Dinner at Iyara Thai (Redmond, WA)

It is claimed that the best food in Thailand is served by street vendors, especially in Bangkok. A melting pot of cuisines from many Asian nations, including Cambodia, Burma, Laos, India and the Malaysian archipelago, but primarily Thai-Chinese in influence, Thai street food is a cultural phenomenon and an adventure. One restaurant in nearby Redmond describes its offerings as Thai street food. The menu is very small, so it would be easy to go through its entire repertoire in just a few visits.

Heavenly Beef came on a sizzling platter; the meat is marinated and is flavored with ground coriander, sauteed in a sweet dark soy-sugar sauce and served on a bed of sliced onions. Though the beef was somewhat chewy, this was a very tasty dish. Some greens, like cilantro, would have improved the presentation.

Burmese-inspired Khao Soi Kai, which is also popular in northern Thailand, here is a coconut broth-curry soup dish with rice noodles (egg noodles are more traditional), fall-off-the-bone dark chicken meat, and topped with a tower of fried crispy egg noodles. This, too, lacked greenery to make it more eye-appealing, but was a fantastic preparation, to me the best coconut broth dish I’ve had in a long time. I’m hoping that the lack of green garnish (or visible garnish of any kind) is not indicative of the restaurant’s cooking. Khao soi is generally served with limes (which would have added a nice tartness to the dish), but none came.

Khao soi kai (image from yelp.com)

Overall, while it doesn’t replicate the excitement and chaos of real Thai street food-eating (it is a sit-down restaurant after all), Iyara Thai is a good place to get an introduction.

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