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Dinner at Jade Garden

We tried out the dim sum here on a Friday evening (hence they had limited options) on A’s recommendation. A is an international student from Hong Kong in our department who is hence regarded as the authority on dim sum, which is an iconic part of cantonese cuisine. (Of course, not all dumplings are equal, and different dumplings have different roots, but most dim sum places around the world feature cantonese dumplings prepared by cantonese chefs).

Jade Garden
We tried the “xian zhu juan”, or beancurd skin roll. It was stuffed with pork and shrimp, then braised in this unidentifiable brown sauce that was quite flavorful and seafoody. I liked it, but the beancurd skin could be more delicate. I sense that they don’t have a huge variety of beancurd skin to choose from in the market here, unlike in Singapore where you can get different thicknesses and levels of charring.

Jade Garden
The siew mai were huge, meat stuffed dumplings covered in fake fish roe. I think they were too large and hearty, and also the texture lacked a certain bounce that accompanies typical siew mai, whose shrimp are soaked in a baking soda solution to make their bouncier.

Jade Garden
The lemon chicken was a poor showing – the lemon sauce was too one-dimensional (mainly sour/sweet/sickly) and the batter was completely unflavored! It was shatteringly crispy (makes a good picture), but not salty or spiced at all. Weird.

Jade Garden
I liked this the best – fried rice with egg white and conpoy (dried scallops). It had a whole lot of wok hei was really well executed. Perhaps we just didn’t know what to order on their dinner menu. They seem to have pretty large live lobster and crab, I am pretty interested in trying those!

Note: Posts will be slightly intermittent from now on, due to the wedding planning we have to do (in my free time at school) while handling our regular homework load.

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Lunch Rodizio at the Grill from Ipanema, Belltown

The Grill from Ipanema
Here’s the signboard all oxidized outside the restaurant. The shopfront is kind of narrow, but it extends really deep inside to give a great view!

They were having a groupon deal for this place, $30 for a $50 groupon which you could use for the lunch rodizio on a weekend, so we came here one sunday (free parking :P) The food was great! If you haven’t been to a churrascaria before, how it works it they have these servers come up to your table with skewers and they slice meat off kebabs right at your table onto your plate. The meat service is endless and is up to you how much meat you would like to eat for a single buffet price (lunch is $27.95 excl tax). They also provide a buffet style salad bar to accompany the meat heavy rodizio, with rice, soup, bread, cured meat, and all kinds of salads. You can order dishes a la carte as well, but almost everybody does the rodizio experience.

The Grill from Ipanema
They give you a red/green coaster that you flip to signify when you want meat to be served at your table or when you want to take a break.

The Grill from Ipanema
Everyone gets this starter: Plantain fritters and mini cheese buns, both of which are AMAZING. I can’t believe how many tables left their plantain fritters behind! Z and I were seriously tempted to snatch some of them up for ourselves but we managed to control that impulse. The cheese bun is really small but packs a whole lot of flavour. Goes perfectly with their array of soups/stews.

The Grill from Ipanema
Here are some of the vegetables from the buffet selection, selected to go with the meat. I didn’t find that a whole lot of them went well with the meat except for the israeli salad as well as the grilled vegetables, but they are nice as a salad.

The Grill from Ipanema
They had grilled cauliflower, eggplant, ham and cheese. The cheeses there are pretty uninspiring, I wouldn’t fill up on those.

The Grill from Ipanema
Z and I really liked their tomato bisque, which I sprinkled with farota. These were his vegetables – he’s getting pretty good at plating isn’t he? The bok choy was meh, but the glazed green beans with mandarins and cashews are pretty good.

The Grill from Ipanema
The passionfruit chicken drumstick was alright; the passionfruit flavour was not really pronounced.

The Grill from Ipanema
Sirloin steak, cut to your level of doneness off the skewer.

The Grill from Ipanema
The best cut there imo is the tip steak, which is cured and charred really nicely on the outside. It’s really salty if you just eat the crispy little bits of fat on the outside but so good. The meat is tender and flavorful throughout too.

The Grill from Ipanema
The best vegetables there are the grilled asparagus and portabellas. Even though the portabellas were too salty, they still went nicely with the less well-marinated cuts. The asparagus was crunchy and fresh. Both were coated with a lot of oil, so it’s definitely not the healthiest thing on the salad bar.

