May 21, 2012

Unexpected surprise at a restaurant

My half-eaten plate of food.
Dave, the coordinator of the Madison vegetarian meetup group just can't seem to organize in only one city. He put me in contact with a former group member who had recently moved to Seattle. After exchanging messages on Facebook, we planned a quintessential "Sunday in Seattle" outing — a walk around Green Lake. The 2.8 mile Green Lake track is one of the most popular walking spots in the city, and we live a few blocks away, so it looked like a perfect way to meet up, get some fresh air and exercise all at the same time.

The walk to and from the lake plus the distance around the lake took about 1-1/2 hours, and it was close to 1 p.m. when we finished. We were all starving, so it seemed like the ideal time to introduce our new friend to Araya's, a nearby vegan Thai restaurant with an all-you-can-eat lunch buffet. When we arrived, I asked what foods on the buffet were gluten-free (I already knew some of them were) and was given a rundown of the GF offerings. All the salads, pickled and fresh, one soup, the steamed veggies with peanut sauce on the side, and the coconut curry were all gluten-free, I was told. Even the spring rolls were OK as they were made with rice paper wrappers, though that seems too good to be true. The pad Thai, fried rice and veggie stir-fry all contained soy sauce. I don't know if I would feel comfortable with this if I had celiac, but I took my chances, and didn't experience stomach upset.


We were happily enjoying our meal when the manager appeared with a large plate of pad Thai. "The cooks made you some gluten-free pad Thai," she said. I was so surprised. I was pretty full by then but felt kind of obligated to eat as much as I could, after her kind gesture. Yikes. How nice was that?

In addition to gluten-free offerings on the menu and the lunch buffet, Araya's also has a case of gluten-free desserts near the cash register. I've never tried them but another customer told me they were very good. By the time I get to the register at Araya's, I'm usually too full to think about dessert!

29 comments:

  1. Araya's is the best! They have always treated me well with my gluten allergy and I never got sick from them, and I do get sensitive to even soy sauce. They still know my favorite order number when I go back to visit. I agree Araya's is too delicious and responsible for sure for some weight gain in the past on my part.

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    1. It's good to know you trusted them. Did you eat the spring rolls on the buffet? I'm a little attached to them and really want them to be GF. :) I think I gain 2 pounds every time I go, so I can't go too often!

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  2. There is a part of me (my rear end) that is very, very glad there are no vegan, all-you-can-eat buffets in the NE.

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    1. From what I've seen of the amazing restaurant reviews you post, a vegan buffet would be the least of your problems — unless it was Lula's. :)

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  3. Very nice of them to offer yet another dish! Did you get to take any of it home with you?

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    1. I felt weird asking if I could take it home since we didn't pay for it, but that's stupid, I know, since the leftovers just went to waste. I'm going to start carrying containers with me from now on. :)

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  4. That was really cool of them. It's been a couple of years since I've been to Araya, I have to go back soon. Seeing your phad thai is giving me a craving for it big time.

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    1. It's been about two weeks since I've been there — we should go for lunch! Just seeing the photo of the spring roll has the same effect on me as the Phad Thai has on you..

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  5. How thoughtful! It really makes you feel good when restaurants go out of their way like that to be accommodating. it speaks volumes about their customer service.

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    1. I know! It also makes me want to go back, and to tell everyone I know to go there, too!

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  6. That sounds great! I just returned from the Nile restaurant, where we once had a meetup. This time I got more food :)

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    1. Be careful what you say - Dave reads this blog. :) I really like The Nile so I'm glad you got to eat more food this time! Maybe we can go there in July.

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  7. A vegan Thai restaurant with an all-you-can-eat lunch buffet?! Are you kidding me? That sounds fantastic! And how sweet of them to make you a special gluten free dish too.

    Courtney

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    1. If it makes you feel any better, the buffet is only at lunch. At night it's a regular vegan Thai restaurant. :) And I can walk there in about 20 minutes. I know. I know ... We also have a vegan Chinese restaurant.

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  8. That's quite a work out. Now what were those nice people going to do with your leftovers? Delicious looking food and very kind restaruant :)

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    1. Just found this comment in the span folder. Weird. I wonder why it went in there.

      I think the nice people tossed the leftovers — I need to carry containers for occasions like this.

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  9. How awesome they made gf pad thai for you. Plus the spring rolls look mouthwatering. I haven't had any in a while.

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    1. I was really surprised to receive the pad thai — I was happy with what was already available! I'm a little addicted to the spring rolls and always eat too many.

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  10. Ooo, a vegan buffet is dangerous! How nice that they made something special for you. Maybe they'll get to know you enough that they'll do that regularly or realize how easy it is to sub tamari for soy sauce in general.

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    1. Dangerous and tempting. I was told that some of the dishes contain a meat substitute, but I've never noticed any so I'm not sure what they mean. They know about using wheat-free tamari but maybe they have a reason for not doing it for all the dishes — they're so nice I just think I'll let it go and eat what they tell me is GF!

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  11. I love your pictures! What kind of camera do you use? Also, vegan thai food, totally there :) I might not be a vegan, but I can appreciate any kind of delicious food.

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    1. Thanks, Jasmine. Most of my food photos were shot with a Canon Rebel XSi and a 50 mm 1.4 lens, but the Thai food photos in this post were taken with my iphone 4. Older photos were taken with an old Canon point and shoot.

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  12. Yum! Everything looks super good and how nice of them to make a special pad thai! It's so cool when restaurants spoil you like that. :-)

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    1. Every time I look at the photos I want to go back. The food is so tasty, and I love that it doesn't make my stomach hurt! What a great place.

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  13. That sounds like a wonderful walk, I'd love that! And then to get to eat delicious food at such an accommodating restaurant! Sounds like a perfect way to spend a Sunday!

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    1. When you come to Seattle we'll walk around the lake and then to Araya's for lunch! But, I guess you won't be doing much traveling for a while, so it will probably have to wait. :)

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  14. Oh, you never know... that's an awfully enticing offer! :-)

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