Home > Restaurants > Uma Thai Cuisine – 3/4/2011

Uma Thai Cuisine – 3/4/2011

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Location: 5401 20th Ave

Hours: I will post this later.

After our first day at the Emerald City Comicon, J and I decided we wanted some Thai food. Considering J actually had cash on him, we opted for Uma Thai Cuisine, a little place that sports an offer of 15% off your meal if you pay cash.

Uma Thai Cuisine turned out to be a very pleasant surprise. It’s an unassuming little place just off Market Street on 20th. High ceilings, ten tables and very quiet. There are a few Buddha heads and a burbling fountain that give the whole place a monastic feel, which is a chance from the overdone, Thai decorative themes of other such restaurants.

The Service:

Considering that there was only one person taking orders, answering the phone, serving drinks, and garnishing every dish that came out of the two person kitchen, the service was quite good. On top of everything above, this single server also cashed out your meal, which included calculating the 15% off if you pay cash for your meal. He was so mellow and quiet when taking our order I told J that it was like talking to a human quaalude.

Do not go into Uma expecting fast service. If you want that, go to any of the other, hole-in-the-wall Thai places in Ballard. If you want a relaxed, mellow meal, Uma is the place to go.

The Drinks:

While Uma does serve wine (and only wine), J opted for water and I for hot, green tea. My tea was nice and so hot I had to wait until halfway through my meal to drink it, which was okay with me.

The Food:

J ordered Lard Nar, stir-fried, wide, rice noodles with black bean gravy sauce, vegetables and tofu. This was a dish he hadn’t had in a good long while since it’s easy to mess up. This version turned out quite good. Very fresh tofu, a great sauce, and nicely cooked carrots. He ordered it to be two stars on the heat scale and found it to be seasoned perfectly. Also, the serving size was huge for the price.

I decided to try their Pad Kee Mao, the same dish I had at the first Thai place we reviewed. This dish of stir-fried, wide, rice noodles with basil, onions, broccoli, mushrooms, cabbage and bell pepper in a spicy sauce with chicken was very good. Another huge portion. One thing I noticed was how fresh and light the rice noodles tasted compared to other rice noodles I’ve had. The vegetables kept a bit of a crunch rather than being mushy. I asked for three stars and while it was a little too spicy for me, it wasn’t inedible.

I think the only minor problem was the dish was missing the caramelized flavor I’m used to with other versions of Pad Kee Mao. But this issue is so minor compared to the great taste otherwise I’m almost loath to mention it.

The Price:

Green Tea: $1.50

Lard Nar: $6.99

Pad Kee Mao: $6.99

We opted to pay with cash, so our entire bill, without tip, came to under $15.00. Unless you choose a seafood dish, most items run in the $6.99-7.99 range.

The Verdict:

Unless one of the other Thai restaurants on our list bowls us over, Uma Thai will be our Thai restaurant of choice in Ballard. The prices are amazingly low for the tasty, fresh, well prepared food you receive. The service, while a bit slow, is polite and mellow. Once our survey of the Thai places in Ballard is done, I can realistically imagine asking J to pick up meals from Uma on his way home from work.

Uma is one of Ballard’s hidden gems. If you’re not in a hurry and you enjoy Thai food in a relaxing atmosphere, definitely give Uma a chance.

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