Archive for the ‘Pranee’s Restaurant Reviews’ Category

Eat Like a Local (continued)

A fish stand on Rawai beach at sea gypsy village

A fish stand on Rawai beach at sea gypsy village

I grew up on Phuket Island at a time when seafood was three-times cheaper than meat. I remember my grandmother giving me two baht to buy a kilogram of the fish of my choice. Today seafood costs much more due to the high demand and limited resources. In restaurants in tourist areas you might see it on the menu for 300 baht (about ten U.S. dollars at today’s rate) per kilogram, with your choice of preparation. Before you order, be sure to check on the price because the market price changes on a day-to-day basis.

What you see below are typical dishes that you can order at any seafood restaurant in Phuket, and especially those around the southern tip of Phuket Island and the Rawai Beach and Chalong Bay areas. I hope you enjoy photos of foods from our family reunion at Talay-Zep Restaurant. For seafood lovers, I recommend that you include lunch or dinner on your itinerary when you visit the beautiful area of southern Phuket. Afterwards, take a leisurely walk to Rawai pier, the sea gypsy village, and the sea shell museum. Like the locals do, dine on seafood and appreciate the source and the scenery.

The feast from the sea at Talay-Zep Seafood Restaurant.

Talay-Zep's chef prepared Som Tum

Talay-Zep’s chef prepares Som Tum

Som Tum green papaya salad is prepared in a large wooden mortar.

Green Papaya Salad with Anchovy and Blue Crab

Som Tum Phoo Sod – Green Papaya Salad with Anchovy and Blue Crab

Phuket Som Tum Civeche: the owner designed this Som Tum to please locals with a touch of raw blue crab and fried anchovy.

Grilled Butterflied Fish with Seafood Dipping Sauce

Grilled Butterflied Fish with Seafood Dipping Sauce

Grilled fish over charcoal or coconut husk is simply delicious served with Phuket garlic-lime dipping sauce.

Pla Nuang Manao ~ Steamed Fish in Lime Juice

Pla Nuang Manao ~ Steamed Fish in Lime Juice -ปลานึ่งมะนาว

Steaming fish is the healthiest way to cook it, and the flavor is supreme when a delicious garlic, lime, and cilantro sauce is poured on top. The sweetness comes from steaming the whole fish with a salty, spicy and sour sauce. The sour is from lime – manao – มะนาว, and gives this dish its name.

Blanched Wing Shell - หอยชักตีน

Blanched Wing Shells – หอยชักตีน

Blanched wing shells with lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves.

Wing shell is a common shellfish found on Phuket Island and the nearby province. Its scientific name is Strombus camarium.

Wing Shell - หอยชักตีน - Strombus camarium

Wing Shell – หอยชักตีน – Strombus camarium

To eat wing shells, pull the nail—Thais call it ตีน – the foot—to remove  the flesh from the shell (or insert a toothpick to make it easier to remove) and dip it in the seafood dipping sauce.

Wing shell - หอยชักตีน

Wing shell – หอยชักตีน

Blanched cockles - หอยแครงลวก

Blanched cockles – หอยแครงลวก

Blanched cockles - หอยแครงลวก

Blanched cockles and Phuket seafood dipping sauce

Phuket seafood dipping sauce is the accompaniment to all seafood dishes.


My family: sister, sister-in-law, and nieces and nephews

After our seafood feast, we had our photo taken with Kularb, my friend who owns the restaurant.

© 2013  Pranee Khruasanit Halvorsen
I Love Thai cooking
Pranee teaches Thai Cooking classes in the Seattle area.
Her website is: I Love Thai cooking.com 
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Eat Like a Local

Everyone in my Thai family was born and lives in Phuket, as we have for many generations. This is also true for many of Phuket’s over 200,000 natives, though there are about one million people living on Phuket Island today. Despite all of the changes, one place remains almost timeless. This is Rawai Beach, where the pace of change is slow compared to other parts of Phuket. So where do Phuket natives escape to on the weekend? Rawai Beach – หาดราไวย์.

Rawai Beach – Thailand

There we dine on seafood as we did for many generations before there were so many foreign influences, enjoying a typical menu of grill seafood or blanched cockers with Phuket seafood dipping sauce. In my next post I will show you exactly what we ordered the last time I was at Rawai Beach with my family, and how we ate it. This may help you understand our cuisine and culture. I hope you will enjoy my personal story of how my family eats and travels. When you get a chance to visit Phuket, I hope that you, too, will have a chance to eat like a local.

Talay-Zep Seafood & Wine Restaurant

ร้านอาหารทะเลแซ่บ ชายหาดราไวย์

Rawai Beach Phuket Thailand

Each visit I make to Phuket provides fun reunion time with my family. Almost every weekend during my short visits we bond over food, whether it is fresh home cooking, or take-out from Talad nad – ตลาดนัด  or nearby restaurants. Sometimes my family and I will take a little adventure travel to another end of the island or to the nearby province of Phang Nga. This trip my sister-in-law and I had a desire for seafood Phuket style. As always, we visited Talay-Zep restaurant, the scene of countless of our reunion dinners.