The Grill from Ipanema
Cherry tomato and ham macaroni salad – this was alright, nothing special.

The Grill from Ipanema
Pork sausages, black pepper steak and grilled pineapple. I loved the sausages. They went best with the cucumbers in the Israeli salad. Try to get the inner flesh of the pineapple (when about half of it has been shaved off already, but it has been put through the rotisserie again with the cinnamon spice reapplied). That’s the juiciest bit. When the pineapple is still pretty much whole on the skewer the flesh can be a little tough.

The Grill from Ipanema
The parmesan pork loin was also very flavourful, moist, and cheesy. I would steer clear of their steak cubes though – they were dry and tough and one of the worst cuts.

The Grill from Ipanema
The tomato and cilieghine salad is not bad, but they could use a better quality cilieghine.

It was a pretty fun experience! The whole thing including tip and the original groupon price ($30) came up to slightly under $50 for the two of us, which I thought was pretty worth it. We were really full when we left though, so your stomach may have to do quite a bit of work digesting all that meat and oil.

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Lunch at Veggie Grill, UVillage

We brought R here for lunch since it’s a vegetarian restaurant, he’s like our only vegetarian friend, and we’d never tried it before. The menu actually looks pretty snazzy, and one of the things I always like about vegetarian food is how clean everything tastes.

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We got these cauliflower bites with orange sauce which I think were trying to emulate orange chicken – all battered and fried, then dipped in an orange sauce. They were delicious, though I think they could have used more herbs in the orange sauce. still, the batter was light and not soggy, unlike General Tso’s chicken batter.

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R wanted to try the Buffalo Chick’n – he used to eat meat before after all. I don’t like buffalo chicken in general – I think tabasco heavy buffalo sauce is really sour and one-dimensional, nothing like korean fried chicken or even malay fried chicken with their many spices. Even Southern fried chicken is better. Anyway for buffalo “chicken” tenders I suppose it’s not bad, but the skin wasn’t really crispy. They sold several other “chicken” dishes on the menu and if you didn’t know better it may be pretty hard to tell that it’s a vegetarian restaurant. The entire menu is vegetarian, in case it is unclear.

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I ordered the glazed tofu banh mi and it was amazing. The pickled cabbage and carrots in the banh mi were spot on, and the tofu slab was perfectly glazed, browned, and crisp, although I think it could have been thinner since tofu in general doesn’t have much of a savoury taste, unlike marinated meat. It did taste like a banh mi and I would certainly order it again.

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My banhmi came with a side of sweet potato fries with chipotle aioli which were really good except for the malodorous fake parmesan they sprinkled on top.

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L couldn’t resist ordering the All Hail Kale salad – and it was actually not bad! The only time I’d eaten kale raw was when Tiffany made me try her fresh kale from her farmer’s market share and it was really bitter! This was nothing like that, and came in a really tangy, sweet dressing. It is also a humongous portion, so we packed it and brought it home to eat with the mushroom gruyere crepes I made for dinner.

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R ordered the “meatiest” thing of the three of us – a chicken cutlet doused in gravy served with mashed potatoes and kale. The chicken cutlet is basically the same type of filet as in the buffalo chicken. I kind of got sick of it on my second or third “chicken” tender, but on the first one I did think it tasted a whole lot cleaner than regular chicken tenders. The texture is pretty good though.

This is a great place to eat with your vegetarian friends although I feel like more can be done to make vegetables shine, rather than touting all sorts of meat substitutes. This is Seattle after all, I’m sure a fake-meat free menu would actually work here.

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Lunch at the Georgian (Dine around Seattle)

This was the only really great DAS restaurant we went to that had great service, great food, great ambience. The only slightly foreboding thing is the fact that when you make a reservation with Open Table, there is warning from the restaurant saying that you owe them money if you don’t give them 24 hrs notice for cancelling your reservation. And it’s something like $25 per pax for lunch and $50 per pax for dinner. Other than that it was a really nice

The Georgian
Their bread plate (as highly gushed about on Yelp) is pretty amazing – cheese crisps, some kind of sundried tomato brioche, chips and a huge bowl of really good tapenade.

The Georgian
I had the clam chowder, which is pretty good but no better than the pike place chowder house.

The Georgian
R’s salad had a really dramatic presentation – a huge veil of cheese covering the watercress leaves (oh yeah, a gripe with the menu – why is the watercress listed as H2O cress? You are not a chemistry lab) and a little truffle beignet skewered in the middle.

