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Archive for the ‘Restaurant’ Category

Last Saturday evening, my family and I were on our way to Green Lake and decided to grab a bite at Uneeda Burger. For years, I’ve always seen this place brought up in “best burger” discussions, and finally decided to check it out for myself. Located on Fremont Ave N, Uneeda Burger is a casual restaurant with a nice sized patio and open walls, that make it a perfect spot for a summertime meal. It was a packed house when we arrived and as we  stood in line, the warm and welcoming vibes were palpable. We were fortunate to have a party finish their meals as we were scanning for a table and gladly took theirs. It is a self-seating establishment so during rush hours, expect a short wait for a table, or to share one with a friendly stranger.

 

off fremont ave n. & 43rd

off fremont ave n. & 43rd

place your orders

place your orders

 

The Food:

 

 

#6: monsieur $9 & onion rings $3.25

#6: monsieur $9 & onion rings $3.25

Note: All their burgers are listed as 1/3+ lb. beef patties made with all-natural painted hills beef. I decided to order the Monsieur, which included black forest ham, dijon-mayo, gruyere and truffled shoestring potatoes. To my surprise, this burger was served between two slices of potato bread. It almost looked like a patty melt upon first glance with a perfectly buttered & golden-brown crust atop each piece. The burger patty was well seasoned, juicy, and cooked to a perfect medium. The ham added an additional savory element to each bite. I also really enjoyed their dijon-mayo which provided a subtle enough kick to let you know it’s there, but did not overpower. Unfortunately, the shoestring potatoes didn’t add anything for me – they were lost in the burger and I could have done without them. Also, the gruyere wasn’t as melted as I would have preferred – maybe if it would have gone onto the burger sooner? I did love their onion rings though, which were thick-cut, generously battered and fried to perfection. The first time Cherry saw them, she asked, “You got donuts?!” The onions also did a great job holding fast after each bite. They didn’t all come out  with the first like some lesser quality onion rings.

 

My Conclusion:

 We had an excellent meal. The food was delicious and despite being a busy Saturday evening, they were able to push the food out quickly. The staff were all extremely friendly and did an awesome job making sure tables were cleaned and dirty dish bins were clear (you bus your own table). Uneeda Burger is a great family restaurant as well, with plenty of strollers and kids throughout. My only regret is not having a big enough appetite to sample more food but we will definitely be back! I’ll update this post as I add more of their offerings into my belly.

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After putting it off for long enough Cherry and I finally made it to Asadero Sinaloa last week. Sinaloa is a modestly sized restaurant tucked away in the back of a random strip mall in Kent, Wa. Heeding to the suggestions of many, we arrived early – fifteen minutes early to be exact. Rightly so however, because as we were eagerly awaiting their opening (which is at 11am), other like-minded patrons started arriving, one-by-one. We entered and were greeted immediately greet then seated with our menus. Shortly after, our drinks came.

asadero sinaloa 5.jpg

store front

 

asadero sinaloa 1.jpg

the essentials

 

The Food:

 

 

asadero sinaloa 3.jpg

molletes $3.75

This was our first time having molletes and I’m kinda mad it took me over 30-years to finally try it! Molletes is essentially a piece of bread topped with frijoles (beans) and cheese. They use sourdough here and it worked very well. The crust was crispy and the bread underneath was pillowy-soft. The beans were cooked and seasoned nicely and the generous helping of cheese was the icing on the cake. They did include a side of pico de gallo which in my opinion wasn’t necessary as the molletes were delicious on its own. I will say though, that their pico de gallo was delicious! It has a much brighter flavor than what I’ve had in the past and would have liked to take a jar of it home.

 

 

asadero sinaloa 2.jpg

mixtas $5

When I tried looking up “mixtas” online, a majority of the results were “Guatemalan hotdog” which this wasn’t, but of more a steak-filled quesadilla. One thing that really stood out was the tortilla with this dish, which reminded me of a Chinese scallion pancake. It was soft yet flaky at the same time. It also had great flavor! The steak and cheese filling were what you’d expect: melted cheese + savory meat = winning. That being said, I would have liked a little more meat. Rylie thoroughly enjoyed it though, as you can see she couldn’t wait to get her little paws on it!

