Hearty, house-made crab rangoon, filling yet inexpensive lunch specials, and contemporary decor: Atcha Thai Bistro brings a modern approach to traditional food without straying too far from the fundamentals. Atcha, which only opened a few months ago, deserves credit for bringing creativity to a cuisine often easy to replicate, but the small Thai bistro still has a couple kinks to work out.
One of the best times to taste what Atcha has to offer is during their lunch hours. Between 11:30 am and 3:30 pm from Tuesday to Saturday, the Thai bistro offers a make-your-own lunch special that includes your choice of an appetizer, a full entree, and a small side salad that runs between $11 and $13, depending on the choice of meat.
The lunch combination is a good way to sample the breadth of what Atcha Thai Bistro has to offer without breaking the bank by ordering multiple dishes. The bistro’s crab rangoon is a fresh take on an appetizer that fills menus at Asian restaurants everywhere. Instead of the cream cheese and “krab” mash that stuffs the inside of an often chewy, savory pastry, Atcha has real crab mixed in with the cream cheese in a crispy, lightly fried pastry. When dipped in the accompanying sweet sauce, the result is a nice balance of flavors and a heartiness that is often left to be desired from other Thai restaurants.
The panang curry that came with the lunch special, however, didn’t quite live up to the standards set by the crab rangoon. A little heavy on the vegetables at the expense of the curry, which was more watery than it should be, the bistro’s take on the Thai classic helped me achieve my new year’s resolution to eat healthier, but it wasn’t exactly satisfying. Fortunately there are at least a dozen other entree options from which to choose.
Beyond the classic staples that carry the menu of any Thai restaurant, Atcha Thai Bistro also hosts a number of dishes that was are a little less common. Among them are a number of in-house specials, like the plan pa cha, which is a fish fillet in a spicy sauce and covered in cooked onions, bell peppers, thai basil, green beans, and Thai herbs.
The new Thai bistro also has a number of unique drinks that pair well with the lunch combo. Roselle juice, a light tea derived from hibiscus flower, carries notes of berry along with its floral essence and is a refreshing addition to any meal. Along with the grey wood tables and minimalistic aesthetic, Atcha carries through with its contemporary decor with their beverages by serving them in a handled mason jar.
Beyond their drinks, all of the plating at Atcha Thai Bistro has a very clean, simple design to it. From the way the lunch combination fits neatly on a single plate, to the salmon rolls, which shoot out of the serving dish in a spiral, the presentation at Atcha shows precision and thoughtfulness.
The attention to detail and quality ingredients that fill Atcha Thai Bistro make it a strong contender in the landscape of competitive Thai restaurants in the area. Since Atcha just opened a few months ago, it’s likely that the owners are still fine tuning recipes and learning what customers want. That said, it’s still worth a visit for those looking for a new Thai experience
Atcha Thai Bistro
10558 San Pablo Avenue, El Cerrito
Tel. (510) 524-9282
Monday: 5 pm to 9 pm
Tuesday - Saturday: Lunch: 11:30 am - 3:30 pm
Dinner: 5:00 - 9:30 pm
Sunday: 12:30 pm to 9:00 pm
View their Yelp page here.