Talay-Zep Seafood Restaurant in Rawai, Phuket Island

ร้านอาหารทะเลแซ่บ ชายหาดราไวย์

My friend Kularb -กุหลาบ – and her husband Pho – โปั – own Talay-Zep Seafood and Wine Restaurant, which is on Rawai Beach Road among 15 other Phuket seafood restaurants. We enjoyed a big seafood feast, which I will share with you in my next post. Today, however, I will share just my family’s favorite dish: Horseshoe Crab Salad with Mango. Just like Anthony Bourdain, most of my family consider this a delicacy dish—though I myself was not convinced to eat these eggs, which are the only edible part of the crab. In fact, the horseshoe crab is not a crab at all, and it does not have edible flesh like other crabs. It is more closely related to spiders and scorpions, a living fossil that has remained virtually unchanged for millions of years. But now, after doing some research, I have learned more about the risks involved in eating horseshoe crab eggs, and how to avoid them, so I may take one bite the next time around.

Talay-Zep Seafood and Wine on Rawai Beach

Talay-Zep Seafood and Wine on Rawai Beach

Kularb, Pranee and Pho

Nevertheless, I asked Kularb to share her knowledge of horseshoe crab eggs and her verbal recipe with you. Today I am not encouraging you to cook, but to read and learn about something you may never have heard of before: Horseshoe Crab Egg Salad – Yum Khai Mengda Talay – ไข่แมงดาทะเล.

Horseshoe Crab – แมงดาทะเล

Kularb’s notes on how to prepare horseshoe crab for its eggs

Horseshoe crab is not difficult to cook, but  the person who removes the eggs—or roe—from the horseshoe crab must know the correct procedures to do this to prevent the other inedible parts of the crab from contaminating the eggs. If the eggs get contaminated, you can fall sick with dizziness or the symptoms of food poisoning and complications of the digestive system. Kularb suggests that you only harvest the eggs from cooked horseshoe crabs. The eggs, which are found in the belly area, can be green or orange-colored, about the same size as salmon roe but with a firmer, crunchy texture and an interesting flavor.

There are two ways to prepare horseshoe crabs before removing the eggs. One way is to place the whole horseshoe crab in boiling water and cook it until the eggs are just cooked. Another way is to place the horseshoe crab on the grill until the eggs have cooked, about 5 minutes. Kularb notes that it is a very difficult task to remove the eggs from the shell and that it requires a skilled cook to prepare the eggs. She or her husband prepares the horseshoe crab eggs for her restaurant.

Horseshoe Crab Egg Salad

Yum Kai Meng Da


Yum Kai Meng Da is the only way that Thais usually prepare horseshoe crab eggs. Kularb’s verbal recipe is the same as my green mango salad recipe so I hope you enjoy this recipe even beyond the horseshoe crab egg salad. For everyone to enjoy this salad without the risk, I have created a Mock Horseshoe Crab Egg Salad, which can be prepared substituting Israeli couscous cooked al dente with a touch of fish sauce in place of the crab eggs. With the mock salad recipe there is nothing to worry about—just enjoy the delicious salad! You may use horseshoe crab eggs if desired, but do so at your own risk and with an awareness of the risks involved.

Horseshoe Crab Eggs Salad

Serves: 4

 1/2 cup cooked horseshoe crab eggs (see Kularb’s note), or Isreali couscous cooked al dente
2 tablespoons fish sauce
3 tablespoons lime juice, about 1 large lime
1 1/2 tablespoons palm sugar
2  fresh Thai chillies, chopped, or 1 teaspoon chili powder
2 tablespoons sliced shallot
1 cup shredded green mango, from about 1/2 green mango (or substitute a granny smith apple for the green mango)
1/4 cup Chinese celery, cut into 1 inch lengths
1/4 cup cashew nuts, chopped
2 lettuce leaves

Cook horseshoe crab eggs according to Kularb’s instruction and set aside.

To make the salad dressing, stir fish sauce, lime juice, palm sugar and chili powder together in a large bowl. Stir well until the palm sugar is dissolved. Then stir in Israel couscous or horseshoe crab eggs, shallot, green mango, Chinese celery, and cashew nuts until well combined.

Place lettuce leaves on the serving plate and top with salad mixture. Serve right away.

© 2013  Pranee Khruasanit Halvorsen
I Love Thai cooking
Pranee teaches Thai Cooking classes in the Seattle area.
Her website is: I Love Thai cooking.com 

Should You Eat Horseshoe Crab Egg? 

“Although many experts and doctors would suggest staying clear of consuming horseshoe crab it is quite possible to eat them on a regular basis. It is important to ensure that the person preparing the delicacy is familiar with the correct procedure as otherwise it is possible to fall sick if you were to consume the wrong parts or organs. Today it is a species that is becoming more common in seafood restaurants tanks not just in south Asia but around the world.” from Crableghowtocook.com

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Applied Thai Culinary Art

Gai Yang Amphawa – ไก่ย่างอัมพวา

Grilled Thai Chicken Gai Yang, shown here from my visit in 2011, is famous Thai street food.

On May 29th—just about two weeks ago—The New York Times published the article “Cuisines Mastered as Acquired Tastes.” It told the story of some cooks that have become stars of authentic cuisines from other than their native countries.

One person mentioned in the article is Superstar Thai chef, Andy Ricker, the James Beard Best Chef in the Pacific Northwest in 2011. The article was fascinating reading and brought to mind my last week’s post on Thai basic seasoning paste.  Andy Ricker uses Kratiem Prik Thai paste – a basic Thai seasoning – in his restaurant kitchens as intensively as a Thai would in his. I have been to Andy’s Pok Pok Restaurant in Portland, Oregon a few times. Several of the dishes on his current menu obviously use this basic Thai seasoning paste, including Kai Yaang: Charcoal, rotisserie-roasted natural game hen stuffed with lemongrass, garlic, pepper and cilantro), Moo Paa Kham Waan (Boar collar meat rubbed with garlic, coriander root and black pepper glazed with soy and sugar grilled over charcoal) and Kung Op Wun Sen (Wild caught gulf prawns baked in a clay pot over charcoal with pork belly, soy, ginger, cilantro root, black pepper, chinese celery and bean thread noodle.). Andy uses Kratiem Prik Thai as a marinade sauce in the first two dishes and as a seasoning in the third.