 

 

asadero sinaloa 4.jpg

carne asada $19.99

 

The carne asada dish was plated beautifully – in a rustic, eat-with-your-hands kind of way.  Right away my eyes were drawn to the grill marks on most everything, which added appeal. Served alongside was grilled nopales (cactus), sausage (from Uli’s) a side of frijoles and another type of salsa not offered in the salsa bar. This was my first time trying nopales and‘ll be honest in saying I wasn’t a fan of it. To be fair, I did try two bites! It has a slimy layer on the outside similar to that of okra, texture like soft bell pepper and flavor like super tart cucumber. The sausage was perfectly grilled which a nice pop when you cut into the casing and excellent flavors within each bite. For the carne asada, I was underwhelmed. It was a very generous serving which was a plus, but it lacked seasoning and was too chewy. After attempting to cut the meat into smaller strips, I scrapped the knife midway through. It was more of a struggle to use the steak knife than it was to just rip through it with my teeth like a walker ripping into Herschel’s leg. That’s a Walking Dead reference to those sitting there scratching their head.

 

My Conclusion:

Overall, it was a good meal but we weren’t blown away. There were dishes that really stood out and others that missed the mark. We will come back again (soon) to try some of the other items off their menu.  One thing I will mention is that the unsung heroes of our meal were the fresh salsas and mixin’s provided at the salsa bar. Everything was super fresh and wonderfully prepared. I am seriously contemplating bringing a mason jar next time to sneakily pack and take home with me.

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Last week, Cherry and I had lunch at Wally’s Chowder House following a recommendation about their fish n’ chips. We visited their Des Moines location off Marine View Dr which has a nice view of the Puget Sound. The parking lot was packed when we arrived and when we entered, the restaurant looked to be full. To our surprise, there were a few tables left and we were seated immediately. There’s a warm and welcoming feel to the restaurant with a coastal themed interior.

wallys 1

 

The Food:

 

wallys 2

garlic cheese bread (1/2 order) $3.59 & calamari fries $5.99

The cheese bread was mediocre. Despite being a generously sized order, it was very greasy due to the oils from the cheddar soaking into the bread. The calamari fries were good though. The breading was flavorful and crunchy while the calamari underneath was tender.

 

 

wallys 3

2 piece cod n’ chips  $17.15

For our entrees, Cherry and I shared the 2-piece cod n’ chips – which was also more than enough for 2-adults. The large fillets were coated with their “special” breading and were nicely fried. The cod was deliciously tender and fall-apart-flaky. Unfortunately, I wasn’t a huge fan of their breading. I prefer my fried fish dipped in beer-batter, which usually provides a nice crunchy bite. Wally’s serves a cornmeal breading that had very little crunch. Their breading was also like a separate entity – easily coming apart off the fish. There was no cohesiveness. Cherry, on the other hand prefers the cornmeal breading and really liked their take. Their fries, however, were delicious – fried and season perfectly!

 

My Conclusion:

Wally’s is a very nice establishment serving up tasty seafood. The servers were all extremely nice and despite being a full house, the food came out quickly.With a large menu that Cherry and I left rather untapped, we will be back to sample some of their other items especially their clam chowder. With fish n’ chips, a lot comes down to personal preference: batter vs breading. You can’t go wrong with either.

 

 

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Cherry and I took a day trip to Vancouver yesterday and had a recommendation to eat at Pinpin, if we had the chance. Although the sign says “Filipino-Chinese Cuisine”, it’s definitely a 100% Filipino restaurant. The Chinese refers to a few “Chinese style” dishes in the back of the menu that are still very Filipino. With two locations in British Columbia, we went to the Surrey location, which was pretty big and quite clean upon entering. We were greeted, immediately seated and eagerly browsed the menu.

