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Dinner at Facing East, Bellevue

Ate here after catching Interstellar at the Lincoln Square cinema. Yay for being a student and still shamelessly exploiting student discounts. Tbh I think ‘grad students’ are typically as poor as if not poorer than undergrads.. but only relative to their other post-graduate, non-grad student friends :P


The Taiwanese five-spice fried chicken was quite good although I thought the 5-spice could be more potent and more… fermented. Shihlin’s chicken is still better (and spicier) than this.


The sweet and sour pork was alright, a little bit too sweet but I guess that’s what Americans like.


I really liked the Radish fried rice. Earlier in the day we bumped into this random Chinese dude in Bellevue Square who told us he always goes to Facing East to eat and he always orders the radish fried rice so I decided to try it. It’s basically fried rice with egg and chye poh (preserved radish) and it’s full of umami! Loved it.


The dish I liked best was the braised egg tofu with snap peas and shiitake. They even bothered to deep fry the tofu to give it that nice brown skin. actually I have no idea how restaurants do this quickly and efficiently – I have tried browning egg tofu myself at home many times and it always ends in tears – tofu tends to spatter a LOT especially since it’s so moist. And it doesn’t brown evenly unless you use a lot of oil. Maybe they have a bulk supplier of pre-fried egg tofu disks.

I’m definitely coming back here! There’s a bunch of other interesting chinese food to try in Bellevue though, like Doughzone dumpling house.

p.s. We tried the ‘oyster omelette’ but the omelette part of it had way too much sweet potato flour and was rather gluey. It was also doused in the most uninspiring sauce, so I would recommend leaving that out of the order! The drinks here are really good, especially the taro smoothie which is super rich and has actual chunks of taro (not fake taro powder) floating about in it, like a cold orh nee.

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Brunch at Frank’s Oyster House

Second time at our to-go place for brunch when we’re craving fried chicken and waffles :D


This time we tried their beef brisket hash with poached eggs and jus – it was great, though I thought the jus was a little bit salty, I suppose that’s what the bread and poached eggs are for. The eggs were perfectly poached, and they were very generous with the brisket.


Their bruleed grapefruit is great as usual, and I’m of a mind to try it myself at home soon. Grapefruit is pretty expensive nowadays though, I bought a 1 pounder for $1.99 the other day at QFC.


Of course we have to order their Fried chicken and waffles. We usually have brunch for lunch, so the portions here always make one wish they had an extra appetizer or two we could order. Most everything on their brunch menu is about this size, which would not do as an appetizer…. or would it? :P

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Lunch at Marla Thai, UDistrict

We had this after hiking at the university waterfront trail, which really doesn’t have that much to see save for a few frozen over ponds. We did manage to catch a family of raccoons traipsing across the ice to the other side though, which was a treat. There isn’t really a lot going on in this part of the Udistrict although there are several restaurants around the area like Jak’s Grill and Ciao.


Each of the lunch sets come with a small starter salad, just a few stray pieces of lettuce and tomato really.


I got the deep fried cod in tamarind sauce – a battered piece of frozen cod that is deep fried and then doused in a slightly sour, slightly slightly spicy sauce. Not really great since the fish was not fresh but it was certainly hearty and at this price point (think it was $11 or $12) I’m not complaining.


I liked the cashew chicken more, which tastes just like what you would expect cashew chicken to taste like. It went really well with the perfectly steamed jasmine rice and was just sweet enough without being cloying. Overall I think they are a wee bit pricey for a lunch set which has smaller portions but the quality is not bad. The lunch portions at Krua Thai are smaller for example, so this is actually decent for this area.

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Dinner at Assaggio, Belltown

This is the first Italian Italian restaurant we’ve stepped into since arriving here in September. I say Italian Italian to highlight that it’s not American Italian, i.e. the sort that serves spaghetti bolognese and chicken parmigiana, and to highlight the fact that it’s waaay different from Olive Garden. (Nothing against Olive Garden, mind you, I love their breadsticks. But Italian Italian is just so much better!)


We had the grilled scallop starter which was really quite inexpensive but which I also thought tasted a little weak on the scallop flavour, like they were injected with water. They were extremely soft (not mushy), but not soft in the nicely under-seared sense, just… soft. I liked them but they are certainly not the best scallops around. FYI, the best seared scallops I’ve had in Seattle so far were at How to Cook a Wolf.


