Chao Pra Ya Thai Cuisine
580 Adams Street
Eugene, OR 97402-5164
Quick Review: Consider me a bit dumb (no, don’t), but I never knew that the son of the owners of Chao Pra Ya Thai Cuisine was the owner of Ta Ra Rin, what I consider to be the best Thai restaurant in Eugene. With this new info in mind, I decided to pay another visit to Chao Pra Ya to do some comparison shopping.
I had once tried Chao Pra Ya a couple of years ago. My strongest memory was that the server (owner?) used really, really strong perfume. So strong, I can still smell it now. Literally. So that, and some overly sweet food issues, sorta stopped me from going back. Until now. Let the comparison begin:
Location: Win goes to Ta Ra Rin (TRR) with their nice central location on Oak Street. Chao Pra Ya (CPY), on the other hand, is situated in the funky Whitaker neighborhood. I like Whitaker and try to support the hippie businesses over there when I can. But I have to truthfully say, it’s sometimes a little too “exciting” in the evening (is that grungy guy up ahead going to beg for money, offer me drugs, or hand me a flier about global warming? Who knows?!).
Decor: It’s almost a tie between CPY and TRR. TRR is more comfortable and feels roomier. CPY is a little cramped feeling, but their funkier/homey decor is a big plus. Both restaurants are loud, but CPY “wins” in terms of loudness due to their low, solid (sound reflective) ceilings. TRR no-quote-marks wins by a nose/ear in this category.
Service: It’s a tie. TRR sets the standard for good service in Eugene restaurants. The perfect balance of “there when you need them” and “not there when you don’t”. Surprisingly, CPY matches this with very professional service too. They must have some secret family formula for hiring and managing staff. If they could bottle that secret and sell it to other restaurants, they would become millionaires overnight.
Food: It’s close, but I have to give the nod to TRR. Both places use very similar recipes (obviously), but it seems that Mom or Dad have a heavier hand with the sugar dispenser. Everything at CPY is just a little bit sweeter (and by my taste, less authentic) than TRR. TRR’s Pad Thai is not great, but at least it rates an OK. While CPY’s Pad Thai is overly sweet and seems to be missing a little tamarind or somethin’. It’s lacking in some sort of “taste bite”.
So, there you have it, TRR remains the king of Thai food in Eugene with CPY making a good showing. Mom and Dad can be disappointed with their second place showing AND proud that their son beat them at their own game. Win/win.
Summary: Go to TRR for a reliable and delicious Thai meal. Go to CPY for a bit funkier and sweeter Thai experience.
Update: Somebody told me that the son and parents do not get along with each other. So mom and dad will not be so happy with their second place showing.
Update 2: Just ate there yesterday and found the food to be blander than usual. Not going in the right direction. The boss was acting as a server, so maybe the kitchen help had their own opinion on the flavoring? I’m losing some faith in this place.