 

The Food:

 

 

bagoong rice 1

bagoong rice $9.95 ca

The bagoong  rice(pronounced “bah-goh-ong”) looked intriguing so we had to order it. Bagoong is essentially a fermented shrimp paste that is heavily mixed with salt. It is a very common ingredient is Filipino food. When it came out, it looked like a Filipino version of Bimbimbap, a Korean rice bowl with all the toppings neatly organized atop for you to mix in. This bowl came topped with diced tomato, red onion, green onion, scrambled egg and slivers of mango. The rice had a pink tinge to it from the bagoong paste. When mixed, all of the ingredients came together nicely. The red and green onions provided a bright and sharp bite while the tomato and mango added creamy, sweet and earthy tones. Egg always makes everything better so no need to get too detailed about that. If you’ve ever had bagoong by itself, then you know it packs quite a punch, which is what I was expecting. However, the rice had a nice delicate flavor of the fermented shrimp paste that worked very well. One thing worth noting is that the serving size of this bowl was HUGE and we weren’t complaining 🙂

 

 

pork sisig 1

sisig $11.5 ca

We were recommended their sisig which is the Filipino “sizzling plate.” Pork sisig is the universal version and comes with chopped and fried pork mixed with onion and topped with lemon slice. The sisig at Pinpin was seasoned well and really showcased rich flavors of the fried pork. One thing that stood out was how crunchy it was – there were bits that was borderline rock hard. Those with fillings or any kind of dental work best heed caution. Another thing I noticed was lack of any substantial pieces of pork. This was pretty much sizzling plate of diced chicharrón. I literally pressed a piece with my finger and it broke down to tiny specks of coarse sand. The sisig I’ve had in the past actually had discernible pieces of pork.

 

inihaw na pusit $10.5 ca

The inihaw na pusit is their grilled squid which was also my favorite dish. The squid was perfectly grilled with great texture and bite. The bbq glaze had a good balance of sweet and savory that complimented the dish well. There was also a small cup  of vinegar you use as dip, which did an excellent job countering the sweetness of the glaze. There are three different size of the inihaw na pusit (small, medium, large) and we ordered the small – which was more than enough to share between two people.

 

Conclusion:

We walked out happy and full. The food was delicious and the service was great. There was always a server at our table the moment they saw our water was low or when our table needed clearing. With an expansive menu that we virtually walked away untapped, we’ll be back soon to explore more of their offerings.

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After a long afternoon meandering through the Oregon Zoo in 95 degree heat, we sluggishly made it to Brunch Box to refuel and rehydrate.  Originally a food cart, Brunch Box is now small brick and mortar on SW 9th Ave between Alder and Morrison. Upon entering, I immediately noticed their huge menu above the front counter and a few tables along the wall. We were greeted by the woman behind the counter, then grabbed a few menus off the counter and sat down. After a few minutes looking over the menu, I placed our order at the counter.

 

entrance off sw 9th

entrance off sw 9th

order when ready

order when ready

 

burger royalty

burger royalty

 

 

The Food:

 

 

youcanhascheeseburger $8.5

youcanhascheeseburger $8.5

Initially reading the description, this burger seems like your typical backyard bbq burger; ¼ beef patty, American cheese, lettuce, tomato, grilled onion, ketchup, mustard & mayo. Not so bad, right?! Oh, all those basics were nicely nestled between two texas toast grilled cheeses sandwiches! From the small bite I sampled, everything came together as you’d expect. The beef patty was well cooked while rich gooey American cheese filled every bite. I especially enjoyed the texas toast, which was toasted perfectly and had necessary strength to hold everything together.

 

omg $12.5

omg $12.5

I ordered a burger named OMG, and rightfully so. Besides the basics, it also came topped with bacon, ham, spam and a fried egg. I made the mistake in taking the burger out of the wrapper, because as soon as I took my first bite, both top and bottom buns pretty much disintegrated – like a wet tissue against a boulder.  As the ingredients started falling out and with mustard running down my fingers, I contemplated finishing with a fork. I had to put the burger down and re-strategize my approach. Watching in my struggles, Cherry made the suggestion, “Why not just wrap it back up?!”  Genius!  So I wrapped what was still left back in the wrapper and used it as my burger blanket. Despite the disappointing bun, everything inside was solid. The bacon was thick and crispy, the egg added a nice creamy flavor and the spam added an extra savory and salty kick that was delicious. Unfortunately, the ham got lost amongst everything else.