Goong Oob Woon Sen – กุ้งอบวุ้นเส้น

Goong Oob Woon Sen, a famous Thai hot pot dish served on a banana leaf. I enjoyed this dish served from a clay pot or on a banana leaf by street vendors in Amphawa. The grass noodles were soaked with the delightful flavors of soy, cilantro root, garlic and black pepper. A short gentle braising brings out all the great flavors.

It is great to see non-Thai become super stars in Thai cuisine because it is important to educate both Thai and non-Thai about our truly amazing cuisine. We would like non-Thai to appreciate and learn about authentic Thai cuisine in restaurants in America and elsewhere. And most importantly, we would like for Thai restaurant owners to work hard to preserve our culinary heritage through menus that don’t just offer dishes laden with sugar and coconut milk. If you are looking for a Thai cookbook, here are some authorities on Thai cuisine whose work I admire: David Thompson, a restauranteur and cookbook author; Nancie McDermott, cookbook author and historian; Robert Carmack and Robert Danhi, cookbook authors and tour leaders to Southeast Asia; and Naomi Duguid and Jeffrey Alford, cookbook authors, writers, travelers and photographers.

Fried Thai Garlic and Pepper Fish – Kratiem Prik Thai Pla – ปลากระเทียมพริกไทย

Fried Thai Garlic and Pepper Fish – Kratiem Prik Thai Pla

My friend Kratiem Prik Thai Pla at Kamala Beach village Pavilion Beach Restaurant with its signature garlic-black pepper sauce, topped with a lot of fried garlic.

Now that you have learned about Kratiem Prik Thai paste from this and the previous post, you can have fun learning to be a food detective, reading menus and finding the tastes of garlic, black pepper, and cilantro toots in Thai restaurants.

Cilantro roots alternative. In Seattle, when I see cilantro roots at a farmers market or at PCC Natural Markets, I buy a bunch so I can have a supply on hand in the fridge and the freezer. When  cilantro roots are not available, I use 2 teaspoons of finely chopped cilantro stems as a substitute for 1 cilantro root.

I hope you enjoy my photos from a famous restaurant in Bangkok, street food in Amphawa, and a beach restaurant in Phuket. The creators of these dishes may vary as to their preferences for white pepper or black pepper, soy sauce or fish sauce, palm sugar or white sugar, but they all use the secret ingredients of garlic, black pepper and cilantro root.

Please let me know if you have any suggestions for using Thai Basic Seasoning Paste Recipe.

Sun-dried Pork – Moo Daet Deow – หมูแดดเดียว

Amphawa, Thailand
Sun-dried pork on the street at Amphawa, ready to deep fry to order.
Some Thai cooks prefer to use fish sauce rather than soy sauce and white peppercorn powder rather than black pepper corns in making Kratiem Prik Thai Rak Puk Chee paste.

Kratiem Prik Thai Goong – กระเทียมพริกไทยกุ้ง

You will find the nationally famous garlic prawns in many forms and under many names in Thai restaurant menus. The traditional Thai version doesn’t mix in vegetables but has a few fresh sliced cucumbers on the side. This photo of garlic prawns was taken at Harmonique Restaurant, my favorite restaurant in Bangkok.

© 2012 Pranee Khruasanit Halvorsen
I Love Thai cooking
Pranee teaches Thai Cooking classes in the Seattle area.
Her website is: I Love Thai cooking.com  
Follow Me on Pinterest

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Maui, Upcountry Culinary Getaway

First of all, Happy New Year – Sawasdee Pee Mai – สวัสดีปีใหม่.

Maui, Upcountry

I have just returned from a family vacation to Maui. While I was there I had the chance to take two days off to totally explore Maui as a culinary getaway. For foodies and culinary enthusiasts, the upcountry is a must. No Maui vacation is complete without a full immersion into this land, people, food and culture.

View from Highway 37 between Grandma’s Coffee House and the Maui Winery

First Day – Grandma’s Coffee House, Tedeschi Vineyards, Ali’i Kula and the Hili’imaile General Store

On Friday December 23rd, I left Ka’anapali around 8:30am and drove along Highway 37 to the upcountry area. Upcountry is the high land area near the base of the Haleakala Crater and the Haleakala National Park. (Please see related links below for more information.)

I arrived at 9:30am at Grandma’s Coffee House – a must-visit place for coffee lovers, either on your way to the Maui Winery or afterwards if you are following the area’s bike route. Grandma’s serves breakfast and lunch.

Grandma’s Coffee House

Grandma’s Maui Coffee, Highway 37, Keokea.


I enjoyed a Grandma’s Americano and a Grandma’s Pineapple and Banana Cream Cake at an outside table. The cake was perfect—not too sweet, but with all the Hawai’i goodies: macadamia nuts, pineapple and bananas. The frosting was light with a swirl of caramel. My palate tasted the heaven.

Maui Winery

Tedeschi Vineyards at the Ulupalakua Ranch

Highway 37, Keokea. mauiwine.com

Around 10am I got back in the car and, continuing on Highway 37, headed to Ulupalakua. I arrived at the Maui Winery 20 minutes later, just in time for the first tour at 10:30am. The free half-hour tour provided extensive information about the winery and its wine, as well as the history, culture, and native land that connect to the spirit of the place. The old large tree and hilly landscape made for a very tranquil atmosphere.

