Restaurant News: Reader-recommended favorites nearby

Barista Deb Harden packs up pastry to go at newly-opened Rila, a bakery cafe at 196th and 76th in Lynnwood
Barista Deb Harden packs up pastry to go at newly-opened Rila, a bakery cafe at 196th and 76th in Lynnwood

Readers and colleagues thrill yours truly with mentions of food spots in our area that she has yet to discover.

Culinary delights await those who seek new experiences at new local eateries. Tucked next to a Quickie Mart or a 7-Eleven are Rila, O’Yeah Tasty and Talay Thai, treasures just waiting to be discovered in Lynnwood.

Rila's extensive menu.
Rila’s extensive menu.

Rila is open. The bakery and café located at 7600 196th St. S.W., #500 in Lynnwood, is named for a San-X character — Rilakkuma — which means “Bear in relaxed mood.” Their mission is to create a relaxed, comfortable and unique experience for every customer who dines at Rila.

The venture is the culmination of a dream for the two owners, Sam Loh and Irin Lee, who met while working at Typhoon, a restaurant in Seattle.

Sam, inspired after five years at Starbucks, wished to open his own café. Irin’s time with her host family in Michigan during her school days encouraged her to “crack her first egg,” at age 16. She continued to hone her baking skills, moved to the Pacific Northwest and graduated from University of Washington. The two met in a busy kitchen, became life partners and now are business partners.

Sam sourced the coffee for his café from Elm Street Roasters in Seattle. After tasting a cup, I have to agree with his choice. Irin’s skills can be tasted in the delicious pastries and baked goods offered at Rila.

Rila’s style of cuisine is “East Asia meets Paris,” and one can taste the delicious dance of ingredients in every item.

Corn chowder
Corn chowder

Creamy corn chowder has bites of ham and whole corn, swirled with egg in a golden broth, like an egg flower-style soup.

Matcha green tea is incorporated into recipes and flavors the dense sweet cream filling of the chiffon cake, shortbreads and the bear-shaped cookies. A pound cake flavored with Matcha tea has red beans mixed into the batter, which add another level of sweet and moist to the mini loaves of tea bread.

Rila dessert sampler.
Rila dessert sampler.

Waffles are offered whole or in bites, accompanied by real maple syrup and fruit. Pop the “bites” into the mouth and enjoy the crisp and crunchy texture.

The menu at Rila offers good selections of items for breakfast, lunch or dinner, or anytime you crave handmade sweets. Dining in is my normal preference. Then I saw Rila pastries to go — the artful bags and containers were too gorgeous to resist. Looked like I’d visited a posh café in Paris. Tasted like that too.

Hours are 11 a.m.-8 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Rila is closed on Tuesdays.

Tom Ka soup at Talay Thai, located next to the Lynnwood Transit Center on 200th Street Southwest.
Tom Ka soup at Talay Thai, located next to the Lynnwood Transit Center on 200th Street Southwest.

Talay Thai, located at 4520 200th St. S.W. #450, in Lynnwood (close to Lynnwood Transit Center) has a tiny kitchen, no larger than the one in my own home, yet produces plenty of plates, piled high with mouth-watering cuisine. Talay Thai earned high praise from my hubby, who dines downtown in the International District of Seattle. He declared Talay Thai’s Tom Ka exceeds the quality of his favorite lunchtime spot. He ordered the cup of Tom Ka, on his first visit as my dining partner for this review. At repeat visits his order is a large bowl. But I digress…here’s the review.

Fresh spring rolls.
Fresh spring rolls.

Fresh spring rolls, standing at attention on a platter next to a bowl filled with perfect peanut sauce, started our meal. Taste and quality matched the presentation. We dipped into the warm, not too thick, too sweet sauce. The bowl was spotless at the end of the appetizer course.

Tom yum soup
Tom Yum soup.

Soup choices at Talay Thai are excellent. Tom Yum soup with lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, lime juice, fish sauce, and crushed chili peppers hits both hot and sour notes. My taste buds were tingling. Hubby’s bowl of Tom Ka was chock-full of cabbage, broccoli, shreds of bamboo and a rich coconut broth. A large bowl of either soup, with a side of rice, is almost a meal in itself.

Holy Basil
Holy Basil with lightly grilled tofu.

Entrees appeared in quick succession, soup bowls were barely empty. Holy Basil was chock full of crisp veggies, sautéed mushroom, bell pepper, onion, holy basil and fresh chili in fresh, clean-tasting sweet sauce. Tofu was lightly grilled, not over-fried, in the vegetarian version we tasted.

