What a gem. Fantastic and authentic with a homemade taste. Don’t miss, and don’t let the small size fool you.
I went here yesterday for my birthday, so my sister and parents from out of town joined my boyfriend and I for our first time to Sweet Chili café. There have been so many instances where I’ve walked passed Sweet Chili, intrigued by its quaint charm. Unlike other pretentious Southeast Asian restaurants in Vancouver, Sweet Chili is sincere, and doesn’t claim to be more than it is—a restaurant serving delicious food.
The interior was small, and our party of five filled the restaurant to capacity (there was another party of 2 and a party of about 10). The service was friendly, and it seemed as though the 2-3 person team was effective. We ordered some water, ginger tea, and Koala soda. When we were told the Koala soda was out, my sister and boyfriend were offered the “fresh lime soda”. Served in a plastic glass, it was simple but wonderful, and as my sister said it was “the best soda ever.” When I took a sip, I was surprised at the refreshing simplicity. The ginger tea was pungent and spicy, which made me reminisce about the ginger tea I have had with my family in Indonesia.
We picked a few things to share between the five of us, picking out the chicken sate for my sister, who is a notoriously picky eater. Though advertised as 4 skewers, we got 5. The notoriously picky eater had finished all 5 skewers off in 5 minutes, with the rest of us drooling over the smell alone.
The food arrived surprisingly fast for how small the café is. Next came the Gado-Gado salad. Everybody in our party loved it. You could tell it was freshly made: the bean sprouts were crisp, the eggs were firm, and the peanut sauce not overbearing. Right when we had finished the Gado Gado, came the Soto Ayam (chicken soup) that my mom, who is from Indonesia, ordered last minute. I guess I would describe Soto Ayam as the Indonesian equivalent of Pho. The Soto Ayam was spiced with lemongrass, and tasted as fresh as everything else we had eaten.
The Nasi Goreng (fried rice) was delectable, with small bits of vegetables, egg, and chicken, though it was not our favorite of the night --- everything else we had ordered outshone the Nasi Goreng. My “must have” dish at any Indonesian restaurant is Beef Rendang. The flavoring was complex, the potatoes perfectly cooked, and the beef was melt-in-your mouth tender. For me, this was the star of the evening.
We left satisfied, but not bloated. At the price, less than 15 bucks a person including beverages, was a steal, especially with the variety of dishes we were able to not only experience, but enjoy.
(However, there was one thing that left a bad taste in our mouths---another party at the restaurant (the large one I had mentioned earlier). They claimed one person in their party had “chewed on glass” that they found in the food. The irony? That they didn’t say which dish made them sick, and that the person who “felt the glass” swallowed it, then was concerned with their health. The wonderful woman who owns Sweet Chili offered these customers the opportunity to look at her kitchen, garbage and all, to prove no glass had been broken. This group of 10 wouldn’t drop the subject: the owner offered them the meal for free, after apologizing and saying sorry at least a dozen times (please keep in mind that this party was extraordinarily loud, and almost predatory). This party could not be satisfied, and insisted on paying, then complaining, then asking for the meal for free, then asking for a discount. After an uncomfortable second half of our meal, they threatened to call the health department to shut Sweet Chili down. They looked like they ran a competing restaurant perhaps? We’ll never know, but they had huge smiles on their faces when they left. )
For those writing previous reviews on other websites, there were no plastic utensils or paper plates, and for those wanting more or less spice, they asked us how spicy we wanted our dishes. For a small place like this, I’m sure if you asked they would add spice to your taste. They also do take-out, which I’m sure I’ll be taking advantage of in the future. Sweet Chili is worth it!!