Seattle’s North End has an abundance of Asian restaurants, but one cuisine has been missing of late: Malaysian. Not for much longer — a couple of young restaurateurs will open Satay, with a menu inspired by Malaysian street food, in the space that most recently housed Avila (1711 N. 45th St.).
Business partners Peter Ringold and Patrick McCredie have been pursuing the idea of opening a Malaysian street food restaurant for more than a year. The notion took root on a trip to Southeast Asia a couple of years ago, when they were students at Occidental College. Ringold has a Malay aunt, and he grew up eating the food, which tastes like a blend of Chinese, Indian and Thai cuisines. But one aspect of Malaysian cuisine stood out: “We liked the idea of street food, where they do just a few things and do them really well,” Ringold told us when we sat down in the restaurant.
The pair looked at more than 20 properties in the more densely populated Seattle neighborhoods before settling on the former Avila.
When Satay opens with a new decor, the plan is for patrons to order up front and pick up food in the upstairs area. There will be seating in both areas.
McCredie and Ringold were delighted to find that everything in the restaurant was almost new (Avila was open for less than a year after an extensive renovation) and made an offer on the space even though they’d been searching for a smaller venue. They plan only to change the decor and take out a counter or two, and will keep the back room and deck closed for a while.
The eatery is somewhat a family affair for Ringold, whose aunt shared her family recipes for Satay’s menu. The duo also have gotten advice from Ringold’s cousin Brendan McGill, now chef-owner of Hitchcock on Bainbridge Island. Ringold is a native Seattleite (raised on Phinney Ridge), and McCredie moved to Seattle from Southern California in January.
The only other Malaysian restaurant in Seattle is Malay Satay Hut in the International District. The Satay menu will be much smaller, featuring satay, of course (in chicken, beef, lamb and tofu), plus roti canai (a pan-fried bread served with curry dipping sauce), mee goreng (a fried noodle dish), laksa (a noodle and shrimp soup), and curry puffs.
McCredie jokes that they’re opening the opposite of Avila, which was an ambitious, innovative upscale restaurant. Satay will have a menu of 11 items, no table service, and prices that start at $6.95 for a full meal of satay, rice, cabbage salad and peanut sauce. They also plan to serve beer and wine and may stay open late.
The Satay partners are setting up their Health Dept. inspections and hope to be open sometime in November. They’re trying to recruit a Malay chef friend of Ringold’s aunt to run the kitchen.