Jul 122012
 

Sorry for the lack of update in the past couple of weeks!  I’ve been pretty busy, and ever since we set up our kitchen, I haven’t gone out to eat much – and I’ll be starting some recipe posts soon, so stay tuned ^^

S and I visited our dear friend in Seattle last week, and needless to say, we sort of ate a lot.  It was our first time in the city, and we had an overwhelming number of recommendations for places to visit (for sights and food).  I had a fantastic time and wish that our vacation could have been longer… but I’ve been back in reality for a few days now, and it’s time to catch up here.

**Warning: this is going to be a long, hunger-inducing post.  You have been warned!!

We started our trip by going directly from the airport to Facing East Taiwanese Restaurant in Bellevue, which was recommended to me as “one of the best Taiwanese restaurants in the U.S.”

Facing East 東來食府

Taiwanese pork buns 刈包

Taiwanese pork buns, or “gua bao”, are basically pork belly sandwiches with Chinese steamed rolls as the bread.  The pork belly here was braised to perfection, and the steamed roll was soft and fluffy.

Fried shrimp with pineapple 鳳梨蝦球

Another pretty traditional dish – fried shrimp drizzled with mayo and served with pineapples (and other fruits, in this case).  Mayo in Taiwan (and Japan) is sweeter and less thick than the original American mayo, and – dare I say it? – much tastier.

Soy-braised pork belly 東坡肉

Another perfectly-braised pork belly dish.  We kind of go crazy over this stuff.  See the layers of fatty goodness?  More, please.

Post-dinner activity: 4th of July fireworks in Gas Works Park, right over Lake Union.  They were gorgeous!  Unfortunately I did not have a tripod for my camera, so 90% of my fireworks photos turned out really squiggly.

Here’s an okay one…

The second day, we visited Pike’s Place Market, pretty much the largest farmer’s market I’ve ever seen in the U.S.  And it’s open everyday!

We tried some samples from the fruit stands – the cherries and peaches were amazing!  Super juicy and sweet (normally I don’t like sweet fruits but these were so good).

Stopped by the seafood stand and had to try the smoked salmon on a stick.  It was really tasty, not too salty and perfect with the garlic & pepper.

Across the street from the Market were quite a few famous shops and restaurants.  We had to check out Piroshky, Piroshky, the Russian bakery that Anthony Bourdain once visited on No Reservations.

The line was long, but it was definitely well worth the wait.

Beef and cheese piroshkys in the making…

They actually turned out to taste like a type of Chinese stuffed bread (餡餅), except with cheese added.

They also had a variety of sweet pastries… and you know me, I had to get one.

Cinnamon apple roll

The apple was actually quite tart, but overall I liked it.  It wasn’t too sweet, which I normally might complain about, but this way I could continue to eat more.

We stopped by Beecher’s Handmade Cheese shop, which was just a few doors down.  You could see fresh cheese in the making.

There were also several cheeses for sampling in the store.  My favorite was this Pride of the Beecher’s Fleet.

And we continued our eating journey…

Another highly-rated place.  There were eight different types of chowders, I think – vegetarian, seared scallop, Manhattan, New England… you name.  We shared a cup of the New England, of which I’m not usually a fan, but I must say, the chowder here was amazing (especially if you add a couple of drops of tabasco).

After the chowder, we were almost full… so it was time for dessert.  My frozen desserts radar found us a gelato shop nearby.

Salted caramel and panna cotta gelato

I loved the panna cotta flavor.  It was so rich and creamy, yet still light and refreshing.  And of course, you know my obsession with salted caramel.  This was just heavenly.

But we were not done… We had to get some coffee in Seattle (and no, not Starbucks… although I do have a photo of the First Starbucks).

We were more interested in the local, artisan coffee shops.  And we found this:

They have a “regular” drip coffee counter and also a “Slow Bar,” where you can choose a slower, more sophisticated brewing method for freshly brewed, single-origin coffee.

Of course, we chose the Slow Bar.

The brewing methods offered are the Hario pour-over, Chemex (which I have), or siphon/vacuum pot.  Our favorite is the vacuum pot method.

If you’ve never had coffee brewed with a vacuum pot, I highly recommend that you try it at least once.  Basically, the water is heated so that it will rise into the upper vessel (where your coffee grounds are), then the heat is removed so that the water – having now extracted the essence of the coffee grounds – returns to the lower pot.  By controlling when you remove the heat, you could adjust for exactly how long the coffee is brewed.  And of course, coffee experts have figured out the optimal time for extraction, so that you get the most flavorful cup of coffee.

