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Archive for June, 2012

 Just when you thought these Pop-Up’s couldn’t get any better, last nights event marked an occasion truly worth speaking of – 100% of the proceeds from last nights dinner are to be donated to Noel House Programs. For those that may not know, Noel House is the largest women’s only shelter in Seattle. Providing both permanent and temporary housing, food, resources and support for women in need, Noel House is truly a blessing for women in need. It is awesome  knowing that Irbille Edible’s partnered up with such a great organization.

The Food:

mango salad: manila mango, mizuna, watermelon radish, green mango vinaigrette

This salad was dressed wonderfully. The julienned mangos really popped against the backdrop of the mizuna and was a pleasing plate to look at. This is the second time I have mizuna (the first was at his April Pop-Up) and I can honestly say I enjoyed it! It has a more mild flavor than arugula and does well in cutting through the sweetness of the mango. One critique I have about this dish is I didn’t notice the watermelon radish – which was listed on the menu. 

roasted eggplant: baby eggplant, bell peppers, almond sauce

Cherry and I opted to lean away from our norm and order the roasted eggplant. The eggplant was roasted nicely with a good char and soft inner layer. The almond sauce added a countering sweetness almost like a peanut sauce and worked great with the eggplant! However, again, the menu stated the dish would come with bell peppers, and if my memory (and photo) serve me correct, there were none.

 steak bagoong: anchovy marinated hanger steak, purple yams, heirloom tomato

For me, this dish was the highlight of the meal. The steak was cooked perfectly with a perfect char on the outside and a tender pink in the middle. The anchovy (or bagoong) marinated stead had great flavor and really added a nice depth of flavor. Acting almost like a sweet potato mash, the purple yams added a delicious touch when combined with the tomato and steak, it was sublime.

 

 My Conclusion:

It is always great coming to these Pop-Up dinners,  not only to support an up-and-coming chef, but also a friend. Being able to witness Chef Irbille’s progression of his creativity, technique and plating from his first Pop-up to now, is truly something great. Learning and growth is something that is constantly the goal of any professional and despite some missing elements on our dishes, these miscues were mere hiccups in the overall dinner. Furthermore, in the grand scheme of things, the main winners are the residents  and staff at Noel House, for they are the ones who will directly benefit from this event – I was lucky enough to be apart of the ride.

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We have a new restaurant in my Toppings for Top Sushi Buffets! Congrats to Trappers Sushi for consistently making yummy and extremely creative rolls, offering excellent customer service and providing anoverall wonderful dining experience! The location I have frequented is the one in Covington – however there are also locations in Puyallup, Bonney Lake and Bremerton. The location in Covington is a good sized restaurant with TV’s on different walls usually airing a sports game. Upon looking through the sushi menu, the first thing I noticed, is expansive selection of rolls. Popular rolls such as the; California, Seattle and Spicy Tuna are of course on the menu, however the popular rolls here, are the ones that are unique and exclusive (albeit “Americanized”) to Trappers such as ; Bonney Lake, Trapper, Timmy and Trump rolls. The hot spot in this restaurant is definitely  the sushi bar – this is where all the magic happens!

The Food:

torchin’ the trump

trump roll: crystal shrimp with cream cheese covered with salmon topped with torched garlic sauce

This roll is limited to one per customer when doing the all you can eat. The torched sauce on top added a unique sear and flavor to the overall bite of the roll – definitely Americanized, delicious nonetheless. The shrimp and cream cheese gave it a nice texture and when combined with the sliced salmon sashimi atop – it was truly Trump worthy.

sounder roll: spicy crab, cream cheese cucumber, topped  salmon and avocado and spicy mayo sauce

This roll is a newer roll from the menu and also our sushi chef’s current favorite roll. To me, cream cheese is kind of like bacon. Adding it as an ingredient only makes it that much tastier! The taste-bud tantalizing combo of the spicy crab, cream cheese, cucumber and salmon sashimi was out of sight! Although I have yet to try had the caliber of sushi you would find at Sukiyabashi Jiro’s highly exclusive establishment, this sounder roll is possibly one of my favorites and is a great roll for everyone – for a first time sushi eater to the omakase enthusiasts.

barackade roll: crystal shrimp, garlic cilantro sauce, white onion, avocado, rolled in fried onion topped  seared albacore, ponzo sauce, and Japanese pepper

Yet another Trapper creation! The thinly sliced raw white onion and cilantro garlic sauce added a different flavor to this roll that was somewhat sour. I wasn’t a huge fan of this role but the one thing I did enjoy were the ingredient on top: seared albacore, ponzu sauce and Japanese pepper.

