Seattle, WA

In the midst of a pandemic, a Cambodian restaurant appears on Phinney Ridge

Chris Maykut

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Chris Maykut

Before a certain pandemic descendid upon the world, Oliver’s Twist is known for its blue cheese and bacon-stuffed dates, truffled popcorn, Moscow Mules and summer jazz wafting into the neighborhood through its garage door-style front windows. That menu and ethos were created many moons ago by former owners Sarah Hughes-Giles and Dan Braun, who sold the business to Karuna Long in 2017.

While Long has continued the culinary ethos that has made Oliver’s Twist so popular, he hails from Cambodian roots and his love of that cuisine has this neighborhood landmark pivoting to stay afloat and leading to a new fare available to the Phinneywood community.

As my family has worked our way through the neighborhood to (gleefully) support the restaurants, we found our way to Karuna’s new menu recently. It did not disappoint.

We started with one order each of the Seared Ahi Tuna and Chicken Spring Rolls. This untraditional take on a classic shines: the tapioca wrappers had just the right amount of chew with no gumminess, the basil fresh and flavorful, meats done to perfection, and the "family recipe" fish dipping sauce was to die for. I deeply regret not having the beautiful Ahi Roll in the picture above.

Entrees were the Chicken Curry and Chicken Bobun, and both dishes took me back to one of my favorite dining experiences many years ago at a restaurant named Pho 84 in Oakland, CA. Prior to eating there, pho (the ubiquitous Vietnamese rice noodle soup) was my complete and total view of Vietnamese cuisine. Pho 84 was a dazzling display of fresh herbs, sprouts, crunchy vegetables, and intricate flavors that turned my world view upside-down.

Karuna’s Cambodian menu made me recall that experience, as the entrees and rolls all burst with herbs, traditional spicing, and high-integrity ingredients prepared perfectly. No word as to whether this menu will continue when and if things get back to normal, so you might want to consider giving it a try next time you’re supporting our local restaurants for dinner. Additionally, they have been offering to-go cocktails the “second it was announced legal.”

#HiddenGems

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Hyperlocal news, events, happenings and business district dispatches from the Phinney-Greenwood neighborhood of Seattle.

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