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Dough Zone

In Eating Out, Food on July 30, 2014 at 10:44

Fairly new soup dumpling place in Bellevue called Dough Zone.


The menus were full of small dishes, from dumplings, buns, to noodles and congees.


I went there twice already and was able to try different dishes.

Great news that finally there was a place serving comparable soup dumpling, Xiao long bao, to Din Tai Fung‘s.



Equally thin-skinned and very juicy with tender gingery meat, the Dough Zone Xiao long bao were delicious and at a lower price point than Din Tai Fung – a bonus!

The rest of the menu items were hit and miss.

For starters, I had the spicy cucumbers and radish.

Both were tasty.

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The spicy sauce was very spicy in the crunchy cucumbers and I just loved the garlic in them.

The dish was less sweet and less sesame flavor than Din Tai Fung’s and yet still good.

The radish was very savory and additive and with a harder crunch.

It reminded me of the radish that my family in Hong Kong ate with plain congee every Sunday morning.

My next favorite would be the pan-fried buns, Sheng Jian Bao.


The buns were soft and the pork filling once again were very juicy, flavored well and just fantastic.

The inconsistency came from frying.

Some of the buns on my plate got the much expected crispy bottom which was the highlight of sheng juan bao — slight burnt, harder crusty bottom gave slight caramelized flavor and added texture to the bun; but others were barely fried and completely paled.

Hopefully they could make the pan-frying process more consistent otherwise it was very much a waste on otherwise really good buns.


I had wonton soup, spicy wontons and leek pockets on one occasion.

The leek pockets were awesome!

Again very juicy; and the skin was light and was pan-fried top and bottom in just right crispiness, totally delicious.

The filling was made with aromatic leeks, mung bean noodle and eggs.

The wontons had very thin skin and smooth which was fantastic except the filling was extremely minimal.

I felt like I was only eating wrapping.

The spicy wonton sauce was good but not as good as the one at Din Tai Fung.


On another occasion, I had beef roll and it was tasty — fresh cilantro with well marinated thinly sliced cold beef in a crispy buttery pancake and a little sauce inside, the textural contrast was great and a very decent dish.

The stewed pork noodle I did not much care for.


It had a nice soy sauce flavor and noodle had great texture; I could not get over the, lack of a better term “porky” flavor of the meat.

It was the unpleasant, “gamey” meat flavor that pork generally should not have.

I also had a crepe-like dish called jianbing guozi, with egg outside and fried dough inside, and that was probably the worse dish I got there.

The wrap was chewy when I was expecting crispiness, and the fried dough inside was completely soggy.

We had a very pricey beef burger which had tender tasty beef with strong cilantro flavor but the bun was doughy and soggy — felt like I was eating a mouthful of flour and soggy from soaking up the grease from frying.

All in all, if one knew what to order, and that the restaurant was consistent in their delivery, the meal would be wonderful.

Dough Zone still had long line on weekends and night-time, and the last time I was there for lunch, I did not have to wait.
Dough Zone Dumpling House 麵貼面 on Urbanspoon

BBQ class

In Education, Food on July 28, 2014 at 12:37

I often associated barbeque with summer – nice weather, being outside and its unique smoky aroma.

We attended a bbq 101 class at the Seattle BBQ and grilling school, tucked away quietly in an industrial park of Tukwila.

This 6-hour intro class had about 30 people.


It was quite educational and very hands on as we made many dishes from meat to vegetables to starches.

There was the introduction to the many different types of grills and smokers in the market.


We made pulled pork that was fairly tender -


We learned a little meat science as to how to trim ribs, butterfly chicken, trim brisket and burn ends — a supposedly tougher and chewier side trims of the brisket that had tremendous amount of smoke flavor, and was considered a delicacy in the bbq world.


L: trimmed brisket — R: burnt ends

I found the burnt ends very delicious and did not find it tough at all but in fact a bit fatty, a bit dry from burnt edges but intense in flavor and I much preferred that over the brisket itself.

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A steamed rib that was done in the oven and many versions of smoked “beer can” chicken, chicken wings, tenderloin and ribs.

For vegetables, we made stuffed peppers, potatoes, squash and my favorite was the stuffed cabbage with bacon; and dessert we had grilled apples.


Cooking tips were sprinkled throughout the class, including what kind of oils to use in bbq for cleaning and cooking, setting of the burners on the grill to grill perfect T-bone steaks.

The greatest take-away from the class was to significantly moist the meat before any grilling/smoking application whether it was through brining or injection.

We grilled a huge feast and everyone had lots to eat and to bring home as well.

Chia Pod, Coconut Water Probiotic and Hot Lips Soda

In Food, Food Product for Home on July 25, 2014 at 14:25

Review on several products that I liked recently from the grocery store.

First, this Chia Pod snack.


It came in a small cup with many different flavors including this mango one that I had.

Chia seed was a healthful ingredient that was packed with very high amount of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids and lots of fiber.

It was very similar to the chia pudding that I got at Chaco Canyon minus the coconut milk.

The particular mango one tasted like Asian mango pudding with tapioca with a rice pudding consistency, and quite filling.

Chia seed products were not cheap and for about 6 oz. this cup cost about $3 on sale.

It was most definite an occasion healthy snack.

Next was the Good Belly probiotic coconut water.


I was very happy to find a non-dairy non-soy probiotic product — got the benefit of good bugs to aid in digestion without dairy and perhaps GMO soy.

Good Belly offered many fruit juice versions with probiotic as well; I figured coconut water was the better option with its high electrolyte content vs. fruit juice that mainly contained sugar.

This coconut water drink still had grape juice in it, perhaps to satisfy the sugar requirement for fermentation.

Its flavor reminded me of the Japanese yogurt drink that I grew up with called Yakult — a fermented milk-base yogurt drink — but much lighter, less creamy and more refreshing.

Mild coconut flavor with slight white grape flavor, it was still a little sweeter than my liking; nevertheless definitely enjoyable over ice or with extra fizzy water.

Finally, relatively “healthier” delicious soda from Hot Lips.

We seldom drink soda because at the end, it was still empty calories of sugar.

However, in the rare occasion hot days that we had been experiencing in the Pacific Northwest, Hot Lips were mostly definitely treats for us.


Hot Lips was a small pizza chain out of Portland, OR, and they bottled their own sodas that could be purchase at Total Wine or BevMo!

What made them highly coveted for me was the sodas were made with real fruit juice and certainly one of the cleanest ingredients one could find, usually contained sparkling water, fruit juice, lemon juice and cane sugar.

Juice content ranged anywhere from very low percentage for lemon and ginger (which were potent juices and understandably low amount of juice usage) to my favorite berry ones were about 10-15% juice to more than 90% for pear and cranberry.

Only the pear one was made with juice concentrate.

The fruits were all locally sourced in OR and native for us Northwesterners.

They had an array of flavors including exotic Marionberry, black raspberries, along with cranberries, pear, lemon and cherries to name a few.

On their website, they stated that they had special seasonal flavors on tap at their pizza stores — they were definitely on my to-go list next time I visit Portland.

My favorite was the Marionberry soda.

I loved that when I poured the soda into the glass, it was murky (black raspberries and red raspberries were also murky).

Literally as if berries where crushed into pulp, and fizzy water was added to it.

Beautiful purple color, with distinctive marionberry flavor, wild, light and refreshing, it felt like Pacific Northwest in a bottle.











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