Restaurants & Bars

Mid-Atlantic Thai

Chao Phaya (Thai) Somerville NJ

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Chao Phaya (Thai) Somerville NJ

Sethy | May 17, 2003 12:05 PM

Tried to get last-minute reservations at Origin, the French-Thai place in Somerville but they were booked.

Called Chao Phaya and they were able to accomodate us within half an hour, (and they were quite full when we got there but had a table waiting just for us).

Its a small place, maybe about 20 tables, and was VERY noisy in the middle of the Friday nite rush.
They have a very large menu, with a page each of appetizers, soups, and specials, plus several pages of different dishes mostly beef, pork or chicken, and shrimp or calamari or whole fish, as well as a page of duck dishes, AND an entire vegetarian section (which basically seemed to be the same veggies and sauces as the meat options, w/o the meat).

I had a Tom Kha Gai soup, which i use to judge the quality of any thai place, and this one was very nice - scalding hot, sour and tangy and filled with mushrooms and chicken and herbs.

We had the obligatory Thai Spring Rolls, which here are TINY, about the size of a pinky, flavorful but not very substantial. We also had (and I won't try and spell anything in Thai-English) little crab-pork balls, which were deep fried and filled with ground pork (lots) and crab (little) - a little too dense for my liking, but otherwise nice. Both apps were served on pretty plates with shredded cabbage, red cabbage, and some lettuce - chicory I think, as well as sweet dipping sauce.

For entrees, my companion had Pad Thai (with just shrimp). Nice sized portion, covered with bean sprouts but only a few tiny shrimp. The Pad Thai was very sweet, almost tasted like a barbecue sauce, but was very interesting.

I had a crispy duck entree, with peppercorns and I forget what else. This was an entire duck breast (VERY crispy and excellent) covered with all sorts of vegetables - TOO many things on the plate, honestly -and a spicy sauce. The duck was excellent but I was not thrilled with all the veggies on top.

They give steamed white rice (not jasmine - which was a little dissappointing) with the entrees.

They were friendly and decent service, except for taking the dirty fork off the plate and putting it back on the tablecloth (my personal pet peeve).

My honest opinion is that, I really think I like Chinese, and Vietnamese, better than Thai, for regular daily eating. But altogether a nice meal.

Next up to try is Origin, and perhaps Thai Chef (although we've eaten at the one in Montclair several times).

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