This U-District eatery will politely grab you by the hand, then smack you in the face with flavor.
You’ve probably passed by this place while you were in the University District; housing a nice corner spot on NE 45th St. Next time, stop in. Araya’s is consistent and generous with its traditional dishes with a bit of an edge. It seems like the U-District should be renamed Thai Spot Central with all of ‘em incessantly popping up. The difference with Araya’s is that it’s got some class. Get ready to take notes.
I don’t know about you, but I am a tad obsessed with cream cheese to the point of concern. Oh, and all things fried. Just a smidgen. That’s why their Tofu Cream Cheese Appetizer ($7.50) has had a special place in my heart after all these years. Crispy and golden rolls filled with baby corn, vegan cream cheese and tofu served with a side of sweet and sour sauce and ground peanuts. Every texture in this starter hit me right—creamy rolled up in crunchy. They’re somehow able to make spring rolls sexy.
Plan on bringing your whole vegtourage to help you share Drunken Mushroom ($13.95), their signature dish. I love me some funghi—portabello shitake and white mushrooms take over the platter. Also featuring veggie meat composition, this should be Protein Pete’s go-to. Despite his anthropological desires, he won’t miss gnawing on any real animals. This dish is bursting with dynamic flavors and textures. The grilled asparagus and chunks of bell peppers add a bite to the soft, but meaty proteins and spicy wide rice noodles. Commence the feast.
The average Seattleite can’t walk into a Thai restaurant without immediately Tourette-style screaming one of two things: Chicken Pad Thai or Panang Curry. Araya’s Panang Curry ($8.95) is worth shouting about. With huge chunks of veggies and tofu cooked in thick coconut milk and homemade panang curry paste, this will blow your socks off. But not just anywhere. Right into the hamper. This is a sophisticated place, so let’s be respectful you dirty hooligans. Leaves a bit of a sting in your mouth all meal long so slurp the sauce with caution. This curry refuses to be ignored.
When I hear “buffet”, I think of when my family and I would frequent Old Country Buffet to accommodate our Samoan/Filipino gluttony. Let me tell you, I do not miss Chubby Catherine. But Araya’s has a much more elegant take on the idea. If you have a healthy appetite, go there for lunch and try a bit of everything.
Pinkies and hair buns high, this traditional and refined Thai restaurant gets my vote for Class and Sass. Pure classafras. I bow to Araya’s for giving me yet another reason to yell, “Vegan food is the bomb!” from the rooftops. Their full cup of gravy glistens gold in my memory. Kapkumkap, Araya’s. Kapkumkap.
Araya’s Vegetarian Place | 1121 NE 45th St, Seattle | (206) 524-4332