Ever since I had some exquisite homemade vegetarian Phad Kee Mao a few years ago, it has been my Thai restaurant staple, and the dish by which I tend to judge a Thai restaurant and their ability to adapt to the very un-Thai vegetarian request of "no fish sauce please."
And for quite some time, I had found my Phad Kee Mao heaven at Thai Ginger in Madison Park. For starters, they are sensitive to what it means to make a dish "vegan*" and know that this includes omitting both eggs and fish sauce. Second, they have nice simple outdoor seating that is set apart from the street, but is close enough to stay interesting.
And third, the Phad Kee Mao was delicious: Fat rice noodles, steamed broccoli, charred tomatoes, stir fried onions and bell peppers, in a smoky, garlicky, limey, spicy, fried basil sauce.
But the last couple of times I've eaten there, the food hasn't been so great.
The Phad Kee Mao has morphed into the unfortunate greasy little brother that disappoints from so many other Thai Restaurants in the city, the good flavours all gone and left instead are sloppy oily noodles flavored mostly with soy sauce.
Good news is that they do have a couple little spice trays, and I was able to salvage the meal with some smoky ground red pepper.
We ordered Thai Iced tea on this occasion, and it was deliciously sweet and earthy, but so straw-dyeingly orange that I suspect it came from a powder instead of a leaf.
I used to really love this place, and I guess I'm not ready to completely write it off yet. But my feelings towards it have not been helped by its slow transgression into "fancy" Thai restaurant prices. It is just the price of food/rent increasing? Or are they taking advantage of the fact that they are located in a wealthy neighborhood with just one Thai restaurant?
Whatever they were doing before, I wish they'd do it again!
*I'm not vegan, but I don't usually eat eggs outside of baked goods
1841 42nd Ave E
Seattle, WA 98112