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).
The Ballard eatery serves up fresh Asian fusion fare and tapas in a charming dining environment. Be a benevolent boss and share small plates of curry-corn fritters ($5) or battered and Cajun-spiced calamari ($5) with your quivering underlings, or hoard an order of the sweet-basil mussels ($6) baked in white wine, garlic, and butter to silence your growly gut. Full-sized entrees feature Asian flavors fused with American flair and include the booze-infused Double-Fisted Duck ($11.50), marinated in dark beer and Chinese wine and served with deep-fried cabbage and jasmine rice. The Menage-a-Thai ($12) comes with three different curries and your choice of beef, chicken, or tofu, and is served with roti and jasmine rice. Hungry herbivores can dig for fresh-grown nutrients in the Green Dragon ($9), a tofu and green-collard stew with shiitake mushrooms, whereas meatists can wrap their tongues around the spicy sausage capellini ($10), made up of Thai Sai Oua sausage over angel-hair pasta sprinkled with fresh basil. Ensure a sweet conclusion to an undercover date with your debonair detective with an order from the rotating dessert menu, such as the pumpkin cheesecake ($6) or carrot cake ($6).
As they worked with intense, iconic ingredients such as lemongrass and curry, the cooks at Thai of Wedgwood found that they never needed to turn to MSG for help. So, they cut the artificial enhancer out of their cuisine completely, relying instead on age-old recipes and nature's own flavor powerhouses. They add sugary pop to their sweet and sour chicken with real pineapple, or spice up salmon with red curry and coconut milk. Their cuisine shows up at tables in a dining room rife with personal touches of Thailand, from the dressing screen which hides a hallway to the wall hangings that measure how much the nation has grown since last school year.
Much like Thailand itself, Thaiku's menu comes loaded with traditional and authentic Thai delicacies; unlike Thailand, it contains few elephants. Kick-start your tummy's tuk-tuk with an appetizer such as giow tawt ($6.50)—crab and cream cheese wrapped in won ton and served with plum sauce—or the por sia sod ($6.50), a fresh salad and Chinese sausage roll wrapped in rice paper and topped with house hoisin sauce. Along with classic noodle dishes like pahd see iew ($8.50), adventurous diners can feel like they're eating from a genuine Bangkok street stall minus the backpack-shaped sweat stain on their back with an order of North Thailand's staple kao soy (fresh egg noodles in yellow curry and coconut broth, $8.95), guay tiow bed (a soup of rice noodles, sliced duck, rich anise, cinnamon, and sweet soy broth, $7.95), or the gai yaang ($12.95), a marinated chicken paired with sticky rice and a sweet green papaya salad.