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Posts Tagged ‘Bellevue’

Dough Zone

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

Fairly new soup dumpling place in Bellevue called Dough Zone.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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East and West Kefta

In Eating Out, Food on July 7, 2014 at 11:15

Lunch with my girlfriend at Garlic Crush.

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I had heard that it was a great place for quick Mediterranean food on the east side; and they certainly had the business to support that.

It was packed with people in this small place.

We queued up at the counter to order our food and luckily found a table to sit during the busy business lunch hour.

I got the kefta set with lentil soup.

The lentil soup was delicious with great lemony/citrusy flavor but it was too salty for my taste.

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I was very much looking forward to the kefta but it was dense and hard.

Flavor was good and I could see fresh parsley chopped in it but the texture was disappointing.

Hummus was ok but the pita was dry and thin.

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The rice was not great either as it was on the hard and dry side as well.

Perhaps kefta was not their star plate or that I went on an off day?

It was certainly not a suitable place to catch up with a friend as we were told nicely to give up our table after we ate for new customers.

Garlic Crush on Urbanspoon

Had the pleasure to meet fellow blogger tofuhunter, and got a tip about Mawadda in West Seattle.

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The restaurant worked like a quick food place, ordered at the counter and they brought the food out — similar to garlic crush.

Tofuhunter had told me that they had one of the best Chai as well.

I got Kefta again with Chai and Ful.

The Chai was very delicious, high in ginger and cardamom; very smooth and extremely creamy.

I had 2 cups!

It was pre-sweetened but the sweetness was not too objectionable to me.

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I got the kefta as a wrap this time, and the meat was a softer than Garlic Crush’s with great flavor of parsley and other spices.

The pita was warm and fluffy with refreshing yogurt sauce, lettuce, cucumbers and tomatoes.

It was fresh and tasty.

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The ful was delicious with warm soft pita bread.

I saw that they offered ful on their website but the dish was not on their menu board.

Traditionally this Egyptian/Sudanese bean stew was made with fava beans.

It was hearty, earthy with mildly spiced which was soothing and comforting.

When I find myself in the West Seattle neighborhood, I would most definitely stop by if not to eat, to at least get a tasty cup of Chai.

Mawadda Cafe West Seattle on Urbanspoon

 

Ginza

In Eating Out, Food on July 2, 2014 at 12:55

Ginza was both DH and my favorite Japanese place around the Greater Seattle Area.

We loved it because they had both great fresh raw fish and delicious cook food.

It made an easy meeting spot with friends as we could easily find a dish for everyone.

DH’s default was sushi deluxe.

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Their fish and seafood were fresh and seasonal raw fish were offer nightly.

The portion was generous.

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When my father came, he liked the sashimi dinner.

My favorite fish in Ginza was their saba, mackerel.

Saba was not on the top of my all time favorite sushi/sashimi fish, but Ginza’s one was.

I had encountered a lot of saba being overlooked in sushi places, often resulting in dry and mealy texture, or overly sour from vinegar.

Ginza’s saba was oily, moist and delicious.

The sweetness and the unmistakable fishy saba flavor would take over all senses.

It was as plump as fellow hamachi and it was just amazing.

Saba was an acquired taste and I knew people who just thought they were too fishy.

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sushi and sashimi combo

On my raw fish day, I usually ordered their chirashi.

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I loved it for the large variety of fish and seafood in it.

Traditionally, inferior cut fish would be served in the chirashi while the top quality portion was reserved for first sashimi, then sushi.

The fish pieces in chirashi was a little smaller than sushi, but still really delicious.

Sat on top of a good size bowl of delicious sushi rice, I could easily find 10 different proteins on it: farmed salmon, wild salmon, abacore tuna, eel, egg, shrimp, octopus, clam, fatty white tuna, hamachi, saba, seared maguro, sometimes with small fish eggs, other times ikura.

I could never finish one chirashi in one go!

On the hot food side, Ginza had the usual hot food menu containing tonkatsu, yakisoba, grilled fish, tempura etc.

The most amazing was they also had another full on menu of small dishes perfect as drinking companion, izakaya style dishes.

