Fare to fare

Chada Thai Cuisine

1624 Broadway
Sacramento, CA 95818

(916) 444-8909

Apparently, there can’t be enough Thai restaurants. Amarin on 12th and I and Gaesorn on Ninth near K Street are a few blocks from each other downtown, and both sport robust business—except on furlough Fridays, of course.

Taste of Thai and Chada Thai Cuisine, just past 16th Street on Broadway, are separated only by a barbershop. They both appear fiscally sound. For Chada, at any rate, one reason is their food, which, as Shelly Sullivan remarks after we eat there, is “fresh and flavorful.”

That’s not all: “I thought it was delicious,” Shelly continues. “The restaurant was clean and decorated in a traditional Thai fashion, which I liked. I had the special of the day, panang curry. The wait staff was very nice. Water glasses were kept full, which is something I always keep track of. I would definitely go back to try other items on the menu. I didn’t mind the off-Broadway parking—a little walk through the neighborhood was nice, but would imagine parking might be a challenge at busier times. Fresh, clean, delicious—all a recipe for a return visit.”

This from Ashley Robinson, who handles press for the California Museum: “I liked it. I want to go back, for sure. It wasn’t the most adventurous peanut sauce and steamed veggies with chicken and rice I’ve ever had, but how adventurous can you get with that? Rather mainstream, but tasty, and definitely a place I will return to.”

Lucas, J., concurring. In four visits to this family-run operation, the strongest complaint that can be raised is the meat is a little dry in one dinner of lemongrass beef—a tumble of carrot coins, zucchini half-moons, onions, green beans, mushrooms, red bell peppers and an occasional tomato, festooned with lemongrass curlicues.

The white board of daily specials is worth a perusal, both at lunch and dinner. That’s where the lemongrass beef hails from. On one visit, there’s $7.95 pad woon sen chicken that stars cellophane noodles and a supporting cast of black-bean sauce, egg and black mushrooms. Lamb in green curry is another winner.

At lunch, Chada runs pretty much the standard playbook of any Thai restaurant in town. Tofu, chicken, beef, pork, prawns, calamari or fish sautéed in Thai basil or ginger or peanut sauce, or with garlic, kaffir leaves or cashews. Here tofu is $7.95, climbing to $13.95 for shellfish, salmon and catfish.

Options expand exponentially by using the dinner menu, which contains another 54 choices varying from $5.95 vegetarian rolls to pla rad prik, one of 12 house specials at $13.95. This one is deep-fried snapper with ginger sauce, onions, baby corns and mushrooms. Unlike most other Thai restaurants, Chada’s complimentary cup of soup is a variant on tom kha: coconut with tofu. This classy touch distinguishes Chada from the pack, which usually offers broth with bits of cabbage and carrot.

Different people use different yardsticks to compare restaurants offering the same type of fare. For Thai, that yardstick can be curry—green, panang or red—or pad Thai, perhaps. Having wept and sneezed through authentically spiced beef salad in Thailand, that is my wholly arbitrary yardstick.

To date, none in Sacramento has bested that of Amarin: a cilantro-sprig-capped mountain of iceberg lettuce, red onion slivers, cucumber spears, tomato wedges, green scallions and the aforementioned thinly sliced beef. Gaesorn’s beef salad is very respectable although, like Chada’s, offers less variety than Amarin. At Chada, the $8.95 beef salad is mainly a mound of meat centered on torn iceberg. Red onions, mint, lime juice and cilantro play a part but are overshadowed by a riot of lemongrass curlicues. Chada is the Avis of beef salads: No. 2.

Mercifully, no Thai restaurant in town subjects its customers to the traditional inferno of Thai spicing unless they voluntarily go there. Chada, for instance, offers medium, hot or Thai hot. Hot is plenty for all but the most intrepid—those who pop habaneros like Chiclets, for example.

Overall, Chada is pretty darn authoritative.