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).
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.
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.
Despite its humble environs of a converted gas station, Savatdee Authentic Thai & Lao Cuisine has racked up a steadily climbing number of accolades. Seattle Met Magazine named it one of the best Laotian restaurants in 2011, an award the Sakounthong family proudly displays in their eatery. “We want our food to speak like it is a five star restaurant, but we want the atmosphere to feel like you are eating in your own kitchen,” said Andy Sakounthong in an episode of Check Please!. Andy–along with his brother, parents, aunts, and grandmother–shop each morning for fresh ingredients and cartoon fire used in dishes that range from cornish game hen marinated in spiced curry to pad mar keur, a grilled-eggplant stir-fry with onions, basil leaves, and yellow-bean sauce. The more adventurous patron can order off of the Lao menu, where galangal and kaffir leaves season a dish of charbroiled chicken mixed with hearts and gizzards.