Monday, March 31, 2008


So I belong to a secret society that visits some of the best restaurants around the world. I am talking about family chain restaurants in the greater king county area. Our small group ventures out to taste these amazing limited time only specials that are backed with multi-million dollar marketing campaigns, complete with flashy commercial ads and slogans.

A few weeks ago on a Friday we went to T.G.I. Fridays to check out the new limited time only menu based on the Food Network's Ultimate Recipe Showdown hosted by O.G. game show host, Marc Summers and the foolish Guy Fieri. If you didnt watch this show basically contestents met weekly to challenge each other on who had the best recipe in six different categories: Chicken, Burgers, Comfort Foods, Cakes, Pasta and Cookies. The winner each week collected $25,000 but also gave T.G.I.Fridays the right to incorporate their winning dish into their menu.

Upon sitting down at the bar and the four of us kickin the night off with a few long islands...we waited for the perfect table. The size of this glass and the amount of alcohol that could be inside was intimidating, but upon one sip, I realized it was all mixer and ice. Boo.

I don't know what I was thinking but the U.R.S. menu did not impress me. The Peruvian Herb Roasted Chicken did not sound awesome, the Ahi Tuna Ciabatta Mini Burgers sounded alright, but I didnt really feel like ciabatta bread and lastly the Chipotle Grilled Steak Sandwich was not going to pop off because I do not eat beef. Out of the four of us only one of us went for one of the special menu choices. Carbo ordered the steak sandwich which is hearty skirt steak, lettuce, tomato and sweet plantains smothered with chipotle mayo on some panni bread. Served with onion rings:

Above is the actual sandwich she got. Below is the picture they use to scam you into ordering it:

The rest of us ordered a bunch of random things including a burger, fish tacos and some sort of Jack Daniels bbq platter. I had the fish tacos and they were decent. The corn salsa was very simple but it tasted fresh. I liked the grilled fish in the tacos too, I mean it has to be frozen but it also tasted fresh for lack of a better word. And whatever the sauce was on the side, some sort of ranch based dipping cream was BOMB. If you don't like ranch you are not cool.

Now, regardless of the fact that our food was in one word "boring", I had a great time. Most of these outings which are filled with endless hours of laughter and jokes have nothing to do with the lame ass American food, it is all about the entertainment.

To get these experience you need someone with a car and some gas.
11am-2am on Fridays

505 Parkplace
Kirkland, WA 98033

You can't miss it, it is right next to a 24hr fitness.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Oregon is for lovers...and the resurrection!

On a recent trip to Oregon, to celebrate B's birthday, and spend Easter with her family, I decided that the perfect first blog for me would be my favorite of all foods.....the cheeseburger. So in an effort to make this as unbiased as possible I decided to try a few burger joints relatively new to me. My original plan was to hit up some joints that aren't locally available. Burgerville, Arctic Circle, and Sonic Drive-In .

The first stop we made was Burgerville, in....... well it was either Kelso or Centralia, regardless it was the first sign I saw off of I-5. The town was rather forgettable. Burgerville promotes it self as being, fresh, local, and sustainable. All of which is rather cool for a fast food burger restaurant. I ordered a Pepper Bacon Tillamook Cheddar Burger Meal with fries and a Mr. Pibb, for $7.63.
The burger was pretty good, I ate it in my truck while B and Bailey stared at me waiting to get back on the road. Well B wanted to get back on the road, Bailey just wanted my burger. The fries were crispy and hot and on the little package said they were from locally grown potatoes. The bacon was actually good for a fast food burger, usually its rubbery and tastes of liquid smoke and cheapness, and the beef was from Oregon Country Beef a naturally raised beef cooperative. Was it the best burger I have ever had at a fast food joint, probably not, but for all the intangibles, if there was a local chain I would partake in the occasional burger.