All this to yield a perfect cup of coffee.

After that, we were really full and had to take a break from eating explored the downtown area for a bit.  It was really a gorgeous day, so perfect.

Dinner was our luxury meal of the trip, Shiro’s Sushi.  I was really looking forward to sushi because I’ve always heard that seafood in Seattle is amazing (I’d already had a taste from the smoked salmon earlier in the day).  According to my friend W, it’s because of the way the currents enter and leave Puget Sound, somehow creating delicious, perfect seafood.  (Anyone wanna confirm/disputethis?  Leave a comment!)

Geoduck stir-fried with butter and asparagus

First time I had geoduck – I always wanted to try it after watching a Youtube video of Hung Huynh cooking a geoduck (in case you didn’t know, Hung is Top Chef Season 3 winner and my favorite Top Chef contestant of all time).  It tasted like a tender version of a clam – and the flavors of this dish were delicious.  The nutty browned butter aroma was the perfect accompaniment to the delicate geoduck.

Broiled black cod

I haven’t had black cod in a long time (since it’s so expensive), and I thought this was pretty good – although S and J say that this would be a pretty standard dish in Taiwan.

Finally, my sashimi omakase arrived…!!

Sashimi omakase

Smelt, albacore tuna, Big Eye tuna, salmon, yellowtail, sweet shrimp, mackerel, red snapper, giant scallop, and a couple that I couldn’t remember.  The favorites were definitely the salmon, yellowtail, sweet shrimp, red snapper, and scallop.  Okay, I liked everything.  They also fried the shrimp head after I was done with everything else – yum!  What a perfect way to end the second night!

The next day, S and I ventured to downtown for lunch.  We found BOKA, the restaurant in Hotel 1000.  It was a really classy, lounge-y place.

Of course, I had to order the salmon.

Alaskan King salmon with corn-pancakes, green beans, and oyster mushrooms

The salmon was perfectly cooked and seasoned – I’ve never had salmon so tender.  The greens and mushrooms were really good, but the corn pancakes were sort of weird and mushy.  Sad.

BOKA burger and truffle fries

I didn’t have any of S’s burger, but the truffle fries were delicious.

In the afternoon, we met up with another one of our college friends here for some drinks:

Beer flight – I actually don’t drink much beer so I couldn’t tell you how special these are.  S liked the Pike XXXXX Extra Stout (the dark colored one).  I was feeling girly and had a cider.

Ended up on the waterfront to Elliot’s Oyster House for more seafood!

Dabob Bay and Baywater Sweet oysters

They offered raw oysters from about six or seven different locations.  We picked Dabob Bay and Baywater Sweet oysters and really liked the ones from Dabob Bay – they were super smooth and sweet.  The Baywater Sweet ones were smaller and had a more “ocean-y” taste.

Manhattan clam chowder

Read recommendations that the Manhattan clam chowder here was good, so we had to have a cup.  It was pretty good – very tomato-y and lots of clams.

Pan-fried oysters with bacon and scallions

We weren’t quite satisfied with just those five oysters at the beginning, so we ordered a few more – large, pan-fried, and with bacon.

Pesto with clams (and amazing foccacia)

And finally, we ordered the pesto with clams since it was on the Catch of the Day menu section.  The pesto sauce went really well with the deliciously fresh clams, and it was perfect for dipping the foccacia bread.

Our trip was quickly wrapping up (and so is this post, I promise), but we had time for brunch the next morning before our flight.  We found The Hangar Cafe in the Georgetown district of Seattle, on our way to the airport (I think).

It was a really cute little place, with a surprisingly extensive menu of breakfast items, crepes, and sandwiches.

S and I split a savory crepe and sweet waffle.

Roast beef crepe with creme fraiche

Lemon panna cotta waffles with delicious maple syrup

Both dishes were delicious.  I loved the roast beef-creme fraiche combo – must try at home sometime.  And the lemon panna cotta was perfect on the waffle, topped with some raspberry jam and maple syrup.  (Just want to point out, also, that it was real maple syrup, not the high-fructose-corn-syrup-with-maple-flavors.)

Anyway, after three food-filled days, it was time to go home.  I really loved Seattle and would definitely love to go back someday… but for now, back to life in San Diego! :)

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