Indochine Propels its Upscale Thai Food Experience

indochineWalk into the beautiful dining room of this classic Thai restaurant in Tacoma’s Museum District and the experience is both grand and intimate. Polished wood, fresh orchids, and warm, natural textures are highlighted throughout the open, yet cozy restaurant space.

But what you’re really here for is the food: a wonderful blend of authentic Thai flavors toned down and fused with Indian, Chinese, Japanese and American ideas.

The sophisticated and stylish restaurant is actually an extension of a simple local Thai diner that opened in Federal Way in 1995. A decade later, owners Russel Brunton and Ly Ngov launched their downtown Tacoma restaurant and lounge, on property owned by the University of Washington Tacoma.

What emerged is what Brunton describes as “Asian minimalist.” The most prominent feature is a chuckling, fountain-fed pond flowing from a luminous glass bowl and lined with gleaming wooden bench tables. The expansive restaurant has a seating capacity of roughly 200, but more private side sections also stand out. Intimate booths foster close-set, canoodling romance. The back tatami room provides quiet privacy. A platform pavilion, with elevated dining beneath gauzy peach-colored curtains, encourages conversation in an atmosphere of grace and warmth. Finally, a behind-the-bar event space provides a fresh blend of energy and Zen vibe.

On the menu, there’s a lot that’s new for this season, along with yet another seating option. You’ll want to take advantage of sunny weather by enjoying the new sidewalk seating along Tacoma’s Pacific Avenue.

Go-to Thai choices include curry, rice and noodle combinations and house specials. Familiar pan-Asian items that will satisfy include—well, anything.

If you’re craving Thai, you can’t go wrong with the spicy Siamese noodles, which blend a flavorful basil-ginger sauce with thick, pan-fried noodles and beef, chicken, prawns or tofu.

Gang curry brings to the table a plate of thick, coconut-creamy garlic- and chili-tinged gravy simmered over vegetables, with a splash of lime and lemongrass.

Seeking seafood? Everything is top-notch. If you can’t decide, the honey walnut prawns have the perfect blend of sweet, crunchy and savory. Then there’s the paella-style Black Sea, with black Thai rice, sweet kala masala, and a snappy mix of scallops, calamari, crab and fresh prawns.

There’s a quick-read wine and beer list too. New options include the very popular Drunken Buddha, the coconut martini and a host of local brews right on tap. New for this year is the lunch menu, with slightly smaller-than-dinner portions at one-third of the dinner prices. Vegetarian and gluten-free options are always available.

Top off any Indochine Asian fare with the surprising homemade gelato, and you’re all set.

HOLLY SMITH PETERSON

Indochine Asian Dining Lounge
1924 Pacific Ave, Tacoma
253.272.8200
indochinedowntown.com