There’s something seductive about the pad thai ($14) at Wallingford favorite May Restaurant & Lounge. It comes artfully arranged on a banana leaf, and the server carefully customizes the noodle dish tableside for you and yours. Craving extra crushed peanuts, a mild bite of chile, a moderate squeeze of lime or an extra spoon of that tangy house-made tamarind sauce? No problem. The fried egg, fresh bean sprouts strewn throughout, and soft chives curling from the heat of the noodles add to the flavor.
The secret is out at tiny, old-school Japan Town restaurant Tsukushinbo: On Fridays, the space crowds with Japanese teens, young families and office workers all laying claim to one of the restaurant’s limited lunchtime bowls of shoyu ramen ($7.50). The broth is flavorful but light (that is, don’t expect it to taste like Samurai’s tonkatsu), the ramen is curly and satisfyingly chewy. A petite portion of slow-cooked pork, seaweed and a side of precisely pleated gyoza dumplings make this meal worthy of weeklong pining.
The Halloween curry ($9.50) at Issaquah’s Noodle Boat (arguably the best Thai food in the area) began as a late-October special. Repeated requests from patrons who longed for this addictive dish made it a permanent offering. A ceramic pumpkin crock arrives at the table filled with red curried acorn squash, its heat tempered by the brightness of basil, tangy lime leaves and cooling coconut milk. Mix this comforting curry sauce in with the rice noodles served alongside, and you have one soul-satisfying dish that’s completely craveable—and now available any time of year.
Spaghetti and Meatballs
Rialto Pasta Bar and Grill in upper Fremont is an unpretentious neighborhood date spot, where wine is poured almost to the top of the glasses, and the fresh salads that come with your meal are dressed with more oil and vinegar than your standard superchic Belltown eatery. Our quest for the most authentic plate of spaghetti and meatballs ($16) brought us here, where the pasta is handmade each day. The sauce (dubbed “Rudy’s Red”) is light on herbs and spices, and has a soft flavor indicative of a slow simmer on the stove. The pasta retains a pleasant chew, and the meatballs are springy and tender. If, however, you should find yourself in West Seattle on a Monday night, be sure to stop in at Spring Hill for its heaping plates of spaghetti with sauce and Parmesan ($12). Add $3 for a supersized meatball.