Chao Phaya - just average Thai
There's been more than a couple threads on Thai food here over the years as Thai restaurants have been sort of 'growth industry' in this country. I've stated my thoughts on some Central Jersey Thais and my dining experience yesterday at lunch now affirms that I probably will not return to the cited restaurant.
I have to tell you folks, that I was initally going to Four Seasons down on Shelton; only to be turned away by the 'resident stupidities' of that area. It's always busy in that intersection, but yesterday was over the top. Sat on the exit ramp for 4 lights as the Shelton Rd traffic would 'block the intersection' for our green. Finally turned around by taking the left off of that exit, and when I finally pointed the ship back north, the traffic had now spilled onto the shoulder of the roadway (at least a dozen cars on the #287 shoulder southbound) with probably still another 20 vehicles on that serpentine ramp.
The above aside, I deal with it and head back to Somerset (Chao Phaya) for my Thai lunch. I even stopped into the liquor store nearby for a nice Reisling, grabbed a Star Ledger next door & was all set to enjoy a quiet lunch. Quickly ordered a pork in garlic and pepper sauce and enjoyed my grape while doing the crossword puzzle. Salad was fine (most Thai places give you the proverbial small plate blanched lettuce and peanut dressing - no problems here), with their giving luncheon diners a complimentary spring roll, which wasn't good at all (I almost wanted to spit it out of my mouth - was it beef; whatever it was had a raunchy and unpleasant taste); whatever it was it was pureed and there were no vegetables). My lunch entree came out in no time, and while decidedly different in prep vs Four Seasons, I had no problem with the variance as there were green beans, zucchini, but 2 miniscule slices of sweet red pepper and bok choy.
My problem with the entree was twofold. Portion size (of the pork) was awfully small and the pork was dry as hell!!! When I prepare this dish as I did right around the holidays, my Pad Kra Tiem Prik was exponentially better, tastier, and moist melt in your mouth which is what I expect to receive from the kitchen here. Just blooming awful as there was no marinating of the meat for this dish. It was quickly sauteed and had no taste and was dry.
This place should NOT EVER be propped up and/or cited as being one of the better Thai restaurants in Central Jersey. It's not even close to being so ladies and gentlemen. The hosts, staff are nice, then again as a people they are inordinately cordial and polite. I love dining at Thai spots as the I love the cuisine and it's typically a quiet and serene experience (though Four Seasons is raucous - and I love it as the food is that good). I just can't see myself ever going there again (and I've dined for lunch at least a half dozen times with it ranging from decent/good to yesterday's letdown). Again, just an affirmation that it's not a place to seek out.