Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for August, 2012

Irbille Edible’s August Pop-Up will marked his last Pop-Up of the Summer season. It also marked a continued partnership with Noel House Programs in that he donated 10% of the dinner’s proceeds to local Seattle Women in need.

new look to the menu

The Food:

calabasa: summer squash, fried blossom, longanisa sarsa  $10

The squash was nicely cooked with texture that wasn’t too soft and wasn’t too hard. The longanisa sarsa was the element of this dish that really shined through. It had a nice deep and salty flavor that highlighted the squash and did not overpower. Despite being deep fried, the blossom was light and airy. If all vegetable dishes were prepared this way – I may consider crossing into the dark side and becoming vegetarian!

 

 

gabi: garlic prawns, coconut braised taro leaves, forbidden rice  $16

The prawns were plump and perfectly prepared. Each bite of the prawn was flavorful with an ideal firm texture and as the dishes focal point, they were pleasant to look at. This was my first time eating braised taro leaves and I thoroughly enjoyed it. They brought a deep earthy flavor that contrasted nicely to the more bright flavors of the prawns. This was also my first time eating forbidden rice, and if I were to take a blind-taste test between it, and white rice – it’d be a toss up. However, texturally, forbidden rice grains are a little larger and rounder than calrose or jasmine rice – it reminds me almost like an arborio rice.

 

nanay’s adobo: braised pork, leeks, poached egg, garlic rice, adobo  $14

If you’re going to serve an item advertised as adobo in a Filipino Pop-up/Restaurant, then you’d better be sure you’re bringing your A-game. From a flavor profile’s standpoint, Chef Irbille and his team was on point. The braised pork was tender and there was no missing the soy sauce and vinegar flavors that are staples in this dish. I wasn’t able to make out the leeks however- they were unfortunately masked beneath the strong and bold flavors of the pork adobo. Adding a subtle creamy flavor to everything was the egg yolk – from the perfectly poached egg. The one critique I will have for this dish is regarding the portion size – which was very small for my liking. Generously gauging, there may have been two-tablespoons of pork between the rice and egg. Our dinner party consisted of three – Cherry and I as well as Cherry’s 11-year old god-daughter. Each of us literally had 1-spoon full of the dish before it was gone.

 

My Conclusion:

Chef Irbille has always created and served wonderfully flavorful & delicious dishes. He continues to present great interpretations of Filipino Classics while still paying homage to the originals. Having been to six of his Pop-Up’s I can honestly say that he is growing in his creativity and plating. That being said, as your average consumer, I am unaccustomed to the world of fine dining – which Chef Irbille and his Pop-Up’s border on. Though presented beautifully and with fresh and local ingredients, I find his dishes are little overpriced for the amount of food served. In order to walk out on a full stomach, be prepared to shell out $40-$50 per person – which may be little to some, but as a monthly supporter of Chef Irbille and his Pop-Ups, my pockets are on fire.

Read Full Post »

Located on Capitol Hill, Chino’s is a refreshing spot that fits nicely in a very eccentric and diverse area of Seattle. Self advertised as an Urban Tiki House & Taiwanese Cantina, Chino’s serves both Taiwanese & Mexican comfort foods and offers a huge drink list specializing in Tiki drinks. One could easily miss this place due to the window signs being obscured by trees and the sign in front being small. The first thing I noticed was the large mural painted on the front wall – there is no mistaking the Mexican and “L.A.” influenced décor throughout. A decent sized bar with a few tables and stools are the second thing that greets you, followed by an open kitchen and open dining floor that fills the rest of the restaurant.

beacon of color

 

The Food:

 

 

lonchera tacos: pork, cilantro, onion & salsa $2 each (happy hour special)

 The tacos were tasty and the pork had good savory flavors of the seasonings and onions it was cooked in. The elements that really make these tacos are the fresh onions and cilantro. These two simple ingredients really brighten up each bite and add great contrast to the flavors of the meat.

