Thai food lovers, rejoice - especially those of you passing through South Phoenix. Tucked away on a sleepy stretch of East Broadway Road between 24th and 32nd Streets, Chanpen Thai Cuisine is bringing authentic, homemade curries, noodles, soups, salads and rice dishes to South Phoenix foodies. It's the only Thai food on this side of town, and might just be one of the best in the Valley.
Owner Chanpen Ramonaitis has fashioned a lunch and dinner menu with about 50 selections of traditional Thai cooking. The aromatic scent of curries rich with coconut milk, savory stir-fries and zesty salads will whet your appetite as soon as you walk through the door at Chanpen Thai. Most everything on the menu is made from scratch by Ramonaitis herself, including the curry sauces.
Authentic Thai food arrives in South Phoenix, thanks to Chanpen Thai Cuisine — Photo courtesy of Chanpen Thai Cuisine
Don't expect to find bland curries made with canned ingredients here. Most of the fare features fresh vegetables, and curries are flavored with fresh herbs.
If you love duck, you won't want to miss the roast duck entrees. The generous servings feature tender slices of meat, serving as a perfect counterpoint to dishes featuring red curry or the spicy basil rice.
To start, try the fried fish cakes. They are spongy on the inside and perfectly crusty on the outside, with a perfect zing of spiciness. They're served with a delicious cucumber relish that's crafted from chile paste and sprinkled with chopped peanuts.
Another great starter is the Thai toast, which is crispy and lightly drizzled with garlic on the outside, with a thin layer of seasoned ground chicken on the inside.
If you or your dining companions are averse to spicy food, Chanpen Thai is happy to keep entrees on the mild side. If you prefer your food on the hotter side of the spectrum, ask for a three or higher on the scale of one to five.
And if you're craving something light, try the larb. It's a traditional Laotian salad made with finely cut red onion and mint and then mixed with fish sauce-flavored chicken and lemon juice. It's served in an over-sized lettuce leaf, so you get a perfect blend of cool and hot flavors in every bite.
Dessert at Chanpen Thai is complimentary for dine-in guests. It's simple, but exquisite: a single scoop of green tea ice cream topped with pieces of fried banana. Sometimes roti - a traditional Thai pastry topped with drizzled chocolate syrup - is served instead. Both are excellent.
The dining room at Chanpen Thai is modest, but the food is superior. It's a fine introduction to Thai food, and a great choice for well-versed Thai food lovers.