99% Food 1% Skin

Panama Hotel Tea and Coffee House and Strawberries

In Eating Out, Food, My Farm on May 15, 2014 at 10:51

The Panama Hotel Tea and Coffee in the International District was truly a hidden gem.


Set in a historic hotel built in 1910 by Japanese architect, the building had a long history in Seattle and stood as an iconic witness of the past.

Once we stepped into the café, it felt like we had stepped back in time.

The beautiful hard wood floor and counters, and the many items that were on display brought the history of early Japanese immigrants to live.

My friend had donated a lot of their old pictures on the wall from her parents’ most beloved collection.

It was as much a little museum as a comforting café.

The Panama hotel had the oldest surviving Japanese bath house in the building and they offered tour to visit the site — on my to-do list.

This charming place served great coffees, and even better teas.

The day I was there with out-of-town guests, I had an herbal tea called the Scarlet Red with rose hip and currant, which was bright red, aromatic, soothing and yet slightly tart.


Aside from the usual cookies and pastries, they also served Japanese Confectionary by Tokara.

They were pricey for their sizes; however, this would be a case to admire quality and not quantity.

Not only that we were consuming delicious little snacks and treats, we were presented with a beautiful art form.

The day we were at the café, there were 3 types of wagashi – traditional Kyoto style sweets.

Tokara made their sweets based on seasonal appropriateness.

Each one of the wagashi was elegant and exquisite.

Each was hand-made, and I could taste the special care and tremendous time it took to make each one of these treats.

All of them had smooth red bean filling which was excellent and not sweet at all.

My favorite of all was the brown one, it had a slight chewy but slippery texture: imagine Chinese wide rice noodle in soup, and reduce the thickness of the noodle by 70%, that was how delicate and slippery the outer skin was.

My second favorite was one with the leaf wrapping.

It was for cherry blossom season and the pink cherry blossom flavored sticky rice soaked up the leaf flavors – perfect texture with most unusual flavors.

The last one was the white one with painting.

The outer layer’s texture felt like a very thin layer of cake and it was just beautiful to look at.

My sister’s favorite at Panama Hotel Tea and Coffee was their tea lattes.

Aside from matcha lattes which were getting more popular across the board, they also made hojicha and genmaicha latte as well.

Panama was most certainly a quaint quiet place to spend an afternoon in.

Panama Hotel Tea & Coffee House on Urbanspoon

This season’s first 4 strawberries from my yard!


DH and I shared the 4 strawberries and they were juicy, full of bursting ripe strawberry flavors.

I could taste the sun in the strawberries!

After couple years of vegetable-growing hiatus, we have gone back in full force!

Started seeds on beets, arugula, green onions, green beans, English cucumbers and carrots; I have also bought starts for tomatoes, parsley and thyme.


I am really looking forward to this growing season!

In our old house, I had to battle with limited sun exposure, which limited what I could grow; and we also had huge slug problems.

My beloved English cucumbers would not bear any fruit because every time a beautiful leaf came out it would be eaten by slugs.

Now, we have a brand new gardening canvas.

We have plenty of sun but also occasional deer problem.

We planted apples, pear, strawberries and cherries; and deer came by and ate a third of the strawberry flowers and 98% of the pear flowers — very bummed out.

We are left to try natural deer deterrent with these really stinky packets in our garden – it might have worked, but my gut feeling tells me that the deer probably has not returned.

Tis is nature, and I will give me more materials to write about in our food growing adventure!




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