A Little Hawaiian Vocabulary - We're here on the Big Island again (visiting Kona), and it struck me that knowing a few Hawaiian words can come in handy while visiting the islands. Aloha ...
Thursday, April 22, 2010
After falling in love with Hawai'i, Dan & I discovered a Seattle restaurant called the Islander that served great Hawaiian & Pan-asian food and delicious drinks in a Polynesian inspired setting - and had a beautiful patio overlooking Puget Sound. We spent Valentine's Day there; we had them cater our engagement party; we brought friends there; and before all that - before it was even the Islander - Dan was in a short film in the space (it was an Italian joint at the time).
Then the owner decided to close the Islander and open a Vietnamese restaurant called Thoa's.
Dan & I were heartbroken - and this was just the first of three Hawaiian restaurants in the area to close (it was followed by Trader Vic's and Luau). Despite our connection to the space, we couldn't bring ourselves to go back after the changeover... until tonight.
Driving through downtown the other day, we saw the sign for Thoa's and agreed maybe it was time to check it out. Then we discovered it was part of Seattle Restaurant Week, and that sealed the deal. So tonight we bit the bullet, put aside our grudge, and returned to the space for a 3-course meal with a $25 price tag.
Dan arrived first and was happy to find that the drink menu still included many of our favorites, including the Mango-Ginger Margarita ($9), which he ordered. I decided to try a new addition to the menu - the Thai Bom ($9), a delicious Thai Iced tea based cocktail very similar to the one I had at Spice Room recently (and again they accommodated my lactose intolerance by swapping cream out for coconut cream). Thoa's version is more true to the original Thai Iced tea recipe, with the additions of Amaretto and vanilla infused vodka.
We both opted to enjoy the $25 fixed menu, starting with Jicama Summer Rolls (normally $7), which were incredibly fresh and served with a slightly sweet tamarind dipping sauce.
There was a little delay with our entrees, so our friendly and attentive server brought over a bowl of steamed & salted edamame to keep us satiated while we waited - which wasn't that long of a wait.
Of the three entree options available for the special menu, I went for the Vietnamese Steak Frites (normally $20) - a stir fry of sorts featuring beef tenderloin cubes and thin potato fries, tossed with red & green bell peppers and onions and tomatoes. The beef was tender and flavorful, and the potatoes were surprisingly not heavy - though it was served with a bowl of steamed rice that seemed like starch overkill.
Dan couldn't resist the Five Spice Duck Breast (normally $19), which he graciously let me sample. It was well worth the wait, cooked perfectly and seasoned wonderfully - the five spice giving it a rich, peppery flavor that balanced the duck. As a side was a coconut kombucha squash, which was equally rich in flavor.
Rounding out our three courses was a Fried Banana with Ice Cream (normally $7). Unlike the fried bananas at Aloha plates that have a thick batter of coconut and panko, these had just a thin tempura style batter, and were served warm topped the ice cream.
We were both very happy with our dinners and drinks, and pleased to see that the menu and decor hadn't changed that much - with old favorites like Loco Moco, Ahi Poke, and Sweet Potato Fries still available. And getting to sample the menu at a reduced price was a great excuse to finally return, getting $67 worth of food for $50 - not counting the complimentary edamame (normally $3).
Thoa's may not be the Islander, but it still has plenty of aloha.
Seattle Restaurant Week continues until April 29th.