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Sep 14, 2010 04:46 PM

Archira, Chapel Hill

Archira <> is a new Thai/Japanese restaurant in the East 54 complex in Chapel Hill (same side of ellipse as Saffron). Wife and I went for a look at their menu around 7:30PM the other day, and then to bring home some Thai takeout (wife had been there the previous week for lunch.

The setting is lovely -- inside very sleek, with warm woods in contrast to pottery (nice collection) and modern tables, chairs, cutlery, etc. The menu is extensive as the website suggests. What I was not prepared for was the quality for the price charged. We ordered very conservatively, as we do at any new place, to check out how "standards" are treated. The "pot stickers" were served in a thick red curry broth. It was not dumbed down for US palates, but had quite a lovely bite to it. Tastes were clean not muddy at all. The roast duck salad was impressive, lots of good trimmed duck over a pepper, cucumber melange and dressed calmly. Again, tastes were clean and very distinct. The pad thai was lovely. Not the kind of gelatinous mess that too many local places are now serving. Everything was perfectly cooked, and the tastes again were fresh. And someone in the kitchen had fun making the carrot rosettes.

The sushi bar is long and impressive. Looking it over, the fish looked good (I know, who can tell that way?) and the two sushi chefs were at attention waiting at that time on exactly no customers.

Lots of folk were sitting outside on the sidewalk patio, drinking all manner of things and seeming to enjoy the food as well. It was a nice mix of retired Meadowmont people, young attractive professionals, students, and dog owners!

It's certainly now in our rotation. And the sushi awaits sampling. Thai Palace, 200 yards away, is in for a competitive run. Archira has a head start.

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  1. I tried to order takout from Archira this afternoon. The guy who answered the phone only spoke Thai and couldn't take the order. Auspicious! I'm gonna check it out in person ASAP.

    1. This is a really inspiring review. I'm going to get there asap. Thanks walras.

      1. I visited Archira a few weeks ago for lunch with a girlfriend. I ordered a standard dish, Drunken Noodle. Good to hear that walras' pad thai wasn't a gelatinous mess, but my Drunken Noodle came with a massive wad of noodles all stuck together like one of those rubber band balls. The space is lovely, but that was enough to keep me from going back until they sort out their noodle issues.

        1. I got takeout from Archira this evening. Ordered the Tiger Tear (grilled beef salad), duck curry, seafood "paradise" (mixed seafood dish) and pad thai. It was all unoffensive, but nothing special whatsoever. For now I'm sticking to Twisted Noodles for takeout.

          Twisted Noodles
          4201 University Dr Ste 112, Durham, NC 27707

          1. Went to dinner here tonight. It is a really attractive restaurant-- the owners have great taste. I just wish I could say the same about the food. We started off sharing a Fuji roll as an app. Actually, it was quite good but at Sushi Love I can get two of the same for the same price. For entrees we chose the green curry with shrimp and a curry noodle dish with chicken (#38)-- I forget the name. Everywhere I've had green curry it's been quite spicy but here ti was bland, no depth of flavor. The curry noodle dish was okay but they put this pile of fried wonton-like strips that was really out of place and made the dish hard to eat. I like to have hot tea with my meals. We were brought a pot of what was supposed to be jasmine tea-- a pot of tea with one bag of tea. When asked for more tea, they just filled the pot with more hot water and the same bag! This is pretty common practice at most Asian restaurants. Is it too much to ask for loose leaf infused tea? Apparently so.

            According to the menu blurb, the owner owned 3 Thai restos in the DC area and 1 in Cary before coming to Chapel Hill. DC is chock full of great Thai places-- I don't see how she could have competed. It is simply not in the same league as Thai Palace in Chapel Hill or Twisted Noodle or Thai Cafe in Durham.

            Twisted Noodles
            4201 University Dr Ste 112, Durham, NC 27707

            Thai Palace Restaurant
            1206 Raleigh Rd, Chapel Hill, NC 27517

            Sushi Love
            2812 Erwin Rd, Durham, NC 27705