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The last time Cherry and I did Seattle Restaurant Week (SRW), was two years ago, so you could imagine I was bursting at the seams with eagerness and excitement to participate this year! In a nutshell, restaurants participating in Restaurant Week, offer a 3-course lunch menu for $15 and a 3-course dinner menu for $28. It’s an excellent opportunity to try restaurants you wouldn’t normally visit. With so many restaurants participating and so little time, I narrowed down the enormous list to one, TanakaSan! This newest addition to Tom Douglas’s restaurant empire is led by TD’s long time Executive Chef and Partner, Eric Tanaka. Located on 6th Ave and Lenora, TanakaSan occupies a large portion on the bottom floor of a residential tower. Cherry and I came for lunch and made the mistake in not making reservations. We ended up having a little wait before being seated… c’est la vie!

 

tanakasan_outsideoutside dining area

tanakasan_insideinside dining floor

tanakasan_kitchenopen kitchen across the hall

 

The Appetizers:

 

tanakasan_friedchicken 2 twice fried chicken wings: smoked Korean chili, franks hot sauce (l) & salty caramel, serrano chile (r)

The serving size of the chicken wings was a little smaller for SRW (3 pieces), but they were still able to split them up for me. The first thing I immediately noticed when I took my first bite was how crunchy the skin was! It reminded me like biting into a fresh chicharrón from Mexico! The meat underneath was juicy and perfectly fried. The salty caramel wing was more salty than sweet. It actually tasted like it was tossed in fish sauce. Still quite tasty, but to me, the taste didn’t match what the menu read. I had mixed feelings about the smoked Korean chile wing. On one hand, the Korean chile’s had a great smokey flavor with a subtle spice. On the other hand, the extremely bright and vinegary flavor of the Franks hot sauce completely overpowered everything. The concept was great but I feel a hot sauce that carries more heat and less vinegar flavor may be better.

 

tanakasan_braisedbeefgeneral tso’s spare ribs: blistered chilies, scallion, orange, puffed rice

These spare ribs were awesome! The meat was literally fall of the bone tender and full of flavor. I really liked their version of general tso’s sauce. It had a much deeper, richer, and sophisticated flavor, than what I’ve had at other restaurants. The scallions added a bright note to each bite and the puffed rice provided a pleasant little crunch. This dish was a highlight of the meal.

 

The Entrees:

 

tanakasan_teriyakichickenteriyaki chicken: savoy cabbage, pickled carrots, furikake

This was a well prepared dish. The chicken thigh was tender, juicy and nicely gilled. The teriyaki sauce they used as a glaze (I believe?) had a nice balance of sweet and savory. Cherry would have liked to have seen a little less char on the edges, but I don’t mind it. She chose their potato mac salad which was also very good. They use a sriracha mayo as their base and it worked well.

 

 

tanaksan_coconutbeefcarmelized coconut beef: jasmine rice, coconut sambal, crispy shallot, pea vines

The beef was nicely braised, tender and carried a very subtle coconut undertone. The pea vines added nice color to the dish, but I especially enjoyed their coconut sambal. At first, I didn’t know what the little white pieces were mixed with the sambal – I had to re-read the menu again. Once I read coconut sambal, I had that, “aha!” moment. The rich flavors of the beef combined with the heat of the sambal, creamy flavor of the coconut and the slight bitterness of the pea vines, came together like a well trained orchestra, and was quite palatable.

 

 

The Desserts:

 

tanakasan_coconutpietriple coconut cream pie

Cococonut, on coconut on coconuts! The triple coconut cream pies served at TD restaurants all originate from Dahlia Bakery. I’ve already reviewed the pie, here. Do yourself a favor and try a slice!

 

 

tanakasan_spongecakeyuzu pudding cake: shiso cream, sweet and sour rhubarb, yuzu curd

I felt guilty breaking this plate down and eating it – it just looked so pretty! Each individual element was delicious on its own, but when combined – perfection. The shiso cream had a very mild sweetness to it, the yuzu curd tasted like an egg custard you find a Chinese bakery, but with a much lighter texture. The cake was moist and airy and the sweet and sour rhubarb was awesome in providing a bright touch on an overall very creamy dish.

