By Cassandra VanKeuren Special to the Herald
Old world elegance, industrial loft and hip lounge all come together inside Thai E-san Cuisine in Everett.
My family and I visited on a recent Friday and we were really impressed by many things, such as the bar serving beers like Stella Artois and Widmer on tap, and a 21-and-over lounge upstairs.
It all fits with this neighborhood of night clubs. However, there is a definite family vibe to the rest of the restaurant. And they know how to turn on the charm despite being in a very old Everett building.
We were seated quickly and given menus. Our waitress came quickly to take our orders for our appetizer and we ordered the fresh garden rolls ($5.50). Their version has tofu, rice noodles, lettuce with basil inside fried won ton and served with peanut sauce. We got two for our order and they were refreshing and light, the perfect appetizer to whet our appetite for dinner.
My husband ordered pad kee mao stir-fried noodles with chicken, with the heat set at four stars ($8.95). His meal consisted of wide rice noodles, broccoli, bell pepper, baby corn, sweet basil leaves, ground Thai chili, chicken and garlic sauce. He enjoyed the flavor but I could see his forehead sweating a bit because of the four-star heat.
Honestly, I could barely get through one bite without downing my water. I did not want to know what five stars was like.
My only small gripe about my meal was what was missing: that spotty browning on the noodles that I get at some restaurants when the noodles stick to the pan during the stir-fry process. Nonetheless my dish was far more flavorful than I have come to expect from other Thai places in Everett.
I ordered gang panang curry with shrimp, with the heat at three stars ($10.95). The description called the dish a “Thai masterpiece cooked in a spicy mixture of coconut milk, curry and red and green pepper,” with your choice of meat or tofu.
What came to the table went beyond the description. This was a red broth with lots of big plump shrimp and just-cooked bell pepper. The bowl was topped with finely diced fragrant Kaffir lime leaves.
Three stars was the perfect heat level for my palate — just hot enough to make me eat slowly but not setting my tongue ablaze (unlike my husband’s meal). I did order a small bowl of rice ($1.50) on the side.
I would absolutely order gang panang curry again.
I kinda rolled my eyes when my son ordered fried rice with chicken ($8.95), zero stars on the heat. I thought it was going to be the most boring thing on the menu. Thai E-San’s version has peas, carrots and egg in it and was served with slices of cucumber. I was really surprised that E-san’s fried rice was the most flavorful that I have ever had. My son enjoyed it greatly. I could not tell what made it taste so much better but whatever it was, I was thoroughly impressed.
E-san also does a great lunch combo. I went for lunch recently and felt obligated to try their pad Thai, just to compare to other pad Thai I have had. The lunch combo comes with the entree, “crab” puffs, white rice and miso soup.
The addition of miso soup was odd since I usually get miso soup from Japanese sushi restaurants but it was tasty nonetheless.
The two “crab” puffs were a yummy mix of imitation crab and cream cheese wrapped in won ton and deep-fried.
For the people who don’t know pad Thai, it’s skinny rice noodles stir fried with green onions, bean sprouts, egg, ground peanuts and your choice of meat. The sauce is a combination of tamarind paste, fish sauce, garlic, sugar and lime. It should be sweet, salty, tart and delicious. Most places put emphasis on the sweet part, but E-sans’ pad thai was a pleasant mix of salty and sweet. Lovely!
I asked for a side of lime because I like the element of sour with all of the other flavors.
E-san Thai Cuisine offers many other delectable entrees, soups and salads. I love that it is a family-owned restaurant and it seems to be doing quite well. It is definitely one of the best Thai restaurants in Everett and has a wonderful staff to help make your meal a great one.
Thai E-san Cuisine
1707 Hewitt Ave., Everett; 425-512-9926; www.e-santhai.com.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Alcohol: Full bar.
Family friendly: Yes.
Vegetarian options: Many.