My girlfriend and I stopped by here spontaneously this evening after a trip to the zoo. We knew it was on 45th, but weren't sure we would be able to find it--which is kind of funny in retrospect, because the (apparently imported) teak house that it's in is like no other structure in Wallingford.
We got there just after it opened at 5 pm and went upstairs to be seated. The interior really is beautiful--dark wood everywhere and these unusual bare-filament-bulb hanging lamps that are turned down low.
As we were thirsty and starving, we ordered a couple of drinks (lemongrass gimlet and cucumber kazi, both tasty in a sophisticated sorority girl sort of way) and plowed straight into a couple of appetizers. The gai haw bai toi (I'm probably butchering their spelling, as I've seen it transliterated as "gai hor bai toey" at other restaurants) was really good, and was plated in a much more dramatic fashion than I've seen before--the leaves were left quite long on one end of the wrapper, and the long leaves were tied together and stood upright on the plate. My description is probably incomprehensible, but the little packets of chicken sat on the plate with eight or nine inches of bright green leaves sprouting straight up off of the plate. It looked quite nice, although it necessitated a bit of messy disassembly before consumption.
The other appetizer was something I'd never seen before at a Thai restaurant. Sadly I can't remember the name, but it was deep-fried tofu and taro with a spicy tamarind dipping sauce. Again, the plating was quite elegant, even though the tofu and taro came in a brown paper bag to soak up extra grease. The bag was rolled down to make a sort of crinkly bowl. I think this is some of the best deep-fried food I've ever eaten. Both the tofu and taro were perfectly crispy, with almost no excess grease--the bag had only a few grease spots at the bottom, rather than being the sodden transparent mess one might expect. I honestly don't know how they got it to come out so perfectly.
For our entrees, we had pad khee mao and pad pug. Both were subtly flavored, which was slightly disappointing as I like my pad khee mao smoky. The pad khee mao noodles were velvety and a little oilier than I'm used to, but not unpleasantly so. I guess I wasn't quite as impressed by the entrees, but they weren't bad by any means. One thing that did strike me about the pad khee mao is that the basil leaves in it (at least, I assume they were basil) had a unique flavor that I'd never run across before. They had a distinctly cinnamony flavor that was really different and nice.
For dessert, we had Thai iced tea ice cream, which tasted much like you'd expect. It was quite icy and sweet, sort of like they had taken a glass of Thai ied tea, run it through a food processor to crush the ice a little finer, and then run it through the ice cream maker. It seemed like it would be refreshing on a really hot day. I don't think I could eat a whole serving, though--just a little too sweet and too cold for a rainy Sunday in February.
I'd definitely go back. I wasn't floored by the entrees, but the appetizers were standouts, so I imagine that we might have picked some of their less-exciting offerings by chance.
I don't think that there's another Thai restaurant in Seattle quite like it--elegant surroundings and good food, but not particularly pricey or hipster-trendy. It probably won't replace Bai Tong or Tup Tim Thai in my heart, but at the same time I really want to go back and work my way through the rest of the menu to see what else they do well.
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