Wild Curry and Cha Gio Café
132 Tenth Street Atlanta, Georgia 30309 404-885-9387
Executive Chefs/Co-Owners: Mrs. Le Thi Hang and Mr. Kris Boonruang
Hang Thi Le
Hang Thi Le was born on November 10, 1943 in Danang, Vietnam. Her mother was a housewife and her father was a member of the military. At the age of seven, Hang went to live with foster parents in Saigon. She started taking care of herself at an early age and began working for neighbors to earn her keep when she was eight years old.
Hang grew into an energetic, bright, and intelligent young woman. She attained her education in Saigon and worked with the Air Terminal Passenger Services from 1963 to 1968. Because of her fluency in Vietnamese, French, and English, Hang worked as a translator and administrative official with the United States Army Hospital from 1968 to 1973 and with the DAO (Defense Attaché Office) from 1973 to 1975.
Hang’s first husband was a military officer, but he was killed during combat in the 1960’s. Hang had two daughters and one son from her first marriage. She met Truyen The Pham in 1969, and the two of them have been together since then. Truyen had two daughters and two sons from a previous marriage, and he and Hang had two more daughters after their marriage.
On April 23, 1975, Hang, her husband Truyen, and their nine children left Vietnam before Saigon fell to communist forces. The family arrived at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas, a military camp where immigrants and refugees stayed while awaiting processing of their paperwork to remain in the United States.
Hang and her family then relocated to Decatur, Georgia at the end of 1975. Hang was working with the CDC (Center for Disease Control) at this time. She started making cha gio (Vietnamese spring rolls) and selling them to co-workers during her lunch break to earn extra money. Meanwhile, her husband Truyen was working for Dekalb County.
When her spring roll business boomed, Hang’s friends encouraged her to open a restaurant. Hang opened Cha Gio Vietnamese Restaurant in Midtown Atlanta in 1977. With her warm smile and genuine friendliness, Hang has remained a fixture of this city for the past 26 years, cooking her way into the hearts of many, many people.
Chef Kris Boonruang was born in the city of Surin in northeastern Thailand. His family raised elephants in the rural area, and though he did not see electricity or ice until he was ten years old, he learned the fundamentals of homestyle Thai cooking that is a trademark of his restaurants.
Chef Kris went on to study Political Science and International Relations, receiving his B.A. from the prestigious Chulalongkorn University. While at university, Kris worked at the world-famous Mandarin Oriental and Regent Hotels, learning from their kitchens and their exceptional service. He perfected his cooking skills at weekly dinners that started with just a few friends and roommates, but quickly grew to over a hundred.
He moved to the United States where he briefly lived in New York City before moving to the Midwest, where he attended the University of Michigan, receiving an M.A. in International Relations.
Chef Kris’ real passion is painting, with works exhibited around the world and at Atlanta’s own High Museum of Art. Several breathtaking pieces have found a home at his restaurants.
With his wife, Aimee, also a painter, he moved to Atlanta and now lives on a six-acre home in Alpharetta where his organically grown vegetables are featured on the menu. Chef Kris also grows the broadest collection of Thai and Southeast Asian herbs in the South, all grown amongst his own flock of chicken and a herd of goats.
Chef Kris returned to the kitchen to bring his vision of “Thai Home Cooking” to Roswell. In November of 2001, they opened Rice, Thai Cuisine in historic Roswell. It quickly became a local favorite. Next he tackled a partnership and renovation… Mrs. Le and her beloved Cha Gio Vietnamese Restaurant. He is currently at work on a new location, located near the Perimeter Mall called, Rice Thai Market, an Asian deli serving Thai cuisine and sandwiches.