Pud Kee Mao — Wide rice noodles are my weakness and Talay Thai’s are divine. I opted for pork and it went well with the egg, fresh chili, carrots, tomato, broccoli, mushroom, bell pepper and sweet basil.

Diners beware, rice is not included — a side is an extra $1.50. That being said, the brown rice version was tasty and colorful, a trio of brown, red and black grains.

Coconut ice cream topped with peanuts.
Coconut milk ice cream topped with toasted peanuts.

Desserts — The best is often last and sweet offerings did not disappoint. Thai cuisine’s use of food in its whole state coaxes the most flavor out of each ingredient. Sticky Black Rice Pudding is an exquisite example. Black rice is slightly sweet by nature and coconut milk has a wonderful sweet flavor to it, which is only amplified when cooked and reduced. Top this with fresh mango and a dollop of fresh coconut cream — flavors explode in your mouth. This dessert is gluten-free too, which absolves any guilt, right?

Ice cream was homemade and delicious. We were lucky on our second visit and our order of coconut milk ice cream was worth the wait. Sans fillers and stabilizers, it’s like the hand-cranked ice cream served at family birthday parties, but more exotic. Creamy frozen coconut milk, topped with toasted peanuts and mango, yummy. Small batches of their homemade ice cream sell out quickly, so take my advice… order dessert first.

Menu at OYeahTasty
Menu at O’YeahTasty

New to Lynnwood — O’Yeah Tasty. Bright, colorful signage will guide lovers of Szechuan- style food to the restaurant at 6812 196th St. S.W., Ste A. Cuisine served reflects the sign color and its name.

Yours truly sallied forth, with hungry family members in tow. The glass menu made our decision a bit daunting. We retired to a booth with several copies of the extensive menu and made our choices. Happy Family, an apt name for my group, was ordered followed by homemade sweet and sour pork and sautéed mixed vegetables for our vegetarian.

Restaurant News was pleased to note that rice — brown, stir fried or white — accompanies most entrees, even on lunch specials. Diners are offered a choice of egg corn soup or hot and sour soup from a self-serve station, along with tea bags and hot water, at no extra charge.

Green onion pancake was the perfect nosh to start our meal. Light and crispy, it did not spoil our appetites and paired well with the cold cucumber — crisp cucumbers in a garlicky sauce. We sipped our chilled honey milk green tea and a lovely hot jasmine tea. Our entrees arrived in no time.

Sweet and sour pork.

Homemade sweet and sour pork exemplifies the new style in the description of the restaurant. Lean slices of pork, flash-fried in a batter that was puffy, light and flavorful. Homemade sauce — oh yeah, it tasted like it was just prepared — was ginger and honey sweet, tangy sour and delicious. Vegetables, garlic and almonds were thinly shredded and complimented the dish.

Happy Family.
Happy Family, a combination of seafood, chicken and pork with vegetables.

My family was happy with the combination of seafood chicken and pork, and colorful vegetables that arrived on the platter called Happy Family, a perfect balance of ingredients in every bite.

Sautéed mixed veggies fit the bill for our vegetarian. Purple eggplant and bright-colored crisp veggies looked and tasted fresh and flavorful.

Mixed vegetables.
Mixed vegetables.

We agreed another visit would be necessary to do justice to the wood charcoal barbecue items, as well as desserts. We noted exotic items on the menu like fried frog, and a case at the front of the restaurant that promised exotic cuts of duck would be available soon.

O’Yeah Tasty is open seven days a week; they deliver all day and also cater. Visit to see menu and details on delivery area.

“Made from Scratch”– A Tasting Journey with Scratch and Salt & Iron — happens on Tuesday, Oct. 4 at 7 p.m., at Salt and Iron, 321 Main St., in downtown Edmonds.

Two local favorites have partnered to take you on a five-course culinary, mouthwatering adventure, pairing finely handcrafted spirits with unique American dishes.

Kim Karrick, producer of Edmond’s own Scratch spirits and Salt & Iron’s executive chef Shubert Ho will be on site to serve as your evening’s tour guides. This is one tasty exploration you won’t want to miss! They say “Prepare to be surprised.”

Call 425-361-1112 to make your reservation.

Readers please do continue to enrich our Restaurant News with tips on places you have discovered. Email me here.

Grateful for the suggestions,

Kathy Passage Hi Res— Kathy Passage

A specialty gourmet food broker for over 30 years, Kathy Passage has in-depth knowledge on food and the special qualities of ingredients used in the exquisite products she helped bring to market. Kathy brings this unique perspective from the “other side of the plate” to writing about the local food and restaurant scene.

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