Araya Vegetarian Place
1121 NE 45th St
Before you go and make any rash decisions on this place because of the big bad "V" word, get rid of your preconceived notions because this is a hate free zone. Araya's is by far my favorite Thai place in the entire city let alone in the U-District. (And yeah, for your information, I have been to all of restaurants on the unbelievably long list of Thai places around campus. So I know what I'm talking about.) Before I go into why other places pale in comparison let's take a gander into my Araya gallery...
Skewered fried tofu served with a complementing peanut sauce and picked cucumbers for a little zing.
Your usual Thai restaurant fare, but for some reason it's especially delicious. I feel like it might be because they're a vegetarian/vegan restaurant so they make up for the lack of meat flavor with a special blend of herbs and spices. This unique blend creates a more complex (in a wonderful way) flavor that fully deserves my stamp of approval. It still tastes like Phad See-iew, so if you don't want to try something new (I disapprove), then have an especially delicious plate of Thai comfort food.
Pineapple Fried Rice
It's called Pineapple Fried Rice, but the rice to vegetable/tofu ratio is more equal than overpowering. I thought this was really refreshing because I know that if I wanted rice, I would've just ordered a bowl of rice. The sauce is a little sweeter than most fried rice dishes but it's always the nice blend of other flavors that makes this dish really stand out. I highly recommend this dish to anyone who's going to Araya's for the first time and may want to play it on the safe side.
(This picture sucks but it's the only one I have =[ )
This is my most highly recommended dish hands down. If you ask me face to face about this dish, I will start gushing. Be warned. The pumpkin is more like a starchy squash and it just works so well with the red curry. There are also soft & soft tofus and a variety of other soy-veggie meats that makes the curry really exciting to eat (for me anyway).
Sidenote: I get bored really easily. It's just a trait I've never been able to shake off. The reason I tell you this is because the fact that there isn't just pumpkin but other things in the curry as well is vital to my enjoyment. Simply put, I like my buffet in a bowl. I really, really do.
Not Pictured: Araya's Salad - If you're looking for something lighter, their salads are really good but this one is my favorite. The peanut sauce is so yummy and it goes so well with the tofu and fresh crispy veggies.
Remember to talk to the friendly wait staff! (Maybe I just really like talking to strangers, but still.) If you can't decide what to get they have great input and they really know their stuff. All the waiters/waitresses I've had have been really great about helping me decide and knowing exactly what's in each dish.
Why other places pale in comparison:
- Thai Tom - This place is honestly so overrated. The food is delicious Thai food, but it's not really special to me. Not to mention the fact that the waiters aren't friendly, the place is cramped, and it's almost impossible to get a seat during normal dining hours.
- Thaiger Room, Tara Thai (formerly known as AppeThai), Thai 65 - I could really do a separate entry for each restaurant but bottom line: They all. Taste. The same.
- Banana Leaf - Banana Leaf doesn't taste the same as the others, but from what I've experienced it's a little too bitter for my taste. But their Thai Iced Tea is my favorite. Unfortunately, I had terrible service here the one and only time I've been. So I'm not going back. Who gets the same order wrong twice? Really?! Come on!