It’s a familiar pattern in Morgantown: “new restaurant, same space.” Stay around for any length of time and you’ll find new favorites in old spaces and old favorites in new spaces. Such is the case for the newly opened Ta-Khrai Thai Restaurant, which has opened on University Ave. above the Zen Clay pottery studio. The space will be familiar to many- it used to house the Dancing Fig and Zen Clay Cafe. The Fig was a favorite for higher-end cuisine in town, which didn’t quite make it in a location that bodes well for lunch service success. Can Ta-Khrai, especially with well loved Chang Thai on High St., make the case that there’s room for two Thai hot spots in town?

If you’d asked us that when my wife and I arrived for dinner service, we wouldn’t have been sure. The restaurant was almost empty, and we were the third seated dinner party at 5:15. Still, the space was warm and cozy, with purples and reds mixing well with the evening sunset by the west-facing windows.

Ta-Khrai’s Interior

The water served at Ta-Khrai is infused, ours with lemon and apple slices, which made for a surprising first sip. My wife also ordered a Thai iced tea, which was served with a stronger color than expected, but connoisseurs of the sweetened tea-and-milk beverage won’t be disappointed. Both beverages were served in unique glasses- a tall skinny clear glass for the tea and a squat globe shaped glass for the infused water. Clearly, the restaurant was out to impress from the get-go.



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We were torn between the pages of options in the menu, particularly the whole page of curry choices and the five different Pad Thai options. Most options start at $10 and go up in price depending on protein choices. We went with the yellow Pad Thai and a coconut curry. I was asked for my spice preference, and I chose a 2 out of 4 for my Pad Thai.

Our food arrived, plated immaculately with carrot and red cabbage garnishes. Steam was still rising from both dishes. The Pad Thai was a bit different than the dishes I had previously enjoyed, which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. It was a bit more “saucy” than other Pad Thais, the bean sprouts weren’t mixed in but left to the side, it was topped with cilantro sprigs, and there was an orange slice garnish to add citrus to the dish’s flavor. One whiff of the dish was enough to prove that my 2 of 4 spice rating was, well, ambitious. Even if my Pad Thai was a bit spicier than I could handle, I knew that a 1 of 4 for future visits would mean a tasty dish.

Yellow Noodle Pad Thai. Notice the colorful glass in the corner of the photo.

The curry was, thankfully, a perfect way to mellow out the spice in the Pad Thai. Full of flavor, full of chicken and vegetables, it was a delicious dish on its own count. Both of us were happy and full within minutes.

By the time we’d finished dinner, service had picked up in the restaurant. Most of the tables were full and other curious patrons-to-be were asking about take-out menus. Our plates had been clear for some time, but we could see the staff were busy with the dinner rush. A family of five with two small kids arrived, and, ready to leave, we offered our table to the family and our debit card to the host. In return, our host gave us a small discount off our bill.

Is there room in town for two Thai restaurants? Ta-Khrai certainly makes the case. One of the traps of American Asian restaurants in 2017 is that the pricing of the food goes to pay for fancy extras, like flashy LED lighted bars, stainless steel chopsticks, and sushi served on large wooden models of ancient fishing boats. It’s the same food you can order for delivery, but the trappings and decorations are fancier. Ta-Khrai strikes the right balance, with uniquely tasty food, moderate price, friendly service, and just enough of the fanciness for a fun and unique Morgantown dining experience.



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