There is no food I crave more than the vibrant fare at Noodle Boat Thai Cuisine (Issaquah, 700 NW Gilman Blvd.; 425.391.8096; noodleboat.com). This humble restaurant is run by a family whose devotion to quality includes a six-week working vacation in Thailand each year to produce the authentic, hellishly hot chile paste that finds its way into many dishes. One of these plates is the romantically named Queen of Banana ($10.95), a studied balance in texture and flavor as soft, steamed banana blossoms lose their way in an artful jumble of sweet roasted coconut, plump shrimp, pungent lime leaves, a raw crunch of red onion and a bracing shower of mint. A dribble of cooling coconut milk tames the fire and leaves me wanting more.
Originally published in July 2010