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This past Saturday, my family and I were passing through Seattle and decided to stop by the Seattle Street Food Festival. Located on 9th Ave between John and Republican, both sides of the street were lined with food trucks/carts along with local craft booths. With a game plan set, Cherry and I would split everything we order, allowing us to sample more. In this case, we opted for quantity over quality!

 

 

The Food:

 

• People of the Chubbs

 

 

 people of the chubbs

philly cheese flauta $5

philly cheese flauta $5

The People of the Chubbs truck was the first spot we stopped at. The menu was briefly up while they set up and I immediately knew what I wanted! The flauta was crispy and the filling had decent flavor. I enjoyed the Worcestershire pepper aioli as well, which brought a nice vinegary balance to the rich cheeses and meat. I was however, quite disappointed with the serving size. I did notice as they were setting up, a worker changed the price from $8 to $5, which I’m assuming was the price for two. Now you get one flauta for $5 which is overpriced. Being a chubby kid and ordering from a truck with “Chubbs” in the name, I thought I was making the right choice. I was wrong. They should change their name to, “People of the Slims.”

 

 

• Picnic

 

picnic

jamaican meat pie $5

jamaican meat pie $5

The Picnic food truck had a unique looking cart that was decorated like a picnic table and offered a couple different hoagies. They also offered a Jamaican meat pie which was their “$5 dollar item.” This meat pie was filled was filled with “Jamaican” seasoned ground beef and some peppers. The pastry was well made with a firm and flaky crust. With the beef, I tasted more curry than anything and it lacked the spice you’d associate with Jamaican foods. This was more of a curry ground beef empanada. I forgot to ask for a business card and can’t seem to find a website for them. If anyone has their contact info, please pass it along in my comments!

 

 

 

Bomba Fushion

 

bomba truck

bibimbap burrito with beef bulgogi $8.49

bibimbap burrito with beef bulgogi $8.49

I think I have a weakness for fushion foods, with Korean + Mexian fusions are my kryptonite – enter Bomba Fusion. Natrually, I ordered the bibimbap burrito. It was well made with each element (rice, spinach, carrots, bean sprouts, zucchini, gochujang) playing off each other nicely. The bulbogi was perfectly grilled to add that hearty sweetness that you look for. If you wanted to opt out of a meat/tofu filling you could save yourself $1. Personally, I could have used a little more gochujang, which is a fermented spicy chili paste. Bomba fusion is also generous in letting you add a fried egg at no extra charge. Did we add it? Duh!

 

 

• Full Tilt

strawberry bar $3

strawberry bar $3

Here’s Rylie chowin’ down on a strawberry bar before leaving. I thought it was too sweet but Rylie had no complaints.

 

My Conclusion:

We had a great time meandering up and down 9th Ave checking out the different foods and crafts. There was quite a large variety of food trucks/carts there offering foods from many different cultures. It was also nice we got there early eliminating the long lines often associated with food trucks. I was slightly disappointed when our favorite food truck, which shall remain unnamed, wasn’t in attendance on Saturday… They were there on Sunday though 😦

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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!

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Making its debut last night, Kraken Congee is the newest addition to Seattle’s pop-up scene – started by a trio of local chefs; Tyler Robinson and Garrett Doherty of The Ruins, and Irbille Donia of Ray’s. According to an article by the Seattle Met,  the three of them met at culinary school and since then have come together to create this new venture.

kraken.welcome

the kraken welcomes you

kraken.essentials

the essentials

The Food:

kraken.beeftongue

 steamed bun, beef tongue, apple fennel kimchee $8

The bun was soft and the beef tongue was clean and tender. The apple kimchee was bright with nice crunch, but I would have liked it to have had  much bolder spice and pickled flavors.

kraken.squidink

 squid ink congee, pork stuffed squid tubes, ginger, thai chilis, fried shallots, roasted peanut, cilantro $ 15

