A quality, affordable sit down Thai restaurant can be somewhat difficult to find in Orange County.
While there are a number of different options for Chinese, sushi or Korean BBQ, the list of choices for a Thai food lover are slim.
Rest assured that a visit to Cha Thai will put an end to the entire search process.
Located at the end of a dingy looking strip mall in Orange, Cha Thai proves the notion that you should never judge a book–or in this case, restaurant–by its cover. If you were to do that you might not even step through the restaurant’s doors.
Its interior, which was remodeled four years ago, is clean and modern. There aren’t any gimmicky features or tacky wallpaper that make the dining experience any less appealing either.
The menu offers plenty of authentic Thai options–nearly 100 to be exact.
If you stop by for lunch, you can choose from 15 different combinations as part of Cha Thai’s Lunch Specials ($7.95). All lunch specials are served with Wonton Soup and Steamed Rice to go along with entree options such as Yellow and Red Curry or BBQ Chicken and Pad Thai.
However, if you’re in the mood for some bigger sized portions, then you’re also free to make it a Dinner Special ($9.95) — regardless of the time of the day you come in. In addition to a larger entree size, the Dinner Special adds one Egg Roll, two Fried Wontons and a side salad. You’ll also have the choice of Steamed Rice or Fried Rice.
There is an entire page devoted to Vegetarian dishes too. Whether it be soups, salads, noodles or Thai specialties, the restaurant doesn’t shun any hungry vegetarians away.
My waitress told me that while the Lunch and Dinner Specials are popular, more often than not customers who come in pairs will order several entrees, allowing for an opportunity to try more than just one dish. And why not? With the majority of a la carte entrees priced around $8.95, a few orders split between a pair would still come to well under $20 each.
Taking the suggestion in stride, my friend and I decided to do just that, ordering a serving of Beef Pad Thai ($8.95), Chicken Basil ($8.95), Red Curry ($8.95) and an extra side of Steamed Rice ($1.50). When all three plates were brought out, I was very pleased with the size of the portions. The turnaround time between the order and the plates being placed on our table was swift as well.
It wasn’t surprising that the Pad Thai plate was the star of the meal. I once read that Pad Thai is made up of four flavors — sweet, sour, spicy and savory. In this case, the sweetness was a bit stronger than I expected, but the shock was a good one. Even as my stomach was begging me to stop toward the end of the meal, I continued to eye the dwindling portion of Pad Thai and nibble one tiny bite away at a time. It was that good.
The Chicken Basil and Red Curry were also excellent too. Both dishes had a spicy pepper next to it on the menu, though our waitress clarified that you get to choose the level of spice you prefer. I went with “mild” and had no problems whatsoever dealing with the spice that came with both dishes.
While my friend and I managed to finish all three plates, the generous servings left us feeling more than satisfied when it was time to pay–especially when we saw the final price. Although Cha Thai manages to do many things well, two in particular standout –the ability to feed its customers well and do so at a fair price.
1520 W Chapman Ave Orange, CA 92868
Sun-Sat: 11am – 9pm