 

 

gua bao platter:  pork belly buns, with pickled mustard greens, cilantro & crushed sweet peanuts $9

 If you haven’t tried the gua bao from Chino’s then you haven’t lived! The braised pork belly was full of rich savory flavors and the greens countered wonderfully with a bright pickled crunch. Cilantro always adds a nice element and dept of flavor and the sweet peanuts acted like the cherry atop of beautiful sundae! Cherry initially mistook the peanuts for brown sugar because of how fine they were ground! The bowl that held this sundae together was the bun – which also had a perfect balance of being able to hold all the ingredients together without losing integrity but soft enough to really help meld all the great flavors and textures together.

 

zha jiang mein: spicy “Chinese spaghetti” – minced pork, hot bean paste, sweet bean sauce, over noodles $11

 Growing up, I always had the spoiled privilege to have my Nai Nai’s (grandma’s) homemade zha jiang mein. Pretty much every week when I visited, as soon as I’d step in the house she’d have a huge plate for me fresh off the stove! Needless to say my Nai Nai’s zhai jiang mein was the best in the entire World! Having experienced the best, I can honestly say Chino’s did a might fine job with their version. The hot bean paste and sweet bean sauce combine nicely to provide a very rich, savory and almost smoky flavor that left me wanting another bowl. The pork had good flavor and the julienned cucumbers added a nice visual touch to the bowl and provided a subtle crunch of freshness. One also major plus here is their use of fresh noodles – unlike dried/boxed noodles, fresh noodles are wonderful in soaking up the flavors of the sauce.

 rice bowl of the day: pork spare ribs over rice, pickled vegetables, braised egg $12

 Cherry opted for the rice bowl and she initially asked for chicken, but our server (who happened to also be the owner) suggested the special of the day – pork spare ribs. The plate had a generous serving of ribs over a bed of rice and also a nice side of pickled cauliflower, cucumber and jalapenos. One thing I especially enjoyed with this dish was the addition of a halved lu dan (roasted egg.) Lu dan is a common food in Chinese culture typically served as an appetizer with roasted beef shank and pig ears. The pork had a nice smokey flavor and was falling of the bone tender. I have never had pickled cauliflower, but after trying it here, I can say I enjoyed it very much. The pickled veggies were excellent in adding a bright note to the overall dish and lu dan served here also had deep flavors of soy sauce and spices.

viking fog cutter: cruzan light rum, voyager gin, hennessy, orgeat, orange, lemon, sound spirits aquavit float $11

 I decided to partake in one of their specialty Tiki drinks and asked the owner if there was one that he liked over the rest. He suggested the Viking Fog Cutter which he stated was a lighter drink with citrus accents and fairly strong. Sounded like something down my alley so I ordered it. He was very meticulous in preparing the drink – carefully measuring each ingredient and making sure everything was perfect. The verdict… everything was exactly that! The drink had nice bright flavors with a subtle hint of sours that I enjoyed. It was deceptively strong – not a overpowering flavor of the alcohol but after one drink, I was definitely feeling good.

My Conclusion:

 To me, Chino’s has a winning recipe: clean, delicious comfort foods influenced by Taiwanese & Mexican cultures, strong drinks, very friendly staff and reasonable prices. If it weren’t for the brightly painted sandwich board sign out front, one could easily walk past this urban oasis that is, Chino’s.

 

Read Full Post »

Cherry and I stopped by Patz Pies as we began our drive from Kona to Na’Alehu. Located off Mamalahoa Hwy, Patz Pies is on the bottom floor of a small commercial building with a bakery next door. There is a very relaxed feel inside with a small patio in the back that overlooks the ocean. We didn’t order a whole pie, but instead ordered by the slice. Despite the written menu only offering three options of by the slice (cheese, veggie, pepperoni,) when asked, the girl said they could make any slice we wanted 🙂

 

the menu and front counter

 

 

The Food:

 

island style: ham, pineapple $3.50

Seeing as how we were already in Hawaii, it was fitting to name this pizza island style! I think there is a popular saying along the lines, “Once you go fresh pineapple on a pizza, you never go back…” After eating this, I can’t go back to eating the stuff on the mainland! Fresh pineapple has a sweetness and flavor that you just compare to the canned variety – that usually tastes like it’s been injected with sugar water. The subtleness of the pineapple worked wonderfully with the thick cut ham that was piled on. The cheese and sauce was minimal which really helped bring out the flavors of the toppings. The crust had great texture and crunch and was perfect in bringing everything together.

