Tai Ho Restaurant
6312 Bothell Way NE
Kenmore WA 98028
Home of the Hand Pulled Noodle and Tai Ho Chicken
By: Steve G
One of the most amazing sights one can see at a Chinese restaurant is the practice of making hand pulled noodles. If you have never witnessed this feat, it is truly a sight to behold. Starting with a large lump of dough, a chef simply stretches and twists it, folding it in half several times to create fine strands of noodles without the use of any machines. The Tai Ho Restaurant in Kenmore serves these hand pulled noodles, and if you pass by the kitchen window you might be treated to a view of the chef working like an artist, creating hundreds of noodles with a simple mound of dough.
Tai Ho originally opened in the International District in the 1970's. After its long tenure in Chinatown, it eventually moved to its current location in Kenmore, which also brought expanded size and capacity. Now featuring a towering neon sign and an extended bar and lounge area, Tai Ho caters to a larger crowd while maintaining its formula for success from the International District days.
As I entered through the front door with its red-lined dragon columns, I couldn't help but think it was a little campy. For some reason, the Curse of the Golden Flower came to mind, except without all of the swordplay and treachery. The interior came off as a little outdated and tacky to me, but Tai Ho has been around for so long that I'm willing to let it go. To the right of the entrance is a large bar area and lounge with signs indicating karaoke nights and live music if you care to try out your singing skills.
The lunch menu offers 19 different entres catering to patrons all the way from meat fiends to vegetarians. The dinner menu offers a much wider range of food. From the lunch menu, we went with the Tai Ho House Chicken Special and the Egg Foo Young.
The Tai Ho House Chicken Special is a variation of the empress chicken. The chicken was lightly battered and fried, then topped with a sweet glaze in much the same case as Empress chicken. But while the sauce is usually sweet in Empress Chicken, the Tai Ho chicken was more tangy. Additionally, while the menu notes that the dish is spicy, we didn't detect a lot of heat. Aside from the sauce, chicken was very crispy and crunchy on the outside, while the inside was very tender, retaining a lot of moisture.
In contrast, the Egg Foo Young was a bit more disappointing in quality and taste. While the portions of the dish were quite large, the preparation just seemed a little off. Normally when one makes Egg Foo Young, the outside of the dish has just a slight hint of crisp to it. Tai Ho's version was deep fried and a little too crisp for Grant's taste. Maybe this decision was made to make it more appealing to American palettes? Either way we were not impressed by the dish.
Overall, Tai Ho is a decent spot to grab some Chinese food, if not just to see them make hand pulled noodles. The lunch specials are an absolute steal at $5.50-$7.95 a plate -- it is hard to pass up a deal like this. The portions they serve are also quite generous make it a perfect spot for those looking for cheap eats.