These include fried fish cake with cheese, miso eggplant, stewed beef, stoneplate tofu or fried smelt to name a few.

One of my favorite off the izakaya menu was the matsutake dobinmushi.

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This brought back nostalgic memory of having Japanese food when I was a kid in Hong Kong.

It was a rich flavored soup made in the little tea-pot, with matsutake mushroom as the primary ingredient, and often times accompanied by small shrimp, small fish piece, chicken piece and ginkgo.

The soup was savory, meaty and earthy;  all the flavors blended well together and produced this light, complex yet delicate soup.

As a kid, large part of the fun was pouring soup out of the tiny little teapot and then drinking soup out of the little cup that came with it.

As adult, savoring the small little cups of soup was one of the best thing in life.

Another Ginza favorite was their pumpkin fried rice.

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A whole kombucha was used with the pumpkin meat gutted out and fried with rice, shrimps, bacon and aromatics.

It was a sweet fried rice which was delicious and filling.

It was not the Cantonese style drier fried rice but it was still really good!

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Last, I loved their chawanmushi.

The smoothest steam egg to have!

The aroma of savory dashi and egg was tempting and the egg was very soft and addictive!

As I dug into the egg, there was a clam, shrimp and fish cake, like little treasures at the bottom of the cup — the seafood brought in unique flavors to the steamed egg.

It was so delicate as if it would break if I shook it too hard.

I made Chinese style steamed egg at home and knew that it was difficult to make ones that was smooth, soft and perfect.

It was a pleasure!

After their expansion about a year ago, they also had an area for yakiniku, grilled meats.

I still had not tried that yet and will one day!

Ginza on Urbanspoon

Eating on the Eastside – Sofra Turkish and Boba Express

In Eating Out, Food on June 5, 2014 at 10:30

We had been living on the eastside of Greater Seattle for over 15 years now, and it was amazing to watch the changes in Bellevue, Redmond and Kirkland — the primary cities that made up of the growing eastside.

There were many more Asian shops and restaurants around (particularly some major ones opened up such as Din Tai Fung and Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot opened on the eastside before their branches on the west side).

Recent addition had been Turkish, Mediterranean and Persian grocery store (where I was able to purchase and try Persian dessert such as pashmak and Faloudeh) and restaurants.

In Bellevue alone, the 2010 census had shown that almost 41% of the population were minority or ethnic, compare to that figure was about 25% in 2000.

I believed that explained the proliferation of minority and ethnic small businesses, which of course was fantastic for foodies!

I loved Turkish Kofte and the fairly new Turkish restaurant, Sofra, opened in my neighborhood.

The version of kofte I had in Turkey was formed like little sausages –super tender meat with fantastic flavors of garlic and strong in cumin.

The menu at Sofra was on the small side, but as long as the food were good, it would be great as so many fantastic restaurants in Asia were “specialty store” that only served a handful of items.

The day of my visit, I thought Sofra did not have Kofte.

It was translated as Turkish burger, and I did not read Turkish carefully and completely missed it!

I had to go back and try my favorite Turkish dish!

Doner was next on my list.

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Doner was the same as Greek gyro or Arabic shawarma.

The lamb doner at Sofra was very delicious — beautifully marinated and charred lightly on the surface to give the crisp meat layer.

It was very gamey which I loved and expected from mutton.

The rice was fluffy and was buttery goodness; accompanied by a small salad of tomatoes, cucumbers and parsley and warm pita bread.

I remembered seeing tripe soup as special one day when I passed by the store, but was jot available on the day of my visit.

Sofra also had a small section dedicated to Turkish grocery at the back of the restaurant.

If you fancy doner, Sofra was definitely a place to visit and lovely place for a quick lunch!
Sofra Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Another favorite place of mine was the long time establishment of Boba Express.

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I believed they had the best boba tea in the Greater Seattle area.

I usually went to the Crossroad Mall spot and knew that they had another one at Factoria Mall.

Before Boba Express, I used to only get bubble tea in Vancouver BC.

Boba Express had most definitely eliminated my need to travel for a drink.