 

the killer: pepperoni, sausage, meatball, mushrooms, bell peppers, onions $3.50

 With a name like The Killer, it was a no-brainer to order this slice. The ingredients all went nicely together to provide great bite – the meats were savory and the onions and bell peppers added a countering bite. Again the sauce and cheese was minimal allowing the ingredients to shine. I really enjoyed the crust these pies, the crunch and char gave it characteristics of being from a wood fire oven.

 

My Conclusion:

It’s always great stumbling upon nice little spot that offers great food when you least expect it. With our stomachs growling and a long drive ahead of us, Patz Pies was that much needed rest stop in the middle of nowhere!

Read Full Post »

I wasn’t joking in my previous post when I said we came here twice in two days… this place is that good! For this visit, Cherry and I both tried the poke bowls which consist of 1/3 lb. of poke, one scoop of rice and a choice of side.

 

The Food:

shoyu poke (ahi, shoyu, green onion, onion), white rice, seaweed salad $9.50

Shoyu poke is a traditional style of poke in Hawaii. The simple ingredients do a wonderful job enhancing the natural and delicate flavors of the ahi. Da Poke Shack doesn’t lie when they promote their foods as, “Always fresh, never frozen.” The ahi was amazingly fresh and most likely brought in that very morning. Unfortunately the poke was too salty for my taste – some shoyu’s are saltier than others. I was still able to taste the freshness of the ahi, but it was tragically overshadowed by the shoyu sauce. The seaweed salad is of the typical variety you can find in most restaurants and grocery stores – bright flavors and very green!

 

pele’s kiss (ahi, spicy sauce, onion, green onion) white rice, seaweed salad $9.50

 Pele’s kiss was very good! The spicy sauce had creamy texture with great kick and reminded me like a spicy tuna roll (without the rice and nori.) The onions added a countering texture that balanced the ahi very well and provided a bright crunch. This was one of my favorite flavors offered at Da Poke Shack. For anyone unfamiliar with Hawaiian religion, Pele refers to the goddess of wind, fire, lightning and volcanoes… needless to say we were touched by a goddess 🙂

 

My Conclusion:

If my reviews and pictures of Da Poke Shack haven’t prompted you to book for the next flight to Kona, Hawaii then maybe these pictures will. I dabble in photography whenever I can 😉

 

kona side sunset

hibiscus in alii garden market, kona hi

Read Full Post »

Aloha from the Big Island of Hawaii! Cherry and I were only here for a few days so we did not have as much time as we would have liked to indulge in the wonderful world of local food! The one place we did go to, (twice in two days!) was Da Poke Shack. Poke which is Hawaiian for, “to cut,” is an appetizer traditionally consisting of chopped raw ahi (yellowfin tuna) mixed with onion, green onion, shoyu (soy) and sesame oil. It’s a very delicious and savory dish that is extremely popular in Hawaii. Located in Kona in small parking lot on Alii Dr. – if it wasn’t for the small sign on the side of the road, it would be virtually invisible from all passersby.  The shop is small with only two benches outside for seating, however you don’t come to Da Poke Shack for the seating, you come for the fresh ahi!

entrance of da shack!

 the menu

 fresh poke selection

 fresh sides

 

The Food: 

spicy tako poke: tako, garlic, sesame, chili’s, onion $9.99/lb.