Mrs. Le prepared:
- Vietnamese Crepe
- Rice Noodle Stir Fry
- Spring Rolls (Cha Gio)
- Egg Noodle StirFry
- Pho (including making the broth)
- Crispy Butterflied Shrimp in Shell
Chef Kris prepared:
- 1 bag Bot Banh Xeo* (12 ounces) with turmeric powder packet attached
- 12 ounces cornstarch
- 12 ounces White Lily flour
- 1 egg
- 1 cup water
Mix all ingredients together, add white pepper and salt to taste. The batter will last for 3-4 days.
Heat your wok or a large skillet to very hot. Add vegetables of your choice, and cook through. Add a protein (shrimp, pork, beef, or tofu), and cook through. When all ingredients are ready, stir in one large scoop of crepe batter. Tilt the pan to cover, and cook for about 30 seconds. At the last minute, add bean sprouts and herbs, then fold the crepe over on itself and serve.
*available in Asian markets or at Wild Curry & Cha Gio Café
Rice Noodle or Egg Noodle Stir Fry
- rice noodles or egg noodles
- Vegetables, any mixture you like including:
- julienned carrots
- mung bean sprouts
- a dark green vegetable such as Choi Sum or Kai Choy, julienned
- Protein, if you wish:
- Chicken stock
- Soy sauce
- Garnish: peanuts
If using rice noodles, reconstitute by soaking noodles in boiling water for 45 minutes. Then rinse in strainer with cold water. When ready to serve, place noodles in large serving bowl.
If using egg noodles, boil until tender, and drain. Keep warm. When ready to serve, place noodles in large serving bowl.
Heat oil in a wok or large skillet. Add finely chopped garlic and lemongrass. When warmed through, add protein and vegetables. Season with soy sauce, and add a ladle full of chicken stock. Pour the hot meat and vegetable mixture over the noodles and serve with hot sauce or fish sauce.
Crispy Butterflied Shrimp in the Shell
- Tiger shrimp
- Cooking wine
- White pepper
- Soy sauce
- White vinegar
- Red pepper flakes, optional
Cut the shrimp along the back, being careful not to slit all the way through. Leave the shell on, and flatten the shrimp to make the butterfly shape. Marinate in a mixture of cooking wine, garlic, salt, and pepper. After an hour, coat well with cornstarch. If possible, let the shrimp sit at this point overnight.
When ready to serve, deep fry. When the shrimp is almost done, lift it out of the oil to drain, and then return to the oil to finish cooking. Serve over steamed vegetables with the dipping sauce.
- Chicken bones
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add chicken bones and seasonings and boil for 4 hours. Skim scum off the surface as it accumulates. Strain the stock.
- Chicken stock
- 4 cinnamon sticks
- ¼ cup ginger peelings
- 1 whole onion
- beef bones
Add seasonings and beef bones to the chicken stock and cook for an hour.
An individual serving of pho:
Place reconstituted rice noodles in a large serving bowl. Arrange one ounce of sliced premium raw beef over the noodles. Ladle hot chicken/beef broth over the beef. Add a mixture of julienned lettuce, cilantro, basil, and onion. Serve with fresh mung beans and a wedge of lime and cilantro.
- Filling: white pepper, julienned carrots, bean sprouts, green onions, wood fungus mushrooms
- onion and garlic
- fish sauce
Assemble the filling by combining all ingredients.
Soften rice paper wrappers in warm water. Add 2-3 tablespoons of filling, tuck in the ends, and roll up. Fry the spring rolls in hot oil until golden brown.
- fish sauce
- lemon juice
- finely julienned carrot
- Boston butt or pork shoulder, ground
- Roasted chile sauce
- White onion, sliced
- Red onion or shallot, sliced
- Fresh ginger, chopped
- Galangal root, chopped
- Garlic, chopped
- Kaffir lime leaves, sliced, or lime peel
- Ground pepper
- Red bell pepper
- Roasted peanuts
Sauté the pork until no pink remains. Before the pork is completely cooked through, add garlic, onions, shallots, and galangal root. When the pork is cooked through, add chile sauce, and then remainder of ingredients. Serve over romaine lettuce.