"I wish I had a time machine," I wrote in my review of Bai Tong back in March. "Not for the traditional reasons; I have no desire to kill Hitler or stop JFK's assassination. I've read enough bad science fiction to know that those things never work out as well as you think they will.
"No, I just want to go back and see Bai Tong in its original incarnation--as SeaTac's worst-kept secret back in the late '80s, a Thai restaurant operating as part of a motel and catering almost solely to Thai Airways flight crews looking for a comforting taste of home while stranded far away."This was in 1989. Owner Chanpen Lapangkura had opened the place specifically for flight attendants, pilots, and those on strange, ocean-hopping layovers from far distant shores, bringing in trained chefs from Thailand to grill the satay, make the moo dade deaw, compose the salads and make the fish sauce. During my first review of Bai Tong I wanted nothing more than to see what Bai Tong was like when it first opened--when it was small and weird and insular and when its intentions were most pure.
In 1991, Bai Tong moved to a former drive-thru restaurant up the road from the motel. The purpose was the same: to bring the real taste of Thai cuisine to those who knew the real stuff. That incarnation lasted a few years before lease issues forced Lapangkura to move again, and when he did, he made straight for a strip mall in Tukwila, which is where Bai Tong has operated ever since. It is one of my favorite Thai restaurants, not just in this new home of mine, but anywhere. I've made the drive to Tukwila several times just to score more moo dade deaw (read the review for a description of this singularly amazing dish--it's too long to reproduce here) and yellow curry and would've done so happily a hundred more times if I had to.
Only now, I don't have to. Because I just found out that, while my attentions were apparently focused elsewhere, Bai Tong went and opened a new, second location in Redmond/Bellevue at 14804 NE 24th Street. According to the Bai Tong Facebook page (yeah, I'm surprised, too), the new operation went live on May 21. And okay, while this also might not be the most convenient location for those of you based in Seattle and unwilling to cross the bridges even for the best Thai food in the area, I'm still really friggin' excited to get up there and see what the new place has to offer.
And to score another plate of moo dade deaw, of course.