Tako (octopus) poke is one of my favorites! It was extremely fresh the ideal textured balanace of firm yet chewy. They used the perfect mix of chili’s, sesame and garlic to provide savory and bright flavors that really pop! The spice level was also on point – subtle enough to not overpower any of the other ingredients, but present enough to leave your lips and taste buds with some nice heat.

poke bowl: hawaiian style poke (ahi, sweet sauce, crushed macadamia nuts, green onion), white rice, seaweed salad $9.50

The sweet sauce did a great blending all the ingredients and flavors together and crushed macadamia nuts added a good textural component to the poke. Again, this poke was impeccably fresh and delicious!

lau lau plate: steamed pork butt & butterfish wrapped in tea and banana leaves, white rice, & kimchi mussels 8.99

Lau lau is one of my favorite local dishes. The pork was  full of flavor and extremely tender – literally falling apart on its own. The tea leaves and banana leaves provided an earthy saltiness to everything that works well in bringing out the natrual flavors of the pork and butterfish. The side of kimchi mussels was amazing! The spice level wasn’t overbearing but left you feeling the spicy after taste and wanting more.

 

My Conclusion: 

The prices are very reasonable for the quality and portions of food offered here. As far as I’m concerned, I could eat here everyday and never get tired of it. And no, we didn’t order all this food There’s a large variety of sides that you can choose from for your meal and an even larger variety of poke! I really wish I could have tried their Pipi Kaula which is a Hawaiian style marinated dried beef. They also have many other flavors of poke that we just didn’t have enough room for in our stomachs!

Read Full Post »

Cherry and I were in the North Lynnwood area and found a nice and newer restaurant called, Indigo Kitchen and Ale House. As soon as we entered, the hostess greeted us and sat us at our table with our menus. The interior was dimly lit and decorated with dark colors and accents of blue. Being that it was still early in the evening, there was still plenty of sunlight coming through the two full walls of windows. There is also a large bar on one side of the restaurant featuring 20 different beers on tap as well as a large selection of cocktails and liquor.

The Food:

baby back ribs with sweet potato fries and spicy slaw $16.99

meaty and sweet potato goodness

When this plate came out, Cherry’s eyes glistened and grew like a kid on Christmas morning. This half-rack of ribs was huge and the amount of meat on them is comparable to the amount of a full rack at other restaurants. The meat was moist, tender and really did fall off the bone! There was also great rich flavors throughout with some extra housemade rootbeer bbq sauce on the side for dipping. The rootbeer bbq sauce was very sweet and didn’t carry much tanginess or kick  like a traditional bbq sauce. Nevertheless the ribs alone were awesome – generously portioned and finger licking good! If that wasn’t good enough, the sweet potato fries that it came with almost outshined everything! These fries were unlike any other sweet potato fries I have ever had – there was substance! These were thickly cut, fried perfectly and minimully seasoned to really bring out the sweet potato flavor. Each bite gave a very soft and almost creamy flavor that reminded me of warm pumpkin pie but there was also a nice crunch that came from being fried.

 

 beer battered fish and chips with spicy slaw $13.99

If you’ve been following my blog, then you can probably recognize that I am a sucker for some good ‘ol fish and chips. But who isn’t!? Two importants things I look for in fish and chips (aside from great crunch) is fresh and clean tasting fish. Being fresh is fairly self-explanatory, but what do I mean by tasting clean? Simply put, clean tasting fish doesn’t taste (or smell) fishy. Ever smelled last night’s fish or seafood that’s been reheated in the microwave? Not clean. Ever eaten a piece of fresh sashimi? Clean. But back to the fish and chips… served with three decent sized pieces of cod, a plate of fries and spicy slaw, this reasonably priced dish definitely will fill you up. The batter was light, crunchy and maintained good bite even with the squeezed lemon atop. Not only were these pieces of fish fresh and clean, they also had a light quality to them – no residual oils dripping from of out of the fish. The natural cut fries were seasoned lighly and tasted good and this dish was also served with spicy slaw. What I enjoyed most about the spicy slaw is the nice balance of heat and creamy tartness.

