FISHERS, Ind. – Over the past few months, it seems as if you can’t talk about Fishers without mentioning their biggest, flashiest new resident: IKEA. But in this booming community, some local businesses are making noise of their own.
Just one or two exits south of the Swedish furniture and meatball mecca, located just off I-69 at 7854 E 96th Street, is Chao Vietnamese Street Food. Local Yelp reviewers celebrate this fast casual restaurant’s ability to execute both traditional and unique Vietnamese dishes, mostly for under 500 calories.
“When you go around the world and travel, you find that foods on the streets are kind of the best foods that you have,” says Chao’s chef and owner, Carlos Villagran.
Vietnamese street foods have recently become some of the most popular and trendy dishes in foodie communities. The dishes are full of flavor, healthy, and most importantly—fast.
“These dishes are classic dishes that you would find on the street, that you could eat on the go,” said Villagran.
Classics like steamed pork belly bao buns, avocado rolls, and bahn mi sandwiches, which they can make in a traditional Vietnamese style or with a twist.
“I made al pastor Vietnamese bahn mis, which is like a very traditional marinated pineapple and spicy flavor Mexican dish into a bahn mi,” Villagran said.
There’s the ever-popular pho: a bone broth slowly simmered for up to 30 hours, with meat, veggies, and rice noodles.
“We mix it with spices that are star anise, dried nutmeg, cinnamon, coriander seeds, and cloves that bring this classic Vietnamese flavor,” Villegran added.
And since the dishes are healthy and typically full of veggies, the calorie count is relatively low.
“You know we want people to come in and out and enjoy their meal and actually have a healthy meal that’s not 2000 calories like you can have at other places but maybe a good hearty 500 calories maybe,” he said.
They also take their vegetarian options very seriously, using separate ladles and pots, and even learning from local Buddhist nuns.
“They taught us a lot of their techniques as to how to make their vegetarian dishes, their vegetarian boon, even helped us with vegetarian egg rolls, vegetarian pate,” said Villagran.
Four Things You Need to Know:
- Not only do they offer vegetarian options, they take vegetarian options very seriously. They actually enlisted the help of local Buddhist nuns to create some vegan recipes and to learn their techniques.
- Chao participates in the “Yelp Cash Back” system, meaning that if you register your credit card in the Yelp app, you will receive “cash back” for every purchase made there.
- Chao Vietnamese Cuisine takes the street-food technique of focusing on doing a limited number of dishes spectacularly well and applies it to their business model.
- Chao Vietnamese Cuisine is open every day of the week and offers both lunch and dinner on Monday-Saturday, and lunch on Sunday.
In this up and coming area, Chao, along with their popular neighboring business—Sun King Tap Room—have become a bit of a power duo through a seemingly unlikely partnership.
“When you’re in there ordering beer you can actually order on the menu from Chao and they will bring the food over to you next door. And on the flip side, a lot of times when you’re in Chao, they will recommend you checking out their neighbors next door,” says Brittany Smith from Yelp Indy.
Yelpers also like that Chao is a part of the “Yelp Cash Back” system.
“Anytime you have your card registered with your Yelp account, you get 7% off all your meals,” Smith said.
While in Fishers, stop by some of Chao’s popular neighbors within just three blocks: