When we noticed a new Thai spot opened next to Thai Elephant we had to ask ourselves, Why on earth would a Thai restaurant open right next door to an existing Thai restaurant?

Family Feud: 5 R Cha vs. Thai Elephant

As if there weren't enough choices for Thai food in Tempe already, 5 R Cha went and moved into a space that literally shares a wall (and a parking lot) with Thai Elephant on University.

We thought it would make an excellent opportunity for a throwdown, and definitely not Bobby Flay style. We also decided to ask around and find out why Thai Elephant would even allow another restaurant to open next door. The answer to that is clear: one restaurant is a bistro, the kind of place you sit down and let the waitstaff serve you, the other is counter service express. And, as is turns out, the owners of each restaurant are sisters. 

We tried two of the most popular dishes, Pad Thai and Tom Kha, to see which sister does it best.

Get the results after the jump.

In the other corner: 5 R Cha, 815 W University Dr. Suite # 111, Tempe. 480-557-9616

At first glance, the name looks like a play on the hot sauce Sirracha, but at the bottom of the take out menu, there is a helpful definition: R Cha = Horse. So, right next door to the Thai Elephant is 5 Horse Thai. 5 R Cha is set up with counter service only. Order at the window and the food is out quick in to-go containers. There are tables and patio space for eating in, but the idea behind 5 R Cha is express, a helpful counterpart to the sit down and wait experience next door.

The Tom Kha soup ($2 for the cup, $3.95 for a bowl) here was thin and watery. While its garnish was pretty, the flavor was lacking. They were very generous with the chicken and mushrooms -- but the broth needed more lemongrass, more coconut and more flavor.

The Pad Thai, however, had a nice kick to it. We ordered it medium spicy, and it came medium spicy. The noodles were perfectly cooked, and there was a good ratio of noodles to chicken and veg. The plate was less expensive ($5.95 for regular size, $7.95 for large), but did not come with the brothy soup, or the egg roll.

The Winner for Tom Kha: Thai Elephant

The Winner for Pad Thai: 5 R Cha

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