As much as I love to eat cheeseburgers, it was hard to convince B that it was a good idea to eat one for 3 consecutive meals, especially on her birthday weekend. Burgerville is on the way to Portland, however Sonic is in Hillsboro about 35 minutes out of the way, and we just didn't have he time to get to Arctic Circle. So to redeem my weekend of birthday, burgers, and jesus, I thought it only right to hit up the Markum Inn, home of the Double Jumbo Markum Burger.

The Markum Inn is right outside of Silverton, Oregon. B's mom and her husband own a marion berry farm in Silverton, this is where the family was gathering to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We decided to go to the Markum Inn for dinner on Saturday. I have been to the Markum Inn before so I knew what to expect, but its hard to explain what its like there, kind of miserable and smoky. The people are 95% local and its a farming community. I have tried to eat the D.J.M.B. before and failed, this is a GIANT burger! Since my burger weekend didn't really pan out I thought it would be a good idea to try it again.

This burger has over a pound of meat, like 6 slices of ham, too many slices of american cheese, and finished with shaved lettuce and thousand island dressing. All of these ingredients make a pretty close to perfect burger for me, but this is just ridiculous. When my burger arrived the table next to us were freaked out that I was going to eat this massive thing. By the time I ate 1/2 the burger I was done, the meat alone was too much, but add ham and American cheese. Commence the meat sweats. I finished the whole thing, with some fries, not cause I wanted to, but for this blog. Unless you are in to burgers the size of your head, and you enjoy sweating while you eat, I recommend the Jumbo Markum Burger, the same as above just half the size. I love the Markum Inn and I wish it were closer to home, same with , Burgerville, Arctic Circle, and Sonic Drive-In. The last two I have yet too try, well....there is always Christmas!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

the bold look of kohler

it wasn't long after the agnes lofts went up that boom noodle moved in below. this sleek and simple japachic restaurant turned me off at first. i'm completely guilty of judging by its cover. i assumed it was more style than substance until i read a short review in, of all places, nwsource. the review was complementary and mentioned some japanese dishes with simple, clean ingredients, so i decided that i would eventually take boom noodle for a spin. every time i had driven or walked by, boom noodle was swamped, so happy hour or a weekend lunch were the only visits i considered.

here i just folded up a couple of chopstick rests from the paper wrappers for my happy hour companion and i. it's a little trick that a waiter once taught me at my favorite childhood japanese restaurant, mikado in southcenter (now replaced by a sports bar).

the happy hour menu is a little bizarre, only because they require that each diner have at least one alcoholic beverage to get HH pricing on food. ash went for the chiso mojito (using chiso instead of mint), and i ordered the cucumber mint fizz (sho chu, cucumber, mint, and soda). the drinks were light and refreshingly green. i enjoyed mine, and thought it was perfect for a summer afternoon with the boom's garage door wall open.

the first dish we decided on was the edamame puree. it look a little bit like bright green baby poop, but was delicious. there was a light yuzu flavor to it, and the freshly fried, blue potato chips were a plus. it was also served with eggplant and pickled cucumber. mmm. after we finished everything, we actually ordered another one. ash LOVED this dish.

next came the salmon tataki (seared slices of salmon topped with green onion, bonito flakes, seaweed, sesami seeds, and ayuzu dressing). the fish was tender and enjoyable, though i'm not entirely sure i would ever order this dish again. the tofu was served with shitaake mushrooms, sesamie dressing, green onions, and seaweed flakes. i liked this as well, but it was so simple and ordinary to me that i don't think i would re-order. in fact, the sesamie dressing was pretty forgettable. i only remembered that it was sesamie after rereading the menu.

last came the omakase plate of pickles. omakase basically means "chef's choice," and in general is a chance for the chef to show off his/her skills. the pickles were tasty. there were pearl onions, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, daikon, and carrots. they were all pretty okay...nothing remarkable, not really even all pickled that thoroughly, but they were simple and clean. in my book, that is much better than over-wrought and poorly-executed. my favorite part of this dish was actually the small, tater tot-sized clumps of 10-grain rice. the rice was perfectly sticky, room temperature, and toothsome. i have no idea what the ten grains were, but i'll guess that some of them were japanese short-grain rice, wild rice, wheat berries, quinoa, israeli couscous, and a handful of other tasty goodies.

