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Chaang Thai replaces Sengchanh with flavor and style




The Broadmoor gifts much to our culinary scene, including alumni like first-time restaurateur and Thailand native Suwanna Meyer. She once gleaned skills at the Lake Terrace Dining Room, and after some stops at other Thai eateries, has opened her own, Chaang Thai. It replaces former occupant Sengchanh Thai, in what was for many years the House of Yakitori 7.

As nice as Sengchanh looked, Chaang manages to be even brighter and sharper decoratively, and generally with food presentations and fine service as well. Here, you need not fear for MSG in your eats, and hot means HOT; I'd go medium.

For starters, both the papaya and larb salads ($8.95 each) are seasoned beautifully, exuding lightness and freshness. The former's always been one of my favorite Thai dishes, and Meyer's is as good as the one at the sadly-now-closed Taste of Thai Spice (where Meyer once worked). Our larb's minced chicken absorbs so much flavor with all the exposed surface area, that each bite, pinched between cabbage leaves, bursts with citrus and chili flavor plus fish sauce and mint back notes.

The large, shareable Tom Yum Kung soup ($9.95) proves less thrilling than your average Tom Kha Gai (we didn't try Chaang's) because of the lack of coconut milk; its "hot and sour" broth is more watery, though not too oily. Instead of chicken, the Yum Kung builds itself around shrimp and mushrooms, and pleasantly highlights the herbal essences of lemongrass, lime leaf and Thai basil.

On the curry front, Chaang Thai's Green Curry ($9.95) hangs with the finest, with big basil accents and a bounty of veggies, especially when ordering extra of them versus a meat option. The Khow Soy egg noodle bowl ($10.95) was excitingly new to me, described as a Northern-style dish. It leads with Massaman-type curry flavor tweaked by red onions, and a pickle-mustard relish; don't think hot dog topping, but instead a subtle and agreeable sourness that zings with the bowl's beef slivers.

In a similar vein, from the menu's entrée section (all $9.95), the Pad Priew Wan (Thai-style sweet-and-sour) hits tart and acidic notes (thanks to tomatoes amid its other veggies), but with the sugary counterbalance provided by pineapple hunks. For more single-focus, simpler, soy-based flavors, the Pad Khing stir-fries ample ginger root with veggies and your protein choice (we got chicken), while the Pad Ka Tiem does the same with garlic (we went tofu and also paid $1.50 for the brown rice up-charge). My pork Pad Thai ($7.95 at lunch, includes a tiny soup bowl and single crab Rangoon) comes off as average, lacking important greenery (onions and lime garnish) and ample peanut character.

The two offered desserts shine, though: a mango-coconut sticky rice ($4.95) set off by seemingly a touch more saltiness than normal, and a house-made Thai coconut ice cream ($2.50) with a fun, fried and crumbled mung bean garnish. You could also indulge on Thai iced tea or coffees ($2.95, which we didn't), or go with the "ginger drink" ($2.50, hot or cold), a fortified tea with reasonable sugar content.

All compiled, Chaang's quite strong for a first solo effort, with the food following the fine form.

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