 

My Conclusion:

You cannot go wrong participating in SRW and you definitely cannot go wrong with any of Tom Douglas’s establishments. He and Tanaka San have created a wonderful new spot showcasing Asian-influenced dishes with fresh ingredients from the Northwest. Word to the wise, if you do decide on participating in SRW, reservations are strongly encouraged!

Hattie’s Hat

Cherry and I woke up early last Sunday to grab breakfast in Ballard before Church. Deciding on a place to eat in Ballard can be a difficult task, seeing as how there are so many awesome spots. It’s like you’re a kid in a candy store and being told, “You can only pick one piece!” We decided on Hattie’s Hat, which is located in heart of the Ballard, off Ballard Ave NW and NW Vernon Pl. The interior was dimly and is what I would picture a dive would have looked like in the 80’s.

hattieshat_front

entrance off ballard ave nw

hattieshat_back

parking in the back

 

The Food:

 

hattieshat_pancakes

hot cakes and two eggs $8

Cherry with the hot cakes which are $6 alone but added 2-scambled eggs for $2. The hot cakes were huge and had a tasty buttery sweetness. Cherry claims she could have eaten them without any syrup and enjoyed them the same! The scrambled eggs were your standard fare and completed the meal.

 

hattieshat_countrybreakfast

aunt harriet’s country breakfast $11

The country breakfast featured a fresh-baked buttermilk biscuit, sausage gravy, two eggs, hashbrowns and your choice of pig. I went with eggs over easy and bacon. The biscuit was good, the eggs were well prepared, the bacon was crispy and the hash browns were your basic diner hash browns. The best part of this dish was the sausage gravy. Their sausage gravy is among the best I’ve had – having big chunks of sausage, thick and hearty, and extremely flavorful. If I would have known better, I would have asked for the entire plate to be smothered in it… however my arteries thank me not doing as such.

 

My Conclusion:

Hattie’s Hat is a very reasonably priced diner serving American favorites, which will fill you up. I would recommend getting there earlier than later, because by the time we left, there was a line out the door!

 

This past weekend a group of us got together to celebrate our friend, Renee’s, birthday. Of course it wouldn’t be worth talking about if it didn’t include food! Here’s what our day looked like.

 

Serious Biscuit: Can’t go wrong with a biscuit brunch and you definitely can’t go wrong with Tom Douglas ;) The Serious Pie & Biscuit location on Westlake Ave is a fairly large restaurant offering two levels of dining that also doubles as the Dahlia Workshop.

pulledpork_1

 special: pulled pork, slaw, fried egg $9

Cherry went with the special which featured a pulled pork and apple slaw (I believe?) topped with a fried egg. The pork was rich and flavorful and also carried an extremely subtle hint of sweetness. The slaw was fresh and bright and to top it off, the fried egg was the ideal touch. Not to be overlooked were the biscuits served here, which were perfectly baked. The outside was borderline crunchy and the insides were a soft and buttery delicious.  I’m regretting not ordering a few to-go! Poor me, I’ll guess I’ll just have to come back…

zach_1

the zach: fried chicken, black pepper tobasco gravy, bacon, egg $13

If you know me, then you know I obviously with went w/the “zach.” The bacon was thick cut and the chicken was cooked excellently. It had great bite despite being doused with gravy and the meat was very moist and tender. You can’t tell by the picture, but there is an egg under all that greatness that provided an additional layer of texture and flavor. I would have liked for the gravy to have provided a little more flavor and heat. Tobasco sauce definitely punches one in the face with its bright vinegary spice; so understandably, the gravy was toned down a little. But if you advertise “black pepper tobasco gravy,” I would think the heat would be present…no worries though, they offer a variety of hot sauces to quench your heat thirst.  

collardgreens_hamhock

crispy hamhock, collard greens with smoked onions $10

 eggdish_1

wood-fired skillet baked egg: applewood smoked bacon, roasted kale, crimini mushrooms $9

Our friends ordered the crispy hamhock and collard greens biscuit as well as the skillet baked eggs. I should have taken an “after” picture,  because judging by how clean their plates were, it’s safe to assume they were delicious!

