We were in Vegas to clean up our old house there, and some friends were in town on mini-vacation from the Wisconsin snow, so that and my husband's pending birthday were good excuses to head out for dinner. I had not had a chance try Chada Thai, and since my friends last ate with us at Lotus of Siam, it seemed only appropriate to check out the new kid in town and see how things compare.
First of all, I am concerned about the lack of business. At 7pm on a Saturday night we were the only ones in the restaurant. And remained so for a good hour. There were several other groups when we finally left around 9 or 9:30...but the place was far from full. This place deserves your business, folks: Go!
I'm not going to compare it much to LOS; I love both restaurants. But as has been noted elsewhere, the servings at Chada Thai are smaller, and that makes it nice for groups where you can try different things. Not quite small plates, but almost.
Obviously the wine list is wonderful, but our friends are, well, from Wisconsin and are big beer drinkers. So we decided to try the Dogfish Head IPA based on the name alone, and were not disappointed. A steal at 4.50...nice and hoppy; a good match with spicy food. Three of the four of us were drinking, and we had at least two each. Nicely served in chilled glasses.
We started with a round of appetizers: Salmon larb, the Pud Hed (shitake and shimeji mushrooms stirfried with brussel sprouts and lotus roots), and raw oysters with chili, lime, garlic and cilantro. The oysters were very good, but the chili was a powder and a little grainy. Tasty nonetheless; we managed to down about a dozen. The salmon larb is good, and a good alternative for DH (who is a pescatarian) but the real star was the Pud Hed (sp?). That is one of the most wonderful things I have eaten in a long time. We four all fought over the last spoonful!!
For "mains" we had the charbroiled prawns with lemongrass salad, steamed mussels with basil and lemongrass, the Hor Muk (a seafood curry stew), and Salmon Panang. All of the seafood tasted very fresh. The Hor Muk was to me the least successful dish of the evening; just sort of bland. The mussels were very tasty but perhaps a touch overcooked. But the Salmon Panang is SOOO wonderful we will all be talking about it for a LONG time to come. My vote for best bite of 2013 and maybe best bite of the decade:-) The salmon was perfectly cooked with a lovely crispy skin, and the panang sauce is to die for. It was SO delicious that my friends decided to try the Panang Beef Curry. Same delicious sauce, but we three who tasted it agreed that the salmon somehow just fits with the sauce better (the beef IS slow cooked in the sauce, and was very tender).
Of course, we were stuffed, but we had to try the advertised "Thai Sundae" on the desert menu. This is modeled after a banana split, except that the banana is substituted by a hot dog bun. Yes, a hot dog bun. The waiter insists that this is a popular dessert in Thailand. OK, I hate bananas, so I'll take the bun instead, but it really didn't do much for me....the toppings are various jello-like things, and I don't like jello all that much. We had ours with coconut ice cream...it didn't taste homemade, and certainly wasn't the exquisite coconut "ice cream" (made without cream) that we enjoy at LOS.
The restaurant is in a strip mall (of course), the same one as China Mama. It is small but attractive. Dinner for four including six or seven beers, two teas, tax and a generous tip was 180 dollars. Go PLEASE! I want this place to succeed!
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