we went to the bathroom after we ate, and i was impressed by the beautiful kohler faucets. i really shouldn't have been, since the agnes lofts above, boom noodle, cafe stellina, and la spiga are all connected and equally dripping in sophisticated chic.

i enjoyed my happy hour excursion to boom noodle and would recommend it to any one around 12th and pike during HH. it wasn't the cheapest fare, but it was good and a nice, clean divergence from my usual haunt across the street. i imagine returning more often as the weather continues to heat up. also, the dinner menu has some interesting options that i would like to explore...especially the pescatarian sobas.

boom noodle

1121 east pike street
seattle, wa 98122

NB: we arrived at about 5:30, and the bar was sparsely occupied, and the dining area had only two 4-seaters. we had no problem at all walking in, but i know it's super busy at night, so beware!

Boom Noodle in Seattle

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Store Front Restaurant....Huong Binh!

Sitting in between the International District and the Central District resides a strip mall on 12th and Jackson. The strip mall houses several restaurants and a nice parking lot underneath so you dont have to worry about trying to park on that damn busy street.

A co-worker and myself were on the hunt for lunch and she said she wanted to take me to Huong Binh. Apparently she is a regular and enjoys eating traditional vietnamese food here with her man. The environment was chill and casual. I was impressed by the fact that the food came out very quickly and that it was both fresh and amazing. The fish sauce and hot sauce options are totally on point. The menu has over 50 dishes ranging from noodles, rice and soup.

I went with the charbroiled pork vermicelli plate which consisted of 3 skewers of tasty spiced grilled pork served along side noodles, lettuce, fresh mint, basil and sweet dipping sauce. I started making a huge damn mess putting the pork and noodles in the lettuce wrap but r. told me how to get down with my empty bowl so I didnt look like an asshole.

r. had a variety dish of lemon grass grilled pork skewers, shrimp, pork balls and shrimp covered sugarcane over rice. This also looked bomb.

I plan to go back to this spot when I get the chance. I even had enough food to save some for lunch the next day. All of it cost us under $15.00 with tax.

Open til 8pm. They do not take debit cards plan ahead.

1207 S Jackson St
Seattle, WA 98144

Thursday, March 13, 2008

moose knuckle

last friday i decided to invite a few friends out to dinner, and we had quite the e-maelstrom trying to figure out where to go. it's a little funny with our group since we have one veg, one gluten-free, 2 no-caribbean's (we ate that the night before), and one writer looking for a breath of fresh blog air. three days and three thousand emails later, senor moose was the winner. please see their full menu online.

i never imagined chips and guacamole could be so incredibly delicious. the chips are hot, salty, and made-to-order. they're made from incredibly thick-cut tortillas, so it's almost like eating two chips in one. the guacamole was refreshing, chunky, and integrated chopped tomato, onion, cilantro, and lime. i'm normally not a fan of guacamole because i don't like it pulverized and competely mashed. for me, guac is entirely about texture, so i prefer the chunks of avocado. this was bomb. even after dinner, we were all commenting about the guac. holy shit.

our server was awesome....he brought out the cinco salsas y unos chilitos for all to sample. the chilitos were marinated chipotles (hot and smoky), a crema de guajillo, a pico, a simple chile salsa, salsa verde, and a mint chutney-like salsa similar to the condiment you get at indian restaurants. bomb-naners.

next came the queso panela in salsa. the cheese is a slice of queso freso warmed until semi-melted, then served in a dish of smoky tomato salsa. it was pretty tasty wrapped up in a tortilla with some chipotle.

here's another view of the queso panela.

