Light pours in through Happy Thai's full-wall windows, casting a natural glow on polished wood tables and walls painted orange and avocado-green. Amid these warm accents, diners sample warm papaya chicken, fried duck, and prawn in spicy curry. But how spicy is spicy? To make ordering easy, the menu offers a spice rubric, ranging from one star for mild, to five stars for extremely hot. To help wash down the the heat, opt for a Guinness or Sapporo brew, or one of nine varieties of bubble tea such as honeydew, strawberry, and coconut.
China City's far-reaching menu spans the delectable gamut of Mandarin, Szechuan, and Hunan cuisines, from piping-hot soups to sizzling platters. Sate seafood cravings with freshly cubed ahi tuna, which mingles with shrimp chips in wasabi mayo ($8.99), or flood belly canyons with cups of hot-and-sour soup ($2.99). Carnivores can sink incisors into the mongolian beef, a sliced flank steak with green and white onions, sautéed in a sweet-spicy sauce ($10.99), or lighty dusted and deep-fried shrimp coated with a creamy sweet mayo and bedecked with honey-sesame walnuts ($14.99). Herbivores can mash molars on mushu vegetables with sliced cabbage, bamboo shoots, and wood mushrooms, sautéed and slathered in a sweet-plum sauce, then hugged by a overly friendly pancake ($9.99).
In Thailand, a silver spoon can refer to a few different things: prosperity and well being, for instance. More specifically for the owner of Silver Spoon Thai Restaurant, it refers to a time when nobles were the only folks allowed to use silver as a method for feeding themselves. The bistro blends those ideas together, aiming to make every diner feel like a noble. The chefs play an integral role, creating decadent, carefully prepared Thai dishes, such as the Prik King filled with thick cuts of chicken, beef, pork, or tofu in a rich chili sauce infused with Thai basil. Whether guests are enjoying a curry or noodle dish while listening to live piano music on Fridays and Saturdays, or the chef's specialty—garlic pork ribs or sizzling beef—they can opt for their level of spiciness, ranging from mild to extra hot.
Recipes made popular by street food vendors in Bangkok populate the menu at Iyara Thai Cuisine. Kick off the culinary expedition with chicken satay—a grilled-meat popsicle marinated in a blend of herbs and spices ($7)—before letting your spoon mingle with a gaggle of chicken on the bone, shallots, and crispy egg noodles bathing in the spicy coconut milk of the khao soi kai ($10). Patrons may partake in a game of hide-and-seek with the pla yum, a deep-fried rainbow trout buried beneath shredded mango, cabbage, carrots, peanuts, ginger, lemongrass, lime juice, and cilantro ($12), or chase fried wide rice noodles around a plate of pad see-ewe, dodging patches of chinese broccoli and cooling off in a river of sweet sauce (chicken, pork, or tofu, $9; beef, $10; prawn, $12). Pair eats with a beer ($4), iced tea ($3), or wine served by the glass ($6–$8), bottle ($20–$25), or nanny's tablespoon.
A tall glass of wine, a sizzling plate of food, and a serene room can make for an exquisite meal. The team behind Chantanee Thai Restaurant & Bar know that well, and for almost 20 they have brought their refined Thai staples and chill service to the downtown Bellevue community. Duck dishes arrive wok-crisped and glazed with rich garlic sauce or slow-cooked in a fragrant combination of coriander and five-spice powder. Platters of stir-fried vegetables and cashews get a kick from housemade chili paste, which can be used to make any dish spicier or just more red if you happen to love the color.
On one wall, a large Thai-inspired art piece gleams gold over the room and a circular booth with lime green cushions pops amid earth-tone chairs and blonde wooden tables. In another artistic play, a row of stout wooden planks hangs from the ceiling, visually separating the dining room from the nearby lounge area. There, a curving bar winds the length of the room and bartenders mix up complex drinks, pour absinthe, or set their signature Blue Blazer drink on fire.
The aromas of peanut sauce, lemongrass, and spicy chili pastes drifting throughout the dining room at Araya's Place may seem familiar at first, but the eatery isn't like most Thai restaurants. It eschews meats and dairy entirely, forging a distinctive menu that led The Stranger to hail Araya's University District location as "Thai vegan heaven."
Working exclusively with GMO-free tofu and produce sourced from local farmers whenever possible, the chefs cook classic Thai dishes as well as a handful of slightly more imaginative creations. "I do not want to be only Thai vegetarian food," owner Araya Pudpard explained to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in 2008, "I want to be international vegan food."
The international twists are evident throughout the menu's otherwise familiar selection of stir-fried noodle dishes and aromatic curries. A mélange of assorted garden vegetables, deep-fried and served with sweet-and-sour sauce, make up the veggie tempura, and the jasmine-tinged creme brûlée conceals a vegan and gluten-free custard beneath a one-molecule-thin layer of crisp sugar.
But even with these occasional twists, Thai staples still dominate the menu's pages. One of the restaurant's more iconic dishes, the tom yum soup, is so spicy that it has appeared on the Food Network show Heat Seekers, which features two chefs who travel around the country looking for mouth-burning dishes and ice sculptures to lick afterward.