If it weren’t for the cilantro sprinkled atop, this bowl of congee looked visually… meh. Unfortunately, there isn’t any color in a cooked squid tube and the squid link ladled around, looked like a pen broke in someone‘s pant pocket. The pork stuff squid was cooked well and provided the majority of the “heft” to this bowl. The thai chilis brought a satisfying heat to my lips and the roasted peanuts provided a subtle crunch to each bite. The ginger also provided an additional layer of flavor to the bowl. Lost in the mix, were the shallots

kraken.dunkconfit

xo congee, five spice duck confit, cracklings, bok choy, egg yolk $15

This bowl looked very appealing – more so than the squid ink congee. The bok coy was rich and green  while the bright egg yolk sat wide-eyed, asking to be opened like a gift on Christmas morning. The duck confit was seasoned well (though I’m not sure I got a full duck leg… more like ½ a leg)and the egg yolk provided a creamy richness to the bowl. The cracklings were savory and worked well with the other ingredients. I did have the unappetizing pleasure of biting into a piece of star anise that wasn’t removed… which has a flavor of black licorice.

kraken.chefs

the chefs

My Conclusion:

In terms of turnout, this pop-up was a success – it was a packed house when we entered and people were still coming in as we left. I think these three are onto something great! I also really like the idea of shining light on an Asian staple that is, congee. Growing up in a Chinese household, congee was a regular for me. I especially love the plethora ingredients and side dishes you can add to each bowl. When it comes down to it, congee is just porridge of rice and water. The things you add in it or on top of it are what give it flavor and appeal – so I have a tough time wrapping my head around are the steep prices. I place congee in the same category as pho (minus the hours spent making the broth.) They’re both satisfying on a cold day, provide big flavors, perfect for the morning after a night on the town, and cheap! … Well sorta… A $15 bowl of congee is like a $20 bowl of pho.

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Hey everyone! This week is the start of Seattle Restaurant Week. My first experience with Restaurant Week was back in April where I went to Monsoon Seattle. What is it exactly? Well it’s a two-week event where more than 150 of restaurants in and around Seattle offer 3-course lunches for $15 and 3-course dinners for $28! It’s an amazing deal because the majority of these restaurants are on the higher end of dining and there are many fine dining restaurants as well. This is an excellent and very affordable opportunity to try some restaurants outside of the norm and experience some new things!

It runs from Oct. 14-25 (excluding Friday, Saturday, and Sunday Brunch) and you can find the list of participating restaurants here.

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This blog is a few weeks old but it’s ok… because these things don’t spoil 🙂  Seattle Underground Market  (SUM) is an underground event for foodies to come try adventurous new dishes. The unique thing about this event is that all the food is created and prepared by up and coming businesses/restaurants – not yet established. There was a post in a Seattle Weekly blog that referred to it as, “…a food truck rodeo on training wheels…”  There was also an extra sense of exclusivity because the website made very clear that patrons must sign up to be members in order to attend. It felt like I was joining some secret society of underground foodies… kind of like the movie, The Skulls, minus the dreamy Paul Walker and Joshua Jackson. There is a $5 entrance fee and all the bite-sized dishes range from $2 – $5.  After much anticipation, the location of the event was emailed the night before, which turned out to be a secret warehouse in…. Redmond?!

the warehouse

early crowd

The Food:

fresh mung bean salad via bengali gourmet $2

This salad tasted very fresh and had clean flavors. The mung beans themselves carried a dull  and somewhat grainy flavor but the cucumber and tomato really brightened the dish up while also having a subtle bite from the red onion.

mango in spicy habanero sauce via bengali gourmet $2

There were nice countering flavors with the sweet mangos and spicy sauce, but I would have liked it to have a little more heat – especially because habaneros are not to be fooled with!

coffee crusted pork belly, arugula & balsamic aioli sliders via migs 2 for $2

Paying $2 for 2 pork belly sliders sounds like a deal, but after tasting them, the deal wasn’t so great. The pork looked tender before cutting and you can definitely see the coffee crust on the outer layer, but the they only put a miniscule amount of meat in each slider. The pork was flavorless and I couldn’t taste the coffee, leaving me a mouthful of slider bun, arugula and balsamic aioli.

 argentinean empanadas $3 each

Cherry and I bought two empanadas; the beef and the ham & cheese (very Argentinean.) The beef  was flavorful with onions and other seasonings. It almost had a Mediterranean flavor with the olives they put in the filling too. The ham & cheese wasn’t anything special – it tasted like deep fried hot pocket. Unfortunately for others, shortly after our order, they were sold out completely.

