Monday, January 28, 2008

maneki: a not-so-secret japanese treasure

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maneki is one of my two favorite japanese restaurants in seattle (the other being mashiko's in west seattle). if you want traditional japanese fare served in a space rich with wwii, japanese-american history, maneki is the place for you. the interior is softly lit with paper lanterns and faux rice paper fixtures and adorned with japanese artwork. there are two tatami rooms for special occassions, but you must call in (206.622.2631) early and leave a message to reserve one. i love eating here because first and foremost, the food is awesome, but also because it feels so old school. from the well-worn carpet to the beer served in tiny glasses to the old ladies who serve as maitre d's, maneki is a restaurant that reminds me of my grandparents.

there are the usual suspects for beverages. we went with green tea, a sapporo, and a sho-chu which i can't remember the name of. the taste was distinct, though....reminiscent of wet bamboo and mildew, but not really in a bad way (if that's possible).

next came the vegetable tempura. i love tempura. who doesn't? i like that maneki serves each vegetable in pairs so we didn't have to argue over who got the kabocha and who got the onion. their veg tempura consisted of mushrooms, carrots, kabocha (squash), onion, shiso leaves, eggplant, and zucchini. hot, simple, crisp, delicious. why don't more bars serve tempura during happy hour? i think it's the perfect bar food..??

next up: tuna bata-yaki. i panicked when we ordered because i wanted to make sure we had enough food (we did), and went with this dish. it's pieces of tuna sauteed in butter with mushrooms and japanese red pepper. the spice was nice, but overall, this dish was nothing special. i wouldn't order it again, but that's mostly because there are so many more amazing things on the menu.

ah, suge's favorite! the miso-braised black cod collar is pretty amazing. the collar is one of the fattiest parts of a fish, and keep in mind that black cod is a really oily fish to begin with! the flavor of the miso combined with the crispy skin is a revelation. if you order this dish, be prepared to get messy. you have to dismantle the collar with your fingers because it's so slippery, and you don't want to miss out on any hidden pieces of meat. trust me, it's worth it.

oh-emm-gee, the salmon namban was my favorite dish of the night. namban is a style of dish that's done with really any type of fish you want. maneki serves both tuna and salmon versions. the fish is lightly battered, quick-fried, cooled, then served with a lemon-laced, clear mirin dressing, paper-thin slices of lemon, and sweet onion whiskers. the dish is light, slightly sweet, and ice cold. it was the perfect counterpoint to the sizzling, in-your-face savory miso cod collar.

suge's favorite dish of the night capped off our meal: a spider roll. he spent the entire dinner thinking about the end piece of the roll which has nearly half of a fried soft-shell crab sticking out of it. the roll was great. crisp. savory. sweet. spicy. perfect end to an outstanding meal at maneki.

304 6th Ave S
Seattle, WA 98104-2714
Phone: (206) 622-2631

NB: maneki is NOT open on mondays and is only open for dinner service from 5:30 to 10:00. they do not take reservations, but if you have a party of 6 or more, they will accomodate you if you call in early and leave a message.

Maneki Restaurant in Seattle

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Turkey in a Wisconsin Garage

I grew up in Wisconsin where I learned to deal with winter temperatures that included negative numbers. After a recent visit I realized I am no longer equipped to deal with such coldness, oh what a wuss I have become. My dad now lives outside of the Milwaukee area where the snow sticks and the Green Bay Packers are life. A few years ago I found out my dad bought a turkey fryer and I kept telling him when I came to visit he was required to deep fry a turkey for me and that he did.

My dad bought a turkey breast since only four of us were eating the bird. He started by injecting it with some sort of cajun seasoning which was amazing to watch and it made me want to get one of those flavor injectors.

Next we headed to the garage where my dad set up the deal. He warned me that you should not do this in the garage but hell he was going to do it anyway, he is a professional and a fire fighter so I figured we were safe.

After standing around enjoying a few bourbon drinks waiting for the oil to get hot we lowered the turkey into the hot ass oil. After a few minutes the garage started smelling like cooked turkey and oil. My dad was explaining to me how easy it would be to start your garage on fire...and we just kept laughing as he kept he eagle eye on the flame.

As he raised the turkey out of the oil bath I just wanted to reach in and rip off the skin. Damn! It was cooked perfectly and it only took 30 min!

This was my first experience ever eating a deep fried turkey and I must say it was delicious. It lived up to everything I have ever heard and read about the phenomenon. The injected seasoning was right on and the meat was so juicy. My dad needs to take a lesson on cutting turkey but maybe my brother can show him. Not only did he cut the meat thin he kept eating the nice pieces he cut and his holy "cracklins" aka fried skin. I ate so much turkey that night and that damn turkey breast was completely picked dry by the end of the night.

