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Ballard/Fremont/Phinney/Greenwood Searching for Not So Darn Sweet Thai Food

We have yet to find a Thai food place that is not sugary sweet in NW Seattle (we were successful in SE Seattle, but we recently moved). So far we've had an assortment of soups, noodles, and veggie and chicken or tofu dishes, none with coconut milk, from Chillies Paste in Fremont and Thai Thani in Ballard. Every dish from both places tasted as if made primarily with sugar water. Chillies' food was the more sugary of the two, but not by much. After 2 strikeouts, time to turn to Chowhound. Any suggestions for a Thai restaurant in the Ballard area that doesn't cook with what tastes like simple syrup?

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  1. I've had good experiences with Pestle Rock, which is northern Thai.

    Not in your area but in Rainier valley I love Viengthong (one of my fav places in Seattle regardless of cuisine).

    2 Replies
      1. I like Krua in LQA and Kwanjai in Fremont.

        1. Thai Siam has been recommended to me but I've yet to visit. I hear that they're willing to cook Northern Thai dishes if you give them ample notice.

          1. As people have said, Pestle Rock is very good and the Thai Siam is also one of our somewhat regular stops (young kids have made going out hard over the last several years). If you like spicy, and I mean very spicy, Thai Siam is the place (3 stars is a 6 at most places and 4 stars is basically straight pain).

            1. Seconding Pestle Rock. I've also had good experiences with Mai Thaiku in Phinney.

              1. Thanks very much to everyone for your suggestions. Pestle Rock, although it sounds quite delicious, will be last on our "try" list for now due to the lack of soup on the menu. What we really are looking to replace in the NW is a low key, basic Thai restaurant (the Thai version of a red checkered tablecloth Italian joint?). A Tom Yum that is prepared without the sweetness of the soup at Chillies and Thai Thani would be especially appreciated. If we can't find it in the NW, we will continue to make occasional pilgrimages to Royal Orchid in Renton, but with the half dozen suggestions we have from y'all, we will try out all the suggestions in our new neighborhood. Thank you! (And if you stumble across any more Thai places and the food is not sugary sweet, please post).

                13 Replies
                1. re: Olympia Jane

                  If you are going as far afield as Renton, may I suggest a visit to Noodle Boat in Issaquah:


                  I don't claim to have eaten my way through their entire menu, but I can't recall anything we've had with that "sugar water" quality you describe (and I know exactly what you mean). Noodle Boat does make soups (three different kinds, if I remember correctly).

                  The place is low key and basic, there's lots of free off-street parking, it is quite reasonably priced, and it is consistently well-reviewed.

                  1. re: Gizmo56

                    And out of nowhere comes Saffron Deli. Who knew?

                    1. re: mrnelso

                      Mrnelso, did you know Saffron Deli closed and she opened a new place on Whidbey? We had a reason to eat on the Eastside this past weekend and were considering a return to Saffon Deli and found this article http://www.whidbeynewstimes.com/busin...
                      A great reason to plan a weekend jaunt to Whidbey!

                      1. re: Laurella

                        Thank you, Laurella, I did not know that and surely appreciate the tip. Time for a summertime ferry-ride to Jessie Tamayo's new place, Tamayo's in Oak Harbor. How fine is this? Oh yes.

                        1. re: Laurella

                          On one hand, that gives Oak Harbor one thing worth having. Otherwise Oak Harbor is seriously the worst place I've ever been. I'll have to stop by if I'm ever driving through though. Good to know there is finally something there worth visiting.

                          1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                            You are quite lucky if you haven't been to places worse than Oak Harbor.

                            1. re: Gizmo56

                              Definitely exaggerating, but there are no places I dislike as much as Oak Harbor (I've been to/driven through far worse hah). I grew up on the south end of the Island and well...the north end fools don't get much love down there.
                              Geographically, Oak Harbor is amazing, quite the piece of land, great location, epic views etc. There's just nothing there that is not lowest common denominator (well, now there is, haha). Place is super depressing to drive through or be in for more than the time it takes to drive through as quickly as possible.

                              1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                                Plus 1! Whoever "fixed" downtown should be forced to live there.

                      2. re: Gizmo56

                        Thanks, Gizmo, we've enjoyed occasional forays to Noodle Boat for several years and it's right smack up the alley of Thai food we enjoy.

                      3. re: Olympia Jane

                        Hi, Jane:

                        I think Thai Siam would be a great fit for you. It's very low key, but they are not just slinging noodles there. Their Tom Kha Gai is my fav in all of Seattle, and I consider all their curries excellent.

                        They are excellent citizens and philanthropists, too. Every year (for like about 30 now), they donate ALL receipts for a night to a really deserving mix of charities. The fact that the food is fantastic makes it very easy for me to support them.


                        1. re: kaleokahu

                          Thai Siam is very close to home & they are very nice, but I've always struck out there with the level of sweetness. We did have the Tom Kha and it was quite good, so I agree there, but what else do you recommend there? Would love to give it another try.

                          1. re: akq


                            I like all their curries, the spring rolls, and the pad see ew (sp?). Oh, and the Chang's beer.

                            What has let you down there?


                            1. re: kaleokahu

                              I'll have to try them again and report back. My memory was that several noodle dishes, a stir-fry (probably cashew chicken) and a red curry were all extremely sweet.

                      4. I was going to recommend my favorites but then I realized you are looking for the opposite of what I look for. I'm so tired of the standard menu with the standard flavors...so many Thai places seem the exact same to me. So I look for places that have more interesting menus, which might mean they don't have the 2 standard soups you find everywhere.

                        But, besides Pestle Rock, which I agree is fantastic, you might check out Savatdee and Mai Thaiku. Savatdee might have Tom Kha/Tom Yum on their regular menu (they have a great Lao menu too).

                        I'm surprised to hear people recommend Thai Siam. It's been a while but I don't remember it being good. Maybe I'll have to try it again.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: christy319

                          Savatdee does have Tom Kha but it is quite sweet, alas. We got it for my niece on our way through town in April, whilst we chowed down on their Lao dishes, which are indeed excellent and not sweet but also not what the OP is looking for.

                        2. Thanks to all who responded, especially for your personal comments and dish preferences (and Laurella's tip that Saffron Deli skipped town to Whidbey!). We now have quite the line up of Thai food to sample in coming months. Much appreciated.