Galangal. Lemongrass. Ginger. Kefir lime leaves. Star anise. Cinnamon stick. If you’ve ever wondered why Thai food delivers a wallop of flavor that sets it apart in the Asian culinary landscape, you have spices like these to thank for it — in part. The other part stacks up to pure culinary skill, and at Thai Thani Kitchen – South Lake Union, you’ll find both flavor and skill in spades.
Thani is pronounced "tah-nee," meaning "town," in the Thai language. The story of Anak Urwannachotima, the restaurant’s co-owner, is pretty much the classic American dream, Pacific Rim-style. Arriving as a student in the U.S. from Bangkok in 2001, he soon parlayed his knowledge of Thai cooking into his first restaurant in Tacoma. “My family business in Thailand was a Thai-Chinese restaurant named Lai-Kee, which means ‘Come to eat’ in Chinese,” he said. “I learned to cook when I was young and it has been my passion ever since.”
Using his innate talent as a chef and business survival skills he learned while making his way in a second language in a new land, Urwannachotima has moved from success to success. In 2009, he sold his first restaurant and moved to Seattle to open Thai Fusion Bistro in Northgate and, later, the popular Thai Thani Kitchen in Ballard (check out their rave reviews on Urban Spoon). Just last month, he and his business partner, Bordin Bunyatipanon (who designs all the restaurants), opened the doors to Thai Thani Kitchen South Lake Union at 201 Boren Ave N in the Amazon complex. That’s a lot of traction in a short time. Visit once, and you’ll stop wondering how they did it.
The Action behind the Traction
Thai Thani’s menu offerings hail from central Thailand, with selections you probably know and love already: Swimming Rama, red and yellow curries, chicken satay, beef salad, pad thai — what some might consider West Coast comfort food — but done with the hand of a master using fresh local food sources, including a knockout seafood array. “We also use a lot of fresh vegetables in our Thai food, which makes it healthier than many other national foods,” Urwannachotima said.
Visually, Thai Thani SLU is different from many Thai restaurants, which can lean a bit heavily on gold plate as a core design theme. Thai Thani South Lake Union’s look is composed of dark woods, low lighting, plush banquettes and elegant lines that suit the modern business vibe of the neighborhood. And while the savory lunchtime menu is a natural for the SLU workforce, the dinner menu, full bar and happy hour from 4-6 p.m. Monday-Friday also make it a promising go-to spot for local residents.
Like many restaurateurs, the team behind Thai Thani heard what has become the siren song of SLU. “We decided to open Thai Thani Kitchen in South Lake Union because it’s a growing neighborhood with a lot of new development,” Urwannachotima said. “There aren’t many Thai restaurants in this area and we wanted to offer better Thai food for people in the neighborhood.”
Neighborhood peeps, you’ve officially been notified: this food is delectable, and you’re going to like it here.
Find lunch and dinner menus and hours of operation at Thai Thani Kitchen – South Lake Union.