Monday, February 11, 2008

Moonlight Mile

{click to enlarge}

there's not enough that i can say about Moonlight Cafe: Vietnamese Cuisine on jackson and 19th across from hidmo. i had heard friends rave about this place, but it's not the most inviting-looking restaurant in my neighborhood. luckily, thanh vi was closed when suge and i went out searching for a close, late(r) night dinner.

i went with the spicy tofu soup. i really wanted some sort of vietnamese soup, and i couldn't help but try this enticing number. the best part about moonlight is that they have separate vegan and meat menus. ive never been faced with the challenge of choosing between menu items because usually my vegetarian options are limited enough that only one sounds good. this soup was served with a flash-fried tofu skin sticking out of the broth like a shark fin, which was a lovely surprise. swimming in the broth were rice spaghetti noodles, carrot flowers, bean sprouts, green onions, jalapenos, celery, bok choy, faux duck, faux chicken, faux beef, and fried tofu. my favorite imitation "meat" was the duck. it was hearty and full of that umame flavor that i miss being a vegetarian.

suge went for the tried-and-true vermicelli bowl with two skewers of marinated and grilled pork and one skewer of shrimp. one minute im telling him whats in my soup, reveling at the spicy faux duck, and the next minute, i look up and suge is slurping up the last tendrils of fish-sauce doused vermicelli!! he said it was the best vermicelli bowl that he has ever had. quite the testament from a seasoned vietnamese eater. i even snagged a couple noodle and lettuce remnants from the bottom of his bowl....i must say, wow. it sure looked fresh and delicious.

suge added that the pork was juicy, tender, and perfectly-grilled. he says that at most vietnamese restaurants, the kind of grilled pork you get is dried and over-cooked, but you eat it anyways because it tastes good doused with sauce. moonlight is different. apparently they know how to cook pork. kudos!!


a little while ago, suge and i had a couple friends over, so we decided to snag something to eat before embarking on any other adventures for the night. i suggested moonlight (my love affair is still ongoing) since two of our party of 4 had never been. please join us on this food adventure.

moonlight was pretty busy when we arrived...there were a few couples, a handful of 4+ parties, a large round table full of adults, and a couple smaller tables of their elementary-aged children. there was a lot of confusion when we ordered due to a language barrier, but it all got sorted out as the night went on.

first were the eggrolls. they looked awesome: stuffed with clear vermicelli, cabbage, pork, carrots, etc. they were served piping hot out of the fryer...damn i wanted to try one!!!

we actually got two orders of two by mistake, but i dont think anyone was complaining.

next arrived the shredded pork fresh rolls. suge said they were bomb. unfortunately, he ordered the meat shredded pork rather than the shredded tofu rolls, otherwise i would have mowed down on them.

ndrw ordered the vermicelli bowl with grilled pork skewers and sugarcane shrimp. ive already touched on moonlights pork, so please see above. as for the shrimp, its chopped, marinated, then wrapped around a stalk of sugarcane. bomb. my favorite part is chewing on the cane like cud. its so fibrous and distinctly grassy-sweet. delicious...especially when flavored by the shrimp.

bri chose pho tai. he was really in the mood for pho, so he got one full of so much beef eye round and thin slices of beef tip that he didnt even finish all of the meat!

suge ordered the catfish hotpot. i mean, seriously, how can you go wrong when theres catfish and hot pot involved?! the hotpot was the shit. i must know what ingredients went into that savory, earthy brown sauce that basted the three catfish steaks. it was BOMB. accompanying the catfish steaks were shitaake mushrooms, bamboo shoots, and green onions. the sauce was so good that after i was done eating, i took a scoopful of rice, dumped it into the hotpot, stirred it around, and devoured it. B. O. M. B.

lastly, i sampled the gailon and faux beef stirfry. even suges god daughter knows that gailon is my favorite vegetable at dimsum. im pretty serious when it comes to chinese broccoli. also, i figured i should try at least one of their vegetarian "meat" main courses since last time i got the tofu soup. i was not disappointed. the texture of the "meat" was on point, the flavor was a deep, sweet (in the way that dungeness crab can be sweet) umame, and the gailon was perfettamente al dente.

when ndrw tried a small piece of the "meat," he shook his head "no" that he didnt like it. he said that its just not meat, and he cant get over that fact. personally, i dont really subscribe to the "fake meat" phenomenon. im a vegetarian because i choose not to eat meat, so i dont feel like im missing out on anything. i dont need meat substitutes to fulfill my craving for the taste and feel of animal. so i dont really like it when restaurants or companies try to "trick" you into thinking that wheat gluten or tofu or seitan is "meat." i will admit that i buy "fake-on" (what i call the morningstar fake bacon) because i think it tastes good. i like a fake-on sandwich every once and a while, and i like it as a snack. i also enjoyed the gailon and faux beef dish at moonlight because it tasted good, not because i wanted it to really be beef. i dont really mean to lay out a vegetarian-anti-faux-meat-substitute manifesto, but i thought it might be important to touch on this since it came up during dinner.

anyhow, by the remnants of our dinner, you can judge the success of this foursomes trip to moonlight cafe.

1919 S Jackson St
Seattle, WA 98144
(206) 322-3378

Moonlight Cafe in Seattle


ndrwmtsn said...

ambitious post

in one meal, made me a lifetime fan

Suge White said...

Why do you lie to the people? You agonize over the temptation of eating meat and often give in, using whatever "Holiday" it is as an excuse to slurp gravy or whatever. You miss meat, you crave it because it's delicious and additionally you LOVE fake meat products (see: chipotle fake sausage in the fridge) yeah, it's good BECAUSE it's emulating the taste and texture of delicious meat.

that place is good, even though it's always a little weird ordering or paying.

Pick up your grape flavored blunt wrapz and 40 ouncers next door.

Lar said...

WOW this sounds bomb

big fan of the chelli bowl

White Pepper said...

I have only ever had lunch at moonlight..pretty tasty. I really enjoy fake chicken but thats bout it so I am anxious to taste this faux general tsos chicken that k. told me about.
Lets do this!

Lar said...

finally came here. bomb but...i kinda am fuckin with huong binh over moonlight