 

Chihuly Garden and Glass:

chihuly_ceiling_2

 chihuly_star

group_4

rylie_chihuly 2

rylie is clearly uninterested

This is an awesome exhibit featuring the work of local artist, Dale Chihuly. I won’t regurgitate who he is and what he’s done… there’s google for that. But I will say his work is amazing and I would highly recommend this place as a, “must visit” stop in Seattle!    

 

Los Agaves:

 tacos

tacos: adobo chicken, al pastor, la lengua $2 each

After spending the afternoon visiting Chilhuly and wandering Pike Place, we decided to grab a quick bite before we headed home. Los Agaves is literally located in a little crevice between a seafood and dairy stand. At $2 a taco, what’s not to love?! I was pleasantly surprised by how good their beef tongue was. It was cooked perfectly – extremely tender and flavorful. I would highly recommend it for anyone able to look past the fact that they’re eating cow tongue. Ohh, and their “spicy” is exactly that. They poured some salsa verde atop each taco and as took my first, it was like the green light at the Indy 500 for my sinuses and the pores atop my head! With my taste buds burning, my eyes tearing, and my mind asking for more, I was very pleased… we all have a little sadist in us.

 

My Conclusion: I’m not ashamed to admit that despite being born and raised in Seattle, I still get very excited, eager and wide-eyed, each and every time I get to explore the city…  kind of like an a teenage boy going to a gentlemen’s club  for the first time.  

group_1

my peeps

 

It’s been about forever since my last post, but I have been extremely busy with the newest addition to my family.  My wife gave birth to our beautiful baby girl, Rylie Kadence – literally the week after my last post in October! She has been such a blessing and joy in our lives and as I’m sure all parents can attest, a first child is a minor adjustment to say the least ;) I’m not going to sugar coat how magical being a new parent is, because it’s not. Your life as you know it, without a child, is literally turned upside down with the added responsibility and care of a baby. Now, I’m in no way saying I don’t enjoy being a new father, because I absolutely LOVE it! I wouldn’t change it for the World! It is definitely cliché, but the love and joy you get from being a new parent is indescribable – one literally cannot put into words how I feel every time I look at her. If you don’t have kids, sorry… you probably cannot relate… but to all my parents out there, this “club” is friggin’ amazing!

rylie_1

rylie kadence @ 2-months

Now, onto the goodies! Last Friday, Valentines Day, I took my family (it’s so cool I can say that now) on a 30-minute ferry ride west of Seattle to Bainbridge Island. Bainbridge is a very charming town with many gems to discover, both as a foodie and as someone looking for fun activities. Here’s what our day trip looked like:

Café Nola:

Through a few recommendations, we had lunch at Café Nola. Located on Bainbridge Island’s main street of E. Winslow, Café Nola is a nice little spot that serves up some great food and drink. Cherry and I were on a mission for one thing in particular – fish ‘n chips. Going back seven years, fish ‘n chips has been our Valentine’s Day tradition and we’ve sampled quite a few spots in Seattle and even up North in Victoria B.C. I’m not sure exactly how this tradition started, but it’s a damn good tradition, and are you really going to argue against fish ‘n chips!?

cafenola_outside

view from the street

cafenola_inside

tight yet cozy quarters

cafenola_bread

 bread ‘ oil

cafenola_kalesalad

kale salad: smoked bacon, pickled egg, roasted garlic mushrooms, pecorino vinaigrette $6

Knowing we’d be partaking in a meal of deep fried goodness, Cherry and I made a conscious decision to balance the meal with a salad. So we split a side order. This was a well-dressed salad with rich flavors of the bacon and garlic mushrooms and balanced nicely with the vinaigrette. The pickled egg added just a hint of brightness to each bite.

cafenola_fishnchips

fish ‘n chips: pacific cod, malt slaw, steak fries $14

These large pieces of Pacific cod were nicely breaded with great crunch in each bite. The fish was fresh and perfectly cooked – tender meat that flaked off. The pieces served here might be the biggest I’ve seen! The only thing bigger would be breading and deep frying a whole filet. The chubby kid side of me was definitely cheering for joy. I would have liked the dish better, if served with a quartered lemon slice, but the malt vinegar and tartar sauce sufficed. The slaw was prepared very well. I favor malt vinegar slaw over the traditional mayo,  because the malt vinegar does a better job blending the subtle bitter and sweet from the cabbage and carrots. The steak fries were your standard fare.

