The Thaitan in West Seattle offers nine varieties of pho plus lots of Thai dishes.

Pho is the perfect food outing for my family: It’s cheap, delicious and satisfying for me and a boy whose palate tends to hew to all things white.

But too much of a good thing had me craving something dark and fiery to balance out all that Vietnamese chicken soup.

The Thaitan — a traditional Thai restaurant in West Seattle that also serves pho — seemed like a good compromise.

But what do you know? My son ignored the pho menu and headed straight for the Thai barbecue beef.

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I ordered pineapple fried rice with chicken in a misguided effort to bridge the pho gap. Family-style dining saved the day, allowing me to enjoy my friends’ memorable panang beef curry and chicken in gold curry.

The menu: Sure, there’s nine varieties of pho ($4.95 for small, $5.95 for large). But Thai cooking rules here. Appetizers include chicken satay ($7.95), crab wonton ($7.95) and goong tod, tempura-battered prawns and veggies in plum sauce ($9.95). Entrees include the usual suspects — a respectable phad Thai ($8.95), varied barbecued meats ($8.95-$9.95)

There are plenty of choices with meats, tofu and seafood served grilled, stir-fried and simmered. For dessert: coconut ice cream, black sticky rice (both $3) and mango sticky rice ($6.95 when available).

What to write home about: The peanut sauce and the curries, especially the creamy panang beef curry.

What to skip: The crab wontons were fishy, and thin on the filling, and the pineapple fried rice seemed less fried than tossed together.

The setting: Formerly a fast-food restaurant, Thaitan has a homey vibe. Seating for about 25. Cloth table coverings and richly patterned fabrics on the bench seating make dining even more pleasant.

Summing up: Crab wonton appetizers, pineapple fried rice with chicken, Thai barbecue beef and sticky rice came to $42, with tip.

Susan Kelleher: 206-464-2508 or