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Originally published Thursday, June 9, 2011 at 7:02 PM

Dining Deals

Panang beef curry a good bet at The Thaitan

The Thaitan in West Seattle offers nine varieties of pho plus lots of Thai dishes.

Seattle Times staff reporter

The Thaitan

Thai and Vietnamese

5258 California Ave. S.W., Seattle

206-932-1945

Hours: 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. daily.

Etc: Visa and MasterCard; free lot parking; no obstacles to access; wine and beer.

Prices: $

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Pho is the perfect food outing for my family: It's cheap, delicious and satisfying for me and a boy whose palate tends to hew to all things white.

But too much of a good thing had me craving something dark and fiery to balance out all that Vietnamese chicken soup.

The Thaitan — a traditional Thai restaurant in West Seattle that also serves pho — seemed like a good compromise.

But what do you know? My son ignored the pho menu and headed straight for the Thai barbecue beef.

I ordered pineapple fried rice with chicken in a misguided effort to bridge the pho gap. Family-style dining saved the day, allowing me to enjoy my friends' memorable panang beef curry and chicken in gold curry.

The menu: Sure, there's nine varieties of pho ($4.95 for small, $5.95 for large). But Thai cooking rules here. Appetizers include chicken satay ($7.95), crab wonton ($7.95) and goong tod, tempura-battered prawns and veggies in plum sauce ($9.95). Entrees include the usual suspects — a respectable phad Thai ($8.95), varied barbecued meats ($8.95-$9.95)

There are plenty of choices with meats, tofu and seafood served grilled, stir-fried and simmered. For dessert: coconut ice cream, black sticky rice (both $3) and mango sticky rice ($6.95 when available).

What to write home about: The peanut sauce and the curries, especially the creamy panang beef curry.

What to skip: The crab wontons were fishy, and thin on the filling, and the pineapple fried rice seemed less fried than tossed together.

The setting: Formerly a fast-food restaurant, Thaitan has a homey vibe. Seating for about 25. Cloth table coverings and richly patterned fabrics on the bench seating make dining even more pleasant.

Summing up: Crab wonton appetizers, pineapple fried rice with chicken, Thai barbecue beef and sticky rice came to $42, with tip.

Susan Kelleher: 206-464-2508 or skelleher@seattletimes.com

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