Ulupalakua Ranch Store and Grill

Ulupalakua Ranch Store and Grill, Highway 37


Then I walked to Ulupalakua General Store and had my picture taken between the sculptures of two Hawaiian cowboys. I could have ordered an elk burger, salad or sandwich for lunch, but the Ali’i Kula lavender Farm was my next destination and I planned to have a late lunch after that at the Hili’imaile General Store.

Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm

Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm, 1100 Waipoli Road, Kula.


Twenty minutes later, I arrived at Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm. Admission to the farm was free, but I decided to take the 30-minutes tour at 1pm for $12. This gave me plenty of time to enjoy the gift shop, eat a lavender scone and sip some lavender black tea on the patio. I enjoyed the retreat-like setting in the beautiful garden with its cool air and great view and felt at peace.

Thank you to Kathy Gehrt, my friend and author of the cookbook Discover Cooking with Lavender, who recommended this place to me. If you wish to learn more about cooking with culinary lavender please visit Kathy’s blog: Discover Lavender.

Right after the tour ended, I excused myself and headed out to The Hili’imaile General Store. I arrived at 2 pm, just 30 minutes before the kitchen was to close.

The Hili’imaile General Store Restaurant

The staff was very friendly and I took their recommendations for what to order. I was glad I did. To share my memorable meal with you, I have found Chef Beverly Gannon’s recipes online and placed the links to them right under the pictures of these dishes. The Sashimi Napolean and the six times award-winning Pineapple Upside-Down Cake are not to be missed. The recipes are also in her second cookbook, Family-Style Meals at the Hali’imaile General Store which is published by Ten Speed Press.

Sashimi Napoleon

Sashimi Napoleon Recipe by Chef Beverly Gannon

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

Pineapple Upside-down Cake Recipe by Chef Beverly Gannon

Recipes and information on her second cookbook

with Chef Beverly Gannon

The Hali’imaile General Store

900 Hali’imaile Road, Makawao, HI 96768
Phone: 808.572.2666 | Fax: 808.572.7128

Second Day – Kula Lodge, O’o Farm and Makawao

On Monday, December 26th, the second day of my upcountry culinary getaway, I started my day with breakfast at Kula Lodge, then drove to the O’o Farm which is only 10 minutes away. I arrived at the farm just 10 minutes before a farm tour was to begin.

O’o farm, harvesting Salad Mix for Our Lunch

O’o Farm, 651 Waipoli Road, Kula. Tours and lunches


Farm Fresh Lunch Prepared by Chef Caroline Schaub

Chef Caroline Schaub prepared some amazing and inspired farm-fresh dishes.

O’o farm, lunch area

The farm tour and lunch package costs $50; booking in advance is recommended. The tour, which included about 26 people from all across the United States, was guided by the farm manager. It started at 10:30am and we picked our own salad mix at the end. We all enjoyed the tour and were inspired by our farm-to-table experience.

Lunch at O’o Farm Tour

After leaving the farm I spent a pleasant hour in Makawao, a delightful small town for visiting art galleries, eateries and shops. Then I made a leisurely drive back to Ka’anapali and met up with my family in the late afternoon.

Pranee Khruasanit Halvorsen

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Eat Like a Local

Papa Seafood Restaurant, Laem Sing, Phuket, Thailand

Stir-fried Blue Crab with Black Pepper – ผัดปูม้ากับพริกไทยดำ

It was less than a month ago that I was at Laem Sing, Phuket, soaking up the warm sunshine before leaving for Seattle. Laem Sing is my favorite beach for getting away for a half day—or all day—to just hang out on the beach with nature and good Phuket seafood. Typically one should visit early enough to choose the best location among the sun loungers that are lined up along the beach. The sun lounger will cost 50 to 100 baht ($2 to $3), which is paid to the owner of the restaurant in front of which the sun lounger sets. It also means that you should order food and drink from that restaurant as well. That’s how I came to know Papa Seafood Restaurant, as I make sure to visit Laem Sing each year. This is a private beach but it is open to the public. It is located on the northwest coast of Phuket on Millionaire Road between Kamala and Surin Beaches.

Pay for parking (40 baht) near the road, then walk down the hill to this quiet beach.

Laem Sing Beach

At Papa Seafood Restaurant, the seafood is purchased fresh each day and the menu is full of mouth-watering dishes—from local Thai seafood favorites to a few western dishes for those who prefer western comfort food such as sandwiches. The drink menu has a long list of tropical smoothies and other beverages that can keep you hydrated throughout the day.

As my eye glanced over the menu, I began to wonder about the possibility of taping the cooking at the restaurant to share with my students and Thai foods fans. Never afraid to ask, I found that the cook didn’t mind me taking photographs and video. I hope that you will enjoy the video on Stir-fried Blue Crab with Black Pepper recipe and that it will help you to duplicate this dish at home. If you get a chance to visit Phuket, please check out Laem Sing Beach and stop by Papa Seafood Restaurant. From Laem Sing Beach to your kitchen!

