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Archive for July, 2012

With signs above of past businesses and tucked between a woman’s strengthening gym and a spa, one could easily and tragically miss a window sign reading, Meander’s Kitchen. Seating roughly 20-25, Meanders Kitchen’s looks like a typical hole-in-the-wall diner, however the food they serve is anything but. Cherry and I came on a Saturday afternoon and immediately saw a packed house with already two parties waiting ahead and two more parties arriving after us – further confirming we made the right choice. After about a 30-minute wait, we were seated at the best spot in the house – the counter. When we were done giving our order, we were able to watch the woman behind the grill do her thing. I was able to deduce that this woman’s name is Miranda and I’m assuming she is also the owner. Watching this half-woman, half-machine work was like poetry in motion. I have never worked in a kitchen, but that’s not to say I don’t know how busy, stressful and hectic it can get. The pace, efficiency and grace at which she maintained was something to be admired. I jokingly asked, “When do you come up for air?!” She laughed and said, “Every couple of hours… but there’s a lot of teamwork behind the scenes that make this possible.” Nevertheless, I have a new profound respect and appreciation for those working in the kitchen.

restaurant front

 miranda: owner, cyborg

menu and mason jars

 

The Food:

 

kimber’s corned beef hash $10.75

new york style corned beef, onion & potato hash, two eggs any style, biscuit & sausage gravy (because arteries are for sissies)

Plentifully added and sautéed with the hashbrowns, the corned beef brought a rich and savory flavor that shined brightly, but was balanced enough to not overpower the rest of the plate. They used a special seasoning here for the hasbrowns, and if my taste buds serve me right, it is a mix of salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder and cumin. Needless to say, the hashbrowns are definitely bringing some big flavors. I ordered my eggs over easy, but you can order any style. They were cooked well and biscuit was generously sized but served at room temperature – I would have liked to have had it warmed. I always love making my own “breakfast sandwich” and scooped some corned beef hash, and eggs between my sliced biscuit – heavenly!

the full monte $10.25

triple decker ham, turkey, swiss & cheddar sandwich dunked in bourbon vanilla French toast batter & grilled, marionberry jam & hashbrowns

Cherry always enjoys a well made sandwich, but she stepped outside her box in ordering a sandwich dipped in French toast batter and grilled. This creation is another marrying of sweet and savory flavors, which really work! You can really taste the vanilla in the batter and there is a nice subtle undertone of the bourbon as well. The swiss and cheddar cheese were perfectly melted between layers of meat and thick cut bread. The hashbrowns are seasoned and cooked with the same special seasoning I listed earlier and really add good depth to the dish. Meander’s Kitchen definitely has a creatively successful creation in this.

waffle menu

 

My Conclusion

I really enjoy the ability to watch your food being prepared, it really adds a genuine dining experience. Furthermore, watching teamwork and camaraderie in Meander’s Kitchen, is also truly wonderful. It doesn’t hurt that all the staff are equally spunky and rad! The only unfortunate part of my meal was becoming too stuffed to try their belgian style waffles! Their waffle menu alone is a testament of what unique creations you can find here! Two things to note, that the food does take a little while to get served – mainly because there in only one cook putting the plates out (while the team helps put the finishing touches on each plate and re-supplies the ingredients.) Credit and debit cards are also not accepted, so bring cash. While finishing up my meal and, I had an epiphany… I need to create a new category for my Toppings, best breakfast spots!  I am officially placing Meander’s Kitchen as my #2 Top Spot for Breakfasts and deservingly so! The portions are huge and the oil is in abundance, so if reading this blog is making you crave some greasy but delicious breakfast foods, then come through and dig in!

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Here is the menu for Irbille Edible’s July Pop-Up at Olivar in Seattle. Please call for reservations.

 

Pampagana

•Papaya Salad 8

papaya, radish,  mizuna, calamansi

• Kamatis Salad 8

heirloom tomatoes, red onions, crispy silver fish, cane vinegar

 Pagkaing Dagat

• Fried Talaba 12

fried pacific oyster, coconut rice,  grilled corn

• Scallop Sipo 16

seared scallops,  peas,  wallawalla onions, mushroom puree

• Gabi 15

coconut braised taro leaves, garlic prawns,  forbidden rice

 Carne

• Sisig 10

seared pork, arugula, mango

• Pork Adobo 10

braised pork belly,  leeks, garlic rice, adobo sauce

• Grilled Manok 10

grilled chicken, fava beans,  braised new potatoes, apritada sauce

• Grilled Baka 12

grilled sirloin steak, sautéed red onions, cherry tomatoes, toyomansi sauce

 Dulse

• HaloHalo 8

coconut granite, ube ice cream, strawberries, jackfruit, coconut cream

• Champorado 8

chocolate rice pudding, raspberry ice cream, hazelnut polvoron crumbs

 

 

10% of the dinner’s proceeds will benefit Noel House Programs.