How can you truly go wrong with anything deep fried? I wish I had one of these fryers but it is another reason to go home to Wisconsin.

little saigon

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"little saigon" used to be the name of my favorite vietnamese restaurant growing up. it was tucked away in the little shopping center where viet wah is off of 12th and jackson. now it's some other vietnamese restaurant which is more shi-shi and less mmm.

my new go-to vietnamese place is thanh vi. i used to go to the outlet in the u-district all the time between classes or for lunch during work because they have bomb soup (more than pho) and great tofu with peanut sauce for an app. now i prefer the one at 12th and jackson for its convenience factor, though their menu and service is a little different from the u-district.

chili sauce is so crucial. i'm super picky about what kind of chili asian restaurants have. i'm not a fan of the chili sauce that's chunky with green pieces of pickled something or other. that sauce is bitter and icky. my favorite is the dried chili sauce that's preserved in oil. omg. so delicious. it's a little sweet, has a great texture, and just hot enough so i can pile it on everything.

eastside started his meal off with shredded pork rolls (lettuce, carrots, pickled daikon, and rice vermicelli wrapped in a rice paper roll). looked lovely. it was also served with the requisite dipping sauce of fish sauce, mirin, and carrot shreds.

i was curious about one of the house specials: the tofu crepe. i honestly wasn't sure what would come, but i was pleasantly surprised. a crispy, yellow, gigantic crepe, dotted with tofu cubes and stuffed with onions and mung bean sprouts came to the table. it was served with fresh vegetables just like any other vietnamese order "on a tray." the accoutrement included lettuce, cilantro, thai basil, and watercress. i wrapped chunks of the crepe in lettuce and dipped it in the fish/mirin sauce. mmm. suge and eastside weren't as big of fans, but if you're curious, i would say go for it.

the eastside spread: shredded pork rolls, multitude of sauces, plate of duck meat, and duck soup. unfortunately, he said that the duck soup smelled and tasted distinctly of "sock." i trust his assessment. i've always thought duck is a risky thing to order at a vietnamese restaurant because often their preferred taste is preserved duck, which has quite a heady aroma and, let's just say, "distinct," taste.

suge went with the vietnamese version of azteca's "tres amigos." it was a vermicelli bowl full of pickled daikon, carrot, lettuce, cilantro, thai basil, a skewer of pork, beef, and chopped shrimp encasing sugar cane. looked good.

i went for the pretty basic tofu vermicelli bowl. it's the same as suge's above, but obviously with tofu instead of a meat assortment. solid, delicious, never a surprise.

i really like thanh vi, and though this was a mixed visit for each of the guests, i will always consider this a dinner option. it's fast, reliable, delicious, and close.

1046 S Jackson St, Seattle - (206) 329-0208
4226 University Way Ne, Seattle - (206) 633-7867

A Little Bit of Saigon in Seattle

Friday, January 25, 2008


Oh yeah, before I forget about this.

Just a warning not to eat the Boneless Wings at Rocksport in West Seattle. The dragon sauce was not hot but more importantly these boneless wings were sliced and minced pieces of chicken rolled in sauce and served up with some carrots and celery.It was literally like they shaved the meat off the chicken wings and served them on a plate. Perhaps I should have asked for clarification but 99% of the time I have ordered boneless wings they were basically chicken strips in some tasty wing sauce.

It was also taco tuesday which means you get two tacos for $2....make sure you hit the condiment bar or you are gonna find yourself eating some dry meat and tortillas.

.Hot Mess.

Rocksport has a long list of sandwiches, burgers, steaks and other bar eats all of which seem pretty standard which leads me to believe I made a bad choice. Better luck next time!

We did end up having fun that night regardless of the shitty pre-funk food. Shout out to West Seattle you are the perfect place to celebrate a birthday and host a midweek pub crawl.


Sunday, January 20, 2008

an in-depth study of the ancient aztecs

sunday. lunchtime. bellevue. hankering for traditional mexican cuisine. all signs pointed to azteca.

how can you take this disney-mexi-land seriously? suge and i met up with a friend and his growing family here for a little post-christmas get together. though i'm not enamored with azteca in any way, this place is great for families. they have high chairs, booster seats, cribs, all sorts of contraptions for children of all ages.

suge went for the "tres amigos," which was a combo of chile verde, chile colorado, and a chile relleno. he said it was decent...nothing crazy, but not bad. it came on a plate that was so large that it could have been an actual trash can lid.

i wasn't super hungry, so i went with the chile relleno. i didn't know it was supposed to come with beans and rice, but hey, no biggie. the chile relleno was strange. the egg batter was really thick, and it almost had a custard consistency in the center. the chile itself was a little undercooked, so there was some bite back to the flesh. and lastly, the cheese wasn't quite hot enough. my critique should be taken with a grain of salt, though, since i like the cheese to be molten and hot enough to sear human flesh. however, the cheese should have oozed out when i cut was clearly not melted enough.

all in all, i was kind of dreading going to azteca, but it wasn't bad. it was decent. i wouldn't go there again if i had the choice, but that's not to say that azteca doesn't have a time and a place.

