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Best Thai in Seattle

Sorry mcmullek, after re-reading your original post and the later follow up I now understand what you where saying. My fault for the confusion.

Nov 01, 2012
Magellan in Greater Seattle

Best Thai in Seattle

Agreed HungWeiLo (great forum name by-the-way). Even in larger cities I think some Americanization of most ethnic foods is inevitable in order to stay in business for the reasons you gave. Seattle may be a bit of an exception though as per capita there must be more Thai restaurants here than just about anywhere outside Thailand. I particularly like this thread because I do believe with as many Thai joints as we have here in Seattle there should be a at least a few more that are truer to what the original cuisine should be and I like learning of other people's opinions on where they are.

Nov 01, 2012
Magellan in Greater Seattle

Best Thai in Seattle

1.) Miami has a very large Thai community, but yes, for the most part I agree that there are not nearly as many Thai communities in most eastern cities as there are on the West Coast but how would that effect the quality of the food? If a Thai restaurant owner is from Thailand what difference would it make in his/her food if it were made in New York or Seattle? The owner-operators of Thai Curry simple in the ID are Thai-Americans from New York. Their food is good but nothing particularly different than many others except on Saturday mornings when they have their Thai expat menu yet being from New York has nothing to do with that.

2.)"....it's quite common to hear Vietnamese or Cantonese coming out of the kitchens of "Thai" restaurants in Seattle too..." Really? Most Thai Chinese speak Teochew but they're still Thai. I have been to one hell of a lot of Thai restaurants in the Seattle area and have never heard Vietnamese or Cantonese coming out of the kitchen. The closest thing I've seen to non-Thais running a Thai restaurant in Seattle is Viengtong on MLK but it's run by a Lao/Isaan lady which in my book qualifies as Thai. The Tropics in the ID is Chinese owned but has a Thai cook and it doesn't really bill itself as a Thai restaurant either. Rather they consider themselves sort of a fusion type of place. By the way, I speak, read and write Thai so I know if the language coming from the staff is Thai or not. I'm not saying that there aren't any places in the Seattle area that bill themselves as Thai restaurants and are not run by Thais but I have never been to one or ever heard of one. There is one in Port Angeles that is run by Filipinos but I don't consider P.A. Seattle.

Nov 01, 2012
Magellan in Greater Seattle

Best Thai in Seattle

I know from experience that at least 3 of the places you mentioned: Tup Tim Thai, Bahn Thai and Mae Phim will all make Pad Siew with wide rice noodles if you simply ask them to do so. In fact, when I've ordered it at those places it has always come that way without having to ask. Wide rice noodles is how the dish is normally made in Thailand too and if it isn't slightly browned from the high heat of the wok that means they haven't got the oil hot enough which is probably a result of making a ton of orders one after the other and 80% of them being Pad Thai which is usually not stir fried as long as Pad Siew due to it having less meat in it. All I can figure is that you've got really bad luck or are somehow ordering wrong. I'm in Thailand as I write this and the stuff I get here isn't a whole lot different from what I get in Seattle except for the portion size and price of course. That the Pad Siew on the East Coast is somehow intentionally made different than on the West Coast seems a bit of a stretch to me. I would think it would be more of a restaurant to restaurant difference rather than a US regional difference since Thai restaurant owners overall come from more or less the same diverse backgrounds in Thailand.

Oct 31, 2012
Magellan in Greater Seattle

What is the Proper Way to Order in a Chinese restaurant to receive a spicy dish?

Don't you wish with the hundreds of Thai restaurants in Seattle there would be at least one that would have a sign on or near the entrance that says something to the effect of 'We serve authentic Thai food here. If you cannot eat spicy food, do not order a dish with a star beside it on the menu." And they don't have to ask "How spicy do you want it?" They just prepare it as they would in Thailand. This , of course , could not be done in a small community or neighborhood as it would keep away too many customers, but in a large city with a significant Thai food presence an a lot of Thai foodies like Seattle I believe it would be a hit, especially in the more densely populated Belltown, U -district or the like neighborhoods. Don't quote me on this but I think I remember seeing something like this sign at the original Thai Curry Simple location in the ID. I was disappointed to find out that except on Saturday mornings when they prepare a special "thai expat" menu the food isn't really spicy at all.
Probably the most angry/lied to I've ever felt regarding a Thai restaurant was about 3 years ago when May Thai in Walingford opened up. They had a new website (now changed) that went to great lengths to say how all the other Thai restaurants in Seattle are Westernized and how theirs is much better because the food is "just like" you get in Bangkok. I was ecstatic and went right away. I ordered a steamed fish entree asking for it to be prepared "neung manoaw" (หนึ่งมะนาว) or steamed in water infused with lime. The Thai-American waitperson obviously had no idea what I was talking about. This was a really bad sign as EVERYONE in Bangkok knows this method of cooking fish. When it came it was not a whole fish steaming and boiling in a fish shaped steamer over a sterno fire, no it was two pieces of fish fillet beautifully presented overlapping one another with a squiggly line of sauce on the plate and a stem of some sort of very non-Thai greenery laid across the top. Now while I was quite sure this would have delighted the diner who expected something elegantly presented from a recent grad of the Culinary Arts program at the Seattle Art Institute it really pissed me off due to the flat out lies that were printed on their website. Not only did this place not serve food anything like you'd get in Bangkok it was the MOST westernized Thai restaurant I'd ever been to anywhere. The decor was beautiful and the service better than most Thai places but it was a far cry from anything authentic. What should have given it away immediately was that it originally had a beautiful large Buddha image out in front. It was quickly taken down as some local Thais found using this religious icon as a decoration extremely disrespectful. It would be like opening an Italian restaurant in Bangkok and using a giant crucifix out in front as an advertisement gimmick. Needless to say I never went back nor will I ever.