The Georgian
Lifting the veil of cheese, you can see the watercress leaves below. The dressing was sorta potato-ey and tangy, but we had problems placing what exactly it was. It was really delicious though.

The Georgian
The French onion soup was pretty good, with a nice thick layer of gruyere melted on top. It was a little sweeter than typical onion soups.

The Georgian
The croque Madame with prosciutto and a sunny side up was really good, they used brioche as a base and the egg was perfectly fried. The prosciutto was mixed pretty evenly with the cheese, but I feel like this would be better if served with some salad greens.

The Georgian
I had the butter chicken with naan, basmati rice, and tempura green beans. The tempura green beans were AMAZING. The butter chicken didn’t come in a typical butter chicken sauce though – it was more of a dry rub on a chicken breast. The marinade went all the way through the chicken breast and it was really tender (more so than the typical kind of butter chicken slow cooked in sauce)

The Georgian
L’s passionfruit granita. I didn’t try this.

The Georgian
It came with a little lemon poppyseed cake with a pipette of raspberry coulis for you to inject into the cake.

The Georgian
I had the salted caramel chocolate tart – not bad, but the shortcrust pastry was a little tough. The waiter came over, looked at me struggling with it, and told me “you need a knife”. I was all “no, I’m ok” but he gave me a look and repeated “You need a knife”. Things got even messier with the knife, but the tart was worth it.

One of the best things here is their fresh squeezed lemonade – we had one with strawberry and basil and it was amazing! When we came for lunch we also saw a lot of people with these itty bitty tiered tea trays filled with pastries and scones that looked so cute and tea-time-y, I think they do serve tea/brunch so one should look into that while making their reservation (they ask you to specify which meal you’re dining for).

I wish I had made a reservation far in advance for their dinner menu, but I only remembered to check it out on the last sunday of March and it was too late to make reservations for the last two days of March. Next time then. The dinner menu sounded similarly amazing.

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Lunch at Bai Pai, Ravenna

We came here for lunch on a lazy saturday afternoon toward the end of spring break just before going antique store shopping for a nice vintage pie server for me. This is on 65th and 24th, and there are quite a few antique shops on 65th that are worth checking out (about three), hence our dining here. The owner was a friendly little man who gave us some recommendations for the most popular items on their lunch menu.

Bai Pai
We started with a house salad with enoki and crispy keropok strips. It had a nice tangy dressing but some really sad “cooking” tomatoes.

Bai Pai
L got the Thai iced tea, which he really enjoyed. I don’t fancy the sweetener used in Thai iced tea, which is the same sweetener used to make grass jelly in Singapore, which I really don’t like.

Bai Pai
We ordered a cup of the tom yum soup with chicken just to see their tom yum soup game and they passed! It wasn’t spicy enough for me though (I ordered a 2 star), should have gone with a 4 star. ($6) They also used white mushrooms, and I feel tom yum soup goes much better with canned straw mushrooms (at least that’s how it’s done in Asia).

Bai Pai
I ordered the curry fried rice with prawns in a tamarind sauce lunch set ($9.50) – both components were admirably done. The prawns were frozen of course but tasted bouncy and succulent.

Bai Pai
The tamarind sauce coating it was also sweet and spicy and all around very flavorful. It could be spicier though.

Bai Pai
The pad thai had wok hei but was on the whole pretty forgettable. It didn’t really come with any meat, just a few pieces of tofu, and wasn’t served with lime or peanuts.

Bai Pai
The Chicken satay that came with the pad thai set was pretty well marinated all the way through though, and also surprisingly tender for chicken breast. This place does Thai satay really well, but I still prefer my Indonesian/Malay satay which uses thigh meat and has more lemongrass in the marinade and is also more charred.

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Dinner at Sushi Tengu, Northgate

We came here for a quick dinner just before heading up to the Landmark Crest Cinema to catch the hobbit. They do a pretty quick dinner service, with lots of interesting things on the kaiten that we snatched off, way more plates than we thought we would.

Tengu Sushi
L said the scallop nigiri was really fresh and “crunchy”, which is how he feels sashimi should taste when it’s very fresh.

Tengu Sushi
The same can’t be said of the kani nigiri – which used frozen snow crab. I think in general if the sushi is going to be cooked people feel less of a need to source for fresh ingredients. Disappointed with this one.

