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.
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.
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.