Their bubble was cooked perfectly — soft and chewy.

Many places had them overcooked and was too soft, or that I had encountered undercook bubble that had hard and powdery center.

They also cooked or soaked their cooked bubbles in sugar so that they carried enjoyable slight sweetness versus other stores I had tasted bland bubbles that I did not care for.

My favorite was the Thai Iced Tea bubble or honey green tea bubbles.

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Unfortunately the shop did use flavored syrup for many other flavors which I tried to avoid for health reasons.

They also served the most amazing popcorn chicken.

I also believe that was the best popcorn chicken in Great Seattle — better than Facing East, Yeas Wok or many other restaurants or bubble tea places.

The tender chicken pieces were consistently marinated well with strong garlic and soy flavor, and deep-fried fresh which yielded fantastically crispy and piping hot chicken pieces.

They custom-made the spiciness level with each order by tossing chili powder to the chicken pieces; and medium spicy were generally quite spicy already — what a rush!

The secret to the great tasting chicken had to do with the addition of basil.

I believe basil was tossed with the hot chicken and it imparted a nice light floral, grassy sweet basil flavor to the chicken.

I did not get the chicken often as it was deep-fried and I tried to avoid chicken and beef when eating out — it was by far the greatest guilty pleasure!
Boba Express on Urbanspoon

 

What are your Top 5 at Din Tai Fung?

In Eating Out, Food on June 3, 2014 at 09:49

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Din Tai Fung — I could always count on getting a great meal there.

We did not go often because it was quite expensive to get full.

I went to Din Tai Fung for 5 specific items on their menu that I craved:

1) organic chicken soup

2) spicy vegetables and pork wonton

3) noodle with sesame sauce

4) pork soup dumplings

5) sweet and sour spare ribs

The cold cucumbers and taro dumplings were also exceptional.

The organic chicken soup was the most pure concentrated chicken soup one could ever had.

It was simply stewed with chicken pieces, ginger and green onion.

Delicate, intense and rich chicken flavor, one could taste its fat and last ounce of juice; and at the same time, simple, clear and unassuming — I just loved it.

The very first time I had the chicken soup in Taiwan Din Tai Fung, I drank 3 or 4 bowls of it.

I only stopped because I realized the bill was stacking up with one single item quickly; certainly not because I did not want more!

The vegetables and pork wonton with spicy sauce was my next favorite.

The wonton wrapping was decent with nice, soft yet crunchy fillings from the tender pork and fresh vegetables.

The star was the spicy sauce — it was garlicky and addictive.

The hot sauce was so good that they actually sold the hot sauce by the bottle as well.

The sesame noodle’s sauce was smooth, delicious and with hint of roasted peanuts; the noodle was tender and cooked just right.

I loved mixing the spicy sauce from the wonton to zest up the sesame noodle.

Of course, the meal was not complete without having their famous soup dumplings.

Granted, the Din Tai Fung in Bellevue was not Taiwan Din Tai Fung, it did serve the best soup dumpling in our area.

Thin and elastic wrapping, the small dumpling packed a great amount of soup which more often than not, burnt my palate and my tongue because I just could not resist the piping fresh, off the steamer dumplings.

The pork filling was always juicy and well-flavored with ginger.

I love the black vinegar ginger dipping sauce for the dumplings as the tartness of the vinegar accentuated the delicate soup of the dumplings.

I usually skipped the soy sauce as I felt that the dumplings were perfectly salted and the soy sauce would mask their excellent flavors.

I was obsessed with the cold sweet and sour spare ribs.

The bite-size spare ribs were coated with the fantastic sauce that was exactly tangy enough and sweet enough to be coveted at maximum.

I would be very happy to  eat a whole bowl of rice just with the rib sauce!

Finally for dessert — taro dumpling.

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We usually get one steamer with 2 flavors: taro and red bean, since DH liked red bean.

Personally I found the quiet and subtle taro flavor soothing and delicious; the occasional small chunks of taro gave a bite and a surprise to the filling which was thoroughly enjoyable.

We had taken to go to Din Tai Fung at odd times to avoid waiting in line; sitting at the bar was also a great option for us.