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Cherry and I finally made it! Located in the Georgetown neighborhood of South Seattle, Katsu Burger specializes in Japanese influenced Katsu-style burgers. For anyone unfamiliar with the term katsu, it essentially means breaded and deep-fried. Traditionally, you can find tonkatsu (deep-fried and breaded pork cutlet) at Teriyaki restaurants and chicken katsu (chicken instead of pork) at Hawaiian restaurants. But what the heck is a katsu burger?! Exactly like it sounds, a breaded and deep-fried beef patty between two buns with a variety of Japanese influenced ingredients. I know… gluttony incarnate. Meats used here, are growth hormone and antibiotic free and their beef patties are all hand formed. It is a fairly small restaurant only seating about 20-people comfortably. The walls are brightly painted with Japanese-themed art and a large World map where visitors can pin where they’re from.

  

environmentally conscious!

The Food:

nori fries with wasabi mayo & miso honey mustard sauces

The nori (dried & seasoned seaweed) fries were a refreshing alternative to traditional salted fries. Seasoned nori has a nice balance of sweet and savory flavor, and atop the crispy fries, worked great. I personally love wasabi, but for those unfamiliar with the flavor, it is very similar to horseradish or Chinese hot mustard. So too much can definitely get your eyes watering! The wasabi mayo was well made – it carried a good strong flavor and was countered well by the mayo. Cherry’s favorite dipping sauce is honey mustard, so naturally she gravitated towards the miso honey mustard. The sauce had a very subtle miso undertone and overall was fairly sweet.

godzilla attack: fried beef patty, pepper jack cheese, jalapeños, spicy mayo & tonkatsu sauce

This burger was a behemoth! I mean just look at the picture!! Lettuce, tomato, red onion and pickles also added to the party, to provide a tower of goodness.  Cherry had to exercise the “hand smash” technique in order to fit a bite in. The first thing I noticed when biting in, was the spice. Since the jalapeños were layered on the bottom with the spicy mayo beneath the patty, you feel an immediate kick. The next thing I noticed was the beef patty. I don’t think meager is in Katsu Burger’s dictionary, because under the bun was a huge (what seemed like half-pound) beef patty that was breaded and deep-fried. I don’t know how they managed to stack everything between the two buns without requiring rebar throughout! The tonkatsu sauce, which in my opinion tastes somewhere between a tangy BBQ sauce and a sweet and sour sauce works well. You get a soft sweetness to each bite that isn’t as bright and tart as ketchup. Katsu burger was smart in adding this sauce to help offset the heat that comes with the jalapeños and spicy mayo. The one thing I would say about this burger, is that the katsu-style patty doesn’t work for me. Ground beef doesn’t hold the crunch very well and the breading lost it’s texture halfway through the burger. By the end, its texture was like a regular patty.

ninja deluxe:  fried pork cutlet, cheddar, bacon, japanese mayo & tonkatsu sauce

I love Ninjas! When I was little, I wanted to be one when I got older…  it’s still a possibility… So when it came to ordering, I had to go with the Ninja Deluxe burger! I feel this burger is a great example of American/Japanese Fusion.  Everything that that is loved about a bacon cheeseburger fused with the deep fried goodness of tonkatsu.  Katsu Burger really hit it outta the park with this one – the tonkatsu was fried perfectly with a dark golden brown color and a crunch that could be heard at the next table. The Japanese mayo added a nice creamy texture to everything and the tonkatsu sauce was perfect in blending everything together. Unlike the beef patty, the pork cutlet maintains great crunch and texture through the last bite. Unfortunately, the bacon, although present, was lost in translation. Writing this, I am surprised in not remembering the bacon flavor! I guess this is a great example of fighting fire with fire. Bacon, a normally with a strong flavored ingredient was unfortunately overtaken the only other force worthy and powerful enough to do so – deep-fried pork cutlet.

 

no names, just pictures

 

My Conclusion:

Off the beaten path and in an industrial part of the city, is the small and uniquely Seattle, Katsu Burger. If meat is not you’re cup of tea, tofu is also offered as an alternative. One thing that was nice to see here is that they will substitute any type of meat/tofu in any of their burgers at no charge. Aside from beef, pork, and tofu, chicken is also offered as an option. These days, you’d be hard pressed to find places that offer free substitutions. Also offered here, are uniquely flavored hand-dipped shakes. The special flavror at the time was green tea & pineapple. One word to describe it – amazing!  Despite the the katsu beef losing it’s crunch and lack of bacon flavor, I can easily overlook all that due to the overall impression Katsu Burger has made on my taste buds and my stomach. They are officially jumping into the #2 spot of my Toppings! The only thing keeping me making Katsu Burger part of my daily routine is my cholesterol level!

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Cherry and I finally went to a “Non All-You-Can-Eat” sushi place in Rumble Fish Sushi. Located on the top level of a small strip mall offAurora Ave North(across from Costco), you can easily drive past if you’re not carefully looking. As soon as we entered, we were immediately greeted and seated in one of the “private” rooms. The sushi bar is in the back of the restaurant and there was also a large flat-screen TV above and behind the bar set on ESPN.