chilled noodle salad via noodle street $3

This was one of the more popular stations with a constant line the whole time we were there. It was also one of the better values in my opinion. It’s essentially a vermicelli bowl with your choice of ingredients. We went with chicken and the works (chili-lime vinaigrette, cilantro, green onion, pickled mustard greens, curry sauce, chili peppers and a crispy wonton.) After mixing everything together, the flavors came together nicely. Cherry was skeptical about the curry sauce because she’s not a fan of it… but she enjoyed it and was one of her favorite selections of the night.

seafood stew $2

By the time we got to this station, pickins’ were slim. Everyone at this station was working harder than they needed to. There was a woman scooping rice into the bowl using a regular plastic spoon… the kind you use at a picnic. Nothing wrong with that, but why not use a bigger spoon once rather than 4 little scoops with a small spoon? The man behind the station was literally using a tablespoon-sized ladle as he meticulously ladled about five or six scoops of soup per bowl. Some adjustments in efficiency would be beneficial and make their lives much easier…but I won’t knock how they choose to work. The stew was very flavorful – the roux was rich and all the meat inside was very tender. It had chunks of sausage, chicken, shrimp and even a  piece of crab all over a small bed of rice – it gave flavors of a gumbo but not as thick.

sabich via herbivoracious $3

This was the last station I visited and happened to be a new thing I’ve never heard of; sabich. Sabich is a traditional Israeli sandwich of fried eggplant and hard boiled egg in a pita.  In bite-sized fashion, these were pita triangles with the a slice of eggplant and a slice of hard boiled egg. Along with that, they also topped it with hummus, tahina, and Israeli salad of dill pickle, onion, and pickled mango. This one bite  had extremely fresh flavors. The eggplant, hummus and hard boiled egg all gave a creamy texture that was balanced by crunch and flavors of  the pickled dill and mangos. This was probably my favorite item of the event and it was vegetarian! Who woulda thought…?

My Conclusion:

As it’s debut, SUM did some things well but also has room for improvement. First off, seeing as how it’s called Seattle Underground Market , it would have been nice to have it in Seattle… somewhere… anywhere! But I won’t hold space availability against them. Second, the so-called members only security check consisted of a “yes or no” question. No real check of whether you were in fact a member or not. Not a huge deal to me, but don’t stress the importance of being a “member,” if there isn’t going to be a legitimate check… just sayin’! The last point of improvement and most important, is to make sure there’s enough food to go around! Several booths were sold out just 1-hour into the event, which is good for the seller, not so good for the consumer. As a result, the already long lines grew longer due to the shrinking supply and growing demand. That being said, the things I did enjoy was the variety of foods offered. I was able to try some things that I’ve never had and the event was also vegetarian and vegan friendly. If I recall correctly, the options for vegans and vegetarians was almost equal to the carnivorous options. All in all, SUM is a nice medium with good potential for people looking to get into the food industry scene.

For more info on the upcoming SUM event or how to become a vender, check out their site here.

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Continuing on from my previous post…

After a food-coma inducing lunch, fast forward 5-hours where we meet up with our cousins and hit up the Summer Night Market (not to be confused with Richmond Night Market.) They are open in the summer months from May until September every Friday & Saturday from 7pm – 12am and on Sundays 7pm-11pm. Located in the industrial part of Richmond, right on the banks of the Fraser River is a foodie’s and bazaar lover’s paradise – literally countless booths of both food and goods. You could be eating a plate of BBQ squid while shopping for hand-knit beanies from Ecuador, cell phone covers, socks and jewelry, then turn around  and watch local musicians and performers showcase their talents on the main stage. One year they even had a “Reptile Man” with live snakes, lizards and other reptiles and amphibians on display!

entrance into a foodie’s playland

The Food:

 top wok

chow mein & assorted dim sum $6.50

 

