Khampaeng Panyathong didn’t want to open a pizzeria. He didn’t want to open another restaurant at all, he tells Eater Seattle. The co-owner of acclaimed Laotian restaurant Taurus Ox already launched another restaurant on Capitol Hill earlier this year, the burger spinoff Ox Burger. So he was plenty busy.
“The truth is a broker showed me the location, and I felt like I had to have it,” Panyathong says. “It was previously a pizza spot [called Primo], and they had a pizza deck oven. So that was all. It was that simple.” Voila, now First Hill has a Laotian-inflected pizzeria and self-proclaimed dive bar called Ananas.
What is Laotian pizza, exactly? Panyathong more or less invented it on the fly, just as Taurus Ox more or less invented Laotian burgers (to much rejoicing). Currently, he says, his Laotian-style pizza is topped with pork belly; ground pork that would normally go in khao soi soup (“it’s like a bolgonese,” Panyathong says); tua nao, a fermented bean paste; and bamboo. “I don’t think bamboo has ever made it onto a pizza,” he says.
Ananas also has more familiar varieties of pizza, like pepperoni and cheese, but even the classics have a twist to them, like the Hawaiian pizza that has Canadian bacon and pineapple but also jalapenos and togarashi spice blend. It will have sides as well, Panyathong says, but for now it’s focused on selling pizza, both whole pies and by the slice.
The name “Ananas” simply means “pineapple,” and Panyathong hopes the restaurant will be a “safe space for people who like pineapple on their pizza.”
“People who like pineapple on their pizza, they don’t get upset or have strong opinions about people who don’t like pineapple on their pizza,” he explains. “But if people don’t like pineapple on pizza they’ll have strong opinions and sometimes will judge others for liking pineapple on pizza. So sometimes if you like pineapples on pizza you don’t really feel safe amongst a crowd.
“It’s kind of like how a tattooed person would would never criticize someone for not having tattoos,” he goes on.
That sounds like someone who was destined to open a pizzeria.
Ananas is located at 1106 Eighth Avenue in First Hill and is open every day from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m.