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Archive for the ‘Thai Food’ Category

Making its debut last night, Kraken Congee is the newest addition to Seattle’s pop-up scene – started by a trio of local chefs; Tyler Robinson and Garrett Doherty of The Ruins, and Irbille Donia of Ray’s. According to an article by the Seattle Met,  the three of them met at culinary school and since then have come together to create this new venture.

kraken.welcome

the kraken welcomes you

kraken.essentials

the essentials

The Food:

kraken.beeftongue

 steamed bun, beef tongue, apple fennel kimchee $8

The bun was soft and the beef tongue was clean and tender. The apple kimchee was bright with nice crunch, but I would have liked it to have had  much bolder spice and pickled flavors.

kraken.squidink

 squid ink congee, pork stuffed squid tubes, ginger, thai chilis, fried shallots, roasted peanut, cilantro $ 15

If it weren’t for the cilantro sprinkled atop, this bowl of congee looked visually… meh. Unfortunately, there isn’t any color in a cooked squid tube and the squid link ladled around, looked like a pen broke in someone‘s pant pocket. The pork stuff squid was cooked well and provided the majority of the “heft” to this bowl. The thai chilis brought a satisfying heat to my lips and the roasted peanuts provided a subtle crunch to each bite. The ginger also provided an additional layer of flavor to the bowl. Lost in the mix, were the shallots

kraken.dunkconfit

xo congee, five spice duck confit, cracklings, bok choy, egg yolk $15

This bowl looked very appealing – more so than the squid ink congee. The bok coy was rich and green  while the bright egg yolk sat wide-eyed, asking to be opened like a gift on Christmas morning. The duck confit was seasoned well (though I’m not sure I got a full duck leg… more like ½ a leg)and the egg yolk provided a creamy richness to the bowl. The cracklings were savory and worked well with the other ingredients. I did have the unappetizing pleasure of biting into a piece of star anise that wasn’t removed… which has a flavor of black licorice.

kraken.chefs

the chefs

My Conclusion:

In terms of turnout, this pop-up was a success – it was a packed house when we entered and people were still coming in as we left. I think these three are onto something great! I also really like the idea of shining light on an Asian staple that is, congee. Growing up in a Chinese household, congee was a regular for me. I especially love the plethora ingredients and side dishes you can add to each bowl. When it comes down to it, congee is just porridge of rice and water. The things you add in it or on top of it are what give it flavor and appeal – so I have a tough time wrapping my head around are the steep prices. I place congee in the same category as pho (minus the hours spent making the broth.) They’re both satisfying on a cold day, provide big flavors, perfect for the morning after a night on the town, and cheap! … Well sorta… A $15 bowl of congee is like a $20 bowl of pho.

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If it weren’t for the phenomenon that is social media, I may have never known Pok Pok existed! I happened to stumble upon a picture posted by a celebrity chef on one of his recent visits to the City of Roses. The funny sounding name intrigued me… and the fact that if it’s good enough a Top Chef  Master, then it’s gotta be good enough for me! I looked up the menu and immediately knew we would come here on our future road trip to Portland to see a show. Fast forward a month or so; Cherry and I arrive. Located on a residential street on SE Division Street, Pok Pok is literally a house that’s been converted into a restaurant – offering foods from Northern and Northeastern Thailand. As we walked up, we were greeted by the hostess and seated inside one of two outside dining areas… both of which are enclosed with thick canvas tarps that keep the heat in and the elements out… and located in the driveway. Walking out and to the left, you see a separate small building in front of the garage that appears to have been the kitchen and if you keep walking, you can enter a third dining which is on the ground level of the house. Inside this area is a dimly lit dining floor more seats and tables, a bar in one corner and the bathroom and a bathroom (behind the bar.) Navigating around seems almost like a maze due to the narrow walkways and segregated dining areas.

view off SE Division

 

pok pok

 

seperate kitchen

 

 

The Food:

 

ike’s vietnamese fish sauce wings: fresh natural chicken wings marinated in fish sauce & palm sugar and deep fried, then tossed in carmelized Phu Quoc fush sauce and garlic $12.50

These are the best wings I’ve ever had! No joke, my mouth is watering as I write this post. The large wings were perfectly fried, juicy and fell off the bone. The focal point of these wings was the marinade and sauce they were tossed in. Surprisingly, these wings didn’t have a terribly strong fish sauce flavor, but had an incredible depth of flavors that really rang through. We chose the spicy wings, which carried a satisfying heat through each bite. Balancing the heat was the savory and bold flavors of the caramelized fish sauce and garlic, as well as the subtle sweetness from the marinade. My taste buds were through the roof in the midst of these contrasting flavors.

 

hoi thawt: crispy broken crepe with steamed fresh mussels, eggs, garlic, chives and bean sprouts with shark sri racha sauce $12

This dish was tasty on its own, but in comparison to the other two, it was my least favorite of the meal. The crispy crepe had a bright crunch and rich flavor that was accented by the chives and garlic. The egg added a subtle creaminess to the plate and the steamed mussels added a clean yet briny flavor. The Shark sri racha is traditionally found in Thailand and carries a more subtle spice that doesn’t overpower and isn’t as sharp as the Rooster Brand traditionally found in the states. The sauce actually carried a very mild spice but complimented the dish very well.

sii khrong muu yaang: carlton farms baby back ribs marinated in whisky, soy, honey, ginger and Thai spices, slow roasted $12

These baby back ribs were extremely tender and full of flavor. It came with two dipping sauces; a sweet tamarind sauce and a spicy chili sauce – both of which provided nice countering flavors. The flavors of the soy, honey and ginger were very apparent in the meat, but I didn’t get any whisky flavor. I would have liked to see one more rib served… but that’s just my chubby side talking.