 

 

My Conclusion:

Brunch Box definitely appeals to those who aren’t afraid to get a little messy.  Despite being enormous, these burgers are tasty and well made. I didn’t realize it until I was done with my meal, but you can substitute the burger bun with texas toast at no additional charge, which may be a better option for some of the bigger and messier burgers.  They also allow you to substitute your beef patty for a turkey, fried chicken or veggie patty. If the monstrosities described above frighten you, never fear, there are more modest selections to choose from too.

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Xiao long bao/XLB (soup dumplings) have been around forever, but for some reason, their recent popularity has skyrocketed like the number of twitter followers Caitlyn Jenner racked after her first tweet.  The one thing that makes soup dumplings stand apart is the pork soup inside each dumpling from the rendered fat in the meat filling. If you ask your average/mainstream foodie where to get decent XLB in the Seattle area, the go-to response will be, Din Tai Fung – an international restaurant chain originating from Taiwan. I tend to shy away from mainstream spots and espeically places that have a ‘bougie reputation. To no fault of their own, DTF has unfortunately garnered a reputation of being both. Enter Dough Zone, a local restaurant specializing in all things dough and all things dumplings. With two locations in Bellevue, WA, we went to the original location on NE 8th St.  It’s a moderately sized restaurant with booths and tables on the dining floor and a fairly clean ambiance.  Arriving on a Sunday around 11am, I was anticipating a wait, but we were seated within 5-minutes. After looking over the menu, our server came by a few minutes later and took our order.

neccessities

neccessities

The Food:

chinese donut $1.75 each

chinese donut/you tiao $1.75 each

The Chinese donut or you tiao, is a staple in Tawainese breakfast/brunch. It’s commonly eaten between shao bing, a Chinese sesame flat bread. Overall, it was ok. The initial bite was warm and crispy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside.  Unfortunately, as it cooled the outside became harder and tough. We ordered the donut mainly as a toddler-friendly dish for Rylie, but Cherry and I ended up eating most of it.

 pig ears $3.75

pig ears $3.75

rylie approves

rylie approves

Braised pig ears are another very common side dish in Chinese meals and trust me when I’ve said I’ve had my fare share. The pig ears at Dough Zone were topped with a sweeter sauce than what I’m custom to (at home they drizzle it with sesame oil) and I would have liked them braised longer to bring out more of the anise/soy flavors.  They did get Rylie’s stamp of approval though, as she ate a majority of the plate herself!

spicy beef pancake roll $4.75

spicy beef pancake roll $4.75

I was pretty happy to see beef pancake rolls on the menu; even more so to see it offered spicy! The first time I’ve had a beef roll was in Vancouver at Peaceful Restaurant, which set the bar high. It looked nice when served, but my overall impression of the roll was mediocre. The green onion pancake was on the doughier side and the “spicy” element was a bit of chili oil inside. Like the pig ears,  I would have like to taste more flavors from the braising liquid (soy/anise.) The additional green onion added inside did add a bright pop.

 

 pork dumplings $4.25

pork dumplings $4.25

 These handmade dumplings were the highlight of my meal. The first thing I noticed was how good the dumpling wrapper was. Like Goldilocks eating baby bear’s porridge, it was just right. The pork had a rich flavor with the chives providing a pleasant accent. I can’t say these are the best dumplings I’ve personally had, but they’re definitely good enough for me to come back.

xiao long bao $9.5

xiao long bao $9.5

The featured item of our meal were the xiao long bao, or as they name it here, Juicy pork buns. Despite popular belief, I don’t think there’s a “right” way to eat a XLB, so I tried a variety of methods. The focal point of any XLB is always the soup, and the pork soup here carried a sweet and creamy flavor. Alone, the XLB were just ok. I felt the sweetness of the juice overpowered the meat filling. When combined with the vinegar/soy/ginger sauce, the tastiness took a a big jump up. I really enjoyed the bright flavors of the ginger when combined with the sour and salty flavors of the vinegar and soy. As a whole, all of the flavors came together quite nicely when eaten together.