I had been craving for a saltimbocca for the longest time – it’s pretty rare in Singaporean italian restaurants and when it’s not rare, it’s REALLY expensive just because it’s veal scaloppine and well, we import all our meat. The saltimbocca here is really quite good, although I think they could have wedged more sage between the prosciutto and the veal. The champagne sauce on the veal was also perfectly velvety and aromatic.


We decided to get the risotto special with gorgonzola sauce, melon, and prosciutto – thought it was pretty interesting that someone decided to build the classic Italian appetizer of prosciutto and cantaloupe into a risotto. The gorgonzola sauce was a little on the dry side, but I must say I thought everything worked together really well. I love how innovative restaurants here are and how they keep making me push the limits of what I’m willing to try. So many of the restaurants in Seattle have convinced me to eat sp many things I never thought I’d care to eat and convinced me that they were delicious. I must say the chefs in the Pacific Northwest are extremely adept at putting ingredients together in mindblowing combinations. More on that in a later post on Tavolata.


We had a Tartufo for dessert – chocolate gelato with a zabaglione center dusted with cocoa powder. I liked the strong marsala/egg yolk taste of the zabaglione, although the chocolate gelato was a little lacklustre. Still, a pretty good tartufo, since I rarely see this outside of Italy I’m gonna give them stars for the effort.

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Copycat Paseo caribbean roast sandwich recipe with crockpot

For those not in the know, Seattle’s most beloved sandwich chain shuttered last month, throwing the entire city into a confusion as to where they would get their next sandwich and when it would reopen. Just to refresh people’s memories, this is what their sandwiches looked like:

The scallop sandwich. Amazing. I haven’t learnt how to make this yet.


Their most popular sandwich is the Caribbean roast, although the melt shown here is not bad either.

So right after finals we tinkered around the kitchen a little bit and read a bunch of copycat recipes before coming up with this baby, which will be probably be my go-to recipe whenever another craving hits!

Paseo Caribbean Roast Sandwich (serves 6++)
Ingredients

Pork
3-3.5lb (1.35-1.5kg) boneless pork shoulder
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1.5 tbsp kosher salt
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 cups orange juice
Juice of 3 limes
2 tbsp dark/light brown sugar (dark is preferred, but no need to go out and buy a bag of that just for this!)
2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano (dried ok)
½ cup EVOO
1 large onion, diced
2 bay leaves
1 oz. rum (if available)
1/4 cup of shredded cilantro (chinese parsley is a little stronger than cilantro but it should do the trick)

Garlic mayonnaise
1 large-ish bulb of garlic
Olive oil for drizzling
2 tbsp olive oil
Juice of 1 lime
½ tbsp sweet relish
1 cup mayonnaise

Fixings
Romaine lettuce leaves
~6 loaves of (7 in) sandwich bread from Macrina (or any other bakery you like)
Cilantro
Pickled jalapenos
1 large yellow onion

Instructions:
THE NIGHT BEFORE
Caribbean roast pork

  1. Mix marinade together in a bowl. Pour over the meat in a sealable container and refrigerate overnight

Garlic mayo

  1. Cut the top off the bulb of garlic and place in a ramekin.
  2. Drizzle with olive oil
  3. Roast in the oven for 30-40 mins at 300°F/145°C
  4. When soft, remove from oven and squeeze the cloves out of their skins
  5. Mash the cloves to a paste, then add the rest of the ingredients and stir till blended.
  6. Let sit overnight in the fridge

THE DAY ITSELF

  1. The next day, heat the crock pot on high. Sear the 4 edges of the pork shoulder in the pan till you get a nice brown char
  2. Put some of the onion chunks on the bottom of the crock pot before lowering the pork in. Pour extra olive oil to coat the crock pot if necessary, then the remaining marinade over. It’s okay if the pork is not submerged. Cook on high for about 6-8 hours (according to your desired level of shreddability) before shredding.
  3. When you shred the meat into a separate bowl, remember to ladle the marinade from your crock pot on top of the meat at the end to keep it warm and moist
  4. Slice the onions into ½ inch rings. Sear them in a flat fry pan. When both sides of the disks are caramelized, break them apart to soften further. May add a tsp of sugar.
  5. Slice baguettes in half and brush with olive oil. Toast at 300°F for about 10 minutes.
  6. Spread generous amount of garlic mayonnaise on both halves
  7. Put 4-5 jalapeno slices and roughly torn cilantro leaves on the bottom
  8. Spoon the shredded meat over. Again, be generous. There is literally no point to following this recipe to a tee if you’re not going to be generous at this stage.
  9. Cover with the caramelized onions and then a leaf of romaine.
  10. Top with the remaining slice of bread and serve with lots of napkins.