both suge and rio ordered the special, which was grilled pork that was marinated overnight in a vinegar, guajillo, and pasilla chile blend. it was served with sides of pinto beans topped w cotija, shredded cabbage, and basically mexican home fries. suge enjoyed his dish, but he was jealous of gats' carne asada.

akg ordered the enchiladas suizas which were filled with grilled chicken and queso fresco and smothered in a creamy salsa verde. it looked bomb. she noted that the chicken had a crispy skin which enhanced the texture and her overall enjoyment :).

ah, the coveted carne asada. gats feasted upon seared carne asada, an enchilada verde, sauteed strips of poblano, refried beans smothered in salty cotija, and guacamole. i think you can pretty much figure out how he felt about this dish.

let me mention that pep asked the waiter what the cheesiest dish on the menu was. let's just say that the enchiladas de puya were stuffed with two types of cheese, covered in the same smoky tomato salsa as the queso panela, and then hit with more cotija on top. delicious. black beans and a small salad finished off the plate.

senor moose is really where it's at. this place was awesome, the vibe was great, the dining room was small and friendly, and the waiter was awesome. he kept the modelos and margaritas flowing all night, and when it came time to settle, our party of six came to a paltry $180.

5242 NW Leary Ave
Seattle, WA 98107
(206) 784-5568

Everyday 8am-3pm
Sunday-Thursday 5pm-9pm
Friday-Saturday 5pm-10pm

Senor Moose in Seattle

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

I never knew about Cascadia...

So I had an event downtown and then a meeting, I found myself right in the middle of 4pm downtown business class happy hour. I called up Carbo who works downtown and asked what was up with some happy hour. We were tempted to roll up to our stomping ground aka capitol hill but we decided we would strike down 1st ave and see what downtown had to offer. We immediately found parking right in front of Del Rey. We stopped in a few glasses of overpriced wine and some less than helpful service. I use to love this place because their happy hour is on point and included some tasty fish and chips. It appears as if they have embraced a mexican theme and the $4 happy hour menu now included items ranging from chimicangas to queso fundido. I wasnt quite hungry so I had to pass...maybe next time. Since the service was strange and the place smelled like bleach we decided to go next door because Carbo was telling me about Cascadia's signature Alpine Martini.

I was intrigued by the Alpine Martini because Carbo said it contained a light sorbet doug fir handmade snowball. Typically $11 at happy hour this interesting drink is only $5.50. If you are down with citron vodka this is perfect for you! I rather enjoyed it myself and I dont really like vodka.

It slipped my mind to take some photos but also on happy hour are their signature miniburgers. I had two veggie Cascadia miniburgers and per the bartenders suggestion I added pancetta. Yeah, might seem pointless but I do not eat beef and he said this was a good way to go. The other miniburger options are either beef or salmon. They come standard with lettuce, tomato and pickle. You can add things like bacon for a few dollars more. Other add ons inlcude vermont cheddar, blue cheese, grilled onions, truffle butter, portabellos. Funny thing is, the burgers came out with beef and so the bartender said he would get my burgers and they would be on the house.

Perhaps it was the fact that we had two drinks and they were all alcohol but by the time we paid and left I was adding up the tab in my head and realized that we paid for the burgers and on top of it we paid for burgers we didnt order. B.S. Oh well, it was fun pretending to be downtown business class. I highly doubt I will be inspired to go back for dinner but you never know if the feeling kicks in for a craving for free range chicken with black truffle shroud.

