Southeast Asian flavors star at Savatdee Authentic Thai & Lao Cuisine in Northeast Seattle.
Seattle is a wonderland of Southeast Asian restaurants — Thai, of course, but also Cambodian, Vietnamese, Malaysian, Filipino, and a lesser-known (to most Americans) cuisine from that part of the world, Laotian.
In a converted gas station on busy Roosevelt Way Northeast, where the comfort-food cafe The Blue Onion Bistro used to be, the dinner house Savatdee Authentic Thai & Lao Cuisine offers enjoyable, well-priced and generously portioned renditions of standard Thai dishes (pad Thai, spring rolls, satays, etc.) and an outdoor patio for summer evenings.
But the more adventurous will want to order off the Laotian menu. As the pleasant wait staff will inform you, since Laos is a landlocked nation seafood is not a regular diet staple there. Nor are noodles.
Meat and game are common (including organ meats), as are sticky rice and such seasonings as galangal (from the ginger family), lime and the nutty-tasting roasted rice powder. If you are a fan of other Southeast Asian cuisines, sampling the tasty fare at Savatdee will add to your repertoire.
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The menu: Deftly spiced dishes featuring fowl dominate the Laotian entrees here. Marinated, thin-sliced, spiced duck is the star in Lab Ped Yang ($15). Juin Noak ($13) flavors deep-fried quail with lemon grass, with Lao sweet and sour or chili sauce served on the side. Gai Yang ($12) is a curry of game hen marinated in coconut milk, baked and then grilled. Starters include a Laotian and Thai favorite, Larb ($9), a mix of minced meat or chicken flavored with lime juice, chili and rice powder which you roll up in lettuce leaves to consume.
What to write home about: Nhem Mou ($11), a delicious version of a Laotian favorite: crispy-fried rice mixed up with coconut and bits of eggs, salami and peanuts, eaten with mint and cilantro. We also loved the Goi Goong ($12), a savory salad that tosses prawns with typical spices (galangal, kaffir leaves, lemon grass), green beans and sprouts, in a zesty dressing.
The setting: Comfortable, but a bit dark; unremarkable inside. On sunny days, everyone’s out on the patio.
Summing up: An order of Goi Goong ($12), Thai barbecue chicken ($12), Nhem Mu ($12), Khi Mao tofu ($9) and sticky rice ($2) came to $47 before tax and tip, and could serve three well.