Guay Tiow Tom Yum at Pestle Rock


I’m dog-sitting my daughter’s dog while she and my wife are in California for my wife’s father’s birthday. One of the benefits of doing this is that I have the vast domain of Ballard’s restaurants to choose from for five days, all within walking distance. I won’t do this for all three squares; I’ll likely make breakfast most of the time.

It’s not surprising that I decided to hit up Pestle Rock again, one of my favorite Thai restaurants. To keep it simple, all I wanted was a bowl of soup noodles. Guay Tiow Tom Yum sounded good.

What makes this tom yum different is the inclusion of noodles, thus guay tiow. Variations of guay tiow, which means flat noodles, appear throughout SE Asia. The most famous version is likely char guay teow, stir-fried flat noodles that are made in Singapore and Malaysia.

Guay tiow tom yum doesn’t use flat noodles but rather thin rice vermicelli in a spicy soup base, redolent of lemongrass and bursting with assertive flavors of lime juice, fish sauce, chiles and sugar. While I generally am not a fan of sweet soups, tom yum typically has a healthy dose of sugar, fortunately offset with a generous splash of lime juice. It may also be usual in Thailand for a good amount of roasted dried chile pepper flakes to be added, but at Pestle Rock, mercifully a jar of it arrives instead along with other spicy condiments, typical in Thai restaurants. The soup is plenty spicy as is, enough to loosen my sinuses in any case and cause me to cough at one point.

In keeping with the restaurant’s use of high-quality ingredients, ground Carlton Farms pork made an appearance, tender morsels with good flavor. Vegetables included bean sprouts, sliced scallions and perfectly cooked green beans. Though the menu mentions cilantro, none was used. The killer though was the addition of “rendered pork belly garlic,” an ingredient or description I’m trying to get my head around. If there were fried garlic pieces with the chicharrones, it wasn’t all that apparent. The fried pork pieces were delicious, crispy, and deep in pork flavor. A generous spoonful was sprinkled on top of the soup when served. Though they tasted best when still dry, even as they eventually soaked up broth, they were still magical nuggets of flavor. With crushed roasted peanuts sprinkled on top for extra crunch, this was a stellar soup (☆☆☆½).

I didn’t have my camera to take a snapshot, but here is one from Yelp.

Guay tiow tom yum (posted by Homan L on Yelp)

Pestle Rock
2305 NW Market Street
Seattle, WA 98107
206.466.6671

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