Thursday, May 18, 2017

Wann Yen (ร้านหวานเย็น)

I crave for spices and chilli on longer trips when I don't have easy access to a kitchen. Mexican peppers won't do. I need Southeast Asian spices. Thai food will do fine too. Found a super decent Thai eatery that serves home-cooked food the way I like! Wann Yen at 1313 NE 43rd St, just round the corner from the U-District outlet of Slate Coffee!

This isn't the weird American Thai food where you get 'Swimming Rama', sweet tom yam clear soup, and larb gai with rice, and the strange curry powder over fried rice a la 'Singapore Noodles'. WTF. I hate those. There're plenty of good Thai restaurants tucked away in the small streets. I just need to ferret them out.

Opened by Mark and Picha Pinkaow of Thai Curry Simple, Wann Yen (ร้านหวานเย็น) focuses on traditional Thai desserts (shaved ice), and recently started serving up hot savory food on a limited menu. The owners were warm and affable, and have been running restaurants for two decades, in New York, then now in Seattle. Thai Curry Simple has been around since 2010. I don't know if they update their website often, but Wann Yen's current hours are: Tuesdays to Fridays 11.30am to 8pm; kitchen closes at 7pm. Closed on Sundays and Mondays.

Wann Yen serves proper Thai food. I was so so pleased. Chuckled at the title of the dessert menu. It says 'น้ำแข็งใส' (น้ำแข็งใส ใส = clear (ไส = crushed)), which is like what the street dessert stalls in Thailand do. It's a common but accepted localized happy word error, replicated here almost as though in an effort to state the authenticity of their food and desserts. Quite fun! 🙃

When we went for a quick dinner, there were only four items on the menu. The best sort to cook well. This eatery is supposed to focus on dessert anyway. There were Thai basil chicken with rice (ผัดกระเพราไก่), Hainanese chicken rice (Thai style, khao mun gai ข้าวมันไก่), sour spicy catfish curry (like a gaeng som แกงส้ม), and red curry chicken. A lot of chicken man! But okay, at least the chicken here is tasty, and even though portions are smaller than what one usually expects in the US, the ingredients are followed faithfully, and every dish hits a spot. The man's phad kra pow gai arrived exactly the way he loves it- with holy basil (dried, though), an egg with runny yolk, and properly spicy. The Thai-style Hainanese chicken rice was very good! Definitely tasted like it came out of your friends' mother's competent kitchen.

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