 

My Conclusion:

Pok Pok is an excellent restaurant for anyone looking step out of the proverbial box and sample comfort foods and dishes from Thailand. They don’t serve the mainstream staples like Phad Thai or popular curries, but instead offer an authentic selection of dishes in found in the homes and on the streets of Southeast Asia. Oh yeah.. and Pok Pok’s chef owner, Andy Ricker, was the winner of the 2011 James Beard for Best Chef: Northwest … which has to account for something, right?!

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Located in Thornton Place, Thai Fusion Bistro is a newer restaurant in a convenient location for both visitors and residents of this new commercial/residential part of Northgate. Cherry and I stopped in for dinner before a movie and for being 5:45pm, it was pretty empty inside – only a few parties seated aside from us. The interior is darkly decorated with a combination of traditional Thai art on a modern backdrop. As soon as we entered, we were greeted and immediately seated next to the large open window overlooking the courtyard.

view from outside

 view from inside

menu

 

The Food:

chicken pad thai: stir-fried noodle, chicken, egg, ground peanut, fresh bean sprouts, green onion $9.95

Cherry ordered her usual – pad thai 🙂 It had a nice rich flavors of fish sauce and spices as well as a smokiness to each bite. I’ve had pad thai from other places where the sauce seems to have a tomato base – almost like ketchup. However, you can taste the distinct layers of flavors in their sauce – very tasty! The chicken breast was plentiful and the noodles were well cooked – not too soft and not too hard. The carrots, red cabbage and green onions provide nice bright colors that look very appealing.

chicken pad prig khing: sautéed chicken, green beans, onions, bell peppers, basil & prig khing chili paste $9.95

The pad prig khing was delicious. All the ingredients were cooked perfectly with all the vegetables carrying a bright crunch. The varying flavors of the onions, bell peppers and prig khing chili paste all combined to bring deep, bold and savory flavors. The basil was a bright countering flavor to the rest of the dish and worked great. To date, this is one of my favorite Thai dishes I’ve had. Again, with this dish, the red peppers, green beans and basil all provide vibrant colors that pop.

My Conclusion:

Nice spot in a newer part of Northgate for some tasty Thai food. The servers were polite and the establishment is very clean. I’m sure being slow was a major factor at the time, but the service was extremely fast – we waited less than 10-minutes before it was being served on our table!

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Lanna Thai

Anyone who enjoys big flavors will undoubtedly have Thai food among their favorites. For me, this is definitely the case! My wife and I really enjoy the bold & aromatic flavor profiles that Thai foods bring, but in addition to that, we of course love spice! Lanna Thai is a very nice restaurant located on Evergreen Way, North of the Boeing Freeway in Everett. Located in an almost barren strip mall, its brightly lit sign acts like a lighthouse – directing people to its direction. Upon entering, I immediately noticed the interior design – there is a nice balance of Thai influence with modern décor. It is very obvious to see that time was taken to decorate the restaurant – from the beautiful Thai inspired murals and paintings to the individual leaves that are hung on wires from the ceiling. There are two dining areas (upper and lower) separated by a low standing wall. If you dine in the upper area, you are able to see the entire restaurant floor – the entry way, bar area and open kitchen. The service was very prompt (our glasses were constantly being filled) and our server was very polite. I always enjoy being able to see into a kitchen and on this particular Friday night, there were 5-cooks on the line busily busting out orders.

lighthouse-esque signage

thai inspired mural 

 

The Food:

 fried calamari

chicken phad thai

chili paste fried rice

The Review:

The calamari was prepared perfectly.  Lightly  breaded and pan fried, these bite-sized pieces had a good initial crunch and then almost butter like flavor. The breading melted in my mouth as I bit into the squid. One thing that really stood out was how “light” this dish was. I was able to get all the fried food happiness without the “greasy gut” regrets! The more sweet than tangy dipping sauce was also a good pairing and added great contrast to the dish.

When someone thinks of Thai food in this country, the first thing that usually comes to mind is Phad Thai. So naturally, Cherry uses it as her benchmark – determining whether or not the restaurant we’re eating at is good. One of the biggest components to a good phad thai, in my opinion, is the sauce. The additional ingredients (meat, egg, sprouts, and peanuts) are all toppings on a sundae – insignificant if you have a crappy sundae…and Lanna Thai serves a good sundae! Their sauce is very flavorful and unlike many other phad thai dishes we have  tried that taste like spicy ketchup paste, you can really taste the individual ingredients layered atop each other. The extra ingredients to this dish were definitely the perfect toppings.

Growing up in Chinese household, fried rice, to me, is a very safe and unexciting dish. So unexciting in fact, that my mom rarely cooked it! Fried rice tends to have the negative connotation that it is “left over rice, stir fried with left over veggies/meats” and at my home, that was usually the case. So I had to dig deep, step out of my preconceived notions and try something I wouldn’t normally try. The end result – I was pleased. Thai fried rice is very different than Chinese fried rice. Instead of having a smorgasbord of ingredients, Thai fried rice highlights on just a few; the sauce, the meat and one or two vegetables. Like phad thai, the focal point of this dish was the chili paste sauce. We didn’t get it very spicy, but even at two-stars, each bite had a nice spicy undertone to it. The chili paste sauce added good texture to the rice and was countered well by the fresh taste of the cucumber and subtle sweetness of the quartered tomato slices. Everything came together very well to provide a delicious dish.

 

My conclusion:

To date, my wife and I have been to about 15 Thai Restaurants in the Greater Seattle area and Lanna Thai stands at the top. From the inviting and comforting décor to the well prepared and delicious dishes, Lanna Thai is a place everyone needs to discover for themselves.

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