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Archive for the ‘Korean Food’ Category

Last month a group of us traveled to San Francisco to celebrate our friend, Derrec’s birthday, as well as getting our grub on. It was also our friend Meuy’s mission to get a 12th Man photo at the Golden Gate Bridge. As expected, we endured plenty of heckling and dirty looks as we went through the city, representing the 12th Man and the Seattle Seahawks!

 

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12th man in enemy territory

 

Day 1:

HRD Coffee House

Extremely popular spot located on 3rd Street that serves up Korean/Mexican Fusion dishes and has people lined up out the door and down the street. It’s a pretty small spot that’ll immediately hit you with the aroma of spices the second you step in. One thing that was great to see as our group ate, was despite being super busy, the staff still stepped out of the kitchen to walk through the floor checking on tables and customers.

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lunch line

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bulgogi bibimbap $9.95

Served with brown rice, this bowl was visually, very appealing. The pickled daikon and cucumbers provided a bright crunch that was nicely balanced by the fermented and mildy spicy flavors of the kimchee. The sprouts also added an additional layer of bite. The bulgogi was tasty and very tender. My only knock on this dish was the marinade HRD uses for their bulgogi – it was too sweet for my taste. It would have been better if the savory flavors were more present.

 

 hdr_spicyporkkimchi wm

spicy pork kimchee burrito $8.95

The spicy pork kimchee burrito is the quintessential example of fushion food. Upon taking my first bite, I was immediately taken to flavortown! The pork had a nice spice to it and was also very tender. The rest of the ingredients all fused together wonderfully. There was crunch from the sprouts, cucumbers and pickled daikon, while the sour cream added a creamy component to each bite. The biggest surprise for me was the diced kiwi that was also thrown in, that added a pleasant sweetness.

 

Fisherman’s Wharf 

the gang

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crab roll $8.5

We spent the afternoon meandering up and down the Wharf and wanted a quick and easy bite. I picked up a crab roll at one of the seafood stands and was thoroughly disappointed. The filling was probably 90% mayonnaise and 10% crab and wasn’t cheap! But that’s to be expected for food in one of the most popular tourist destinations in the city.

 

The Stinking Rose

Fun and family-friendly restaurant located on Columbus Ave specializing in Italian food and focusing on garlic. If you’re a garlic lover, then this is your spot because they use a lot of garlic… a whole lot of it! Vampires beware!

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entrance off columbus ave.

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chicken & asparagus pasta $19.95

Cherry ordered this dish which consisted of ideally cooked al dente fettuccine tossed with chicken breast, asparagus, roasted tomatoes and pine nuts. The chicken was moist, the asparagus was fresh and the roasted tomatoes added a bright note to each bite. The sauce was balanced and didn’t drown out the other ingredients like other pasta dishes can suffer from.

 

 stinkingrose_braisedshortrib wm

garlic braised short rib $22.95

I ordered the short ribs, which were perfectly braised and melt-in-your-mouth tender. The sautéed garlic gloves atop the short rib provided a pleasant earthy spice and two sides were very good. The creamed spinach had hints of garlic and  was both savory and creamy while the mashed potatoes also permeated with garlic.

 

Day 2:

 The Pork Store Café

The Pork Store Café is another very popular breakfast spot in the Haight District that had a line out the door as we walked up. It is a very small diner with a large counter to eat at while watching the cooks prepare food. There are also a handful of tables along the wall allowing just enough room for the servers to pass by. Overall, the food was your average American diner food with the only thing stood out, being our extremely rude server. When asked if we could split the check, we were immediately met with eye rolling and attitude as she stormed off stating, “Yeah… so next time, tell me before I bring the checks!” What didn’t make any sense to me, our server making a huge deal about re-writing five items on two checks…. it wasn’t rocket science.

 

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entrance off haight

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pork store special $9.5

I decided to order the special that was named after the restaurant. The two pork chops were dry and flavorless. I had to rely on the table side hot sauce to aid in finishing this plate. It came with two eggs, hash potatoes and a homemade biscuit. I ordered the eggs over-easy which were cooked fine and the hash browns were your average fare found in any diner. Their biscuit was actually pretty good and may be the only highlight of the plate.

 porkstore_chickensausage wm

chicken apple sausage $7.75

Cherry went with the apple sausage plate. The apple sausage was tasty and carried nice flavors of the herbs and spices within. Her scrambled eggs were cooked well and her hash browns and biscuit were the same as mine – average hash and tasty biscuit. She was a little underwhelmed at the portion of sausage when the dish came out. You would think that a menu item named chicken apple sausage, would yield a hearty serving of sausage. It did not.

