Kindee Thai dishes impress

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Why: Kindee Thai opened in April, bringing another Thai option to the east side of Vancouver. The menu offers a variety of Thai favorites, from curry to soup, as well as dessert.

Atmosphere: The décor at Kindee Thai is fresh and modern. An earth-inspired color palette accented with live plants and a rose at each table imparts a sense of tranquility. Large windows along the front of the space admit a lot of natural light at lunchtime, while the dinner hours are softly lit and accented by Italian glass pendant lights above booths and a valance of blue lights at the windows. The space is cozy without feeling too cramped. Tables and chairs provide most of the seating and booths along one wall allow more intimate dining.

What I tried: I sampled the crunchy calamari from the appetizers. I also tried the papaya salad, kabocha curry, and the pad Thai with chicken.

The calamari was perfectly fried in a light batter and served with a sriracha cream dip that complemented the calamari rings very well.

Although every dish was superb, I was especially impressed with the papaya salad and the kabocha curry. The salad was comprised of a few grilled prawns, shredded green papaya, halved grape tomatoes, crisp green beans, and peanuts atop a large leafy green. All the components were lightly seasoned with a spicy lime dressing. Overall, it presented a one-of-a-kind flavor that was garden fresh joined with sweet and spicy with a hint of vinegar tang. The cool and warm elements added additional appeal. The curry was served in a bowl that contained the red curry sauce, chucks of kabocha squash, bell pepper, lychee, and basil. Two skewers of grilled shrimp and lychee rested atop the bowl. I asked for the dish to be prepared with a "little bit of spice" and found it had a bit more kick than I had anticipated, but it was delicious. The dish had a broad range of textures and flavors which I found very satisfying.

The pad Thai had a traditional flavor and was delicious in its own right. I appreciated that it wasn't too dry. The portion of chicken mixed in probably was not enough for a meat lover.

Menu highlights beyond what I tried: Steamed mussels with lemongrass set in Thai basil broth are available as an appetizer. Pad kee mao, made with onion, grape tomato, bell pepper, broccoli, and basil in chili soy sauce, sounded tasty, as did the pra ram, which is a steamed vegetable medley topped with creamy peanut sauce. After trying the kabocha curry, listed as a "must try" on the list of house recommendations, I am looking forward to trying the Kindee BBQ chicken, another "must try." The chicken is marinated in a secret honey lemongrass sauce, then grilled and served with a sweet-and-sour sauce.

Other observations: The atmosphere was comfortable, the food was delicious, and the wait staff was top notch — $50 well-spent. This restaurant has succeeded in bringing the winning elements together for an enjoyable and worthwhile dining experience.

Kindee Thai has takeout.

Cost: Appetizers start at $4.50 and top out at $9. Broth soups are $7 to $11, noodle soups are $9 to $12, and salads cost $4 to $11. Pan fried noodle dishes, wok dishes, and fried rice dishes are $10 to $15 depending on the type of meat you choose. Curries are $10 to $17. House recommendations range from $12 to $15.50 and desserts are $3 to $8. Lunch selections are the same and about half of them cost $1.50 less than at dinner.

Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4:30 to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, noon to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Where: 6700 N.E. 162nd Ave., Vancouver.

Contact: 360-828-5386 or www.kindeethai.com. Facebook is another source of information on Kindee Thai.

Health score: Kindee Thai has received a preopening inspection and is scheduled to receive a routine inspection in the near future. Zero is a perfect score, and Clark County Public Health closes restaurants with a score of 100 or higher. For information, call 360-397-8428.