Posts Tagged ‘queen ann’

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.


the kraken welcomes you


the essentials

The Food:


 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.


 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


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.


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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On any given day, if you asked Cherry or I what we were in the mood for, nine times out of ten we would respond with, “Pho!” If you’re reading this and asking yourself, “What is pho?” … well that wouldn’t be possible, because there’s no way you have access to a computer from the rock you’re living under! Over the years, Cherry and I have had Pho in countless spots – literally from Bellingham down to Federal Way, but only one business stands out and far ahead of the pack, Than Bros. There are 14 different locations in Western Washington and having been to seven of them, I am confident in saying, they are each equally delicious. You won’t find fancy decorations or even a big menu here – they only serve two things; pho and cream puffs, both of which according to their website, are secret family recipes.

The Food:

complimentary cream puffs

Each patron receives a complimentary cream puff which are always made fresh and very delicious. The pastry portion always has a nice balance of firm outside and marshmallow-like softness in the middle. As soon as you bite in, you’re hit with the creamy and custard-like  sweet filing. These cream puffs are great in that they’re not too sweet – just enough to leave you craving for more. If one isn’t enough, you can buy them: 3 for $1.50


all the necessities: bean sprouts, jalapeno slices, basil, lime slice


medium number 8 chin sach: brisket & tripe $6.25


my pyramid  of beansprouts

I always order the number 8 which includes brisket and tripe. I love their brisket, which in my opinion, is more tender and carries a little more flavor than the cuts served. For those texturally courageous enough to try it, tripe is delicious.  It has a chewy texture and carries a very subtle salty beef flavor that works great with the rest of the ingredients. Now to the main focus of any pho restaurant (also my judging criteria), the quality and flavor of their beef broth. Compared to the other spots we’ve tried, Than Bros, hands down, always has the most flavorful and savory broth. It is full of rich beef flavor from the beef bones and other seasonings that go into it. The rest of the ingredients (onions, basil, green onions, bean sprouts & lime slice) all combine to provide happiness in a bowl! Crunch from the bean sprouts, bright and sharp flavors from the basil and onions and a contering tartness from the lime juice… I’m craving a bowl as I read/write this! A subtle but important thing worth noting is the temperature at which they serve their pho. You may be wondering, “…temperature?!” Indeed! Nothing is a bigger let down than a bowl of pho that is barely lukewarm when you’re only 1/3 of the way through. The perfect bowl of pho is hot enough to not only cook the rare meat that is an common choice, but to maintain it’s temperature even to the last drop. Needless to say, Than Bros doesn’t disappoint here either.

my usual sauce spicy/sweet combination: sriracha & hoisen


you know it’s good when…

My Conclusion:

Depending on which location you choose, it may look clean and new or like a a rundown hole-in-the-wall, but who goes into a pho restaurant for the décor anyway!? Whether you’re battling the sniffles or craving something hot, flavorful and fulfilling, the pho served at Than Bros will do the trick. Their service is fast – wait times for your food to be served is less than five minutes, and the food is fulfilling. On average, Than Bros is also cheaper than the other pho spots we’ve been too. And lastly, for those with dietary restrictions, they also serve chicken pho and vegetable pho so no on leaves unhappy.


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