Ta Ra Rin Thai Cuisine
1200 Oak St
Eugene, OR 97401
Reviews of Thai food in Eugene are a funny thing. Not ha-ha funny, but funny in the sense that reviewers can rave about a certain restaurant, yet upon patronage of said raved-about restaurant, you will be shocked to find that the food is tasteless soylent (not to be confused with green curry). So ya gotta’ be careful when listening to advice about Thai food in Eugene (Get it? I’m a reviewer too. That’s so ironic, right? Get it? Oh, never mind).
So, onward we go. Ta Ra Rin Thai Cuisine located in downtown Eugene gets started off right away on the wrong foot with one of those ubiquitous Denny’s-gone-bankrupt-in-the-1970’s layouts. But at least they do a pretty good job of dressing up the place in “Thailand meets Applebees” wood and decorative thangys. So I got to give them credit for trying and somewhat succeeding at creating an atmosphere. Not quite authentic or exotic, but good enough for the typical Eugene resident who considers “driving to Corvallis” to be “going out of town” on a “trip away from home” (Warning: quote marks are now officially “out of control”).
But the real good news is the food. It is actually, no kidding, seriously, somewhat authentic. In fact, its about 80% the same as the real stuff that I have eaten in Thailand (a country located in Southeast Asia, in case you were wondering; No, it is not the same as Taiwan), so that’s impressive. A quick rundown:
- Tom Kha spicy coconut soup is a solid starter. Ask for your rice earlier than normal and put a couple spoon fulls of rice in your soup bowl to make a nice Thai Rice-a-Roni.
- Pad Kee Mao noodles are nicely chewy and vegetables are fresh and crunchy.
- Pad Thai, the standard noodle dish that every dork including me orders, has some weaknesses, specifically the flavor being a bit weak and the presentation not including limes for squeezing. But overall still the best Pad Thai in Eugene.
- Mussaman (isn’t it annoying how every Thai restaurant spells these words differently; can we get some standardization, people?! This should be something for the Thai king to take charge of…now, where was I?) curry is also a bit blah.
- But all the other currys, be they red, green, yellow, or Panang, are winners. The only really disappointing curry I have eaten at Ta Ra Rin was the special avocado green curry, and that was mainly because of the high price tag and nothing-special product; yeah, I shoulda known it would just be green curry with a few chunks of avocado for an extra $4.
- Thai Iced Tea was also a solid player. Fortunately, it was made properly from scratch rather than that disgusting lumpy powder that some lazy restaurants are now using (see Vietnam Restaurant).
Service is another big plus at Ta Ra Rin. Every server I have had contact with has maintained a very nice balance of friendly, helpful, yet not disruptive to my meal or conversation. They consistently achieve the perfect midpoint between Evergreen Indian’s catatonic approach and Brail’s Korean-lady-on-speed.
So, there you have it, a rare four and a half star rating for a Thai restaurant in Eugene.
One last bit of advice: When the server asks you whether you want your food mild, medium, or spicy, you should definitely say spicy for everything. Now I know you will be tempted to choose medium for your loser/gutless friend(s), but you really have to put your foot down on this issue. Thai food is spicy, so order it that way! If your wimpy friend doesn’t want spicy food, then they should go to KFC and order mashed potatoes…You should also try to get their portion of the estimated total bill in advance of ordering.