 

El Gallo Giro

Ending day two, our friend Meuy had a hankering for some lengua tacos and navigated us to El Gallo Giro. Located in the Mission District on 23rd St. El Gallo Giro is a taco truck serving up some tasty and authentic Mexican fare.

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23rd &  treat

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tacos $1.5/ea

 

Cherry went with three tacos pollo (chicken) and I went with a trio of carne asada (steak), al pastor (spicy pork), and lengua (beef tongue). All the tacos were flavored nicely and very satisfying, but the carne asada was my favorite. They were finished on the grill which gave the meat a nice crunchy crust that added great texture to each bite.

 

Day 3:

Yummy Yummy

 The night prior, we celebrated Derrec’s birthday. I won’t get into the details of the shenanigans that we got into, but plenty of alcohol was consumed. What better way to cure a hangover than a big bowl of beef soup!? Enter Yummy Yummy.

 

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dining floor

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five spice chicken w/vermicelli $9.25

Cherry decided on the five spice chicken vermicelli bowl. The chicken was fried wonderfully with crispy skin and tender meat. The spices used were savory and when mixed with the sweet fish sauce and vegetables underneath the vermicelli, it resulted in an extremely fresh and light, yet filling meal.

 

 yummy_bunbohue wm

bun bo hue $9.5

Deciding to expand my foodie repertoire, I ordered bun bo hue for the first time. The reason it’s taken so long, was the fact that the coagulated pig blood, that’s also served with the dish, deterred me. But you can’t be a true foodie without trying foods that are preconceived as unappetizing, right?! The bun bo hue had thick pieces of beef shank and pork loin that were on the chewy side. The pig blood was actually tasty – it had the consistency of a firm tofu and didn’t have any irony flavor that is usually associated with blood. The broth was extremely flavorful and full of spices and depth. I can confidently say that bun bo hue is a new favorite soup noodle dish for me and I’ve ordered it several more times since this trip.

 

Champa Garden

 Our last meal was spent at Champa Garden, a Laotian and Thai fusion restaurant off Ocean Ave. Champa garden literally sits at the end of a residential street and from the looks of it, it was recently opened. The interior was very clean and modestly decorated. After a weekend of eating, Cherry and I were pretty stuffed so we opted to share some wings and fried rice.

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fried chicken wings w/sweet chili sauce $6.95

These wings which were perfectly fried, providing golden crispy skin and tender, moist meat. The chili sauce is the standard sweet chili sauce you can find in any grocery store but provided a nice sweet kick to each bite.

 

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 basil fried rice $7.50

The basil fried rice was delicious. We ordered it with chicken, which was cooked nicely and blended well with the the onions, bell peppers and basil. I don’t remember them asking what spice level we wanted but it came out quite spicy – which I enjoyed.

 

 My Conclusion

This most recent trip to the City by the Bay proved to be a memorable trip on all fronts. We got to partake is some delicious food, visited all the popular spots people want to see and got to spend time with an amazing group of friends. Cherry and I love San Francisco so much that we’re trying to plan another trip there in a few months – this time with Rylie!

 

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china town . sf, ca

 

 

 

 

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Cherry and I were driving past UW and decided to get a bite to eat. She had a fixin’ for some teriyaki, so we stopped at Itadakimasu. The exterior is a very unassuming building located between NE 50th and NE 47th in the U-District. As we parked and walked toward the entrance, there was also a small sandwich board with a “Grand Opening” sign, but more on that later. The interior was dark with black tables and chairs and pink accents throughout. There was a nice bright mural painted on the wall of large cherry blossom trees. It did have a modern izakaya feel, just with a smaller bar. We were greeted, seated and given our menus. Right before our server left, I curiously asked, “So how long have you been open?” to which she replied which a grin , “…a year and a half…” Clever. Very clever 😉

 

itadakimasu_entrance

entrance off brooklyn ave

 itadakimasu_cherryblossom

cherry blossom trees

 itadakimasu_bar

the bar

 

