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Jun 2, 2008 10:58 AM

Champa Sushi & Thai, Hendersonville, NC

Just opened today! In the old Park Deli location.

They've done a major remodel inside; no remnants of the Park Deli at all. Nice, upscale atmosphere. Full bar and separate sushi bar. Seating for 200.

Co-worker had the Pad Thai (chicken) and said is was "good; okay".

I got the Thai Basil Red was very good! Decent lunch portion, lots of chicken. And, most importantly, when I asked for "extra spicy", it came extra spicy. That's why I gave up on Thai Spice; they refused to use spice.

I know some posters on this board look for authenticity. I can't claim to know what authentic Thai is like, but I really enjoyed this.

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  1. oh yeah, price.

    Lunch Special was $8 and ~1.50 or so for a tea.

    9 Replies
    1. re: timlau

      thanks for giving us the heads-up! We've been waiting for it to open. And you're right, the interior looks much nicer than before.

      we'll give it a go soon. I've lost interest in Thai Spice after our last meal there was many levels below our first experience. So, I'm hopeful this one will be good - and stay good. Oh ya, and it sounds like they are getting the spice right!

      1. re: Scirocco

        My wife and I ate at Champa last night. My wife is Thai and we lived in Bangkok for 12 years where I worked as a Thai linguist at the embassy. We KNOW Thai food and we are looking for authentic dishes when we got to a new Thai restaurant.

        For appetizers we had:

        Fresh Basil Rolls - characterless, very boring and overloaded with pea pods. The two dipping sauces were the typical super-sweet red glop and a gross rendition of the peanut sauce that usually comes with satay. My wife had one bite of hers and I ate about half of mine.

        Steamed Mussels - 6-8 good sized mussels in a bowl and covered with a tasty broth but no dipping sauces. But mussels are NEVER served this way in Thailand. They always come with at least a spicy lime sauce on the side. We didn't finish this dish.

        For main courses we had:

        Duck Curry - served on a flat plate; a stack of pieces of duck with a good but skimpy amount of curry sauce poured over it. Not the traditional large bowl of curry with pieces of duck in it. This dish we did finish.

        Pad Thai - a total disaster. Until now the abomination of putting ketchup in Pad Thai had not seemed to have reached this part of America but it is here now. This dish was dripping with ketchup. It was also much too soupy whereas real Pad Thai is much more dry. Lastly, Pad Thai always includes bean sprouts. Ours had none so we asked the waiter to get some from the kitchen. We left more than half of this dish on the table.

        Charges were $46 for the four dishes and one Thai beer. This would have been quite acceptable if the food had been a lot better.

        I was not really expecting much from this new place. It's been my experience that any restaurant that tries to combine two Asian cuisines probably can't do at least one of them very well, and that certainly was true here.

        The only Thai employee at Champa is the one male waiter who waited on us. According to him the management and entire kitchen staff are Chinese, and this is the probable reason why these people do not have the slightest idea of what real Thai food is.

        1. re: ThaiNut

          Hmm...not a very good start! ketchup in Pad Thai??! I don't know authentic thai (just know what I like and what I don't), but that's just wrong on so many levels.

          Excellent point of being "jack of all trades, master of none". Have seen that happen too many times before. I love Umi, so had not planned to go to Champa for sushi, but rather the thai food.

          Damn. I was so hopeful. Might give this ONE try, but I'm guessing we'll stick to A'ville.

          1. re: Scirocco

            You might still give Champa a shot for the sushi. One source of mine stated that Champa has made a near exact copy of Umi's sushi menu but is offering the stuff at lower cost. And I have to admit that Champa is classy to look at inside.

            What really ticks me off is that now H'ville has one 100% Thai food place and another that is 50% Thai, and neither of these places meets my admittedly stiff and exacting standards. So if some Thai comes along who is a great cook and would like to open a place here he is going to walk right on past us because the niche for a Thai place in our small town is already filled.

            1. re: ThaiNut

              Unfortunately you have even more reason to be ticked off. If little ole H-ville only has two Thai places and neither are very good, then even if an authetic Thai restaurat were to open, the residents of H-ville might say, "I've had Thai and I don't like it".

              1. re: southernitalian

                Yup, that's a problem for a place like this. Where we used to live in MD there were dozens of Thai places between Baltimore,
                DC and Northern VA, and it did not take a rocket scientist to pick out the truly good (and authentic) places because that's where the Thai community flocked to.

          2. re: ThaiNut

            Ketchup in pad thai????? I've never heard of such a thing. That just sounds gross.

            1. re: Suzy Q

              Gross, but true. There are many mentions of it here on Chow and some people actually seem to like it.

              Follow the below lead to see a picture of how Pad Thai is typically served in Thailand. Note the whole fried egg perched on top and the neat piles of sugar, ground hot red pepper and ground peanuts off to the left side. They serve it this way so that the eater can decide which of, and how much of, those things to mix in. Yum!

      2. The original comment has been removed
        1. Had lunch again today, and again enjoyed it. I'd suggest folks give it a try at least once rather than rely on another's more exacting standards. This is Hendersonville after all; not Bangkok. Go and see if you enjoy it for what it is. Just my $0.02.

          Also, they've been open for all of 2 days. Give them a chance to work it out before writing them off.

          1 Reply
          1. re: timlau

            I wish I could share your optimism but I do not see much likelihood of improvement. These people are not new to the restaurant game, one source told me that already had several places in Greenville and another source told me that were operators of a successful Japanese place in Asheville (he told me the name but I forgot it). To open Champa they brought in their own crew and only some of the floor staff are local hires.

            To produce Thai food the way my wife and I like it they would have to hire a Thai cook and that is not likely. Chinese are very cliquish. Besides, there is no reason for them to go to any trouble to produce real Thai since the local clientele doesn't know that ketchup doesn't belong in Pad Thai.

            I was about to say that I might go back there again to sit at the bar and have a Thai beer (they can't screw that up) and a dish of chicken larb but then I looked at their carry-out menu description of that dish, e.g." Minced chicken w/Thai herbs, habaneros and lemon juice served w. lettuce wrap." Sorry - that's not now larb is made. Thai peppers, and which are very easily obtained here, are used; lime juice, not lemon, is used; and it is not served as a wrap. It usually comes on a bed of lettuce or cabbage leaves. Well, maybe I can still have the beer.

          2. Here's a photo of Champa's interior

            1. Here are photos of the front and back of Champa's menu. Hope they're readable!

              1 Reply
              1. re: 1reachme

                Last night we ate at a new Thai restaurant in Asheville that we found to be REALLY authentic and good. The topic title is 'Suwana's Thai Orchid - Asheville.'