My Conclusion: I had a very enjoyable meal at Dough Zone. The service was prompt and the servers were all very polite. Although there were a few dishes that could be improved upon, the ones that were delicious exceeded my expectations. Their menu is also quite expansive, ranging from a huge variety of different dumplings, to a ton of different noodle, congee and soup dishes. The prices are also very reasonable .  

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Last week, Cherry and I celebrated our 5-year anniversary eating like barbarians – at Rainin’ Ribs BBQ. Now don’t scoff at that fact that we didn’t choose a more “upscale” spot to celebrate. A restaurant’s interior décor, the fanciness of the dinner/flatware, or the price of an entrée does not dictate our enjoyment or experience – we ate food we love and we ate it together! Plus, who can’t get down with a wonderfully meaty rack… of ribs? Now Rainin’ Ribs is more a smokehouse/kitchen than a restaurant. We were greeted at a small ordering counter and when we said we’d be dining in, we were given a couple menus and directed to head into the covered dining area to sit anywhere we’d like.  Our server came up a few minutes later, took our order and gave us the go-ahead to anything at the beverage station.

 

 main entrance

main entrance off bothell way

 

The Food:

 

 

 clockwise from the left: 3 sides, 1/2 rack of baby back ribs, 1/2 lb of brisket

clockwise from the left: 3 sides, 1/2 rack of baby back ribs, 1/2 lb of brisket

 

 hushpuppy

hushpuppy

We both shared the 1/2 rack of ribs and two sides ($23) as well as the  a la carte 1/2 lb. of brisket ($10). We got our third side for free as a promotion of checkin’ in via Yelp. For our sides, we went with the hush puppies, loaded potato salad and the mac ‘n cheese. The potato salad was hearty and not overly creamy. The green onions provided a nice bright note to each bite. The mac ‘n cheese was pretty good, but not the best I’ve had.  The hushpuppies on the other hand were amazing. They had a great outer crust and a perfectly sweet and moist inside. One thing that really stood out was the bits of jalapeno throughout each hushpuppy that provide subtle heat to each bite. The honey butter they serve with was also delicious. The brisket had a nice smoke ring along the outer edges and had a good flavor from smoke and rub. We ordered the baby-back ribs dry and they were excellent. The meat was fall off the bone tender and the same great flavors of the rub and smoke that the brisket had.  Rainin’ Ribs offers three house-made sauces to pair with your food; Sweet G, House, and Voodoo.  I liked the voodoo (spicy) sauce the best. It wasn’t too spicy but just had just enough heat to satisfy.

 

 

My Conclusion:

 

With a menu also offering a variety of sandwiches and other favorites like fried catfish and chicken wings, and the fact that they have a food truck and cater, Rainin Ribs is a solid spot.  The staff is friendly and the BBQ is great. We shared our delight with our server and she suggested the tri-tip next time. I’m sure we’ll be taking her suggestion in the near future.

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Last month, my family and I were fortunate enough to take a 3-week trip to Cherry’s country of birth, Philippines.  She’s been back several times over her lifetime and this was my second trip, so it wasn’t totally foreign to me. However this time around I had a much greater appreciation  of the entire experience. I like to tell myself it’s because I’m older and more mature. Cherry’s family is from the central province of Pangasinan, on the main island of Luzon. Her mother still has a home in the Sugcong barangay of the Pozorrubio municipality, which is where we stayed. We spent a majority of our days going to the ili (pronounced ee-lee), which is the central hub of each municipality, and nights with family drinking – Tang or brandy.

Now join me on a photographic journey of the things I ate and places I visited!