So we bought the cesare loaf from Macrina which was a little too large to fit in our mouths hehe (the pictures above are of the regular macrina baguette, which I think are too small). I recommend either going earlier, or finding a bakery near you with sandwich bread that you like. Not square whites! More like hearty, baguetty rolls. Proportion is everything in this recipe, so we simply ate our sandwiches open faced and lopped more roast pork on the top. It was delicious, and SUPER drippy. Never forget the napkins. I still have a coupla wetnaps I took from Paseo from a visit there in September that we are now too sentimental to use.


You will have plenty of pulled pork left over to make MORE SANDWICHES or to ladle over a copycat chipotle cilantro rice (presumably you’ll have plenty of cilantro left over too). The one thing that ran out first was the garlic mayo for me. The garlic mayo (roasting the entire bulb whole) was really similar to the real deal. This sandwich will certainly satisfy any Paseo cravings you have, though because I’m using home kitchen equipment and a crockpot to make this (all of my equipment is pretty clean), it probably lacks a few flavor notes (chinese people like to call it ‘wok hei’, or the aroma from a well seasoned wok) compared to the original.

Please Lorenzo Lorenzo, won’t you stop breaking our hearts?

OMG BREAKING NEWS

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Dinner at Stars in the Sky, Edmonds, WA

We were up at the Landmark Crest Cinema in Shoreline to catch the Boxtrolls (certainly wouldn’t pay >$4 for that movie! I think I’ve completely outgrown kids’ movies now..) and this place which we knew had korean fried chicken was just a 10 minute drive away so we decided to check it out.


we ordered a side of fries fried in the same oil as the chicken so they were really fragrant, like the sort of fries carried by western stalls in hawker centers.


We got the Korean fried chicken in sweet and spicy glaze – they didn’t really allow for mixing of flavours unless you got an entire portion of fried chicken. We got a half portion and it was already humongous. The simply fried chicken with no sauce also looked pretty amazing. It’s not as legit as say 4-fingers where they double-fry the chicken and all the fat has rendered – the skin/batter here is a little thicker and sweeter rather than spicy, but still quite good. I would like to try their ginger sesame chicken one day. They let you have a karaoke room if you order > $35 of food on Mondays to Thursdays if I’m not wrong.


I got the Korean steamed egg with lots of red pepper flakes just because it’s something I miss from Koko, the korean restaurant in Ctown at cornell. It actually doesn’t have much flavour (chinese steamed egg is nicer) but it’s a really hearty, stomach-warming sort of dish when it’s cold out.


Their mozzarella corn in a skillet seems to be the popular dish here! We loved it. And it seems really american for a korean restaurant too. I think every other table at the restaurant also ordered this dish – there’s something about sweet corn kernels stuck in a stringy mozzarella grid that nobody can resist.

I really liked this place. It’s a homey little hole in the wall in a quiet neighborhood that does really nice korean pub food. You feel a strange affinity with all the other customers just because you all stumbled into the same gem of a restaurant, and that’s what bars are meant to do aren’t they? Make you feel just that little bit less alone.

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Dinner from Delfino’s Pizza, UVillage

Decided to try the deep dish pizza near my place in the University Village that got a 4.1 stars on Google reviews. It’s a little pricier than Patxi’s, that does the same thing, and I felt not as good.

We ordered a pepperoni, onion, pepper, and sausage pizza.

The first bite was magnificent – very fresh ingredients and oozy cheese. Patxi’s pizza was a little heavy handed on the tomato sauce above the stuffed crust but this one was alright.


Cross section.

I thought they had too much sausage though. Not really a problem with a restaurant, just that I don’t like sausage that much so I prefer more vegetables dotted with little morsels of sausage.

The crust attempts to be flaky like Patxi’s, but the bottom layer is just doughy and thick and not that enjoyable. Still, it does a pretty good stuffed pizza and would definitely satisfy any deep dish cravings one may have.