spider roll: spicy soft shell crap, cucumber & tobiko

The spider rolls here at Trappers are great in that you actually get crab! I’ve had spider rolls at other sushi establishments and they seemed like a deep fried skeleton of a crap wrapped in rice and seaweed. However, you can even see by the pictures that these are generously sized soft shell crap with a hearty portion of meat! This is also one of my favorite kinds of rolls.

hamachi nigiri

Nigiri represents the epitome of simplicity. The Hamachi was extremely fresh and had little to no fishy flavor – just the taste of freshness! The only thing simpler than this would just the slice of fish by itself known as sashimi.

seaweed salad

Typical seaweed salad you would find in any Japanese or Korean restaurant – the same kind you find at any asian market.

My Conclusion:

Is Trappers the be all end all of sushi restaurants? No. However, you will walk out having thoroughly enjoyed the experience. If you decide to brave the long waits for the sushi bar, it is totally worth it. Everything you order is made to order in front of you by chefs that exhibit the upmost professionalism and are extremely polite. Each time Cherry and I have been there, we’ve had a different sushi chef and each are equally polite and prompt! They are always asking “You guys doing Ok? What can I make for you next?” It is extremely evident that all the workers behind the bar (making sushi, preparing dishes, dropping items into the grill and into the fryer) all enjoy being there. Not once have I seen a lackadaisical employee and as a customer and consumer, this is very appealing. The only gripe I have about Trappers is that they’re sooo far away from Seattle! Can you please open up a location closer to Seattle!?

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Shawn O’Donnell’s is a fun restaurant literally tucked between two gas stations off 128th in Everett. If the name doesn’t tip you off, then as soon as you walk in, there is no question that you have stepped into an Irish Pub. There is a large wooden bar in the middle of the restaurant offering a huge selection of Irish lagers as well as domestic brews. Also displaced around the bar, are several TV screens showing various sports games. One thing I found unique were the vintage magic show posters throughout the restaurant. From the articles displayed on the wall, the owner, Shawn O’Donnell is an avid magic enthusiast. There are many old posters of famous Magicians such as, Houdini and Copperfield!

dining floor

entrance

 

The Food:

pub club: smoked turkey, thick sliced bacon, swiss cheese, tomato, leaf lettuce

A club sandwich is a staple of any respectable  Grill/Pub and Shawn O’Donnell’s is definitely on this list. All of the ingredients in this sandwich came together very nicely to provide a wonderful bite. White-meat turkey is usually too dry for me, however this smoked turkey was tender, moist and very tasty. The bacon also came as advertised, thick!  And also carried good savory flavor. The rest of the ingredients were just the icing on the cake- the melted swiss, fresh tomato and crisp letture. The bread was also noteworty – not too dry or too buttered.  This club sandwhich was excellent. Cherry stated, “This is probably the best club sandwich I’ve ever had!” 

fish and chips: lightly breaded white cod, home-made tartar, fries

 I’m a sucker for fish and chips so it was a no brainer to order these! When my meal came out, I had four decent sized pieces of fried cod and a basket of fries – nothing fancy but everything I wanted. The fish was perfectly fried and had excellent crunch! The batter maintained ideal texture throughout and didn’t get soft even after I squeezed lemon juice atop. Another thing that really stood out was the flavor – the batter had great flavor that did well complimenting the freshness of the fish. As far as I’m concerned, these pieces of fish had everything I look for in fish and chips – thick cuts of fish, perfect crunch and great flavored batter! Their home-made tartar was also very tasty! There were pieces of diced onions that did a nice job cutting through the sweet and creamy flavor of the tartar sauce. The chips served were also delicious. These natural-cut fries were cooked just right and seasoned with just the right amount of salt.

My Conclusion:

This was my first time eating at an “Irish” restaurant, and although the items we ordered weren’t the most traditional Irish dishes, they showed much promise and appeal. Looking through the menu, there were a ton of dishes I would want to try next time I eat here…because I am definitely coming back! I am sure there something for everyone here at Shawn O’Donnells; from Bangers and Mash and Shepards Pie to a large variety of burgers and seafood and other land fare. The only thing missing from my magical meal was the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow!

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Elliott Bay Pizza is a solid pizza joint that not only serves up good pizza but awesome subs/grinders! They have two locations: one atop Queen Anne Hill (Seattle) and one farther north in Mill Creek. They share the exact same pizza and sub menu, however the location in Mill Creek has a bigger menu selection – offering pastas as well as a decent selection of beers on tap. One thing I want to point out is that although they advertise them as “subs” they are more like grinders because of them all being toasted with various meat toppings and melted cheeses.