* unless noted, most everything was home made

** 1 US dollar = 40-44 pesos

Breakfasts:

breakfast_3

chicken tinola, home made longanisa, tomatoes with armang (shrimp paste), rice

breakfast_2

fried tilapia, tomato with armang, rice

breakfast_1

fried fish, mulunggay leaves and tomatoes, rice

These three dishes are very common breakfast meals in the Philippines. If you couldn’t tell by the pictures, breakfast consisted of rice (a staple), a protein (usually fried) and a vegetable. Depending on what was available the protein and vegetable changed each day, however tomatoes and shrimp paste were always on hand!

tocino breakfast

tocino breakfast $130p

chorizo breakfast

chorizo a la cubano $160p

These were breakfasts offered at Burby’s Grill. The tocino was average and the achara (papaya salad) was too sweet. The chorizo was pretty horrible. It had no flavors of any seasonings and the only flavor I picked up was vinegar.. too much of it. The fried plantains were pretty good though.

chow king

pork siomai chao fan with egg $97p

In terms of number of locations, Chowking is like the Starbucks of the Philippines. The food is cheap, will fill you up and they’re open 24-hrs a day! Not exactly my idea of Chinese food, but for under $3 U.S. I’m not complaining 🙂

Lunches:

clockwise from stop left: pinakbet, pork afritada, pork adobo, ____, curry chicken

eatery from the ili clockwise from top left: dinengdeng, pork caldereta, pork adobo, pinakbet (mostly pork), curry chicken $35p each

lunch_1

left to right: diniguan, pork adobo, pancit, sweetened pork belly fat adobo, tomato and armang, rice

mang insal_1

“pm 2” meal from mang inasal $109p

Mang Inasal an extremely popular fast food restaurant known for their barbecued chicken. The chicken is tasty and well cooked with a mildly sweet glaze. It’s very common to dip your chicken in sauce comprised of soy, calamansi juice and hot chlili peppers. This meal comes with unlimited rice but you can opt to not have unlimited rice and save yourself 10 pesos.

jollibee

polobok & chicken meal from jollibee $140

Jollibee may be the most recognizable Filipino fast food restaurant, and like Chow King, they’re open 24hrs a day and on every street corner. The picture above pretty much sums up how the meal was. Both the polobok and fried chicken were average at best but satisfied my hunger.  One thing I’d like to note is that Jollibee is busy… staggeringly busy. It doesn’t matter the time nor location, there will be a crowd.

eatery_2

view from the road

eatery_1

pick a pot, any pot

eatery_3

beef steak with rice

This meal is from a roadside eatery. My mother-in-law paid for the meal so I’m not exactly sure how much it was. If I were to take a guess, I’d say around $35peso per plate. These types of eateries are also very popular in the Philippines. When you enter, you’re met with a plethora of covered pots and pans filled with various stews, meats and veggies for you to choose from. After you make your selection, the server plates it and serves you with a plate of rice. The beef was on the chewier side and the flavors of the vinegar overpowered everything.

 top: fried shrimp, grilled milk fish,  bbq pork skewers, bbq pork, eggplant bottom l to r: salad of mango, tomato, red onion, chili and fish sauce and "chow mein"

top: fried shrimp, grilled milk fish, bbq pork skewers, bbq pork, eggplant
bottom l to r: salad of mango, tomato, red onion, chili and fish sauce and “chow mein”

Cherry’s cousin treated us to this lunch at a Lisland Rainforest Resort in Urdaneta City. It was a beautifully presented meal and most everything was delicious. I especially enjoyed the fried shrimp which were crispy and enjoyable to pop in your mouth. The bbq skewers were also delicious. The glaze had a good balance of sweet and savory. The noodles on the other hand, were underwhelming. It looked pretty but the the ingredients literally sat atop a hard noodle cake. I felt like I needed a knife to cut a portion out. The icing on this noodle cake was the seasoning that seemed to be sprinkled all over. Three words: Chicken Top Ramen.

Dinners:

 native chicken tinola & bbq pork

native chicken tinola & bbq pork

The picture above was a very typical dinner each night as well. Like breakfast, it usually consisted of a protein and a vegetable. Often times we ate the exact same thing for both breakfast and dinner. They call the chicken above “native” chicken because it wasn’t farmed. They literally went into the backyard and killed one for dinner. It was definitely very tough and much chewier.

The following two pictures show preparations for  a celebration. In the barangay’s, celebrations involve a family hosting a huge dinner for the entire barangay (dozens of large families) to celebrate a wedding, anniversary or any other momentous occasion. Needless to say these types of dinners are not a regular occurrence.

 teamwork makes the dream work

teamwork makes the dream work

just another bbq

a little pork and a little carabao

to be continued…

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Hey everyone! As you can obviously tell (and what I try not to let happen), my activity on this blog has taken quite a big dip this past year. Priorities in life take a change in the world of parenthood. Nevertheless, Cherry and I planned this past weekend to get out and try new spots. So let’s get to it!

