I know what you’re thinking: Any restaurant with “Express” as part of its name can’t possibly be authentic or local. However, SAVANNY FOOD EXPRESS is both. Opened in January by husband-and-wife team Savann and Ny Ratahnahk (hence the name), Savanny Food Express serves up a wealth of traditional Thai dishes.
Originally from Cambodia, the couple escaped to Thailand in 1980 and has since lived an odyssey, moving from Thailand to California to Michigan to Bellingham to Spokane.
The team’s cooking reflects the geography of their lives. “Some we learned in Thailand, some in the United States,” says Savann.
And the food is mouthwatering. First up was chicken satay — tender white meat marinated with garlic and curry powder, then skewered and grilled and served with peanut sauce. It’s the perfect appetizer for those who come in starving.
For dinner, we tried the popular sweet, creamy, spicy yellow curry; one of Savann’s personal favorites, savory basil chicken; and a dish that, according to Savann, isn’t found at just any Thai restaurant: the Thai Angel, made with the most delicate pan-fried noodles, chicken, prawns and veggies.
Despite the great food, Savann says, “Business is still slow — a lot of people in the neighborhood don’t know about us yet.”
He shrugs and laughs, “But we haven’t done anything much to let them know we opened.” Still, people keep trickling in based on word-of-mouth recommendations.
Savanny’s also boasts an occasional all-you-can-eat Thai buffet.
“We like to do things a little bit different from other restaurants,” says Savann with a grin. “Sometimes, people want options. They want to try different things, especially [if it’s their] first time for Thai food.”
Savann would like to do the buffet every day but currently conserves food and costs by offering the buffet only on specific days, advertised on flyers in Savanny’s windows.
With great food and service, the one drawback to dining at Savanny’s (for those over 21, at least) is the lack of beer — Savanny’s is still waiting for its liquor license. — CAREY JACKSON
Savanny Food Express, 11808 E. Sprague, is open Mon-Fri 11 am-8 pm, Sat-Sun noon-8 pm. Call 443-5037.