Mora Iced Creamery:

Having never been but hearing as much positive praise as an establishment could possibly receive, we decided to stop by. Ok, that’s not true. I’ve had Mora on my never-ending list of “must tries” for the last few years, and finally found an opportunity to come.

mora_cheesecakebrownie

cheesecake with brownies

Rich flavors from the real cream cheese and awesome brownie pieces… which happen to come from a local bakery. Ohh, and Cherry couldn’t wait for me take a picture before she started diggin’ in!

mora_pistachio

pistachio

Creamy. Nutty. Delicious. Three very naughty words when describing something you want to put in mouth over and over again.

mora_devil

devil: whiskey ice cream infused w/Australian hibiscus flowers in syrup

I wasn’t able to pick up much of the whiskey flavor, but the ice cream was definitely rich and creamy. The hibiscus flowers were also delicious! The texture reminded me of cherries in a cherry ice cream and the flavors were subtly sweet.

Blackbird Bakery:

blackbirdbakery_cinnamonwalnutucoffeecake

cinnamon walnut coffee cake

We ended the trip at Blackbird Bakery to pick up a few goodies for the road. Yes, I know we just had ice cream, but if you didn’t know already, Cherry has a sweet tooth the size of Texas and I’m never one to disappoint! Blackbird Bakery is a nice place offering freshly made pastries of both the sweet and savory variety. I didn’t end up taking many pictures of what we bought since they were mostly boxed or wrapped up. Cherry ordered a few cookies and an herb roll to go – all of which were very good once we got home. I was able to get a shot of this coffee cake as we sat and ate while waiting for the ferry. Overall, it was a tasty coffee cake with chunks of walnuts and pleasant flavors from the cinnamon and coffee cake. It wasn’t as moist as I’d had hoped for, but then again, we did come in 30-minutes before closing, so that could been a factor.

Bloedel Rerserves:

bloedel_cherrynrylie1

my valentines 

We spent the bulk of our time at The Bloedel Reserves, which is wonderful public garden with roughly 2-miles worth of walking trails taking you through the lush flora and fauna of this region. There is a visitor center at the half-way point of the trail that doubles as a rest point and as an event hall for musical events. I particularly enjoyed the Japanese Garden located towards the end of the trail. I would highly recommend visiting Bloedel during anytime of the season – but bring comfortable walking shoes. We will definitely be back in the spring to see different flowers in bloom. Keep in mind that there is an entrance fee.

My Conclusion:

seattle night_1

a stone’s throw away

I consider Bainbridge Island somewhat of a hidden gem. Those who frequent or live on the island know how great it is and those who do not, simply don’t know what they’re missing! We weren’t able to explore as many of the “commercial” points of interest as we would have liked, but that only gives us another reason to come back!

Portland Trip Oct 2013

Cherry and I planned a weekend trip to Portland as a “last getaway” before our baby comes. Yep, we’re having a baby this December! Portland is definitely the “weird” red-headed step sister to Seattle, with an abundance of uniquely northwest microbreweries and foodie spots. With only a limited amount of time there, here are the spots we visited.

1.)  Joe’s Crab Shack

joescrab.sampler

classic sampler $12.49

joescrab.sunsetgrilsteampot

sunset fire-grilled steampot $26.49

One thing I hate, is seeing commercials for restaurants and stores nowhere near your place or residence. Enter Joe’s Crab Shack. Nothing says foodie spot, like a national seafood chain but being the only one within 150+ square miles of Seattle, we made the exception to stop by as we drove down. Plus, years of seeing the commercials finally took its toll on us! Cherry and I shared a classic sampler and an individual order of the sunset fire-grilled steam pot. The sampler included crab dip, fried calamari and their “great balls of fire” which  are panko breaded and deep-fried balls of seafood, crab, jalapenos and cream cheese. The calamari had a nice crispy breading and the crab dip was tasty. I liked the great balls of fire, but I would have like more heat. The steam pot had both snow and dungeness crab, shrimp, sausage, corn and potatoes. The spicy seasoning provided nice heat and everything was well cooked with the focus of the pot, the crab, being fresh and sweet.  Joe’s is a fun place to bring the family, but it’s more expensive and you get less for your money compared to a place like the Crap Pot.

