Noodle Boat (in Issaquah)
Queen of Banana with steamed banana blossoms, lime leaves, roasted coconut, chiles, and shrimp
Mieng Kum (toasted coconut, limes, ginger, palm sugar, wrapped in Cha Plu leaves)
I’ve sang the praises of Noodle Boat before, and if you haven’t been, you should make the trek out there for some seriously spicy Thai. If you live in Seattle like we do, the drive is only about 20-25 minutes from Queen Anne to Issaquah–and it’s totally worth it for such authentic food. We ordered our food in range of 4-6 stars. 4 is considered the maximum on their menu, but they’ll allow you to order the food spicier if you promise you won’t complain about the level of heat when it arrives. (For a look at my last meal there, click here.)
fried Sunnybrook trout
Noodle Boat is a family business–the waitress is the daughter of the head cook, and her grandma also cooks in the kitchen. Each year, they shut down the business for a little over a month for a working vacation in Thailand. They research new dishes to update the menu with, and also make pounds and pounds of a certain chili paste to ship back to Seattle. The chili paste is used in the restaurant’s dishes for the remainder of the year. I asked the waitress once why they feel they have to make the paste in Thailand to ship over, and she said it was because the ingredients available here in Seattle aren’t quite the same. For a restaurant whose average dish probably costs around $10, I really admire that sort of dedication to quality.
pad see ew with beef
Even though it’s been months since we’ve been back to Noodle Boat, the waitress remembered me and even remembered the dishes we ordered on our last visit. We asked her to order for us, and she picked out five dishes–certainly, a reasonable amount of food for six hungry diners. Then, we asked her to add five more dishes, because we’re gluttons.
My last meal at Noodle Boat was one of the best meals I’ve had this year, and this recent meal was even better. There was one dish–the ka pa rad khow, which I remembered being my favorite on my last visit, but was a little too salty this time. Other than that, the dishes seemed even fresher, even bolder, than I remember. In particular, the Queen of Banana, the Mieng Kum appetizer, and the Ayutthaya Garden fish dish (which is currently off-the-menu but will appear on the menu in mid-May) were standouts…but everything was fiery, well-balanced, and flavorful.
ka pao rad khow
pumpkin curry with noodles and bean sprouts
Noodle Boat’s “BBQ chicken”, done in a non-spicy coconut sauce
Two surprises at dinner that evening were the Mieng Kum, an appetizer of contrasting flavors and textures–sweet roasted coconut, sour bits of lime, onion, ginger, peanuts, and caramel-like palm sugar sauce wrapped in a fragrant cha plu leaves. This is something you must order at Noodle Boat. I’ve seen this dish on some Thai menus with spinach leaves, but the cha plu leaves is what makes Noodle Boat’s version authentic. The waitress also recommended the BBQ chicken dish, which she warned was not spicy–and I’ll admit, I was leery about ordering BBQ chicken in a Thai restaurant. (Images of gloopy red sauced chicken was not really what I was in the mood for that night.) What came, was a platter of ultra-moist, char-grilled chicken, covered in a tangy coconutty sauce. It was fantastic, and I should’ve known better than to doubt her taste!
a wonderful spicy, sour, tangy off-the-menu dish that Noodle Boat will begin offering when they re-open after their Thailand trip on May 17th
a dish of spicy, battered and fried sticky rice balls
I am constantly blown away by the food at Noodle Boat. It’s the only food in the area whose spice level leaves my tongue burning and my head buzzing with with endorphins when we order it off-the-chart “hot”. (The food also causes a bit–ok, a lot–of gastrointestinal distress the next day, which is probably TMI, but that’s the reason why I can’t stomach going there every week, or else I would head over there more often. Just a word of caution for those with more delicate systems!)
Noodle Boat is located in Issquah, at 700 NW Gilman Blvd. 425.391.8096