Stir-Fried Blue Crab with Black Pepper Recipe

Phad Phu Ma Kub Prik Thai Dum


I grew up in the southern region of Thailand eating two kinds of crab: a rice-field crab (Phu Dum) and blue crab (Phu Ma), which is the most common crab caught in the Indian ocean. My family’s favorite ways to prepare the blue crab are either to steam it and serve it with a lime-garlic dipping sauce, or to stir-fry the crab with black pepper and green onion. Blue crab is so sweet and delicate in flavor, the cooking is best when it is simple with few ingredients. I love stir-fried blue crab with black pepper and the contrast of the sweet, juicy, fresh crab and the excitement of crushed black pepper. Kin Hai Aroy! Bon Appetite!

Serves: 2

Cooking Time: 5 to 7 minutes

3 tablespoons cooking oil
2 tablespoons garlic 
1/2 onion, sliced
4 Thai chilies, cut in half
2 blue crabs, cleaned and cut into large pieces
2 tablespoons black peppercorns, crushed
2 teaspoons oyster sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/2 cup water or more as needed
1/2 tomato, sliced
1/2 cup Chinese celery and green onions cut into one inch length 
Heat the wok on high heat and stir in onion and chili; stir back and forth until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Then stir in blue crab and let it cook for 2 minutes. Stir in black pepper, oyster sauce, sugar and soy sauce. Stir well, then add water and let it cook until the crab is completely pink in color and the crab meat is opaque, not translucent. It takes about  3 to 5 minutes for the crab meat to cook.  Add more water in between to make a good amount of sauce but not too watery. Last, stir in tomato, Chinese celery and green onion and continue stirring for 30 seconds. Serve right away with steamed jasmine rice.

Credit: Papa Seafood Restaurant

Laem Sing, Phuket, Thailand

© 2011 Pranee Khruasanit Halvorsen  
I Love Thai cooking 
 Pranee teaches Thai Cooking classes in the Seattle area. Her website is: I Love Thai cooking.com . 
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Oodles of Flavors at Chinese Noodle House

I have  finally found my place to have oodles of noodles. And I have to thank to my friend Ron who introduced me to his favorite restaurant: Hue Ky Mi Gia, a Chinese Noodle House in in the Seattle International District’s Little Saigon. My first visit with Ron was in October 2010, then we went again in November to explore more noodle dishes right after the restaurant celebrated their first anniversary. Each visit we enjoyed the personal touch of a friendly conversation with the owners. That’s how we learned that they are now planning to open a new restaurant soon in another location.

Egg Noodle Dry Style at Hue Ky Mi Gia, Chinese Noodle House

I loved my first bowl of noodles there and knew that all of their dishes would be good. After a few visits and many oodles of noodles, I am sure that noodle fans will appreciate this review. The noodle dishes at  Hue Ky Mi Gia are simply delicious and satisfying. The flavors are authentic and provide the same tastes that one could savor while traveling in Southeast Asia. The dishes are not prepared to Americans tastes, but according to Asian soup traditions, from preparing the broth to using real ingredients in each dish that truly represent the original dish. Tiu, the owner, told us that most dishes on the menu are prepared here the same way that they are made in their restaurant in Vietnam, which also operates under the same name “Hue Ky Mi Gia.” “We cook according to tradition,” Tiu says with pride. I love the fact that they use garlic chives to heighten the broth; the pungent mellow broth left behind a delicious sweet and sophisticated aroma. I love the use of fried garlic, crunchy pork rind, garlic chives and freshly sliced green onions and lettuce in the soup. The noodles come in two versions, soup style or dry style. I always end up choosing the dry style with the broth on the side.

My favorite noodle dish here is Egg Noodle Dry Style (pictured above). It reminds me so much of my hometown cookery of Mee Hang. Tiu said a family ancestor was originally from China and found a new home in Vietnam. Her family is Vietnamese but the restaurant features mainly Chinese noodle soups, recipes that have been passed on in families for generations. Perhaps now I could make a connection; Chinese descendants my hometown  also came from the same part of China. When I eat her egg noodle dry style it feels like being in Phuket. Most of all, I am thankful to her for preserving the authenticity of the dish.

Without hesitation, I recommend Hue Ky Mi Gia to you highly. I judge the noodle restaurant by the broth and the noodle quality, and the rest is all about the authenticity. The price is very reasonable and the service is warm from this family owned business.

I recommend going to the restaurant before the lunch crowd. The setting is casual, so don’t worry if occasionally there are slurping sounds accompanying the meal.

Braised Duck Egg Noodle-The Signature Dish

Appetizers: Deep Fried Tofu, Honey Walnut Prawns, Crab Wonton with Tangy Sweet & SourSauce

Soup: Crab Meat with Fish Maw Soup, $ 5.50

Egg Noodles Dry Style: BBQ Pork, Sui Kau Pork & Shrimp, Dumpling Egg Noodles, $7

Braised Duck Egg Noodles, $7

Pork Intestines Egg Noodles, $6

Steamed Rice, $1

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Hue Ky Mi Gia, Chinese Noodle House

1207 South Jackson Street, Suite #101

Seattle, WA 98144

Telephone: 206 568 1268

Pranee teaches Thai Cooking classes in the Seattle area.
Her website is: I Love Thai cooking.com .

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Best Phad Thai on Mahachai Road, Bangkok 

The Golden Mount

Image via Wikipedia

I just returned home from three weeks of savoring Thailand. I still have a little jet lag and a lingering sense of all the flavors from Thailand. My first day in Bangkok was spent with my nieces and nephew who knew the best places to eat in Bangkok. First we intended to go to Thip Samai, but the restaurant was closed. Thip Samai is open evening hours from 5:30pm till 1:30 am, but we were not in luck. Next to Thip Samai is the Lueng Pha Phad Thai restaurant, which is very good. We savored every menu item and were very happy with our lunch—we all know that good Phad Thai can make one happy! We then continued exploring the neighborhood, and decided to walk up to the top of the Golden Mountain Temple, Phu Khao Thong. It was a very pleasant day, cool and sunny, and I spent a good time bonding with my two nieces and nephew.

