Comfort Food of Choice: Thai

Comfort Food of Choice: Thai

Food and me, well, let’s just say we’re besties. The places I’ll go for a good meal… anywhere. The most remote? Freedom, Maine. The Lost Kitchen. Look it up.

When it comes to comfort food, my indulgence of choice is Thai and I’m here to share 3 of my favorite spots that simply cannot do wrong.

Starting in NW Portland on 23rd Pl is the well-known, and loved, Phuket Café. For starters, make a reservation – you’ll thank me later. And once you’re in the door, order everything (slight sarcasm, but also serious depending on your party size). The photo you’ve seen above is from Phuket Café, it’s their Thai Paella.

The menu changes often but the reality is, there are no wrong answers here. The pork belly bites (Muu Kua Grua) are mouthwatering, the salads are unique and flavorful, the curries… oh man, my personal favorite is the Panang Curry, the spices and flavor are next level. Generally, with two people I’ll order 5-6 dishes, there is almost always left overs – intentional, I love leftovers. The cocktails tend to be on the smaller side, but are equal parts flavor filled and unique. Oh, and if roti is on the menu – order it.

Now that you’ve wrapped up a lovely meal, and potentially need to walk it out. You’re in the perfect neighborhood to do just that. Head up NW 23rd to get rid of that bloat.

Next up we have Eem, and the sweet & sour fried chicken that dreams are made of. Eem is a Thai BBQ spot located on the corner of N Williams and N Failing in the heart of the Williams corridor. And while I’d love to say, ‘make a reservation,’ unless you’re planning to bring 7 friends, you can’t. So, get there early… like EARLY, or plan to arrive at 6pm to find that their waitlist for the evening is closed. Alternatively, be weird like me and eat dinner at 4pm… often no wait.

Eem has a special place in my heart, one of my past clients introduced me to this restaurant, she previously worked there. Katie – you’re the best. If you were to only get 2 dishes at Eem, I’d say sweet & sour fried chicken and the white curry with brisket burnt-ends. These two alone will have you riding in the clouds. Additionally, their Thai-style ceviche, chopped BBQ fried rice and field greens salad… also a sucker for fried cauliflower. I’ll generally order that anywhere if I see it on the menu.

The drinks are served in fun shaped glasses, they’re delicious. If you go during lunch hour, the menu is substantially smaller but the fried chicken and fried rice are always available.

Rounding things out with the equally magical Hat Yai, inspired by Malaysian street vendors and the small curry and roti shops of Southern Thailand. Hat Yai has two locations, SE Belmont and NE Killingsworth and they’re known for one thing, fried chicken.

With more of an informal style, you order at the counter, grab your number and find a table… but don’t let that fool you for a minute. The food is amazing, and yes, the fried chicken is a must, but equally mouthwatering is the roti and the various curries. On my last visit, a quick lunch between appointments, I ordered the brisket curry (it says spicy… and IT IS) along with a side of roti. Heaven. I need to go back soon and try some more dishes.

So, there it is, my comfort food of choice and my three favorite Thai spots.

You can’t go wrong, either. In a pinch, go to Hat Yai. Planning ahead – book a reservation at Phuket Cafe. Find yourself in the Eliot Williams neighborhood of North Portland before 5pm – walk over to Eem. Prepare to be stuffed but oh so freaking happy. You’re welcome.


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