 

My Conclusion:

With a darker and minimally decorated interior, Indigo is one of the better restaurants Cherry and I have been to. Whether you’re stopping by for a quick drink, enjoying their delicious happy hour menu or feasting on their plates that could fulfill the heartiest of appetites, there is something for everyone here.

Read Full Post »

With a constant hankerin’ for sushi, Cherry and I decided to try Edina Sushi in Lynnwood off 44th Ave W. We came in on Sunday evening and it was pretty slow – only 3 other parties inside. The servers were very polite and immediately greeted, seated and given our menus. It is a quiet restaurant that can accommodate 40-50 patrons and has a single flat screen TV above the sushi bar. Looking around, it is very clear that all the fixtures and furniture is old and worn – from the sushi bar to the carpet.

sushi bar

The Food:

spicy tuna roll $4.95

The spicy tuna roll was mediocre at best. I personally prefer a sushi roll filling that has chucks of fish you can see and taste – especially a fish like tuna! Edina isn’t the only place that serves a spicy tuna roll like this; spicy tuna filling that looks like a purée or even paste. No texture from the fish whatsoever – the only elements giving this roll any texture was the cucumber for crunch and avocado for a firmer creamy texture and flavor. The spice was mild and the big thing I noticed is that they did not use sushi rice! Sushi rice differs from regular rice in that it is mixed (or cooked) with rice wine vinegar giving it a nice subtle sweetness that is milder and less acidic than regular vinegar. It is key to sushi and it was lost here.

spider roll $7.95

too much sauce

saturated and broken

I wasn’t impressed and quiet honestly, disappointed with the spider roll served here. The biggest critique I have is with the overuse of ponzu sauce. Each piece was sitting in what seemed like a puddle of ponzu sauce, and for good measure, more was squirted atop the entire presentation. As a result, having soaked up all the sauce, the deep fried soft shell crab had no crunch or texture at all, the batter was soggy, and the nori fell apart when you tried picking up a piece. On top of that, the ponzu sauce (which normally has a sweet and tart flavor) had a smoky and almost bitter flavor to it.

 

sushi l-r: saba $4.95, suzuki $4.95, aji $5.50

The first thing I wanted to point out is that their menu says aji sushi is Spanish mackerel. However, upon further research, I found that Spanish mackerel is actually called sawara. In Japanese, aji refers to horse mackerel. Nevertheless, they’re both mackerels and they were both fresh and tasty. I wasn’t able to notice a flavor or textural difference between the two mackerels. The only difference was visually, the aji was a dark pink and the saba was a lighter peach color. The suzuki also had a very clean and fresh flavor. Here at Edina, the sushi chef topped each piece of sushi with shoga (grated ginger) and negi (green onions) instead of putting some wasabi between the rice and fish. Both options add a nice level of flavors but I prefer the strong and bold wasabi to the bright and light flavors of the shoga and negi. Unfortunately, again, sushi rice wasn’t used.

chicken teriyaki $10.95

This place was presented nicely with a generous portion of chicken. The salad was tasty and I enjoyed their dressing. It tasted like a vinaigrette of some kind – light with a subtle tanginess to it. The chicken was nicely grilled and the teriyaki sauce was also very tasty. Not too sweet and not too tangy. The sauce was squirted atop all the chicken and for me, that was the perfect amount. However, there was also a hidden pool of teriyaki sauce underneath all the chicken that I didn’t enjoy so much. For me, good teriyaki is about the perfectly marinated and grilled meat with a touch of additional teriyaki sauce as an accent – not the dousing of teriyaki sauce over everything. This itself is the blasphemous to essence of Japanese cooking – simplicity.

My Conclusion:

 The only real thing that stood out was their service – prompt and polite. Edina made a nice effort to provide tasty sushi and teriyaki but fell short. Their overuse of sauce in the spider roll and teriyaki negatively overshadowed the entire meal.  In a region that’s packed with sushi restaurants, Edina just can’t compete. The prices are fair but in this case, you do in fact, get what you pay for.

Read Full Post »