Tengu Sushi
We saw the sushi chefs prepare the tenzo special roll in front of us on the other side of the kaiten, rolling up some crab meat salad and avocado slices into the rice, placing some tuna and green onion mixture on top (kind of like a tuna tartare), and then torching it. It was really good, but a little fishy due to the tuna, which I think is only semi cooked.

Tengu Sushi
I liked the potato croquette but it tasted a little plain (needs more kewpie and other seasonings). It came on such a cute plate with green dots around the rim though.

Tengu Sushi
The mini udon with assorted tempura was really silky. I think they should serve the tempura separately from the udon, most of it got soggy immediately and became sorta gross. It would also be improved if served with some tentsuyu. But I really liked the udon – which had a little less bite than the one at U:don but still had an amazing texture.

Tengu Sushi
The yaki gyoza were pretty good, although we suspect frozen. Still really nice with the gyoza dipping sauce.

Tengu Sushi
The salmon nigiri not bad, according to L. They also had different kinds of salmon,

Tengu Sushi
like this sockeye salmon nigiri which had a very different texture and flavour, leaner than typical salmon (as you can tell by the lack of fat)

Tengu Sushi
The tamago sushi was well done, quite sweet and came in a pretty generous serving. I couldn’t finish more than two because the serving was so generous.

This is a pretty decent place to come in for a quick bite! While nothing was really -mindblowing- I would say there were more hits than misses and if I were craving Japanese food I would definitely consider this spot. The sushi was also pretty inexpensive.

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Dinner at Ten Mercer, Queen Anne

This is the second last DAS restaurant we dined at in the Queen Anne area and it was the worst one.

At Ten Mercer in Queen Anne
The best part of our dinner was Anthony’s medjool dates wrapped in pancetta – they were intensely sweet, almost like a japanese sweet potato, but also salty from the pancetta and perfect with the balsamic reduction. This was the only semi inventive dish, the rest were forgettable (or unforgettably bad, depending on how you want to look at it). I guess this is after all a bar. I have no idea how they managed to get 4 stars on Google Reviews.

At Ten Mercer in Queen Anne
L’s arugula and grilled pear salad. I didn’t try this.

At Ten Mercer in Queen Anne
My lobster bisque was alright, but a little too much cream and too little flavour.

At Ten Mercer in Queen Anne
L’s osso buco in a brandy sauce was way too sweet and a little weird. When I think of osso buco I think of a slow braised hunk of meat falling off the bone, which this was not. And the sauce wasn’t deep nor did it have the “braised for hours” type of flavour.

At Ten Mercer in Queen Anne
A had the seared tuna with udon. The udon was woefully overcooked, limp, and had lost any semblance of bite. The tuna tasted alright but wasn’t exactly mindblowing/sashimi grade type. The color was so pale it could have been injected.

At Ten Mercer in Queen Anne
I had the Lobster risotto with really bizarre plating, an again we have these peas and carrots inside. Why? The risotto was dry, clumpy, and I could barely finish it even though they were quite generous with the lobster meat. The risotto sauce barely had any hint of lobster.

At Ten Mercer in Queen Anne
We all had coffees with our desserts and they do a pretty good macchiato.

At Ten Mercer in Queen Anne
The warm chocolate cake had a weird chewy/hard caramel drizzled over it and was too starchy and odd. No lava, not all that warm, not sure what the point of this was. But this was not the worst.

At Ten Mercer in Queen Anne
The profiteroles win the prize for worst profiteroles I have ever eaten. I don’t understand – is this difficult to do? British supermarkets carry it in their dessert section for < 2 quid and all quite respectable. The choux pastry was disgusting – my failed choux pastry looks better than this and the cream/custard inside was off and they drizzled so little chocolate sauce on it. Somebody ought to show them how to make a proper profiterole.

At Ten Mercer in Queen Anne
A’s creme brulee was the only not horrible dessert I think, but I can still do a better one with Alton Brown’s exceedingly simple recipe. Stay away from this place! Don’t worry, after all these disappointing reviews I have some not too bad restaurants coming up from our spring break dining :D Haven’t been in much of a mood to post since I was busy working on a recipe book and, also, catching up on all the news about Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s founding prime minister who passed away a week ago. The whole nation (and its overseas constituents) was in mourning for the entire week. You would be too if you had a political leader who managed to transform the landscape of a tiny fishing town into a metropolis in a mere 40 years.