Vegetarians enjoy reduced cholesterol, free smiles from Mother Earth, and a lower incidence of prank calls from teenage cows. Avoid awkward phone silence with today's Groupon: for $12, you get $25 worth of vegetarian and vegan Thai cuisine at Araya's Vegetarian Place, located on 45th Street.
Araya's Vegetarian Place outfits its menu with an eclectic array of dishes inspired by the Thai tradition and derived from the most elite ingredients the plant kingdom has to offer. Hunger hushes when confronted by the vegetarian spring rolls, an ensemble of seasoned vegetables and bean thread noodles cradled in deep-fried wheat shells and accompanied, like all esophagus investigators, by a saucy sweet-and-sour sidekick ($6.50). The pa-nang curry pampers tofu, broccoli, zucchini, and bell peppers in a velvety coconut milk sauce ($8.50), and the phad phet makhua stars eggplant and fried tofu that traverse tongues in a zesty yellow bean sauce ($8.95). House specialties include the cashew delight, a savory sampling of tofu, mushrooms, and cashew nuts swan-diving in Araya's special sauce ($11.95), and the veggie beef with peanut sauce, where veggie meat, garlic, and garden vegetables rest regally atop a throne of thick, peanut-sauce-laden noodles ($10.95). Asian-inspired artwork adorns Araya’s walls, which encompass a spacious, wood-outfitted dining area. A helpful staff is employed to attentively serve customers and answer any questions concerning dish ingredients or less turbulent teleportation routes to Thailand.
In 2003 and 2009, The Stranger reviewed Araya's Vegetarian Place, and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer did the same in 2008. More than 200 Yelpers give it an average of 4.5 stars. CitySearchers agree, rating it an average of 4.5 stars:
- In other words, it's Thai veggie heaven, with the heavenliness extending to the dining room: surprisingly large, well appointed, and both vast and cozy (a nice trick). Service is attentive but never overbearing, encouraging the sort of languorous multicourse meal Araya's extensive menu makes glamorously possible. – David Schmader, The Stranger
- Enthusiastic 4 stars for Araya. Delicious vegetarian thai food with a great variety of non-meat proteins like tofu, seitan, etc. I love some of the rich curry dishes… – Jeff S., Yelp
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.
1121 NE 45th St.
Seattle, Washington 98105Get Directions