2.) Bridgeport Brewery

bridgport.beersampler

beer sampler $9

bridgeport.bbqchili

chipotle beef chili $8.95

With my growing passion for good beer, we attended a tour of Portland’s oldest craft brewery. It was awesome going behind the scenes to see how beer is crafted and what was especially impressive, was that they produce, bottle, and distribute their entire product on a staff of four! There’s even a laboratory in the back of the packaging floor where college students come as a part of their courses. A major point our tour guide and brew master emphasized throughout the tour is that for everything they make (beer & food), they practice the acronym: FLOSS, which stands for fresh, local, organic, seasonal and sustainable – I like that! After the tour, we got a small bite at the bar. Cherry went with their bowl of chipotle beef chili  which was hearty but lacked the bold flavors of spice and worcestershire normally associated with chili. I decided I’d rather drink my carbs and just ordered their beer sampler, which featured three of the year-round beers and five seasonal. All of which were equally good in their own way, but their Hop Czar was too hoppy for my taste.

3.) Noodles and Co.

noodlesnco.bbqporksandwich

bbq pork sandwich $6.99

noodlesnco.indonesianpeanutsaute

indonesian peanut sauté $7.98

Interesting spot featuring a wide variety of made to order “noodle” dishes ranging from spaghetti and meatballs to phad thai. Cherry went with the bbq pork sandwich and side of tomato basil bisque and I went with the indonesian peanut sauté. The pork sandwich was surprisingly very good. The meat was tender and flavorful on its own, but the slaw was lackluster at best. The bbq sauce also provided a nice pep to each bite. The tomato bisque was rich and had a nice balance of tomato and basil. My noodles weren’t that great, keep in mind I’m a noodle snob and have high expectations when eating any kind of noodles.  The flavors were bland and the chicken was dry. I was expecting the flavors of “spicy peanut sauce” to at least be present, but instead this dish was a haphazard attempt at something “Asian.” The only positive thing I can say about that dish is, I wasn’t hungry anymore after I ate it.

4.) Mother’s Bistro

mothersbistro.entrance

entrance

mothersbistro.floor

busy breakfast service

mothersbistro.applesausagescramble

pork apple sausage & cheddar scramble $9.95

mothersbistro.joesscramble

joe’s scramble

This spot has received a ton of positive feedback from the “foodie” world and I was extremely eager to see for myself what the craze is about. As I parked, I saw a line out the door and a mob of people waiting outside. I immediately felt a disappointingly warm smile creep across my face, like a child that was just given time out in their room… full of video games and toys. The wait wasn’t bad for a 2-top though, only about 30-minutes. I think another big reason for the unusually large amount of people was due the fact that the Portland Marathon was also that morning. Many runners ready refuel their bodies with a carb-loading session after a cruel and self-punishing run. Cherry went with the pork apple sausage & cheddar scramble. As usual, in Portland fashion, everything used is fresh and local and you can really taste that. The scrambled eggs had an almost creamy texture that held everything together nicely. The apple sausage was both savory and sweet and wasn’t greasy at all.  The breakfast potatoes were cooked perfectly and had nice subtle flavors of the herbs they used. I ordered the daily special which happened to be a joe’s scramble that featured their house-ground natural rib-eye. Everything came together wonderfully to provide a great dish. Often overlooked during breakfast is the side of bread that usually accompanies the dish. The wheat bread at Mother’s Bistro definitely cannot go unnoticed. It was unique in that each bite was clean almost like a cracker, but you knew you biting into toast.