Peaceful Restaurant

We spent Saturday north of Washington State’s U.S. border in Canada. After seeing Peaceful Restaurant featured on DDD, it quickly topped my “must eat list” for Vancouver. We visited their W. Broadway and Cambie location around 3pm and it was extremely busy. Despite being small and narrow, Peaceful Restaurant was bustling and full of life. Regrettably we only ordered a couple of dishes, but that only means we’ll be back!

 

peacefulrest.entrance

entrance off w. broadway

peacefulrest.kitchen

the heart of this establishment

peacefulrest.narrow

narrow quarters

The Food:

 

peacefulrest.beefroll

peaceful beef roll $7.95 ca

This was the first time I’ve had a Chinese beef roll and it was wonderful. It consists of braised beef shank wrapped in a green onion pancake with hoisin sauce. This type of beef happens to be one of Cherry’s favorite, and for good reason. It’s braised in a mix of soy sauce, star anise, and five spice until tender and packed full of flavor. The green onion pancakes are savory and crispy to provide a nice bite. The hoisin sauce adds a terrific sweetness to balance everything out.

 

peacefulrest.zhajiang 1

peacefulrest.zhajiang 2

beijing zha jiang mian $7.95 ca

If you’ve been following my blog or even glanced at my “who the heck!?” page, you probably have read that zha jiang mian is my favorite noodle dish. Peaceful Restaurant does a decent job with their take on this very popular Chinese noodle dish. The menu reads as “savoury dark pork sauce,’ which is really a black bean sauce/paste. Pork combined with the sauce is placed on top of the noodles alongside shredded cucumbers, bean sprouts and carrots. The sauce was on the bland side and needed more salt. The veggies added a bright note and also gave each bite some nice texture. The star of all noodle dishes here  is their hand pulled noodles, which have a fantastic textu that you can never get with boxed noodles.

 

Nosh

On Sunday, we went to the Fremont Farmers Market with one thing in mind, fish and chips! After getting many good recommendations and even a personal invitation from the owner himself, Nosh was the obvious choice. Walking up towards the truck, the verbal invitations from owner Harvey Wolff could be clearly heard from down the street. His method of attracting customers was quite simple, offer a “money back guarantee if his fish and chips aren’t the best you’ve had!” The British accent didn’t hurt either.

nosh_bone harvey

follow the crowd

nosh_bone menu

zagat don’t lie

The Food:

nosh_bone marrow

roasted bone marrow $7

This was the first time I’ve had bone marrow and I now understand why I’ve always heard it to be delicious. The marrow itself is salty and quite flavorful. It is also very gelatinous so if you’re an unfortunate individual that has trouble with those kind of textures, I’m sorry for you. What set this dish over the top was the salad and crostini served with it. The salad consisted of shaved red onion, carrots, celery leaf, capers and parsley.  The crostini was toasted and salted. The rich savory marrow, the bright and pickled salad and the crunch of the salted crostini came together as one of the best bites I’ve ever had.

nosh_fish

british fish ‘n chips $10

Now for the Pièce de résistance. Does Zagat’s assessment hold true? In short, yes.  I’ve had my fair share of fish and chips in and around the Northwest and also in my travels around the country, and I can confidently say that these are the top. First off, you get an entire filet! Not only is the cod daily fresh, it is also sustainably caught. The batter is well seasoned and the fish is perfectly fried. The batter provided a nice crunch yet was incredibly light as well. The fries were awesome – thick cut, and ideally cooked and seasoned. The minty mushy peas were also a first for me, and I dug ’em! With all the deep fried deliciousness going on, the peas balanced everything out with a nice bright and minty freshness. As Harvey would say, “If you’re ready for grown up food, come to Nosh!”

