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.
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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