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Noodle Boat Thai Cuisine

700 N.W. Gilman Blvd.
Issaquah, WA
(425) 391-8096

From the outside there is little to distinguish Noodle Boat from any other strip shopping center Thai restaurant in the greater Seattle area. Its reputation on the Internet, however, has been one of some of the best Thai food available.

I was unable to eat here in 2003 when I first discovered it because of the fact that the owners were taking an extended vacation to Thailand. While this was disappointing, it showed signs that the food would be truly authentic.

Probably the best sign that Noodle Boat is a truly authentic restaurant is the menu that looks like a book with various pages of Thai dishes. There is an even larger hard covered hand made book with photos of everything on the menu, if you want to spend an even longer time trying to decide what to order. The good thing, though, is that the food served actually looks like it is pictured in the photo album.

Although it was not an easy choice, I decided to get the Phad Ginger on my first visit. This is a stir-fried ginger dish with mushrooms and black bean sauce. This dish comes out sweet in many restaurants, but at Noodle Boat the flavors were very well balanced and enjoyable. Based on this dish I thought Noodle Boat was deserving of its reputation as one of the best Thai restaurants in the area.

On a later visit I tried the Cha Cha Cha Hot Plate. In Thailand this is known as Phad Cha, a stir-fried combination of tofu (or any kind of meat you wish to order), kachai (ginger root), basil, and green beans. The owner called this an "almost curry" with a lighter sauce than the standard curry, but still with quite a bite. I thought the basil pretty much overwhelmed the other flavors, but overall it was another excellent dish.

The big hit to me, though, was the Phad Prik King, a red curry made without coconut milk with tofu (or meat) and green beans. This was not on the menu, but the fact that they could make it, and make an excellent version to boot, proved to me that this is a serious Thai restaurant. I do not know which emotion was strongest while eating it: the enjoyment of the dish or the sorrow that I could not find something equal to it except perhaps at one or two other Thai restaurants I have tried throughout the United States.

Phad Thai is a dish that most of the time I would consider ordering only if a restaurant did not know how to prepare the more exotic dishes well. At Noodle Boat, though, it is a worthy dish in its own right. The noodles were brown and flavorful, but not mushy. Everything else was well balanced and fresh.

Pad Pad Sian comes from a recipe of the family that owns Noodle Boat, and thus is not a traditional Thai dish. Made with peanuts, lemon grass, basil, and the family's special sauce, it certainly contained what I would call traditional Thai flavors. Whole basil leaves were included, giving somewhat of a different experience than from the normal Thai basil dish. Some peppercorns were also thrown in for extra spice (not that it really needed any extra spice). Perhaps the fact that several family concoctions are offered is the reason many like this restaurant, although those who prefer the more traditional dishes can also be accommodated.

The Thai tea is one of the best I have tried.

I do not know if Noodle Boat is really the best Thai restaurant in King County, but I do know that it does not serve the standard Americanized "dumbed down" Thai food found at many places. There are so many choices here it is somewhat difficult offer a list of "best dishes." Everything here seems to be made very closely to the way it would be found in Thailand. Each person's favorite dish would more likely be a function of their personal taste rather than the restaurant's skill in preparing certain dishes over others.

At this restaurant you can almost visualize the Thai boats coming up to sell noodles or other foodstuffs as the owner remembers from childhood. With the amount of rainfall that Issaquah gets, it might make sense to turn part of Gilman Boulevard into a canal where the scene could be re-created.



Cuisine: Thai
Cost: $$
Hours: Open Daily except Sat. & Sun. lunch
Accessible: Yes
Tea: Jasmine/ Thai Iced Tea
Smoking: No Smoking
Alcohol: Beer, Wine

Most Recent Visit
Jun. 4, 2006

Number of Visits: 5

Best Item
Phad Prik King

Special Ratings
Phad Prik King:
Phad Ginger:
Cha Cha Cha Hot Plate:
Phad Thai:
Pad Pad Sian:
Thai Tea:

Restaurant Web Site
Noodle Boat

Health Dept. Report
King County