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.
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.
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.
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 m?lange of assorted garden vegetables, deep-fried and served with sweet-and-sour sauce, make up the veggie tempura, and the jasmine-tinged creme br?l?e 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.
A two-story, 1930s Wallingford house with a pillared front porch and white clapboard siding isn?t the typical setting for pad thai and green curry, but Djan?s Thai Restaurant doesn?t have an interest in being ordinary. Inspired by the eclectic, global tastes of co-owners and brothers Tum and Lek, the restaurant prides itself on fusing East and West in both its menu and decor. Input from chefs in Bangkok and New York City helped create the menu, which tempts diners to sink chopsticks into contemporary versions of classic Thai dishes, such as wok-fried ginger beef or fried rice with pineapple and tofu. Foundational Thai ingredients?coconut milk, bamboo shoots, bell peppers, and basil leaves?still appear on plates, but they share the stage with Hawaiian-style prawns and Japanese shrimp tempura. Instead of washing down mouthfuls by drinking from a date's seltzer-filled boutonniere, diners can sip the vintages from Washington, California, and Chile that grace a hefty wine list.
Djan's decor reflects its cuisine?s multicultural influences with modern, geometric tables and backlit alcoves that give a nod to the past with lanterns and suspended silver bells. For those who would rather eat in the comfort of their own homes or need to feed a party, the restaurant also offers delivery and catering.
Mai Thaiku, a relocated and reimaged incarnation of the now-closed Thaiku, boasts a new menu centered around the authentic Thai cuisine that Chef Anne Sawvalak grew up eating. This includes fresh salads built from green mango, wok-fried noodles with Chinese sausage or sliced pork, and curries simmered with fresh Thai basil or lime and cilantro. But fans of the old menu need not mourn: while The Seattle Times raved about the charred baby squid skewers, they also lauded the kitchen's willingness to prepare old Thaiku dishes when possible. To help toast favorites old and new, the restaurant also offers a cocktail list that infuses classic drinks with exotic ingredients. The potent concoctions include a martini made with black tea-infused vodka and an old fashioned made with the aphrodisiac yoshimbe, which is limited to one per customer or tired cupid.