Jul 15, 2012
Magellan in General Topics

What is the Proper Way to Order in a Chinese restaurant to receive a spicy dish?

Come on aynrandgirl, starting a sentence with "In California.....the joints generally....etc. etc etc.... is so stereotypical it's almost funny. I've spent many years in California and ate at a hell of a lot of Thai restaurants there and outside of perhaps Thaitown in Hollywood the majority of Thai restaurants there suck just as bad as anywhere else in the US. The worst are the pretentious ones with the luxurious decor and high prices but food that bears no resemblance to the Thai food you would get in the same type of place in Thailand.
Also, lots of "Thai' places run by Chinese and Laotians too, They heard that money was to be made in the "Thai" restaurant business so Voila! they become Thai overnight.

Jul 14, 2012
Magellan in General Topics

What is the Proper Way to Order in a Chinese restaurant to receive a spicy dish?

Agreed, Sriracha sauce is mostly tomato sauce and garlic. Very little chili.

Jul 13, 2012
Magellan in General Topics

What is the Proper Way to Order in a Chinese restaurant to receive a spicy dish?

This is NOT satisfactory for Thai food. There is more to the spiciness of this cuisine than just chilies. Good Thai food, depending on the dish, contains a blend of other tastes like lemongrass, shallots, fish sauce, cilantro (pak chee) garlic and ginger root among many others. Nothing disappoints me more about a Thai restaurant than asking for my food made spicy and they bring me some totally bland tasteless slop and a bottle of Sriracha sauce or even worse that Chinese spicy oil (it's not even Thai!) and tell me I can make it as spicy as I want. You should see some of the reactions I get when I hand the plate back to them and tell them I ordered it แบบไทย (Thai style) which means I want it made as if I were Thai and containing most of the flavors I listed above.

Jul 13, 2012
Magellan in General Topics

Best Thai in Seattle

I whole heartily share your aversion to televisions in restaurants but if you have ever spent any prolonged time in Thailand then you already know they are a ubiquitous irritation in most Thai eateries. Worse, if you ask the staff to turn it off you end up insulting them. Unfortunately, it is all part of the mai-bpen-rai attitude of that country. Non-Thais pretty much just have to live with it.
I've spent 3 to 5 months in Thailand every year since 1988 so I am quite familiar with this phenomenon. I know Issaquah is not Thailand but even though we hate them, we can chalk up the TVs to cultural authenticity at the Noodle Boat.
All that aside, I would still rank the Noodle Boat in my top 3 picks of Thai restaurants for authentic Thai food among the hundreds of Thai joints in this area. Here you can find bpoo pad pong garee (crab stir fried in curry powder) which is a gem of Central Thai cookery that is hardly ever found in your run of the mill Thai restaurant in the US. My other two choices would be Vieng Thong off MLK for Thai/Lao/Isaan food and Thai Curry Simple in the International District across from the bus tunnel escalators. I only really recommend Thai Curry Simple on Saturday mornings when they offer up a made for Thai expat's menu. It's only written in Thai on the menu board but the friendly owners/staff will gladly translate it for you or you can check out their facebook page a day or two beforehand when they will post the special menu in English.
A few other Thai places in the greater Seattle area may have one or two items on the menu that are quite good and authentic like Jai Thai in Freemont's penang curry (when made by the owner) or some of the single plate items at the original Mae Phim downtown but for the most part I wouldn't recommend 98% of them. Several times I did eat at Bai Tong near the airport when it was on International Blvd. years ago and found it to be very good too. I haven't been there since they changed locations quite some time ago now so I can't really give a fair assessment of that place anymore.
Why anyone would recommend the dumbed down gruel at Thai Tom, Racha Noodles or May Thai is beyond me.

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Noodle Boat
700 NW Gilman Blvd Ste E104B, Issaquah, WA 98027

Nov 24, 2011
Magellan in Greater Seattle