Small Saffron Deli delivers on big Southeast Asian flavors
January 31, 2012
By Tom Corrigan
A sign in front of the Saffron Deli announces “Southeast Asian fusion” cuisine.
Inside the eatery, the hostess said her menu is straight from Laos. It includes some dishes with which you are probably familiar, such as beef or chicken pho, but also some possibly more adventurous choices, such as Hainan chicken or Gau Lau beef soup.
The two visitors in question here played it safe with a vegetable soup and chicken pho, but were impressed with the flavor of each, enough that trying some of the other offerings at some point in the future is definitely not out of the question.
The beef or chicken pho comes in two sizes and the medium seemed more than large enough, filled with plenty of shredded chicken and lots of thin noodles. Really, the noodles and chicken were generous enough to eat with a fork.
If you go
Restaurant reviews are a regular feature of The Issaquah Press. Reviewers visit restaurants unannounced and pay in full for their meals.
A lot of green onions floated on top and the pho arrived with a plate of sprouts, basil and a couple of jalapeno peppers to toss into the soup. The friendly hostess warned to use the basil while the broth was warm, otherwise the taste wouldn’t be as good. The spice decidedly added more flavor to the soup and noodles.
Something really has to be said about the broth or soup. It was beyond a doubt the highlight of the meal, very flavorful and exotic enough to remind you weren’t eating at a fast food place.
The broth also was reportedly a highlight of the vegetable soup, which seemed generously filled with baby celery, onion and broccoli. The tofu in the soup was firm and well cooked.
The Saffron Deli isn’t very big, with tables arranged in an “L” shape around a central counter and cooking space. Incidentally, the openness of that kitchen provides a very nice aromatic preview of the food about to come your way. The table settings will get your attention, with woven place mats set out for each diner.
The décor probably won’t win any awards, but the restaurant is clean and bright. On one wall hang several colorful purses, for sale and handmade in Laos. Cloth and metal letter holders, also handmade overseas, decorate another wall.
With modest price tags on what seems to be some tasty fare, the Saffron Deli is a good choice for a taste of the exotic along Northwest Gilman Boulevard.
Tom Corrigan: 392-6434, ext. 241, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.