My Conclusion:

Portland is such a spunky and quirky city that I almost want to drive down every weekend to try a new spot! Cherry and I have come down at least once a year for the past few years and always discover something different. I’ll leave you with a photo I took at Roloff Farms of Cherry’s baby belly… hope you’ve enjoyed!

cherryandpumpkin

30-weeks and counting!

Mike’s Noodle House

Last night I was craving some Chinese beef noodle soup and since we were already in the International District, I turned to my trusty and increasingly prevalent tool, social media!  Smart phones and social media are such a double-sided sword these days in that they’re extremely useful to look up information at a moment’s notice, but at the same time they turn individuals into zombies! “…must….check…status…updates…!” Anyways, to make a long story short, I searched “beef noodle” in my “foodie” app got a ton of nearby restaurants. Mike’s Noodle House stood out with the highest numbers of reviews and overall high rating. It’s located on Maynard Ave S. between Jackson and King. Stepping inside, I immediately noticed two things: it’s very small and very clean. I did a rough count and estimate the max capacity to be about 34, but all the furnishings looked fairly new and well maintained. We were quickly seated next to the door and given our menus.

mikesnoodle.entrance

entrance off maynard ave s

mikesnoodle.kitchen

nothin’ to hide here!

The Food:

mikesnoodle.donut

chinese “donut” $1.7

These aren’t the Americanized Chinese donuts you find at buffets, that are drowned in sugar, these are actually you tiaowhich translated literally means “oil sticks.” They’re traditionally eaten at breakfast with congee, soymilk and/or between “shao bing.” They weren’t as crispy as I’d like, and carried a more salty flavor with an subtly sweet aftertaste.

mikesnoodle.chinesebroccoli

chinese broccoli with oyster sauce $4.5

In an effort to maintain a balanced meal, we ordered the Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce. They were prepared excellently with a rich green color and a nice crunch. Many times, these can be overcooked which makes them softer with a less appealing bite. The bitterness was cooked down nicely and the oyster sauce countered with a strong savory sweet flavor.

mikesnoodle.brisketsoup

brisket noodle soup $6.1

When it comes to beef noodle soup, there are two traditional variations; clear broth and dark broth. I myself prefer the dark broth, also called, hong shao niu rou mian, or as I call it, 紅燒牛肉麵. The dark color comes from the use of soy sauce. For me, the most important aspect of a good noodle soup is the broth and the broth at Mike’s is, dare i say, almost as good as 我媽媽的 (momma’s)! It was extremely rich and flavorful with deep flavors of the soy, star anise, and spices. I put a dollop chili paste to appease my spicy-tooth. The brisket was almost fall-apart on its own tender and also carried awesome flavor from the many hours of braising. Everything about the broth and beef was an A…. the only thing I would I preferred differently were the noodles. I prefer the fresh hand pulled Chinese rice noodles which tend to be fatter, as opposed to the skinny egg noodles they serve here.  They were also under cooked requiring some diligence to cut between your tongue and teeth – unless you’re eating naengmyeon breaking noodles shouldn’t require extra efforts.

mikesnoodle.theend

i had stop when i hit plastic…

My Conclusion:

I love noodles. My mom loves noodles too, and growing up in a Chinese home, you could say she passed it down to me… I guess I “got it from my 媽媽!” I may even consider myself a noodle snob! That being said, Mike’s Noodle House definitely brings their A-game with what they serve. But, the true test is what my mom thinks when I bring her here next time… stay tuned!

Originally opening in 2008 as Spring Hill Restaurant, founders, Marjorie Chang Fuller and Mark Fuller quickly gained both local and national recognition in the foodie industry, which also include  three consecutive James Beard nominations for, Best Chef: PNW. Circa 2012, they decided to change course to what is now known as, Ma’Ono Fried Chicken and Whisky.  Sitting California Ave SW in West Seattle, Ma’ono is an unassuming restaurant that revels in simplicity.  The interior has a nice combination of Zen garden meets modern Chic. Upon entering, we were greeting and seated (reservations suggested.) We had the fortune to be seated directly next to the open kitchen – which in my opinion is always the best seat. Nothing compares to being able to watch the organized chaos that is, the back of the house. One thing I noticed in particular that was equally pleasing was the level of cleanliness in the kitchen. The counters were pristine, our glasses and water carafe were spotless and the flatware and tableware were all meticulously placed in perfect organized stacks. Cherry even observed a worker drying off individual spoons and closely examining each one before stacking. If a restaurant puts that much focus and detail on the things that happen “in the back”, chances are high that the product they serve will be that much better.

