I love visiting food joints or restaurants that have some sort of history. It’s the explorer in me that gets attracted to legacy and tradition. Sometime back, I came across one such restaurant during my trip to Jakarta. “Chili’s”. The cheerful red colour scheme and informal ambiance with chirpy diners became an instant hit with me.
Wanting to find out more about this “Western Restaurant” in heart of Jakarta, as the locals often call it, I was fascinated to read that from its humble beginning in Dallas in 1975 as yet another burger-joint, to an informal, full-service dining restaurant with over 1400 casual dining restaurants across the world, this chain has a seen a delicious journey indeed.
I have been to Chili’s at 4 locations, Jakarta (Indonesia), New Delhi (India), Kuala Lampur (Malaysia) and Singapore. And true to its promise, Chili’s is the same (well almost) everywhere I have been. The same type of ambiance and the similar tasting signature dishes.
First things first, the drinks… In most places they serve pretty much all drinks you can expect. However, their best seller is… the Margarita! A pitcher of Margarita along with their choice of food is a hot combination.
The menu… Chili’s offers a long list of items on its menu, and their serving size is decently large too. I almost always get carried away and order more than necessary… and I am really not a fan of taking back left overs. Having said that, here are a few of my favourites at Chili’s that deserve a tasting.
Tripple Dipper: Depending upon the number of people at the table, Tripper Dipper is a great way to start the meal… it’s a platter of three of Chili’s signature starters: Chicken Crispers, Buffalo Wings and Southwestern Eggrolls. However, if you do not wish to indulge in all three, I think Chicken Crispers are the way to go. Chicken strips, deep fried to perfection, so that they still remain moist on the inside and crispy on the outside… very American!
Soups & Salads:
Chili: I have no idea why, but the traditional Chili is listed under their soups and salad’s section. For the meat lover, Chili with its slow cooked beef, topped with sour cream and loads of cheese is not to be missed. Again, it might be too much for one person, and can easily be shared at the table.
Since this is originally a burger joint, I just had to try their burger and I wasn’t disappointed… although at the end of it all, I was really full. They offer 4-5 types of burgers, depending upon where you are. The couple I have tried are:
Oldtimer: It’s a burger with mustard sauce and pickle and cheese. I haven’t had too many burgers that use the tanginess of mustard as well as pickle at the same time. It can get a little to tangy for your taste… especially if you prefer the burger patty to be crisp and spicy.
Bacon Burger: It’s a heavy burger… the red meat topped with mayo, pickle, cheese and crispy onions is one calorie bomb! Guess that’s what makes it that tasty and the fact that the bacon is spicy and sweetish to taste at the same time. Makes for some interesting savor indeed.
Quesadilla & Fajitas:
Chile Shrimp Quesadilla: The only reason I tried this dish was because I have never tasted a shrimp quesadilla, or let me rephrase it, an only shrimp quesadilla. Served with some spicy corn salsa and cheese, the dish definitely tickles the palate. Or is it the sour cream they serve with it?
Molten Chocolate Cake: If you are a chocolate lover like me, this perfectly molten chocolate cake is something you will remember for a long time. The dollop of vanilla ice-cream and chocolate on top of the hot cake is what dessert-fantasies are made up of. Of their entire menu… the molten chocolate cake is my favourite. In fact, if you are not a huge tex-mex fan, skip the dinner and go straight for this delectable dessert.
How much does it cost me: From what I have heard, even though they serve similar food across all their restaurants, there seems like a huge difference in the pricing of the dishes. Where Chili’s US offers a $20 dinner for two with one appetizer and two entrees, that option is sadly not available at all locations. In Asia, some dishes are surprisingly much more expensive than what it would cost you in the US. In fact, a dinner for 2 with one appetizer and two entrees in Singapore and Jakarta can cost you anywhere between $40 to $60.
Verdict: Chili’s has a couple of signature dishes that are a must try. If you do enjoy Tex-Mex and are outside the US, Chili’s, with a wide variety of options to choose from, is a great pick… And I give it a definite thumbs up.
P.S: Thank you Chili’s Singapore for the photographs.