On a Friday in mid-March 2023, Neighbor Roy and I struck out to cross Tucson for a lunch at Char Thai. It had been recommended to me by my personal trainer, Vadim, who works at Body Basics. I go there twice a week to improve my balance, which is nearly non-existent. He’s recommended other restaurants to me and never steered me wrong. So I was feeling fairly confident in recommending it to Neighbor Roy. It turned out to be one of our better choices.
We parked right in front of the restaurant. Upon entering, it was clearly south Asian because of the decor. A waitress, the only one there that day, said we could seat wherever we wanted. The place was empty at noon o’clock.
She took our drink orders. Roy, as usual, ordered hot tea. I, as usual, ordered iced tea. Our waitress told me that they don’t offer regular iced tea, but that I could have their Thai Iced Tea. I had seen on the menu that it included some cream, and that didn’t seem right to me. So I asked her for just a few slices of lemon for my water.
Not too long after this exchange, she brought Roy some Thai Iced Tea, not his regular hot tea. He tasted it and then asked me if I wanted a taste. We were both surprised at how good it was. Some kind of fruit taste plus cream. So I appropriated it. It surely didn’t taste like any iced tea I have ever had, but it was delicious. I finished the whole thing during my lunch.
Our waitress, having realized her error, came back to our table to apologize and let us know that there would be no charge for the mistaken Thai Iced Tea.
We both ordered off their “Lunch Menu”, which is a bit cheaper than their dinner menu and less filling.
When our lunches came, it was plainly clear that Roy was going to take some of his meal home, so large was the portion. Our waitress first brought me some soup, can’t recall what type it was, but it was very good. When my lunch arrived, it was not as I expected. I had ordered Sweet and Sour Pork with rice and a spring roll ($12.95). But this “pork” was in a soup bowl, not fried as usually served in a Chinese restaurant. In addition to my lunch, my plate came with a mound of rice, a spring roll, and soup.
I’ll let Neighbor Roy tell you about his experience.
“So, where does a 1/4 Irish-American man dine on St. Patricks day? At a Thai restaurant on E. 5th street, near Swan Rd, that’s where. In defense, neither Jim nor I were aware it was St. Pat’s Day when we made plans to visit Char Thai. It is an older Thai restaurant. I believe it was the first Thai restaurant in Tucson. I used to visit it frequently when I lived on the east side. It is in a strip mall on the North side of 5th street, near Swan. It is starting to show its age but is clean and the staff is friendly. We were the only patrons, though several more came in as we were ready to leave. The menus are extensive. I did order my Lo-Mien ($14.95) and hot tea. We had a long wait, but it was worth it. Although I ordered hot tea, the waitress brought me a glass of strawberry-looking fluid which I mistook for my tea. I had a new experience in tea. It tasted like fruit and I asked Jim to taste it–he agreed. About then the waitress returned with my regular tea. We all then realized the tea was for Jim although he had not ordered it. The waitress could not apologize enough. Later she explained the tea was naturally sweet and that they added a jigger and a half of cream for color.
My lunch arrived, a mountain of Lo-Mien. One look and I knew I would get two meals out of this dish, and I was right. It was as good the second day.
I give this restaurant 4 saguaros, based on the excellent food, the relaxed atmosphere, and the Thai decor. The mishap with the tea was not a major one–but if you go I would recommend the tea with the cream in it.”
Clearly, Roy enjoyed his Lo-Mein and I thoroughly enjoyed my Sweet and Sour Pork. I particularly enjoyed a very refreshing Thai Iced Tea.
Roy and I both rate Char Thai with four- Saguaros. Very good indeed.
5039 E. 5th St. (at Rosemont) • Tucson, Arizona
Lunch Tuesday – Friday 11:00 am – 3:00 pm
Dinner Tuesday – Sunday 4:30 pm – 8:30 pm