Tara Thai 
“‘I like it spicy, but not too spicy’. Translation: you don’t like spicy food”.
- noted gourmand John Madden
Short Pump Town Center’s Tara Thai fell into the trap that we forgot we hadn’t been to it yet. We started this weekly lunch game in February 2010, but didn’t start blogging it until that September.
At that point, we hit reset. No, we didn’t. I lost and we started over. Tara Thai is a place we visited in the summer of ’10 and then ignored it because we felt like we had already eaten there.
It is a contrast to most Thai places in the West End. Adam remarked that the ocean-themed decor was too over-the-top for him, but when pressed admitted that it was still better than your typical West End Thai restaurants, which tend to be timeless (in a bad way).
For Thai, we typically order spicy dishes and that worked out well for us last time. Without planning it, we both ordered against type at Tara Thai. Based on rave customer reviews, I chose the Pad See Ew (wide noodles stir-fried in soy sauce) with a spring roll appetizer. Adam ordered the Pad Thai (stir-fried rice noodles with crushed peanuts) and Tom ka (coconut lemongrass soup with chicken). Of the four, Adam’s soup was the only hit. The spring roll was forgettable (as they usually are, frankly), but Adam enjoyed the flavors of his soup. On mains, we had the same experience: bland. Afterwards we wondered if we were so used to spicy Thai food that non-spicy seems tame by comparison. But that’s a cop-out. A relative of mine does not enjoy spicy food. “I like to taste the flavors other than ‘hot’”. I’ll admit that in the past I have dismissed that as Mr. Madden might, but have come to see the wisdom. In a good restaurant, the flavors should be worth seeking out. We both ordered non-spicy foods expecting to reveal subtleties we’ve been drowning in pepper. Instead our food was bland and disappointing.
Tara Thai wasn’t a bad meal, but we might need to order spicy next time to fully enjoy it.