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Sorry for how long it’s been since my last post, but nowadays, leisurely meals at a restaurant become a huge production once you add a toddler into the picture. Let’s just say Cherry and I have become meticulously selective of if and when we decide to eat out. Last night happened to be my birthday, so we figured that was a reason as good as any to dine out. We also had fortune of Grandma watching Rylie for the evening! Cherry surprised me with a dinner at a spot I’ve had on my radar for quite some time; Mashiko! Mashiko is a sushi restaurant that practices and focuses on sustainability. Making sure the fish they serve is not only fresh and local, but responsibly caught and not of the massively farmed variety. It is a small restaurant with simple décor that shows the sushi bar in the back along with the daily specials. I will also preface this post by saying that a majority of my experience with sushi/sashimi/nigiri is from AYCE sushi spots in the Seattle area as well as Vancouver BC.

mashiko entrance

entrance off california ave

The Food:

Cherry and I opted for the omakase or “chef’s choice” meal. At Mashiko, they have four different omakase meals. We ordered Nami ($70 for two) , which included an assortment of sashimi, ten pieces of nigiri, one grilled fish, rice and dessert. I could tell Cherry was a little apprehensive, since anything raw beyond ahi (tuna) is outside her comfort zone. But she handled everything like a champ and I’mvery proud of her. Next time I’d like to step it up to their Honkaku meal; which has the disclaimer,“Novices need not apply.”

 

mashiko tako sashimi

first course: tako sashimi over a bead of sunomono

All of the tako I have ever consumed prior to this meal has been chewy and relatively flavorless; however it’s always been one of my favorite foods. However, the tako here threw everything I knew about it out the door. It was outrageously tender and simply delicious. I felt like Neo when he was unhooked from the Matrix and using his eyes for the first time in the real World.

 

mashiko.sashimi

second course: (from top going clockwise) white king salmon, tombo, gulf prawn, red tuna, rainbow trout, saba,(middle) tako (hood) mussel with wasabi mayo

Each piece of sashimi was incredibly fresh and very delicious. I won’t go into detail into each piece of sashimi, but I will highlight a few of my favorites. The gulf prawn had a pleasantly sweet flavor and the saba was very rich and flavorful. The mussel was also extremely fresh and the wasabi mayo added a creamy texture and additional layer of flavor. My absolute favorite piece on this plate was the white king salmon. It had a wonderfully subtle flavor that you find with fresh fish but had the texture like butter! It literally melted in my mouth. Experiencing such a delicate texture flushed all  preconceived notions and past experiences of sashimi down the drain.

 mashiko.nigiri

third course: (clockwise from back left) uni, sanma, iwashi, tombo, coho salmon

Again only highlighting my favorites, which happen to be the entire back row. The sanma, or Pacific saury was local and had a very rich fishy flavor. The iwashi or sardine was also locally caught. Like the sanma, it carried a richer fishy flavor that I thoroughly enjoyed. “Fishy” flavors tend to carry a negative connotation in Western culture, but that isn’t so much the case in Asian culture. There is also a big difference in stinky fish flavor and fresh fish flavor. Both these fish had the latter. The uni was probably my favorite. Behind the gelatinous texture that may hinder people from trying it, it carried such an awesome flavor that I can only describe as, fresh & clean ocean.

 

mashiko.ling cod

fourth course: grilled ling cod with miso sauce on bed of sunomono

This dish was more down Cherry’s alley. Simply and perfectly grilled fish topped with a savory sweet miso sauce and a side of rice. Ling cod is already a light and subtly sweet fish so it doesn’t need much done to it. The miso highlighted the sweetness of the fish while also adding umami to each bite.

 

 mashiko.brownie

fifth course: coconut tempura brownie & green tea ice cream

Our meal concluded with a perfect desert. The brownie, which is from a local bakery, was rich but not overly sweet. The coconut tempura was fried perfectly with the batter providing great crunch and texture. The green tea ice cream was great in adding a contrasting creamy texture and earthy sweetness.

My Conclusion:

Everything about our experience at Mashiko was excellent. Our server was extremely attentive and did a great job explaining what each item within each course was. The food was fantastic; expertly prepared and impeccably fresh. Chef Hajime is definitely master in his craft and his team truly exudes that excellence.

 

 

 

 

 

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