The Food:

miso soup & salad

These two dishes are standard appetizers for any Japanese – think chips and salsa at a Mexican Restaurant. The element that  makes the salad is the dressing. The dressing  had a nice combination of sweet, savory and even smoky! Much better than the creamy and extremely sweet dressings you get at Teriyaki spots. The miso soup was what you’d expect: savory, soothing.

spicy tuna roll: spicy tuna, cucumber

Cherry’s favorite roll is the spicy tuna and this did not disappoint. The Tuna tasted fresh and the chef was generous with the spice – there was nice heat in each bite. One thing I enjoyed about the spicy tuna roll here at Rumble Fish was the adding of cucumber. In many places I’ve been to, the only filling used is the spicy tuna – in and of itself is already a winning ingredient. However, the simplicity of a cucumber really adds great flavor and texture, which can help cut through the spice and adds a subtle crunch.

tempura shrimp roll: shrimp tempura, crab meat, cucumber, & avocado

 This is a very popular and safe choice for those squeamish about eating raw fish. The only thing raw in this roll is the cucumber and avocado – the shrimp is fried in tempura batter.  There is a tasty creamy blend of flavors between the tempura shrimp, crab and avocado. Unfortunately, there was a lack of crunch you would expect to find with tempura shrimp. Nonetheless, all the flavors work very well together.

seattle roll: fresh salmon, cream cheese, cucumber, avocado

If I was given the task of creating a “bite” of food that represented the city of Seattle, the Seattle roll would be it. The fresh salmon and cream cheese make for a very enjoyable bite with the cucumber and avocado adding creamy and crunchy texture. The flavor profile of a Seattle roll is not as bright as a spicy tuna due to the natural subtleness salmon and cream cheese carry.

uni sushi

This was my first time ordering uni (sea urchin gonads), and needless to say, I was like a kid eagerly waiting his/her first day of school as I waited to try it.  I’ve definitely had my fair share of fin fish sashimi/sushi such as tunas,salmon, saba, and unagi. Tako (octopus) is even one of my favorites as well. However, I consider Uni on another level of sushi – simply because it is not as common as the other types of sushi and you generally only find it at more traditional sushi restaurants. It can be a little intimidating upon first glance if you’ve never seen it before. It looks like an orangish-yellow sponge atop rice and wrapped in nori. I just dove in! The first thing I noticed was the gelatinous and creamy texture. It was very different from anything I’ve ever eaten. After the texture, I noticed the flavor (or lack there of), it did not have a fishy flavor at all. It was very fresh – think fresh seawater minus the saltiness. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed it and will definitely order it again!

My Conclusion:

My overall dining experience was good. The service was polite and prompt and the sushi was fresh. I was able to step out of the common sushi goers level and into the next tier with the not so common uni! They also have a very enticing happy hour menu that is offered daily from 9pm until close. On a highway with what seems like thousands of restaurants, diners, and food options, Rumble fish definitely made some noise!

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Cherry and I are always looking for great breakfast joints and having read a lot of positive things about Geraldine’s Counter, we decided to come here for a Sunday Brunch. Located in the heart of Columbia City, Geraldine’s Counter sits right on the corner of Rainer Ave S and S Ferdinant St. As we approached, the first thing we noticed was the mob of people waiting outside for a table… a bitter-sweet scenario for someone that’s already hungry! The interior is very bright with an abundance of windows providing ample natural light. There is a very modern feel to this diner, due to the brightly painted walls and simple tables and chairs. Also throughout the diner, there are many paintings for sale by various artists.

 

 

The Food:

 

biscuits and gravy: homemade biscuits topped with pork sausage gravy, served with two eggs any style and hash browns

The star of this dish was definitely the gravy. There was rich flavors from the chunks of sausage and seasonings with great consistancy. The hearty biscuit did a wonderful job soaking in all the gravy goodness and also had a rich buttery flavor even without any gravy. The scrambled eggs and hashbrowns were done well and did a good job complimenting this dish.

 

geraldine’s casserole: hash browns, sausage, pepperjack, cheddar, eggs and cream layered with pico de gallo & served with toast

Whenever I think of breakfast, the things that come to mind are usually; eggs, hashbrowns, sausage, pancakes and waffles – not a casserole. So when I saw Geraldine’s Casserole on the menu, which embodied all those breakfast staples (minus the pancakes/waffles), it just made sense to order it! Served in a small casserole dish, it looked delicious –  almost a sin to dig into it! Under that top layer of egg was a very nice blend of sausage, pepperjack, hashbrowns and cream. Everything came together well, but one thing I would have liked to see was more sausage. Topping the casserole was a melted layer of chedder and fresh pico de gallo. I love pico de gallo by itself, and in this case, it added a nice kick of fresh and bright flavor!

 

strawberry & banana coffee cake

The homemade coffee cake was delicious. It had a good crunchy top layer and a moist and warm inside. The fresh strawberries and banana really made this coffee cake pop. Everything about this was great!

 

My Conclusion:

What’s awesome about Geraldine’s Counter is that they serve breakfast all day! Who doesn’t enjoy having breakfast for dinner from time to time!? But breakfast isn’t the only thing done well here. There is also a large lunch and dinner menu as well – offering diner favorites. At the end of the day, I can confindently say Geraldine’s Counter is a spot worth coming to… again… and again.

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