manon.entrance

entrance off california ave sw

maono.kitchen

courtside kitchen

maono.tablesetting

tabletop essentials

 The Food:

maono.friedchicken

fried chicken $39

maono.fixins

standard fixins’

A full order yields a whole bird – 10-pieces served in a large tray and a side of rice and kimhi and dipping saucesI specifically went against the grain and chose the notoriously dry and often last-picked, breast.  I figure, if the breast was well cooked, it would be a positive sign for the rest of the batch. Positive signs were exactly what I experienced!  After getting through the awesome crunch of the breading, the breast is exactly how all breasts need to be – moist and tender! I actually caught myself doing a double-take, to make sure it was a breast. Each and every piece thereafter was perfectly golden brown and maintained a great crunch from top to bottom – none of that soggy skin that you get at other places. The breading had rich and savory flavors that I enjoyed. At this point, everything else that came after (thigh, leg and wing) was a bonus. Each piece was equally delicious, crunchy and flavorful. Oh yeah, the sauces they serve on the side were a spicy Korean sauce, and a Chinese hot mustard sauce, neither of which were very spicy. I preferred the Chinese mustard which tasted more of a combination of honey mustard and Chinese hot mustard. It carried a nice subtle “heat” that the Chinese mustard is known for (the same kind of heat you get from horseradish), and a nice sweet honey mustard flavor. I actually have a small cup of the stuff in my fridge I took home with my left overs!

maono.manapua

manapua $8

The manapua was delicious. They’re steamed bbq pork buns similar to what you can find in a Chinese bakery. The bun was silky soft and the filling was rich and full of umami. Definitely one of the better bbq buns I’ve had. It’s served with a shoyu-harissa sauce, which I believe is their take on a spicy soy sauce. I tasted a little bit of it and didn’t taste very much heat, but the manapua was perfect without any sauce.

maono.macsalad

macaroni salad $6

A Hawaiian meal isn’t a true Hawaiian meal without the mac salad! There are many variations to Hawaiian-style mac salad, but the one here includes; potatoes, egg, and carrots.  I’ve had plenty of mac salad in my time, and confidently say, Ma’Ono’s is the best I’ve had. It had great texture from the potatoes and carrots and perfect flavoring. Like bacon, if you add egg to anything, you’ve just elevated whatever you’re eating to the next level. The same goes here.

 maono.warmtowel

warm towel wipe down, please!

My Conclusion:

I know you what your first thought is (it was mine as well) – $40 for some fried chicken!? What are you smokin?!  After the initial sting of disbelief passed, I started to look into why on earth anyone would fathom charging such an expensive price on such a common dish. According to their website, all of their chicken is raised locally and naturally in Mt Vernon, Wa (60 miles north of Seattle). In addition, they also implement a lengthy preparation process for each bird and they use high quality ingredients. Of course, everything you read must be taken with a grain of salt. That being said, I’ll try my best to answer some questions you may have.

• Is it the best fried chicken I’ve had?

I’d say, yes. I’ve had plenty of really good fried chicken, but in my opinion, Ma’Ono is the king of the mountain..

• Do I feel the chicken is worth $40 dollars?

Well that depends on how you look at it. The same reason why a bottle of Dom.Romane Coni 1997 costs over $1500 compared to a bottle of $10 red wine you get at your local grocery store? They’re both made from grapes aren’t they? It’s not like the DRC has a secret vineyard where unicorns stomp barrels of enchanted grapes while wearing silk covered booties followed by a lengthy aging process where each barrel is guarded by mystical fairies and gnomes.  I guess it comes down to how much you are willing to pay for a product. You can pay bottom dollar on a fast-food joint where everything comes frozen and prepared by local high school students … or not.

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