Duck into the tiny, warm Chabaa Thai to forget the world around you, but get a reservation first! The downstairs of Chabaa Thai is tiny. A slightly larger, but still small dining area is upstairs.
Our server was friendly, and even recognized our friends who have dined there maybe four times previously. The white wine we brought along was plunked in a tableside ice bucket, which we only appreciated a week later when we did not get such a luxury at a couple of other BYOB’s.
Instead, I ordered the garden salad with crispy fried tofu, dressed with a light, tangy peanut sauce. This salad is large and should be split. The salad consisted of tomato, cucumber, shredded cabbage, shredded carrot, broccoli, lettuce, and tofu.
I’m still on my quest (it’s slow going) for a Thai restaurant with Pad Thai and Massaman curry made to my liking. Chabaa Thai does not have Massaman curry on the menu, so no matter how good their Pad Thai is, Chabaa Thai can never be my regular Thai place for those times when I waver between my two favorite Thai dishes.
A large pile of noodles hides behind the veggies.
How is their Pad Thai? It’s a damn shame they don’t have Massaman curry, because their Pad Thai is my favorite so far.
I ordered the garden Pad Thai, beautifully presented with a wedge of lime, mango, lettuce, scallions, shredded carrots, purple cabbage, and red pepper to the side of a generous pile of perfectly sweet and tangy noodles.
If I had known that the vegetarian Pad Thai came with so many veggies, I would have skipped the salad starter. I also should not have eaten the entire dish, but it was just too good to stop at pleasantly full!
Our friends also ordered the garden Pad Thai and the crab Pad Thai. I think Chabaa Thai knows their Pad Thai is good, because they have many to order – chicken, beef, shrimp, seafood, salmon, scallop, king prawn, crispy duck, vegetarian, and one particularly interesting Pad Thai wrapped in an egg crepe.
The boy ordered the Penang curry with fried tofu, onions, and peas. While not Massaman, Penang curry might be my next favorite Thai coconut curry, and Chabaa Thai’s Penang curry is medium bodied (I hate thin sauces), and comes with a nice heat.
Not sure how often I’ll be in Manayunk, but if you find yourself on Main Street, Chabaa Thai is not to be missed!
Chabaa Thai Bistro
4371 Main St., Philadelphia, PA, 19127
Mon., 5-9 p.m; Tues, 5-9:30 p.m.; Fri. 5-10 p.m.
Sat. 1-10 p.m.; Sun. 1-9 p.m.