Azteca Mexican Restaurant (Bellevue) in Bellevue

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

more z buddy's for your eye holes

just some more pictures from the previous post's event so you can get a better idea of what really went down:

the appetizer menu. i love how they offer both tots and fries. mmm. potato.

i don't know if you can really read this, but it's worth enlarging. casseroles! just like mom used to make!

this is a real, live fried burger which was stuffed with bacon and blue cheese. l-bear can comment more on his meal, but the idea was so ridiculous, he went for it. unfortunately, i do remember him saying that the burger was too small for the potato bun. BOOO.

how do you fuck up a vegetarian sandwich on toasted sourdough?

this, my friends, is how.

larry aptly deemed it a mini-golf course. damn you, zayda!!!

Zayda Buddy's Pizza in Seattle

Friday, January 11, 2008

Zayda Buddy's not from the midwest

Its actually been a month or so since a few of us dined at this new spot Zayda Buddy's in Ballard. We were drawn in by the wonderful menu descriptions from a review in NW Source. Where else can you get tater tot casserole and a can of mello yellow? I was also very intrigued by the fact that they were trying to draw in customers by boasting "Minnesota Style Thin Crust Pizza". Being from the midwest, I had no idea minnesota had a style of pizza...We will have to save the pizza review for another time since we all decided to venture away from pizza during this visit.

A few things to note. The service here is mad slow and it wasnt even that busy. The server was not awesome and was semi rude. The place is totally overpriced for a small venue down on leary way which is serving you home cooking. I had a chicken sandwich which was o.k. I honestly dont remember much about it at all except that the chicken breast was small and straight from costco.
L. had a burger which I dont think he thought was that good. And K. got down on a veggie sandwich which by the time she got done picking out the veggies from some dry ass white bread looked like a hot mess. All of our sandwiches came with a side of pringles, which just made the $10 wack sandwich entertaining. Other menu items included green bean casserole, wings and a bunch of pizza. I am still trying to figure out how all of the items fit the minnesota mold and I still feel lots of them are a huge reach. Its almost like lots of signature things from the midwest are all wrapped up in the disguise of minnesota, since lots of people here wouldnt know the difference. Boo.

The decor is interesting, lots of beer signs, dark wood booths and some random nods to the midwest. The lighting needs to be dimmed to create a better ambiance because it felt like you were in an airport bar.

Highlights were the deep fried cheese curds, but I still dont know why they served them with marinara...they aren't mozzarella sticks. They came out perfectly hot and not that greasy. Kinda hard to fuck up deep fried cheese though...I am not sure if they are enough to take me back there but maybe I could be convinced.

Also, this place boasts a unique bar serving up a variety of midwest beers and then some. They also have a creative cocktail menu (that makes up drinks that are not from minnesota) with a pretty good bloody mary, complete with a cheese curd on a stick and the small light beer on the side. This is one thing I do love about the midwest!

Overall, I am still interested in trying the pizza because I do happen to like thin crust. However, I have continued to read several reviews about this place and most of them still unfavorable even though they have been open long enough to work out the kinks. I also read that the people who own this are the same people who run Top Pot....come on guys.

Ironically, I am off to the midwest tomorrow and am planning to indulge in some authentic regional fare. Damn, I love chesse.

Zayda Buddy's

5405 Leary Ave NW

Zayda Buddy's Pizza in Seattle

Saturday, January 5, 2008


I can guarantee if I do not know what to eat for dinner or have food in the house King's Teriyaki is the first place I think of. This is because it is less than one block from my house. Not only does King's have your standard teriyaki they also host several other japanese dishes. The menu full of large pictures lines the walkway into the restaurant. The number of options is endless, you can totally find something to eat here.

Lately I have gotten down on the bento box which is by far one of the best options because you get a little bit of everything and it is only like 8 bucks. The miso soup is pretty good but could use a little more tofu. I really like the chicken teriyaki because it isnt too sweet and more on the savory side. You can bet that the sushi is good and fresh...the only thing I could pass on are the pot stickers because they lack flavor are are too greasy. I even get down on the small green salad because the dressing is sweet and spicy.

If you get take out you can wait in the small restaurant and sip on some hot tea from a classic styrofoam cup.

Kings Teriyaki
1831 Broadway
Seattle, WA 98122