Ever since I’ve started this blog, people commonly ask me, “What’s your favorite place to eat in Seattle?” Some people might expect a fancy Tom Douglas joint or a price-gouging meal at El Gaucho. I’m happy to report that my favorite meal can be found at a literal hole-in-the-wall on The Ave: Thai Tom.
I’m surprised that not more Seattleites know about this place. They consistently receive CitySearch’s “Best of” Award for Thai Food, and word-of
-mouth in the Seattle food scene travels quickly. Not that I’m complaining. If more people knew about it, I would have to wait even longer to get a seat.
If you like getting pampered as a customer, you’re not going to like Thai Tom. There are no reservations. During prime time (Fridays and Saturdays after 6), waits can be upwards of 20 minutes. You are crammed like cattle into a narrow hallway that seats 30. If you sit at the bar, there will be chefs plating other people’s food at your seat, then servers coming by to reach around you to grab the food. On the flip side, you will get your food as soon as humanely possible, as they will be eager to give your seat to someone waiting outside.
If you like quiet, subdued meals, you’re not going to like Thai Tom. The Thai reggaeton hits that perpetually blast out of the restaurant’s speakers barely drowns out the sounds of tofu exploding into the deep fryer, and the sounds of stir-fry being mixed in cast-iron woks. Watching the wait staff and the cooks working at the speed of sound is enough to ma
ke you dizzy. In fact, the first time I ever took my boyfriend to Thai Tom, I think he had a mild panic attack.
Why do I put up with this, week after week? The food is insanely delicious, and very affordable. The ingredients are always fresh, and are expertly combined by the “wok master,” as I like to call the guy who mans the 10-range of 6-inch flames. I could eat a delicious, steaming plate of Thai Tom Phad Thai, or a brimming bowl of Tom Kah soup everyday and still want more. And as my dining check shows, a very filling meal for two, with a tip, comes to only 23 dollars(but you’ll have to pay in cash).
Maybe I’m weird, but I also love to crazy energy this place gives off. If you can handle it, the mere experience of cramming yourself into the bar, sipping a Thai iced tea, and going into a stupor watching the wok master at work makes all your troubles worth it. Even as I sit here in my living room and eat my leftovers (for breakfast), I am planning my next trip to my favorite restaurant in Seattle.