Din Tai Fung 鼎泰豐 on Urbanspoon

Pizza Versus – Humble Pie and Mercato Stellina

In Eating Out, Food on May 23, 2014 at 16:00

Two newish pizza joints in our Greater Seattle area, and I had the chance to visit them just couple days apart.

Passed by Humble Pie all the time in International District – couldn’t miss it as it was where the big wood-fire stood stoically by Rainier Ave.

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It had a very casual, lay back, neighborhood friendly atmosphere with picnic table seating.

They grew their own chickens on site and all the ingredients for the pizzas were as organic and as local as they could get.

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That day, DH had the pull pork pizza and I the mushroom and egg.

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It was delicious and it was the bready and doughy kind.

The bottom was very crisp thanks to the high heat wood-fire oven, and the mids of the crust remained moist and chewy; it was not as fluffy as Tutta Bella’s yet still good.

The flavors were amazing.

This was my first experience of having a BBQ pizza without BBQ sauce!

The pull pork was a little drier but it oozed out barbeque smokiness and sweet aroma that no sauce was necessary.

The pickled onions were tasty crunchy and vinegary, and the tomato sauce was just tangy enough to be a great supporting actress.

Honestly, I believe my mushroom and egg was the winner of the 2; it felt like a harmonized choir in my mouth.

At the bass and tenor, there was the strong earthy mushrooms lightly sautéed, coupled with delicious truffle oil – the flavors were deep and grounding.

At the soprano, the fresh crisp arugula was delivering its sharp and distinctive flavor.

Finally alto, the egg:  it was subtle but gave the most creamy buttery texture in the mouth with the runny egg yolk.

Both pizzas came with light and great texture cheese which was perfect for my personal preference – it lightened up the pizzas in grease level and allowed the other ingredients to shine.

My only wish to Humble Pies pizzas was to have more toppings; it felt like there was too much dough.

Humble Pie on Urbanspoon

I wanted to go to Mercato Stellina for lunch then realized a while back that they only opened for dinner.

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Tucked quietly at the edge of old Bellevue downtown, Mercato Stellina had lovely outdoor seating and was opened by the folks who had Cantinetta.

It was a treat as we went with friends and got to try 4 of their pizzas: funghi, spicy salami, speck and prosciutto.

First, crust.

Mercato’s was the thin kind, a bit dry and hard.

I was really looking forward to the funghi with truffle oil and sage but was disappointed.

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The sautéed mushrooms looked and tasted not so healthy and flavor a little strange.

The truffle oil was great but the sage addition did not work well for me.

The sharp tallegio cheese was dry and sharp which was a nice compliment to the truffle flavor.

The spicy salami was quite spicy and delicious; paired really well with the slight tart and sweet tomato sauce — but the pizza had too much cheese for my taste and was a little greasy.

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The prosciutto meat was also lovely, fatty and tasty, and work classically great with fresh arugula and the nutty parmesan cheese.

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My speck was probably the most exciting of the 4 pizzas.

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speck with pear, gorgonzola and mint

The meat itself was dry with a lovely smoky, deep and surprisingly gamey flavor; paired with thinly sliced sweet pear, tart yet sweet balsamic vinegar and the bitter strong character of gorgonzola, it was a winning flavor combination.

We also had the baby kale salad with Italian tuna and a lovely tangy dressing; and tried our friends’ super tender meat balls which had a nice tomato sauce but the flavors inside the meatball was a little bland.

Mercato Stellina on Urbanspoon

Between the 2 pizza places, personally I preferred Humble Pie — the winner of this round of pizza vs.

Top Gun

In Eating Out, Food on May 19, 2014 at 10:22

For belated Mother’s Day celebration, we brought DH’s mom to Top Gun.

I knew my mother-in-law really loved whole fish with bone-in; and I could trust that Top Gun would deliver a great dish for her.

Decided that we were going to get steamed fish before we arrived.

However, the restaurant threw a little curve-ball on us — upon inquiry, the smallest fish they had that night was a 3.5 lb Ling Cod.

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Honestly way too much fish for 3 of us.

