
Photos by Bao Zoan