For Thai foodies, I strongly recommend that when you visit Bangkok, plan to go for more than a week and include Lueng Pha or Thip Samai Phad Thai on your to-do list. They are in a great location with interesting tourist sites nearby such as: San Chao Pho Suea, Sao Chingcha, Kao San Road, and the Golden Mountain Temple.

After having a good time at the Golden Mountain Temple, we were able to enjoy our afternoon visiting San Chao Pho Suea and Khao San Road. Of course, in Bangkok there were plenty of street foods to enjoy. As we walked, we tasted all of the good looking snacks along the way. It was a perfect day and a wonderful first day to welcome myself back home. We joked that it was an  “Eat Pray Love” kind of day.

Please enjoy the video below showing how Phad Thai is prepared and wrapped in an omelette.

Phad Thai Lueng Pa Mahachai Road

Omelette wrapped Phad Thai with Prawns


Phad Thai with Shrimp Fat, Fresh Shrimps and Egg

Phad Thai Lueng Pa (Jao Gao)

Phad Thai Regular without egg, 35 Baht ($1)

Phad Thai Regular with egg, 35 Baht

Phad Thai with Shrimp Fat and Egg, 50 Baht

Phad Thai with Shrimp Fat, Fresh Shrimp and Egg, 70 Baht

Phad Thai , Shrimp Fat, Fresh Shrimp, Wrapped with Omelet, 70 Baht

Additional Egg, 10 Baht each

Thank you for your support


The decor inside the restaurant

Lueng Pha Phad Thai (next to Phad Thai Thip Samai on Mahachai Road, Bangkok)

315/1 Mahachai Road
Samran Rat, Phra Nakhon
Bangkok 10200


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Iyara Thai Cuisine

A friendly Staff

I have to give credit to my students for introducing me to the Iyara Thai Cuisine restaurant in Redmond. I took their recommendation seriously because the more I talked to them, the more I realized how serious they were about the Thai dining experience. They had mentioned their favorite Thai restaurants throughout America, including Pok Pok, and other renowned Thai restaurants, some of which are owned by people I have taken workshops with at various food conferences.

They said that Iyara may not be as good as the Pok Pok Thai restaurant in Portland in terms of the ambience, menu and creativity, but it is their favorite when it comes to authenticity close to their home in Redmond.

A week later, two Thai friends and I had lunch together at Iyara Thai Cuisine in Redmond. It is in a convenient location, with plenty of free parking spaces on the street. It has a casual setting; we started with soup, Suki nahm, and then used our fingers to enjoy the rest of our meal of Isaan food (the food from Northeastern Thailand).These were our choices from Iyara’s menu:

Suki nahm: Thai-style hot-pot in a bowl with crystal noodles, chicken and prawns, egg, napa cabbage, and green onion with a chili-bean curd sukiyaki sauce. $10

Sai grog kra prow: grilled homemade pork and spicy basil Thai-style sausage. $7

Muu ping: grilled pork sirloin skewer marinated in garlic, coconut milk, fish sauce and sugar. $7

Som tum and kai todd: deep-fried marinated half Cornish game hen, crispy shallots with a small green papaya salad and sticky rice. $11

Sticky rice $2

Chinese doughnut and pandan custard for dessert.

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Iyara is a great place for you if you love Som Tum (shredded green papaya salad). It is offered with three options. The standard one has lots of crushed peanuts, salted crab and Thai anchovy sauce.

There are many more dishes that I would like to return and check out. All are a rustic style or street foods of Thailand; these are the owner’s new menu items and a concept that they are working on. There are also plenty of standard Thai dishes if you have friends who may not be as adventurous as you are.

For all of you that love to explore new flavors, please check out Iyara Thai Cuisine. I hope that one day Thai foods in America will be as good as in Thailand, then we won’t need to travel to Thailand or Portland to savor the dishes.

Kin Hai Aroy: Bon Appétit

Iyara Thai Cuisine
16421 Cleveland St., #E
Redmond, WA 98052
(425) 885-3043

Menu: http://iyarathai.com/iyarathaimenu.pdf

Website: http://www.iyarathai.com/

Pranee’s Thai Restaurant Review is a fun read to help students enjoy the Thai dining experience. I believe that eating Thai foods is a part of learning about Thai food and the Thai culture as well.

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Tamarind Tree Restaurant

Tamarind Noodle Tray

Tamarind Tree Restaurant has been my favorite restaurant since the day they opened their doors. I like the price, quality and service. It is excellent in every way one can expect from a restaurant. This is a place that I would go with a group of friends, or by myself. The menu has many choices, but don’t forget to check their special menu on the days when they offer many selections for $5 each. The setting has a modern Asian contemporary interior design, yet one can still feel casual.

There are many more Vietnamese restaurants to visit, but for now this is my favorite Vietnamese restaurant in Seattle.

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1036 South Jackson Street

Suite A, Seattle, Washington 98104

Telephone: 206. 860. 1404

Website: http://www.tamarindtreerestaurant.com/index.php

Pranee’s Star Rating
Food: *****
Ambience: *****
Service: *****
Price: $$

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Phnompenh Noddle House

Rediscovering my favorite restaurant

When I walked in the restaurant yesterday, and despite everything it looks the same 5 years ago… but I felt different.  I felt like I was being in Cambodia and was connected like when visiting home: the pungent smell in the air, the picture of the Apsara Dancers and Angkor Wat on the wall. And the most important thing is  the body language of the people who were there, related to the food while they were eating. Their expression told me that they had a food moment.