2328 1st Avenue
Happy Hour 5-7pm M-Sat

Sunday, March 9, 2008

casual eaters

i was first introduced to casuelita's several years ago when one of my favorite pharmaceutical reps catered a lunch at my work from there. i remember the lunch vividly since it was so unique in a sea of gretchen's boxed lunches and california pizza kitchen's. we had red beans and rice, a sweet/salty red cabbage salad, skewered chile shrimp, marinated pork, saffron-perfumed paella, and a chilaquile-like mushroom dish for the vegetarian. i was hooked. i asked the rep where the food was from, and he told me all about the then-named western vine (on the corner of western and vine in n belltown) where he knew the owner. over the years, i've enjoyed countless happy hours sampling from their long speciality drink list (the bar stocks nearly a hundred rums), several dinners, and even a birthday party. in the first 6 months of frequenting casuelita's, the food was always
on point....but since then each visit has been inconsistent. whether it's the difference between appetizers and entrees, or visit from visit, i haven't had an all-around awesome meal there in at least a year. however, i went there thursday with a couple of friends since suge and i hadn't eaten there in at least a year. please enjoy....

the first indication that this would be a good night: my favorite waitress is still working there. she's super nice, attentive, and the topper, i think she's really beautiful. i'm such a sucker, i know but i can't help it. she's really pretty and she doesn't seem to really know it.

plantain tostones, yum. they're a pretty standard caribbean appetizer, but casuelita's serves theirs with their house sweet chili sauce (always bomb), garlic, and their house side salad, which is so simple, but seriously one of my favorite items not on the menu. it's made of red cabbage, tomatoes, spring onions, red onions, carrot shreds, spring greens, and deliciousness tossed in a slightly sweet chili vinaigrette. i don't know what's up with this salad, but i am in love with it. back to the tostones. they were good...salty, garlicky, but they were a little thicker-cut than normal, and thus a bit dense and drier than i prefer. overall not a bad start.

casuelita's is one of few seattle restaurants that serves actual conch fritters. i've had them several times before, and they've ALWAYS been hit or miss. but what the hell, suge decided, let's do it. i think this was my favorite was hot out of the fryolator, salty, crispy, and a surprise. they've changed their recipe for these fritters for the better...previously their conch fritters were more like apple fritters...substitute conch and salt for apples and sugar. this time around, the fritters were more like fried dumplings than thin funnel cakes. the filling was conch, batter, bok choy (non-traditional, i know), and green onions. i could be missing something, but no matter. what you should remember is that it was bomb. again, the fritters were served with sweet chili sauce, a lime mayonnaise, and a scoop of that damn salad!

the last time we ordered ceviche, it was for suge's 30th birthday, and it came in an oversized martini glass. this time, it was a delicious shrimp ceviche comprised of denatured shrimp, lime (duh), tomato, red onion, and cilantro over a light bed of baby greens. some tortilla chips on the side accompanied the gigantic bowl of ceviche. the ceviche was good...and i'm even super picky about the different kinds of shrimp, their doneness and texture. the only thing that i would change is a little more heat. there was some, but not enough for my liking, though that is not the case for everyone.

the last appetizer we ordered were the st croix shrimp. i've never had this appetizer before (due to the fore-mentioned shrimp pickiness) and was pleasantly surprised. the shrimp came on dramatic skewers huddled around a mound of salad and a nice pool of sweet chili sauce. the shrimp was very lightly breaded and then flash-fried to perfection. i will definitely order this again.

after this bevy of nearly spot-on appetizers, expectations were running high for entrees. the menu has changed a little bit over the years, and this visit offered more vegetarian/pescatarian options as the list of dishes grows.

m ordered the lomo de puerco, which is grilled pork loin served over either mashed plantains or yams (she chose yams) with a chipotle/tomato/au jus sauce, and sauteed onions/red and green peppers/carrots. it looked great, but unfortunately, the pork loin was dry, over-cooked, and toothy. on the bright side, she said the sauce was amazing.

m and suge both ordered the paella, which is not on the published online menu. the seafood paella was saffron-ed rice, clams, mussels, crab claw, carrots, green onion, tomato, and some other ingredients i know i must be overlooking. it looked good, and the flavor was nice, but not as bold as i had anticipated. both m and suge commented that the seafood was a bit dry, and both were a little off-put by the warmth of the seafood, which they're accustomed to eating chilled.

