As an admittedly surly person, I can respect a dash of sass when I dine out.
And not long after I sat down with my best friend, Steven Graham, at Bua Thai Fusion in Lake Stevens, we were met with a healthy dose. Glancing over the menu at this new spot along 20th Street SE at Trestle Station, our friendly waitress asked if we were ready. We weren’t, so she said, “OK, I’ll come back in 100 years.”
The joke landed, and so did the food. More on that in just a bit.
First, a worthwhile point about navigating the ever-increasingly troublesome traffic of Snohomish County. Steven, host of 107.7 The End’s Locals Only radio program (and my best bud since we were like 10 years old), and I deliberated for a couple days about where to go. We posited some parts way out east on U.S. 2, but wrote them off because of the difficulty of making our way there during rush hour.
Bua Thai is a nice compromise of leaving the west side of I-5 without going too far for something tasty. The travel was hardly noticeable, given that parts south or north are considerably farther or more time-consuming to reach. Just up the Lake Stevens hill from U.S. 2, this spot is a quick left turn off 20th Street SE. So we ventured out of our regular stomping and chomping grounds of Everett and booked our way east for a feast.
Steven, a husband and stepfather, was there on a dual mission. First was grabbing a bite with me. Second was procuring something for his family back at home. We opted for an early dinner around 5 p.m. on a Monday. A couple of the booths were occupied in the modern, high-ceiling restaurant next to a Sprint store and a has-everything gas station convenience store.
I opted for the pad see eiw (sounds like pad see you) with wide noodles, broccoli, cabbage, carrot, a sweet soy sauce, and went with chicken ($11.95). It was good, so good that it was gone so fast you’d have thought I had not eaten in 100 years. The broccoli, cabbage and carrot were steamed/blanched perfectly, with a hearty crunch to them still. The chicken was tender. The noodles were indeed wide, creating a nice ratio with the rest of the dish. My only gripe was that the sweet soy sauce was a bit salty, but not so much that a good gulp of water couldn’t fix it.
Steven zeroed in on the crispy chicken lover (that’s the actual name, and it is brilliantly apt and descriptive). It came with lettuce, cabbage, carrot, and a choice of orange, sesame or “volcano” sauce ($12.95). Never one for volcano-esque spice, he chose sesame and it was the right call.
“There is a nice sweet and savory thing going on with the crispy chicken lover with sesame sauce that isn’t too sweet,” he said. “Also, when you bite into the chicken, it is somehow a little creamy, which is great.”
As is my wont, I had a couple of bites just to verify his take. He was right — it had a really delicate crisp on the exterior, but the chicken remained moist and tender.
Steven stuck to the staples for takeout for his wife, Amber Ditto, and stepson, Maxwell Gandy: chicken pad Thai that came with rice noodles, bean sprouts, scallions, chopped peanuts, fried shallot and tamarind sauce ($10.95) and green curry featuring bamboo shoots, basil, carrot, onion and bell pepper with jasmine rice ($10.95).
“The green curry tastes good,” Amber said later, texting me that it was all so good that she ended up eating more than she intended (I know that game). “The flavor is nice and mild. One star is perfect for not detracting from the flavor.
“If you love noodles, you’ll love the pad Thai because it is mostly noodles. Not a lot of sauce on the noodles, but it still tastes good.”
The review from 12-year-old Maxwell was more succinct.
“Are those onions?” the picky sixth-grader wondered about the pad Thai.
Even with some onions in the mix, Bua Thai Fusion’s dishes got his approval: “Good.”
Our experience reflects the aggregate. On Google, Bua Thai Fusion has a 4.4 star rating (out of a possible five stars) based on 88 reviews. Yelp shows a similarly high opinion of the restaurant with four stars (out of five) based on 48 reviews.
With family nearby, I can see myself venturing over for more dishes and a dash of sass. Next time, I won’t need 100 years to pick a plate.
8011 20th St. SE, Lake Stevens. 425-374-3889
Specialty: Thai/Asian-fusion food
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., every day (except some holidays)