Strictly on portion size to price, the chow mein plate at Top Work is the best deal in the market. You get a gigantic portion of freshly made chow mein and four pieces of fresh dim sum (2 shao mai & 2 xia jiao.) The chow mein is simple and fresh. From a flavor standpoint, nothing fancy just soy sauce and some veggies but the fact that you can see everything being prepared and cooked before you is very appealing. Their dim sum is also tasty and filling. The xia jiao or shrimp dumpling wrappers were perfect – translucent but thick enough to maintain integrity and not break upon picking up. Both the shao mai and xia jiao were flavorful and ample meat filling – much better than some restaurants that specialize in solely dim sum. There’s an option of having “non-spicy” or “spicy” sauce brushed atop before they serve you. I went with “spicy” but it lacked the heat I was looking for, hence the drizzling of Sriracha sauce.

the original hurricane fries

potato preppin’

parmesan garlic/white cheddar  1 for $3 or 2 for $5

 cherry gettin’ ready to chow down 

One of the more visually interesting and appealing things offered here. A hurricane fry is literally a whole potato that’s been skewered and then cranked through, for lack of a better word, spiral looper and then deep fried. You then get a choice of about 15 different flavors of which they dip the outside layer in. The result, a freshly made potato chip that was literally a whole potato five-minutes prior. These hurricane fries are thickly cut and fried perfectly – providing a crunch but also maintaining a soft middle. You can choose two different flavors for each potato, we happened to go with milder white cheddar &  bolder more savory parmesan garlic – which resulted in a delicious combination.

ef . tee

crispy pork belly crepe 1 for $4 or 3 for $10

When I think of a crepe, I think of a light and slightly sweetened batter that is evenly cooked and thin with various fillings wrapped inside. At ef.tee,  they took a different approach using a chinese pancake – slightly thicker and more savory. If you asked me, it looked more like a taco. The filling used was a combination of crispy pork belly, sautéed bean sprouts and a little hoisen sauce underneath. The pork belly was tender and moist while the skin had excellent crunch and provided a great bite. The combination of meat, bean sprouts, and hoisen sauce reminded me of mu shu – immediately being transported back to my my childhood when my grandmother would make it for family dinners. Despite some misleading wordings, the final critics are the taste buds, and these critics were thoroughly pleased.

dan dan’s smokehouse

firin’ it up!

 beef enoki 3 for $3 or 6 for $5

At Dan Dan’s Smokehouse, they were serving a variety of BBQ influenced comfort foods; pulled pork sandwhich, nachos, BBQ turkey legs and beef enoki? Aiming to try something unique and not commonly found, I went with the beef enoki. Enoki mushrooms wrapped in short ribs and grilled on a cast iron plate with a minor amount of BBQ sauce squirted on top as a finishing touch. The beef was cooked perfectly and had a little char on the outside that provided nice texture. The mushrooms were well cooked and provided an additional layer of texture with also a mild crunch. The BBQ was mild and highlighted the main ingredients nicely without overpowering everything. If you ask me, any time you see an Asian man sportin’ a Cowboy hat, you’ll never be disappointed!

happy lemon

“no sugar 100% natural”

 enjoying my lemonade while groovin’ with the band

One of the more overpriced stands at the market, but after an hour or two of walking around and stuffing your face, nothing satisfies like a big cup of ice cold lemonade. At Happy Lemon, they offer five different flavors, and they’re all equally satisfying (I’ve had the strawberry and limeade in the past). The passion fruit flavor, although present was heavily overshadowed by the extreme tartness and sourness from the lemon, which was as subtle as a gong going off during a Church Service. I personally enjoyed it – I love sour/tart candies. Cherry on the other hand, can’t hang so she deferred most of it to me 🙂 One thing I found misleading is how they advertise their lemonades as “sugar free 100% natural.” They must place the huge gallon pump jugs of artificial flavors in an exclusion list.

some bbq skewers: too full to try 😦

sea of hungry patrons

 more booths and more people

view of sunset on the banks of the fraser river

cherry sportin’ a rainbow robbery mask – handmade from ecuador!

My Conclusion:

Summer Night Market has been etched into our summer musts for the last three summers and rightfully so. The food is cheap, selection is vast and the scene is ever growing. Also, the waits for food were surprisingly short – even with the mobs of people bustling all over, each booth manages to get you in and out quickly. Must be that Asian work ethic, eh!? Despite pushing the physical limitations of our stomach to the brim, Cherry and I were unfortunately only able to sample a fraction of what is offered here. If you ever decide to partake in Summer Night Market, you need to bring two things; cash and your appetite!

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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.

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