At the end, we decided that we were going for it, and asked for the fish to be served 3-way.

It was customary to get live fish, lobster or crab in a Cantonese style Chinese restaurant and had the live seafood divided and prepared as multiple courses.

Usually restaurants would make soup, stir-fried, steamed, or deep-fried (e.g. salt and pepper) with the fish.

For lobster or crabs, restaurants would offer up stir-fried with ginger and scallion, steamed, or deep-fried; sometimes they could make fried rice or noodle with the meat or inert, even bake in shell etc.

We picked our 3-way: soup, stir-fried with vegetables and steamed.

First was the soup.

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Absolutely loved it.

It was done in a traditional way that was milky, aromatic and creamy.

My grandmother made this kind of fish soup as well and the secret was frying the fish first.

Cooked along with cilantro, gai choy (a bitter Chinese vegetables), carrots, Chinese mushrooms and silky tofu, this soup was irresistible.

It was sweet, creamy, milky and a lovely white peppery taste to temper the fishy-ness.

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Next was steamed.

My love was the sweet soy sauce that accompanied the fish.

I could eat lots of rice with just the sauce and a little of the crisp green onions and ginger.

Fish itself was again tender.

This was my mother-in-laws favorite as she enjoyed working around the fish bones and savoring them.

It was too much work for both DH and I for the most part, and we were certainly digging around for meat.

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Lastly was stir-fried.

The tender Ling Cod fish fillet was lightly sautéed with green onions, carrots, celery, straw mushrooms, snow peas and most importantly ginger.

Every piece of the fish melted in the mouth with a light hint of sweetness just naturally from the fish.

The aromatics of ginger and green onions gave the flavors and the crisp and cooked just right vegetables delivered crunchiness to the overall dish.

I still have not master stir-frying fish fillet at home unfortunately; usually they would fell apart brilliantly — the skill in Chinese cooking I have yet to learn!

This was DH’s favorite as there was no work required to eat the fish fillet.

Overall, the Ling Cod was not a meaty fish, and positively for bone lovers.

I believe my mother-in-law had a good time — and it was all worth it.

Top Gun serves dim sum for lunch and it is the only eastside restaurant I am willing to go for dim sum; it is however, with eastside price tag as well, especially compare to our usual dim sum fort, Jade Garden.

Their dinners were great as well with my favorite such as Singaporean noodle, stir-fried broccoli with fish fillet and tofu clay pot.

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L: Singaporean noodle — R top: pork chop in peking sauce — M: garlic fried bok choy — L bottom: eggplant with oysters

 On our recent to-go gluttony, we had my super spicy heavily curried flavor (how I liked it!) Singaporean noodle with shrimp, bbq pork, egg, green onions, onions and crisp bean sprouts.  It was always dry as how it should be and delicious.

I craved for the sweetness and slight tangy sauce of the pork chop with Peking sauce; with Top Gun’s, I could even feel the crispness of the very tender pork chop underneath the super addictive sauce.

Bok Choy was fresh, crisp, sweet with garlic, and the eggplant was a bit on the greasy side but flavor still lovely with satay sauce and oysters.

Top Gun was a decent all round Cantonese style restaurant, and the owner would be opening Dim Sum Factory soon where dim sum would be served from 8 in the morning to midnight!

I can’t wait!

Top Gun Seafood Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Santouka Ramen

In Eating Out, Food on May 8, 2014 at 10:50

Second attempt, finally got to Santouka.

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My girlfriend and I arrived right at 11am when they opened on a Monday and there was already a line.

Luckily, we were able to get seated fairly quickly.

The shop was not big — seat maybe about 40 people.

A very simple menu was offered: tonkotsu ramen with shouyu, shio, karamiso and miso base.

Eggs were extra; and there was toroniku – special pork cheek meats that were highly coveted.

We ordered different soup bases so we could try their variety and found ourselves comparing Santouka to Jin Ya throughout our meal.

I got the toroniku ramen with karamiso, egg on the side, and my girlfriend had the shio ramen.

We also had the pork bun as the appetizer.

Pork bun came first — and I would say overall, it was a disappointment.

