Tacoma’s Stadium Thai now open – here’s what’s on the breakfast menu
Tacoma, get to know this little Thai breakfast spot, a serious hole-in-the-wall, that just opened. Stadium Thai debuted last week with something I’ve yet to see in Tacoma on the regular: Thai breakfast.
The menu at Stadium Thai, which opened in the former home of the Burger Bar in the Stadium neighborhood, is the creation of first-time restaurant owner Amara Shafer. “I don’t know why we don’t have Thai breakfast places here,” she told me last month before she opened.
“In Thailand, we have morning markets. You’ll see that everywhere, people go to the market in the morning. We have dishes that are something like phad Thai. You’ll see porridge, something like congee, and rice soups. People buy their food and supplies and then they buy their morning meals at the market,” explained the North Tacoma resident.
While I’ve seen Thai restaurants, such as Loak Toung in Tacoma’s Oakland-Madrona neighborhood, offer the occasional special event brunch, I’ve never seen Thai breakfast here – in the last two decades at least.
THAI BREAKFAST AT STADIUM THAI
“I just imitated some of the menus from the Thailand morning markets,” explained Shafer of her opening menu, which is available from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Mondays through Saturdays. She makes breakfast sandwiches with a choice of chicken curry or marinated pork, with fresh veggies and herbs tucked onto a roll with crunchy, fresh vegetables ($7.95).
Her version of a rice soup, joak kai khai looak, which she describes as her own Thai version of congee, is assembled with rice suspended in a chicken broth with a raft of cilantro and scallions and a poached egg ($7.95). She also serves khao tom kai as a breakfast soup ($7.95). Eggs and rice get a starring role in two other dishes: khao khai jaew, which is a Thai-style omelet over rice; and khoa phad khai, fried rice with scrambled eggs (both $7.95).
I was floored by this: All breakfast items are listed under $8.
My first visit, I bit into the house spicy pork breakfast sandwich ($7.95) and I could not have been more impressed with my breakfast.
Spicy marinated pork was tucked between a well-grilled crunchy roll that was just like the banh mi rolls you’ll find at every sandwich shop in the Lincoln neighborhood. I tasted roasted rice powder in the marinade that was a solid three stars on the heat scale. I loved that the delicious, fatty-edged pork was paired with cool, crispy bites of lettuce, marinated carrots, sliced red onions and a few sprigs of cilantro. It was the best breakfast I’ve had since I dug into the croissant French toast at Parkland Place Bakery & Bistro (be sure to visit for breakfast AND the cheesecake. Read more here).
THE REST OF THE MENU AT STADIUM THAI
The lunch and dinner menus run through the gamut of Thai favorites: salads such as larb and soups that include tom kha and tom yum, Thai curries, phad Thai, kee mao, rama dishes, a trio of fried rices, typical Thai stir fries and Thai sweet-and-sour. Be sure to check out the specialty dish khao man kai, which is Hainanese chicken served over rice. Dishes are spiced on a scale of 1-5. The menu offers family combo meals, which will suit what she expects will be a large contingent of take-out diners. Stadium Thai is on Door Dash to start, but Shafer plans to expand to Uber Eats, Grub Hub and other delivery apps later.
The tiny restaurant seats 12 spread across six tables. Because of the small size of the space, Stadium Thai is fast-casual service with counter ordering. Stadium Thai will operate from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays.
ABOUT STADIUM THAI’S OWNERS
Shafer worked as a registered nurse in Thailand for 30 years and this restaurant detour is a career change for her. This is a first business for the Shafer family. She gets a little help from husband Jim, but she’s running the show.
Last weekend, Shafer was doing double duty working in the restaurant – both front and back – because she was short staffed. If you visit, go in knowing that she’s struggling with the same problems many restaurants are experiencing at the moment – supply chain shortages, a lack of staff and overly demanding customers. (be kind)
STADIUM THAI KITCHEN RESTAURANT
Where: 813 Division Ave., Tacoma; 253-503-1106