The Food:

 

itadakimasu_chickengyoza

chicken teriyaki / gyoza combo special $8.5

 

Cherry’s go-to at any teriyaki joint is the chicken. She originally was just going to order the regular chicken teriyaki, but our server informed us of the daily special – which had a little less chicken but was also cheaper. The unique thing about Itadakimasu is that the teriyaki doesn’t automatically come with rice. “Teriyaki that doesn’t come with rice?! What is this treachery?!” No. Each dish comes with either one or two sides and you can opt for rice or try something else. Cherry went with the white rice and a fried egg. The chicken was well cooked and had a flavorful glaze. The marinade they use for the chicken was also rich and well balanced. The gyozas were your standard fare that you can find in the frozen section of a grocery store, but that didn’t make them any less satisfying.

 

 

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chicken katsu $9

 I ordered my go-to as well, chicken katsu – also with white rice and fried egg. The katsu was fried nicely, providing a nice crunch on the outside and a tender bite underneath. The sauce added a savory component that was a little on the tart side. I often add a fried egg to many dishes I cook at home, so having it as an option here, gave it a comfort food quality for me. Oh, and if you couldn’t tell by the pictures above, the portions here are extremely generous!

 

 My Conclusion:

Itadakimasu is a very nice spot providing well made teriyaki. They also do a great job catering to the college neighborhood offering large portions at a very reasonable price. In addition to all this, they also offer Korean influenced dishes that I am eager to come back and try!

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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.

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the kraken welcomes you

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the essentials

The Food:

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 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.

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 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

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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.

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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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I first discovered Marination Station long before I started this blog and felt it would be a travesty not to share their delectable offerings. Originally introduced as the food truck serving a fusion of Hawaiian and Korean comfort foods, Marination Mobile’s success and popularity quickly grew, earning an abundance of media recognition including Best food Cart in America by Good Morning America. Enter Marination Station – their “brick and mortar” permanent location off E Pike St and Broadway in Capitol Hill. It is a very small spot having only about six stools along the windows inside, two tables outside and a handful of makeshift standing counters outside for customers eating outside. There’s a fairly eclectic menu consisting of spicy pork tacos, spam sliders, kimchi fried rice and kalua pork quesadillas.

beat the rush 

The Food:

 

kalbi beef tacos $2.25 each

 These tacos are amazing. The kalbi beef, which is wrapped in two warmed corn tortillas,  is perfectly seasoned with a great balance of sweet-savory flavors. On top of the meat is a tangy slaw that provides great crunch and countering textures. Beneath it all, is their signature Nunya Sauce, which brings a creamy spice. My favorite thing about these tacos is the pickled jalapenos they serve on the side. Despite being thinly sliced, they bring a burst of heat and is balanced well by the bright and sweet acidity from the brine. They even sell them by the jar if you want to bring some home!

kimchi fried rice $5.50

 You get a generous portion of kimchi fried rice, topped with a sunny side up fried egg. If you’re not familiar with kimchi, it is a Korean dish of fermented vegetables (traditionally napa cabbage) served as a side dish during meals. Kimchi is also used as the main ingredients in various soups and stews.  It is an acquired taste and may not be for everyone, as it has both a spicy and fermented sour flavor… I happen to love it! Marination does a very good job fusing these extremely bold flavors with a familiar dish – fried rice. The plentiful pieces of napa cabbage stir fried within bring the flavors kimchi lovers look for but also cutting the sourness just enough to not scare away unaccustomed Westerners. There is a bold spice that permeates each bite and will definitely leave your tummy warm and satisfied. The rice is cooked perfectly with each individual grain of rice being coated in the spicy and bold kimchi sauce.

My Conclusion:

 It no mystery why Marination has received a TON of local and national recognition and  why 2-minutes after I ordered my food, a mob of 15 customers walked in eager to get their orders in. Marination Station is on point when it comes to creativity, execution, presentation and taste. If their Capitol Hill location is too far for a lunch break, never fear, they’ll come to you! Whether you’re in West Seattle, Sodo, Belltown, Fremont, South Lake Union or the International District, you can find their Mobile Food Truck daily schedule and location here – or follow them on Twitter @curb_cuisine. What are you waiting for?!?

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