We went to Champa Garden on Saturday night with some old friends. I called around 6 to see if we could reserve a table and they obliged. When we got there at 7, the place was hopping and folks were waiting for tables. I think the staff was relieved to see that we had showed up since they were holding a table for us. The only downside was that it was the first table by the door and it was chilly when the door was opened.
We ordered the Champa Garden sampler, panang curry with salmon which also was offered with catfish, papaya salad Thai style, and a dish with chicken and onions. We also got a couple orders of sticky rice and brown rice. For drinks we got two of the beers that I've had before--starts with a P--and two glasses of wine. One of the owners came over to see if we wanted to try some sake. He has just done a tasting the day before so he was pretty excited about the sake menu. We all tried some and one of the wine drinkers switched her order to sake.
The sampler arrived and we all gobbled up every little last bit. It was a delicious as always. A little bit later the salmon arrived and I pointed out that we hadn't gotten the papaya salad yet. The server said it was coming and I was having a nice time with my friends so wasn't overly concerned about the order of the dishes. When the rest of the food came, we didn't get papaya salad but pad thai. At this point, we pretty much all decided that that was just fine and that it went well with everything else.
The owner came over and asked if we wanted to try another cold sake that he thought was nicer that the first taste. He had some left in the bottle and brought new glasses. It was a very nice gesture. I'm not a huge fan of cold sake or white wine for that matter but I enjoyed the chance to try it. He said that he was thinking of having a prix fixe dinner with a sake pairing. We all gave him our email addresses for the event.
The rest of our food was quite decent. The curry with the salmon was delicious but the salmon was overcooked. The chicken dish was good and a nice contrast to the rich curry. Pad Thai was very tasty. I'd forgotten how much I love sticky rice and was quite happy using it to get to every last morsel of the curry.
The food wasn't perfect but very good overall and we all loved the friendly staff and being in such a neighborhood spot.
2102 8th Ave, Oakland, CA 94606