Dish: Drunken Beef Noodles
Place: Indochine Asian Dining Lounge, Tacoma (on Pacific Ave.)
On the plate: From the menu: “Tender marinated beef, rice noodles, bamboo shoots, onions, and bell peppers are sautéed with Thai basil and dressed in sweet soy sauce and rice wine.” From the photo, you can see that there’s also broccoli in the dish.
Supporting cast: Nothing, but you can ask for some sort of chili if you’d like to spice it up.
What to do: Just eat.
Noodling around: Drunken noodles (phad kee mao) is one of those all-too-common dishes found on virtually every Thai restaurant’s menu, usually just below the phad Thai–as is the case at Indochine. I was actually leaning toward the spicy Siamese noodles, as the menu describes it as a “vivid Indochine original,” but the server talked me out of it, promoting the drunken noodles as the fan favorite.
I’m a sucker for broad rice noodles, which I find comforting in a preparation like this, stir-fried nice and soft. They absorb a lot of the cooking liquid, which should be a balance of sweet, salty, and spicy. Unfortunately, at Indochine, despite a request for a medium spice level (lower than usual, to accommodate my dining partner), I could barely detect any heat. The server brought me some chili oil from the kitchen, though I think that pickled chilies in vinegar might also have been worth adding.
Indochine is a little upscale, and the $13.95 price might be sticker shock to some. But note that the portion size was good, and the beef and vegetables were of fine quality.
If you want more: I was actually unenthused about the overall menu, and while I knew I wanted noodles, my dining companion and I struggled to find a second dish of interest. This is my main complaint about most Thai restaurants in the area, as they do not offer the wide range of dishes you’ll find in Thailand. I asked the server if there were any organ meats to prepare; he sent the chef out, who told me that if I called in advance, he’d be able to prepare something special. I then asked what the family meal would be, and he sent out a Thai-Mexican concoction for us to sample. Since you won’t likely get that, I’d recommend trying the “Nemesis Flourless Chocolate Cake with Gelato” ($7.95), as it’s not often that you’ll see a gelato case in the front of a Thai restaurant, or the word “nemesis” on a menu.
Be aware/beware: There are a few “Indochine” restaurants south of Seattle. I won’t get into the history of the restaurants here, as that involves some alleged family disputes. I can tell you that there’s also an Indochine on Pearl in Tacoma, which is more casual with lower prices (and a few more menu items). And then there’s the Indochine Seafood and Satay Bar in Federal Way, which gets good reviews. Still, the menus are safe and non-adventurous. In contrast, check the upcoming print version of Seattle Weekly for my pick of the best Thai restaurant in the area.
First published in Seattle Weekly’s Voracious on June 21, 2011.