The Food:

 thai chicken sub: garlic butter, thai peanut sauce, chicken breast, spinach, red onion & mozzarella

Whenever I order a grinder from Elliott Bay’s, it is usually the Thai Chicken. Aside from the garlic butter and peanut sauce, four simple ingredients are all it takes to make a delicious grinder. The garlic butter doesn’t pop as much as I’d prefer, but I can overlook that because the piece that really makes this sandwich is the peanut sauce. Their sauce has a very nice balance of savory/sweet and does a great job blending the flavors of the onion, spinach and cheese together. Despite being store bought pieces of chicken breast, they are big chunks, moist and work well in this sandwich. The red onions also do a nice job cutting through the peanut sauce and mozzarella with some kick.

 the original: pepperoni, black olives, mozzarella & mushrooms

A well made pizza featuring some pizza staples.  I really enjoyed the pepperoni being under the cheese and vegetables -almost like a wonderful surpsise at the end of each bite. This pizza also had diced green bell peppers which were a pleasant addition. All these ingredients tasted fresh and were a great ensemble in this pizza production. There’s no fancy technique or gimmicks at Elliott Bay – just simple and well made pizza with fresh ingredients. One thing that can make or break a pizza is the sauce. If it’s too heavy, then that is all you taste and if it’s too light then the pizza can be dry. Elliott Bay’s special pizza sauce carries a perfect balance with a subtle sweetness that counters all the savory ingredients atop. Another thing I enjoyed was their crust – not too crunchy and not too soft and has a good texture throughout eat bite.

My Conclusion:

 I have been to Elliott Bay Pizza many times over the past few years and I can confidently say that I always walk out pleased. Sometimes you’re in the mood for a simple pie that satisfies the soul and you find that here. Shining bright are also their grinders (subs). The grinder menu is plentiful and is all very tasty. I’ve personally had a few other grinders off their menu and they are all outstanding! The fact that Elliott Bay’s has always been an “old faithful” in my pizza experience, I’m officially moving them into my Toppings as number 5!

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Located at the end of Alki Avenue SW, Pegaus Pizza was the next target on my pizza hit list. It’s a good sized restaurant with a great view of the Puget Sound. Cherry and I were greeted as we entered and seated inside, on the lower level of three. There are also several tables outside on their partitioned patio allowing customers to enjoy the cool breeze and fresh ocean air.

 

The Food:

cheese bread & marinara

When it comes to the spectrum of culinary techniques and skills, cheese bread is probably at the bottom of the scale next to cereal. However, the cheese bread at Pegasus was very good. Nothing fancy, just a halved slice of french bread with a generous portion of mozzarella on top. The one thing that stood out was the layer of cheese on top. I’ve had cheese bread at other establishments and it is usually served with a super thin layer of cheese – not here though. There’s no skimping of cheese at Pegasus! The marinara had a good balance of flavors and carried a sweet aftertaste. If I could describe in one word, it would be, winning.

 

house (tom’s) special: mushrooms, green peppers, onions, olives, feta & mozzarella cheese, fresh garlic, diced tomatoes, spinach, sunflower seeds and topped with shredded pepperoni

When this pizza came out, it looked delicious – a plethora of toppings that could have all came from grandma’s garden! All the toppings looked fresh and my mouth immediately began watering upon sight. The pie was fairly thick – biting into it really took me through the different layers of ingredients. One thing that I really enjoyed was the home made crust. It carried a nice crunch and did a really good job acting as a foundation for everything to rest on. Generally, the more the merrier is a popular slogan, but in this case, I think all the toppings took away from the pizza.  Don’t get me wrong, all the vegetables were tasty on their own, but when piled atop the pizza sauce and cheese, the result was a mushy texture that wasn’t very appealing. The shredded pepperoni did add a savory twist and subtle crunch that countered the other ingredients quite well. Despite having an army of ingredients, I felt that the diced tomatoes masked all the other flavors that tried to shine. I personally don’t like tomatoes on a pizza because the juices from them tend to spill over everything, leaving a soppy slice. My suggestion would be to get rid of the tomatoes all together.

My Conclusion:

Coming into this meal, I had big expectations to be blown away by the pizza at Pegasus. Although I was far from being blown away, I was hardly disappointed. I will definitely come back soon and try a less ambitious pizza before making my final judgement. If there were a reality show, I would say, “Pegasus Pizza, you are still in the running to make it into my Top 5 Pizza Joints category of my Toppings.”

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