Behind the kitchen doors of Krob Krua is a trio: sisters Varalux “Luk” Hardinger and Sujitra “Pat” Baker, and Jeff Hardinger. These minds behind each dish at the restaurant are crafting Thai dishes that aren’t often found in Eugene, from wood-fired pizza to authentic street food.
Previously a popular take-out-oriented restaurant, Krob Krua recently opened a brick-and-mortar restaurant on Pearl Street.
“The first location had us bursting at our seams,” owner Jeff Hardinger says. He had his eyes on the Pearl Street location for a while. With the new location a 15-minute walk from the University District, Hardinger wanted to increase the restaurant’s customer base from the University of Oregon. “Increasing student diners was a focus for me. We already have had a 20 percent increase in student customers,” he says.
Jeff and Luk Hardinger are married. Jeff met his wife and her sister when they opened Ruay Thai in the heart of Manhattan. The trio perfected their original recipes before moving to Eugene in 2015. Hardinger is a Eugene native and eventually they decided to move back to be closer to his parents.
Hardinger says Krob Krua’s inspiration was the Hardingers and Baker’s combined vision. In 2018, they opened Krob Krua, a hole in the wall Thai take-out restaurant in the basement of Wildcraft Ciderworks in the Whit. Right away, the restaurant received high praise as it served some of the most refined food Eugene has to offer.
The new location — previously Community Fermentation Union and before that La Perla Pizzeria — has an elegant ambiance with a 50-person dining room, an outdoor dining patio and a bar with creatively themed cocktails such as the “Thaiphoon,” a vodka spiked thai iced tea. Hardinger says he plans to repurpose the brewing room from La Perla and make it into a private dining room for events and larger parties.
Krob Krua’s menu includes staple items such as pad Thai, but it also offers authentic street food items, such as ba mee moo dang, a roasted red pork and steamed wonton noodle dish, dressed in sweet broth. Jeff Hardinger proudly serves ba mee moo dang as one of the restaurant’s “family specialties.”
Perhaps most notable is the Hardingers and Baker’s relentless commitment to using fresh and local ingredients: everything from their ground meat to their lime juice is done in-house.
However, a new and exciting twist to taking over a former pizza joint is the ability to use a wood-fire oven. “During our transition, I visited Thailand and I wanted to see how they did pizza over there and I got inspired,” Jeff Hardinger says.
Krob Krua now features two fusion items: laab pizza which includes roasted chili sweet peppers, toasted rice powder and thai herbs, and a spicier massaman pizza that incorporates curry sauce and baby potatoes. In addition to the pizzas, the restaurant uses the wood-fired oven for new opulent dishes like the roasted sea bass, locally sourced mussels in green curry, lemongrass half chicken and other seasonal specials.
Once a hidden gem, Krob Krua has become a delightful addition to Eugene’s culinary scene. Its new location will undoubtedly make a lasting and positive impact on the community. The trio’s passion has captured the hearts of loyal diners and continues to pleasantly surprise those who have yet to experience the satisfaction Krob Krua so effortlessly provides.