Cha Yen Thai Cookery [Watertown, MA]

I know that Cha Yen Thai is much beloved here (and, in the past, when Chowhound still existed, there as well), but I must respectfully, and reluctantly, record a disagreement. I thought they were “only OK” when they first opened, and (after a meal from them today) I think they’ve gone from that to actively indifferent.

  1. Their khao soi had brisket that was tough and chewy. (As others have said, dark meat poultry seems better suited to the dish – but if beef floats your boat, it should at least be tender.)

  2. The stir-fried pork with ginger was only faintly gingery.

  3. The tofu with see ew noodles was inoffensive, largely because it was intasty.

  4. The roti was thick and chewy.

I could go on, but why?

1 Like

Oh, this makes me very sad. (apart from the word “intasty” which makes me happy :wink:
I agree: I had an only okay noodle dish there a few months back, but I tried a soba-type stir fry which I feel was a bad order on my part so I was hoping it was a one-off.

Their khao soi was the version that introduced me to this dish years back, and I’ve now had it at many places including Pok Pok NY. It’s been probably a year and a half since I’ve had theirs, but it’s never been chewy so this is sad to hear. For the record, other area versions I’ve enjoyed (although not as much as Cha Yen’s in their glory days) are Crying Thaiger in Malden, Thana Thai in Arlington, and the new Dakzen in Davis, to which I give a “B”.

I’ve still not been to CYTC, but the roti/roti canai that I’ve sampled around Southeast Asia are usually thick and chewy. Is the version at CYTC tough in addition to being thick and chewy?

I guess I was using “chewy” to indicate that it was tough.

My own previous experiences with the roti of roti canai have been in Malaysian and Thai restaurants in the Boston and NYC areas. They’ve invariably been flaky, and while not as delicately thin as some flatbreads can be, they’ve been thinner than the version I recently had at CYTC (which was also thicker than versions I’ve had on past visits there). You’re just going to have to get to CYTC and tells us how their version compares to versions you’ve had in SE Asia.

As a curiosity: were there variations in the SE Asia versions? Is the version in Malaysia (where I believe the bread originated as an offshoot of the Indian paratha) different from, say, the Thai version?

From my blog: “oh so flaky and crispy Roti with an amazing Massaman curry”

Was at Cha Yen for lunch today and ordered the Khao Soi with brisket - it was great and the brisket wasn’t tough or chewy. Maybe you just had a bad portion of meat . . . or maybe I got lucky.

Just for what it’s worth.

I still really enjoy Cha Yen.

1 Like