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The pork was fantastic — tender and fatty — but a thin slice, tucked in a bun that was on the hard side (not fluffy) with a wimpy stick of cilantro which was yellowing and some sweet miso paste.

I would actually call the pork bun bland.

I was not expecting flavor and texture bursting in my mouth (e.g. Taiwanese gua bao) since this was a Japanese style pork bun; however, I still expected better bun quality and more flavor.

Next was our ramen.

First, I had to try my girlfriend’s Shio Ramen since it was the plain unadulterated tonkotsu broth.

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It was delicious!

Creamy, rich flavors of pork and pork bones, and without stickiness in the palate.

The flavors were subtle, and yet one could tell that it was a broth that was cooked over a long period of time, and that every ounce of the pork that was used had transformed into the broth.

Fantastic milky color, the broth was clearly the star, and what Santouka was famous for.

With the accent of fresh green onion, thinly sliced peppers, and pickled plum, it was a delicate, tasty broth to savor on.

For broth: Santouka vs. Jin Ya, Santouka 1.

My karamiso was delicious as well; however, as expected, the miso covered up the elegant and gentle pork flavor.

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L: karamiso ramen — R:toroniku pork cheek meat

I wish they would offer a spicy version without miso; and their spiciness delivery was fairly low.

Moving onto the noodles.

I actually found my noodle too cooked, and too soft, and was not Q Q bouncy anymore.

It was the yellow egg noodle traditional ramen — it was not bad, but just expected a top notch ramen store not to overcook their noodle .

For noodle: Santouka vs. Jin Ya, Jin Ya 1.

Then, the pork.

The regular chashu was quite fatty, soft and tasty!

The meat portion was small, but their quality definitely shone through the bowl.

It was well-flavored – simply salted, and very little soy sauce flavor; quality meat was used to create the chashu and their website said they used rib meat only.

Just when I thought the chashu was good, my toroniku was out of this world!

Super tender, not very fatty, and amazingly melted in my mouth.

The texture of the pork cheek was clearly visible with a nice thin roasty skin and small layer of fat.

The portion on the pork cheek was generous and well worth the up charge for them.

I was just amazed by how buttery melty the pork was even without much fat!

For meat: Santouka vs. Jin Ya, Santouka 1.

Finally, the must-try egg.

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Very disappointing, as my egg was not runny at all; it was flavored nicely with sweetened soy sauce, but it was 60% cook through in my yolk.

For egg: Santouka vs. Jin Ya — no winner!  They both failed to deliver a perfectly cooked soft-boiled egg.

It was 2 to 1 on the score board for Santouka vs. Jin Ya from a taste point of view.

Lastly, price.

Santouka was quite a bit more expensive than Jin Ya, so I was definitely sticker-shocked.

With my toroniku karamiso ramen with egg on the side plus tips and tax, it was $20.

Super expensive.

Not sure I will be going there often as it was very pricy (especially compare to Vancouver, where there was delectable and cheaper ramen); it would be an option if I have a severe case of ramen craving and do not want to drive 3 hours.

Santouka is still the best ramen option in the Greater Seattle area.

Hokkaido Ramen Santouka on Urbanspoon

Persian Sweets II and Yeh Yeh’s

In Eating Out, Food, Food Product for Home on April 30, 2014 at 10:44

The same trip that I discovered Faloudeh from the Persian market, I also bought Sesame Pashmak — another traditional Iranian dessert made of sesame, sugar, pistachio and vanillin.

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I loved the prominent sesame flavor in this dessert; and it was the texture that was really fun.

It reminded me of a traditional Chinese candy that I used to enjoy growing up called dragon beard candy, 龍鬚糖.

Dragon beard candy looked like a cocoon made of pulled super fine sugar strands.

Inside the candy, one would find finely chopped peanuts and sometimes coconut.

Having dragon beard candy was a textural journey of its own; and it was considered a culinary art of China.

Pashmak was very similar to dragon beard candy.

The strands were coarser than dragon bear candy, and it looked like sesame was blended with sugar.

It was not formed like a cocoon and with no stuffing inside.

