Alistair Houghton relives Thai food memories at Allerton Road’s Chaba Chaba
I’VE long had a soft spot for Thai restaurants, thanks largely to the Thai House restaurant in my former home city of Hull.
It was friendly, opened late, and – crucially for M – offered a great range of vegetarian dishes. Most mains were available as a vegetable or tofu option.
So why it took me so long to get to newish Allerton Road eaterie Chaba Chaba, I have no idea. But it shares many of those characteristics and was worth the wait.
Say the name Chaba Chaba, I’ve discovered, and it’s enough to get most people of a certain age thinking of 90s popster Shabba Ranks, and the cry “Shabba!” featured on his then-omnipresent hit, Mr Loverman.
But actually Chaba Chaba, which opened just over a year ago, is named after the Thai hibiscus flower.
It sits in the former La Scala restaurant, where Allerton Road ducks behind Allerton Library and becomes a backwater, so close and yet worlds away from the noisier strip towards Queens Drive.
It’s a clean, modern space, with just a few Thai ornaments and a giant picture of those hibiscus flowers on the red back wall. M and I settled down in our window seats, looking out towards Mather Avenue beyond, and ordered drinks – green tea in M’s case, and Singha beer in mine.
We always started our Hull Thai meals with a vegetarian starter platter, and did the same at Chaba Chaba.
I wolfed my half down rather quickly, I’m afraid. All I’d had for lunch that day was a Pepperami Firestick and some Home and Bargain’s fig rolls.
But I made some tasting notes as I was shovelling it down.
The fresh vegetable rolls were so light and crisp they were as refreshing as a cool drink – and a holy basil leaf tucked inside each roll added a sharply fragrant touch.
The spring rolls were rich and tasty dipped in either of the chilli sauces offered, while the sweetcorn cakes were more fritter batter than corn and so deliciously chewy.