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Sunday, January 01, 2006

Tea for two

When we first visited Seattle back in 2003, we realized that all of the restaurants where we ate (with the exception of Café Campagne) were of the Asian persuasion. We enjoyed a lovely Valentine’s Day dinner at Wild Ginger and inoculated my cousin and his friend with first-time sushi at I Love Sushi on Lake Union.

On the last night of our extended-weekend visit, we struggled to find the perfect dinner for our final Seattle meal. We didn’t have a car, so we walked the downtown streets, searching for any place that looked halfway decent. It was already dark, and it was starting to rain. We were still several blocks from our hotel, and I was getting a little worried that we were entering a sketchy neighborhood behind Pike Place Market.

And then we saw it, like a beacon upon stormy seas. The neon-lit sign read “Typhoon!” Was it a coincidence that it was starting to rain really hard? We looked inside and saw a warm and welcoming Thai restaurant. Why not end our Seattle trip with yet another Asian meal?

Typhoon! boasted typical Thai fare – spicy curries and noodles – but what was most impressive was their EXTENSIVE tea menu. And when I say extensive, I mean there are hundreds of tea concoctions in which to enjoy. In a way, it’s a tad overwhelming that the tea menu is bigger than the food menu. And each tea comes served loose leaf in its own cast-iron pot, artfully steeped to perfection.

I fell in love with that tea. Heck, I fell in love with Seattle that weekend.

When we moved here in July, I said that I really wanted to go back to Typhoon! some time, just for the sake of the tea. With a New Year looming ahead last night, we decided it was time to return. And the place was just like I remembered. Warm and welcoming, no reservation required, even on New Year’s Eve. It’s as if Typhoon! is a secret place, tucked away beneath the market, and only a handful of locals are privy to its romantic atmosphere.

Right away, we started perusing the tea menu. The tea is broken out into different categories, like green and black, and each one is priced differently. There is even one tea priced at $16. I wondered out loud if perhaps this particular tea concoction made a man more virile or a woman younger looking. Rather than lament over the tea choices, I picked the first one that stood out to me – the Japanese cherry. Roth opted for the Japanese tangerine.

Our server brought the tea and explained that it still needed to steep for a couple minutes, but to remove the tea filter soon to avoid bitterness. I poured a little sample and breathed in the warm aromatic cherry sweetness. It was still a little light, but my tea was nearly ready. Roth removed his tea filter pronto and poured a full cup. The tangerine was strong, and the tea was dark. He pointed out the bits of tangerine zest in the filter.
Typhoon teapot Typhoon tea filter
We started off dinner with one of our favorite Thai soups – tom kha gai, or creamy chicken coconut soup with straw mushrooms, lemongrass, lime juice and chili. Another variation on the famous soup is called tom yum goong, which is a clear broth soup similarly seasoned with shrimp. Oftentimes, we choose the clear broth version, but decided to splurge with the coconut variety.
Typhoon coconut soup
I spooned up a small bowl, let the creamy coconut dance on my tongue and closed my eyes. It was perfectly spicy, but without the undesirable chunks of ginger, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves, which most Thai restaurants leave in the bowl. If I fell in love with the tea on my first visit to Typhoon!, then I fell in love with the tom kha gai this time ‘round.

Typically when we order Thai food, I almost always have green curry while Roth almost always has phad thai noodles. I remembered having those dishes on our last visit, so we decided to try something new. I ordered the King’s curry, or “seriously spicy down-home funky Thai dry red curry and green beans with chicken.” Roth settled on the drunken noodles, or “Thai no-nonsense spicy rice noodles with veggies, chicken and shrimp.”

The presentation on the drunken noodles was absolutely gorgeous, featuring a crispy wonton and a blossomed carrot. The King’s curry dish was simpler, doting on the abundance of green beans yet also displaying a carrot blossom. I was expecting the curry to be soupier, but it was definitely “drier,” as described on the menu. Accompanying the curry was an overflowing bowl of Jasmine rice.
Typhoon drunken noodles Typhoon king curry
Both entrees were good, and we gobbled them up rather quickly, but they weren’t nearly as impressive as the tom kha gai or the extensive tea menu. Unfortunately, Roth’s tea turned a tad bitter, as the server predicted it would, even though he removed his tea filter before I did. Despite the bitterness, Typhoon! will forever remain in our hearts as one of our favorite Thai restaurants, for the soup and for the tea. And for the memories.

Typhoon signage
1400 Western Avenue
Seattle, WA


At 2:37 AM, Blogger Loretta said...

I'm exploring Seattle's blogs tonight and am linked to your blog. I think it's amazing! Yummy stuff!

At 10:36 PM, Blogger Margalow said...

Hey, nice blog. Check out my blogs:
Restaurant Recipes
Top Secret Recipes
Food Network Recipes


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