Only a few tables were available at 11:30am and most guests are interesting crowd of mixed Southeast Asian ethnic groups and ages and I know it is going to be good again. The restaurant is famous for noodle dishes, the menu has 11 dishes list for appetizer, 12 for the noodles, 16 for the entrée, 9 vegetable and 3 for salad. It must be related to the sunshine, my mind was already set for salad, and after a friendly  chat with the server, she reassured me that the shredded green mango with pork and shrimp with a three star level would suit my mood for the day.



Nhoam Swai, Shredded Green Mango Salad with Shrimp

And When I finally tasted shredded green mango salad and steamed jasmine rice and I felt totally transported my whole experience being in Cambodia.

I tasted the two countries: Vietnam  and Cambodia with reminisce of rustic Thai cooking. My taste buds started to scan all layer of flavors and record in my taste memory hard drive. I have learned how to re engineer our favorite dishes at the restaurant from my mom and cooked ourselves at home. And this was how it went.

Layer of flavors: I detected palm sugar, shrimp powder, a hint of shrimp paste, lime juice, fish sauce and spicy is ground fresh Thai chili. For the layer of texture: the crunchy shredded green mango and carrot (garnish) dried shrimp chunk and powder that garnish on top, cooked prawn and pork, and fresh herbs are Vienamese mint (rau ram) and a  fresh Thai chili.

Durian Custard with Sticky Rice

When I searched for a dessert on the menu, my eyes stopped moving for a while when saw Durian Custard with Sweet Rice. When did I have durian with sticky rice the last time?  15 years? Not only that, it is Durian Custard? Never tried this combination together! New interesting concept way of introducing a famous the King of the fruit. When the dessert came, it was fancy and when I tasted it, it is a taste of home: it was a satisfying moment with custard, durian and sticky rice melt in one bit.

I definitely recommend this restaurant to everyone, please visit the website to learn more about their unique story, but one thing that I can tell you now is, vice-president El Gore was one of his fan.

Phnompenh Noodle House is located on South King Street and a few steps from 6th Ave, it founded and run by family members. Every visit, you always see the chef and owner around.  Perfect location in the heart of the International District, also known as China Town.

Phnom Penh Noodle House

(206) 748-9825
660 S King St Seattle, WA 98104


© 2010  Pranee Khruasanit Halvorsen  
 I Love Thai cooking
Pranee teachs Thai Cooking class in Seattle areas
Her website is:  I Love Thai cooking.com

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Eat Like a Local in Phuket, Thailand

Kan Eang @ Pier

Each visit to my home town, Phuket, I make sure to visit Kan Eang @ Chalong Pier and eat my favorite dishes. I would recommend this restaurant to any visitors (Thai or foreigner alike) that love local Thai foods and plan on taking a tasteful trip there. All the dishes are delicious and tested and tasted by my family over the years, and all these are dishes that I have always a longing for in each visit.

Pranee at Kan Eang 1 ~ Grilled Jack Fish with Phuket Tamarind Sauce

First make a reservation for the table next to the beach, perhaps before a sunset which is around 6pm. I always make sure to order grilled jack fish right way, because it grills over coconut husks charcoal 3 feet above the flame. It takes at least 30 minutes or longer depending how busy they are. The flavor of the grill fish is uniquely Phuket Islander flavor–aroma of coconut husk and banana leaf combined. It is served with Phuket style tangy sweet tamarind-soy sauce.

Phuket Prawn Tempura Bua Tod

Enjoy Phuket Prawn Tempura (Bua Tod) with Phuket spicy chili dipping sauce  (Nam Chau) for a starter. Enjoy it while you browse through 10 pages menu. This will allow you to leisurely read through the menu without a hurry and a chance to enjoy the scenery around you.

Sour Curry Prawn with Cha-Om Omelette

Sour Curry with Prawn with a chunk of Cha-Om (type of herb) omelet. This is a Southern Thai cuisine, a curry without coconut milk with a sour flavor from tamarind paste.

Here’s a tip for you. If you are afraid of spicy food, order a glass of milk on the side to help you, when you experience the heat but never discuss the heat level with a local. In Thailand the food never too hot, they cook and use chili appropriate to the dish. If you start to discuss the spiciness, they will cook you a tourist food which means either too sweet or too much coconut milk depending on the dish.

Kan Eang’s specialties are sea food and local dishes. A few more dishes to consider: Hua Mok (steamed fish curry wrapped in banana leaf), Yum Talah (seafood salad), Gai Tom Prade (devil sweet and sour chicken soup), Pak Bung Fai Daeng (stir-fried morning glory with salted soy bean) and more.

Kin Hai Aroy!  (Bon apetit!)

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Kan Eang @ Pier

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Lettuce Wrap Catfish Salad


601 108TH AVE NE.
STE 100A

Tel.: (425) 455 3226

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Sea-Thai Pumpkin Curry with Prawn

After three months of busy schedules, Chef Rachel Duboff, my colleague and owner of personal chef services Thyme to Nourish, and I finally had an opportunity to visit our favorite Thai restaurant in Wallingford. It’s called Sea Thai. I have known the owner, Renoo Ramstad, for 18 years, as long as I have lived in Seattle. Many local Thai chefs love Renoo’s Southern Thai cuisine and desserts, and her impeccable attention to fresh ingredients. The restaurant “takes pride in offering the finest homestyle cooking available without going to Thailand.” Both Chef Rachel and I have been long time fans of Sea Thai. 

