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Posts Tagged ‘foodie’

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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I was pleasantly surprised when I recently discovered that Seattle has a food cart offering jian bing. Social media is seriously one hell of a global phenomenon! Despite not having the most engaging or even updated website, I was able to confirm via Twitter, that Bing of Fire would be stationed at Westlake Park for lunch on this particular Friday. For anyone too lazy to click the hyperlink posted earlier, jian bing is a Chinese savory crepe that pretty much blows all savory crepes out the water.  You won’t find any deli meat, mayo, cheese or any of that junk like I’ve seen at the local mall crepe station. These come filled with green onions, cilantro, Chinese pickles, egg, chili garlic sauce, hoisin sauce and crispy fried wonton crackers… and that’s just the base ingredients. There are a few more free ingredients you can add as well other ingredients that will cost you a little extra including roast duck, pork belly and bbq pork.

 cart in westlake park

cart in westlake park

layin the foundation

layin the foundation

methodically done

methodically done

The Food:

jian bing w/bbq pork $8

jian bing w/bbq pork $8

Coming from a Chinese background, I will say that this jian bing is on point. First off, I was hit with all the flavors that satisfy; the bright kick from the green onions and cilantro, the sour from the pickles, the sweet from the hoisin and the spice from the chili garlic sauce. Texturally, I was really pleased with how the bing and the egg held everything together with the crispy wonton crackers providing a crackling crunch to eat bite.  The jian bing start off at $7 for just the basic ingredients, but I chose to add bbq for an extra dollar. The bbq  pork was decent but not the best I’ve had,  and would have liked just a touch more of it. Nevertheless, the portion size was an adequate lunch meal, even for me.

 

 

My Conclusion:

I’m really pleased with Bing of Fire’s representation of a common street food found in China. With the rise in food truck/cart popularity, it’s refreshing see one that isn’t selling tacos, bbq, or gyros. And while their menu really only consists of one thing, they do it right and they do it well. I look forward to trying their other variations.

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Here’s part 2 of my recent 3-week trip to the Philippines. This post will focus on the good stuff – street food. I’ll also conclude with some photos I shot during my trip of things I saw and places we visited. Now let’s get to it!

* in case you forgot $1 us dollar = $40-$44 peso

** most every piece of street food ranged from $3 – $5 peso (unless noted)

 

Street Foods:

 

a bbq stand literally 25-yards from our home. they wouldn’t start setting up until sunset and would stay open for a few hours.

street food_3

betamax & isaw (grilled chicken blood & chicken intestines)

 bbq chicken feet (adidas) & longanisa (pork sausage) with a sauce of vinegar, chili peppers and cucumber

bbq chicken feet & longanisa (pork sausage) with a sauce of vinegar, chili peppers and cucumber

 l to r: fried chicken breast, breaded and fried quail eggs, chicken skin

l to r: fried chicken breast, breaded and fried quail eggs (quek quek), chicken skin

 pick your own: fish balls, hot dogs, fish cakes

self-served: fish balls, hot dogs, fish cakes

Cherry’s cousin specifically brought us to this stall in the ili. There’s a bunch of toothpicks that you use to pick up any and all the bite-sized food you want. There’s a couple of different dipping sauces you can use as well, ranging from sweet to spicy. This is basically a self serve food cart where you stand and eat as much as you want then the vendor totals you up at the end.

 taste the rainbow

tapioca heaven

various fruit drinks

various fruit drinks

 pandan drink

pandan drink aka “green drink”

Plastic bags are the norm when it comes to juices and sodas in the ili as well as the barangays. It’s a definitely a unique thing to try for the first time. I dig it!

 fresh buko and fresh buko meat

fresh buko and fresh buko meat

home made buko juice: so presh, so represhing!

home made buko juice: so presh, so represhing!

burger collage

makings of a burger

We visited the ili almost every other day and each time we were there, this particular burger stand was always busy. The inviting aroma of oil and meat on the grill didn’t hurt either. I made it a point to try one of these burgers before we left. Their special was a “buy one take one” for $25 peso. Despite my better judgement telling me to avoid a place that sells 2-burgers for under $0.50, I couldn’t help myself. Assuming the ground meat was beef, they weren’t bad. The mysterious pink sauce however, I could have done without. It tasted like what I imagine Willy Wonka’s version of “secret” sauce would be.  I deduced that the other two sauces were mayo and ketchup. These burgers also included a small square of cheese, lettuce and cucumber slices. The cucumber was a surprising ingredient as I’ve never had one in a burger, but thought it worked, providing a nice cool element to each bite. Overall not the worst thing I’ve ever had, but I can’t say I’d order this burger again.

deep fried isaw via balay bistro in urdaneta $100p

deep fried isaw from balay bistro in urdaneta $100p

 palutan of bbq pork, onions, tomatoes and sauce of vinegar, soy and sliced chili

pulutan of bbq pork, onions, tomatoes and sauce of vinegar, soy and sliced chili

Pulutan which roughly translates to finger food, is commonly eaten when socializing and drinking with friends and family  around a table.

  beachside grillin: milk fish, squid and eggplant

beachside grillin: milk fish, squid and eggplant

ice cream!

ice cream: pineapple, pandan, cheese

when you buy an ice cream cone, you get one flavor - all three!

  only one flavor offered – all three!

homemade lumpia

homemade lumpia

impalate aka biko

impalate aka biko

hey buddy!

hey buddy!

One of my foodie goals on this trip was to eat the most popular street food in the country, balut! If you don’t already know, balut is a developing duck embryo that is boiled then eaten from the shell. Once you get over the visual appearance that is often off-putting, it really tastes good. You get all of the flavors you’d expect from hard-boiled egg and then the subtlest flavor of poultry on the back end. I’d definitely eat it again.

My Conclusion:

This was a great trip filled with memorable experiences and awesome food. I hope these two posts provided a glimpse into one small part of the Filipino culture, leaving you hungry to discover more on your own! I’ll end this with some of my favorite captures during this trip…

antong falls

antong falls

A large group of us hiked a few miles through fields, river beads and up rocks to Antong Falls. We had a couple of near death experiences as we tried to traverse the boulders while wearing flip flops, but we eventually made it. It was worth it.

carabao

carabao

adenium

adenium

sunrise via pugudpud

sunrise via pugudpud

milky waters before the storm

milky waters before the storm

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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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