"Thai" One On: An Upscaled Experience

Chantanee Thai Restaurant - Thai (4 Stars)

I've been dining at "Chantanee Family Thai" for about six years, long before they changed their name and moved to much more upscale digs on 108th Avenue. As my friend Jeff was coming into town for the weekend and loves Thai food, I could think of no better place to take him than Chantanee which is known for consistently great food, good service, and now has an incredib
ly gorgeous restaurant truly worthy of their fare. In fact, they can now showcase Naga: a "destination cocktail bar" that offers an extensive traditional and creative new drink menu with categories such as Sours and Daisies, Fizzes and Bucks, Slings and Tikis, and even Dessert and Digestifs (in case you needed a classier excuse to drink) along with the expected beer and wines.

For an extra fun twist on your visit, check out the Classic Cocktails Specials online in their cocktails menu (http://www.chantanee.com/resources/cocktails.pdf). It offers a dozen "creative" ways to get a drink half off or even free such as the Robert Hess Special: "If you give a cocktail book to the bar (specifically one the bar doesn't have) you get a free drink"; Dallas Taylor Special: "Half off any one cocktail with a completed original sonnet, the subject of which is your choice. Penmanship counts."; or even the AJ Rathburn Special: "One free cocktail when a new cocktail menu from another state or country is brought to the bar". Figuring out ways to complete the Specials' challenges is almost as fun as the drinks themselves.

Chantanee's completely revamped and now extensive menu offers over 130 items to choose from. Even with the dazzling array of offerings, it's tough to stray too far from the classic spring rolls and satays that are practically mandatory eats at every Thai restaurant.
Fortunately, there are seven different satays to choose from including tofu, pork, prawns, lamb, and scallops. We selected the chicken and beef satays. (You should note that the menu's listed price is per skewer.)

The Chicken Satay was grilled perfectly, well seasoned, and pulled easily from the skewers. The flavor was mild and slightly sweet, with the grill marks adding just enough char to enhance the flavor of the tender chicken. The marinade used for the chicken seems to practically guarantee a moist, delicious satay and Jeff commented that he really liked them. The peanut dipping sauce is so delicious, you'll wish they served you a much larger condiment container and the pickled, slightly tart and sweet cucumber relish compliments deliciously.

The Beef Satay was even more tender than the chicken, but a bit more difficult to remove from the skewer (while keeping appropriate dinner table manners intact). The beef is cooked closer to medium-rare, so if you prefer medium-well or well (like me), you'll want to be sure you tell your waiter. Between the two satays, I preferred my regular chicken standby. Also, both satays come with a peanut dipping sauce as well as a light, refreshing cucumber and red onion "salad".

In addition to the satays, I ordered Gang Som. The cauliflower, nappa cabbage, carrot, daikon radish, and green beans were served in a spicy and sour broth made with curry paste. All of the vegetables, as well as the tofu, were firm enough to hold their shape and provided excellent texture and freshness. The broth is slightly thicker than a traditional chicken noodle soup, but is still hearty and filling. Given I love coconut, I don't think this soup will replace my favorite Tom Kha, but it's definitely a worthy alternative especially if you're looking for a lighter soup.

My typical Thai entree consists of Green Curry with Chicken (and extra mixed vegetables) and this visit proved no exception. The curry is extremely flavorful and the broth is thicker and even more luxurious and velvety than Bai Tong's. The eggplant, red bell peppers, peas, basil, and zucchini still offered plenty of texture despite the dish being served piping hot. This is also the most tender, juicy chicken of any Green Curry I've had anywhere which is why I rarely stray from this selection.

Jeff decided to order the Phad Bai Grapao Thai Style under the Hot and Spicy section of the menu. (Apparently after you live for a few months in Thailand, hot and spicy is the *only* way to go!) The stir-fried ground chicken is served with Thai chilis and holy basil and is stewed in a hot and spicy broth. Jeff felt there was enough spice to make it worthy of being listed in that section of the menu (I could see beads of sweat on his forehead) and said it was a delicious dish. He also commented that he hadn't found any Thai food as good in the States as it was in Thailand, but that this was "a pretty good effort".

Overall, the experience was exactly what I have come to expect from Chantanee over the years: great service, delicious food, and a meal that leaves you wanting to come back again and again.
Chantanee Thai Restaurant & bar on Urbanspoon


Niko said...

I'm looking for the best Tom Ka in seattle. My favorite so far is at http://www.jhanjay.com/

Jared said...

Bai Tong's Tom Ka Gai is quite good, but I do think Chantanee's is a smidge better. I'll definitely have to try it next time I'm eating in Bellevue.

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