After looking over the menu, Rachel and I decided that we would each order our favorite dishes and share. To tempt your appetite, I’ve included photos of our dishes on Facebook here for you. 

When the waiter asked how spicy we would like our food, I replied “as the chef recommends what is best for the dish.” Rachel and I love spicy Thai foods, but we wanted the chef to decide which heat level is appropriate for each dish, based on the dish’s personality. 

The first dish we ordered was a tidbit, Miang Kao Tod, a crunchy fried rice and pork. At it turns out, it’s not a fried rice dish at all but almost like a salad and is eaten with a leaf. Americans usually use iceberg lettuce; in Asia, the most common choice is Chapoo (also know as la lot in Vietnam). This is a great starter dish. 

Phad Kee Meo is a drunken noodle dish that features stir-fried fresh rice noodles (chow fun). This dish is almost as popular as Phad Thai. The noodles are usually served with a pork/Chinese kale combo, but Sea Thai’s version has an unusual twist. Instead of pork, it contains seafood with rice stick flake, a type of dried noodle about 2 inches by 2 inches that rolls when it’s fried. The texture is so seductive that I could have the dish all by itself for lunch and dinner. 

Pumpkin Curry with Prawn is a must this time a year. Renoo blends her own curry paste every week for her restaurant. Hers has a very good heat that cools down perfectly with the texture of pumpkin. To serve with the curry, Sea Thai uses Khanom Jean, a fried rice vermicelli noodle. Most restaurants in Seattle have this noodle available by request, as well as steamed sticky rice. 

Sea Thai head chef is Pa Juk, a delightful 69-year old cook who came to the table to greet us. After seeing our sweaty foreheads and red cheeks, she sent us complimentary black sticky rice with custard dessert to cool down our palate. Before leaving Sea Thai, Renoo generously gave me a box of her red curry paste with citrus flavor to bring home. 

I hope you too will visit Sea Thai and sample some of these dishes. Tell Renoo that Pranee sent you, and be sure to let me know what you think about Sea Thai’s food. 


Sea Thai 


2313 North 45th Street
Seattle, WA 98103-6905
(206) 547-1961 

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My first visit to Jhanjay restaurant in the Wallingford neighborhood was by chance.  My friends and I were planning on meeting at a well-known Thai restaurant nearby for lunch but it was closed.  Some of my students had previously mentioned Jhanjay, with its modern setting and friendly, relaxed atmosphere, so we decided to give it a try. 


Spicy Eggplant

There were many interesting, tasty dishes listed on the vegetarian menu.  Here were the choices which appealed to us.

Jhanjay Sampler Platter (an assortment of finger food appetizers that included spring rolls, corn patties, wonton cream cheese, wonton buckets, and Asian fries. Served with three kinds of sauce.)

Spicy Eggplant (Chinese eggplant, garlic, bell peppers and sweet basil stir-fried with special sauce)

Monk’s Noodles (Miki noodles stir-fried with shitake mushrooms, assorted vegetables, topped with ground peanut)

Black Rice ice cream (coconut ice cream topped with black rice pudding)

We enjoyed everything we tried, and I highly recommend this place to you. The service was professional and very customer friendly.

I invite you to add a comment from your experiences about eating out at Thai restaurants.


1718 North 45th St

Seattle, WA 98103

Tel 206 632 1484


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When I visit Thai restaurants, I don’t just order Phad Thai to determine how good they are but seek out signature dishes that are hard to find elsewhere.

I have heard so much about Baitong Restaurant, and had been to the old location near the airport. The owner is also well known within the Thai community in Washington state. But when it comes to ordering from the menu I find myself ordering these dishes countless times: Gai Hor Bai Toey (chicken wrapped in pandanus leaves with soy-molasses sauce), Hormok Salmon (salmon curry), Chili Fried Rice (Rice stir-fried with red and green chili and basil). Then I cool my palate with Baitong’s delightful dessert of pumpkin custard.

16876 Southcenter Parkway
Tukwila, WA98188
Phone: 206-515-3366


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Vietnamese crepe

Vietnamese crepe

3540 A Factoria Boulevard SE
Bellevue, WA 98006
Phone: 425-679-0680

Pranee’s Star Rating
Food: ****
Ambience: ****
Price: $$
Service: *****


I want to share a recent lunch experience. I am especially interested in Vietnamese foods because of my upcoming trip to Vietnam in February. I have been exploring favorite dishes from Vietnam for a year or more. Thanks to my friend, Judy, I have a new Vietnamese restaurant discovery in Factoria. The restaurant is called Square Lotus and I recommend it highly.

Crepes, noodle bowl and lotus root salad are among my favorite dishes and these were all great. The service was outstanding and speedy. It may be hard to find, so you may want to remember it is located in Factoria at Loehmann’s Plaza near the QFC. They are very busy at lunchtime, so get there before the lunch crowd arrives. 

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 phad-thaiMy family dined at The Royal Orchid Restaurant in Renton owned by Chef Daeng, well known among Thai chefs in Seattle. We’ll go back again! Phad Thai at the Royal Orchid has great flavor but my favorite dish was braised pork ribs with pineapple.  

 104 Rainier Ave S
Renton, WA 98055-2044
Phone: 425-271-4219 

Pranee’s Star Rating
Food: ****
Ambience: ****
Price: $$
Service: ****

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