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Originally published Thursday, December 2, 2010 at 7:03 PM

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Dining Deals

Ayutthaya: A haven for Thai-food lovers on Capitol Hill

Ayutthaya, celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, is a peaceful dining spot on Capitol Hill. It serves a wide array of traditional Thai dishes, nicely priced for people on a tight budget.

Seattle Times arts writer

Ayutthaya

Thai

727 E. Pike St., Seattle

206-324-8833

www.ayutthayathai.com

Hours: Lunch 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday; dinner 4-9:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 4-10 p.m. Friday, 5-10 p.m. Saturday, 5-9:30 p.m. Sunday.

Etc: Major credit cards accepted; street parking; no obstacles to access; beer and wine available.

Prices: $-$$

Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, Ayutthaya is an alluringly peaceful little dining spot on Capitol Hill's busy Pike-Pine corridor. It serves tasty Thai cuisine, nicely priced for people on a tight budget.

Wood-paneled, art- decorated surroundings and a splashing fountain help filter out the urban brouhaha as you dine.

The menu: Ayutthaya, named after a city and province in central Thailand, serves a wide array of traditional Thai dishes: curries, noodles, salads, soups and more.

What to write home about: The Salmon Prik Panang ($12.95) is served on a bed of shredded cabbage and accompanied by lightly steamed broccoli and carrots. The salmon fillet is unusually generous, and the combination of fresh veggies with flavorful fish and pungent curry spiciness make this a treat.

Ayutthaya's Phad Thai ($7.50-$9.95, depending on whether you get it with vegetables, meat, tofu or shrimp) is a little different from other Thai restaurants' version of the popular noodle dish. Its egg isn't mixed in with the noodles but cast in a thin veneer over the entire dish. The fish-sauce flavors are tangy, and the bean sprout and shredded carrot and cabbage garnishes are zestily fresh. A slice of lime and a scattering of crushed peanuts add the final flourish.

The Bathing Rama ($7.50-$9.95, again depending on which version you get) is a bit of peanut-sauce heaven. We got the veggie version: spinach, carrots, mushrooms and more. The sauce is mildly sweet, with a spicy kick to it.

What to avoid: The deep-fried vegetable rolls ($5.25) — filled with finely minced taro root, bean threads, carrots and wood ear mushrooms — seemed a little overdone to me. But my companion liked them.

The setting: Whether you're sitting at a window table or in one of the booths toward the back, the surroundings are comfortable and restful, and the service is friendly.

Summing up: We had three entrees, an appetizer and brown rice ($2) for a total of $39.22, without tip. Lunch-menu entrees run $6.50-$7.95.

Michael Upchurch: mupchurch@seattletimes.com

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