The initial sensation was a huge hit of vanillin flavor in the mouth; then I could feel the texture of many threads, which disappear relatively quickly — similar to melting cotton candy in the mouth, created this silky and velvety sensation.

Very shortly as the interest in texture faded away, a huge wave of roasted sesame, nutty flavor surged right up.

Pistachio were sparsely interlaced among the strands and gave a crunchy texture to an otherwise soft and delicate texture.

All these sensorial experience happened in manner of seconds — making Pashmak a unique tasting experience.

As a dessert with sugar as one of the primary ingredients,  I was surprised to find it not too sweet.

Pashmak was such a treat!

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This tiny shop, Yeh Yeh’s, in Bellevue specialized in Vietnamese sandwiches, salads and beef stew only.

A cheap(er), dependable, good-eat spot.

I liked their Vietnamese sandwiches especially when it was consumed right after they were ordered — warm and toasty with large amount of well-pickled and sweet carrots and radishes.

Layered with jalapenos and cilantro, the sandwich was aromatic and fresh.

There was many choices of meats: beef, pork, chicken, tofu, brisket, ham and BBQ pork.

I usually stayed with the delicious and traditional soy-garlic marinated pork.

The only potentially inauthentic part was the existence of a tasty mayo-like spread in the sandwich.

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I loved the simple noodle salad, Bun.

It was extremely refreshing with the traditional lime dressing and the addition of mint leaves – a very nice touch that gave a simple twist to the flavor dimension.

Under category salad, one could pick either noodles or green papaya.

Each order came with 2 choices of proteins (pork, beef, chicken, tofu) including Vietnamese eggroll as one of the options.

The rice vermicelli was always well cooked and never stuck together.

Mixing each bite of the cold noodle with the pickled root vegetables and cucumbers was of the most soothing experience in hot summer days.

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Yeh Yeh’s definitely was not the cheapest (still east side price) in the Greater Seattle area, but it was a great place as an eastside option.

Yeh Yeh's Vietnamese Sandwiches on Urbanspoon

Indian Pizza and Berbere Kale Chips

In Eating Out, Food, Home Creation on April 25, 2014 at 11:12

Why would I blog about Can Am Pizza?

Because our neighborhood Can Am Pizza is special!

This Can Am pizza serves Indian pizzas.

They have chicken and paneer pizzas, served with sides of yogurt and extra jalapenos if one wishes.

My favorite is the butter chicken pizza.

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L: DH’s favorite Hawaiian without cheese — R: butter chicken pizza

Thick, rich, savory and spicy butter curry chicken on top of soft bready pizza crust, it was most definitely another experience to enjoy Indian food!

The pizza crust was not anything special, but it was good enough as a vehicle for the saucy butter chicken.

I tried their tandoori chicken pizza and it was decent — but I found it less unique as it tasted similar to grilled chicken pizza.

The hotness level was definitely not for spicy wimps — I usually had my mouth and ears burning with mild.

Indian pizza from Can Am was definitely one of those unique, cheap and delicious grub!

Can Am Pizza on Urbanspoon

 

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I LOVE kale chips!

Easy and fast to make, healthy and delicious!

I have been playing around to spice up the kale chips and really like this recipe with Berbere.

Berbere is a super versatile Ethiopian spice blend — earthy, aromatic and spicy hot!

I got the inspiration to try cooking with Berbere after reading Yes Chef.

Caution: this recipe is pretty spicy hot especially if being consumed non-stop (which was what I did)!

Enjoy!

 

Berbere Kale Chips

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INGREDIENTS

1 bunch of curly kale

1/4 tsp salt

1.5 tsp Berbere

1 tbsp. olive oil

 

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven at 380F

Tear kale leaves only into bite size pieces*

Wash kale leaves and remove excess water in a salad spinner

Coat kale leaves with olive oil thoroughly

Add berbere and salt little bit at a time, mixing the spices throughout kale leaves as uniformly as possible^

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Bake for 8 mins and it is done!

 

*I save the stalk of kale for soups

^the curly leaves make it difficult to spread the spices evenly; as a result, adding small amount and mixing evenly is essential for final eating experience