i ordered the esco-veg, which is not on the online menu either. i was thinking about getting the escoveitched fish (which is bomb, huge, and dramatic like an opera set), but i thought it would be too much, especially with all the appetizers we feasted on. i felt almost obligated to try this new vegan item on the menu, but at the same time, it felt almost cheesy to be shackled to my dietary preference. i caved. i ordered the esco-veg. the menu described the dish as a soy patty cooked in the escoveitche style, meaning with a vinegar peppercorn sauce and topped with onions, red and green peppers, and carrots cooked in the same sauce. red beans and rice and a side of vinegared carrots accompanied the "loaf."

after reading that it was a "soy patty," i was extremely wary of seeing a veggie burger on a plate set before me. instead, it was a house-made black bean and edamame steak basically, bursting with deep umame flavor. the edges were crispy as if it were broiled, and the steak soaked up the familiar, amazing sauce. i was thoroughly impressed, and i could only finish half of my plate. i took the rest home and ate it for lunch a day and a half later, and it was just as good. i will definitely order this item again. wow. casuelita's, you have impressed me with your veg-game.

casuelita's was hit and miss tonight...which was no surprise. they must hit the mark more often, because i keep coming back. if you go, i would suggest their happy hour, but if you're looking for a bit of an adventure, go for dinner. you never know what you might get! :)

Casuelita's Caribbean Cuisine
81 Vine St
Seattle, WA 98121

there's also a cafe version of this spot in judkins park with a limited menu. i've never been there, but that doesn't mean it's not worth trying:

Casuelita's Island Soul
2608 S Judkins St
Seattle, WA 98144

Casuelita's Caribbean Cafe in Seattle

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


Like 5 years ago Carbo and I use to go to Paragon Resaurant & Bar to listen to our friends play live music. A quick scan of their website and I see that they still have a weekly live music schedule. When I walked in about a month a go with a few family members it appeared as if nothing had changed. The place is pretty spacious with a long bar and more casual seating up to the back where you get a table with a cloth. Paragon was not our original destination but we made a quick decision in our hunt to get a table on a weekend.

We started with some really nice wine but my mind escapes me on exactly what it was....

L. had a nice piece of beef. The truffled fingerling potatoes that came with the steak were amazing -then again its really hard to mess up anything with truffle oil.

My mom went with the salmon. I know I live in the salmon capitol of the world but I am not a fan. I do not touch salmon unless it is completely dried out and smoked. The dish looked great and the chef was nice enough to make sure the sauce on the mushrooms did not contain any veal broth because my mom is a pescetarian (she abstains from eating all meat and animal flesh with the exception of fish)

I think it was because of L. that I grew to like scallops. Perhaps it was one too many bad experiences in the past but I am a huge fan if they are cooked right. I love the thickness of scallops and how they hold flavor. These scallops were covered in lobster sauce and served over beluga lentils, bacon and rainbow chard. They were amazing.

Paragon has a small limited menu but they have a nice handle on all the dishes. I won't run back there to eat but I will keep it in mind if I happen to end up on the top of queen anne hill.

2125 Queen Anne Avenue North
Seattle, WA 98109
Lunch: M – Sat @ 11:30am
Brunch: Sunday @ 10am
Dinner: Every night @ 5pm

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

the joy of potluck

ah, the joy of work functions. now that i've moved out of the hospital and into my old building (windows!), i've been re-welcomed to the world of potlucks, parties, and showers. this office is a very small community, so they threw us a welcome party, and there's even a baby shower coming up next week. there's something about office potlucks that are just so cheesy and make me laugh, but they always end up being fun. plus, since 80% of the office is filipino, i know it won't be all pigs in a blanket and seven layer dip type shit.

pancit and the requisite rice. pancit was bomb, btw. thanks jerabel.

cute little bruschetta rounds...s was afraid they would be hard and stale, but they were toasty and nice. also, freshly-chopped tomatoes were a bright touch.

can a party with filipinos in attendance happen without chicken adobo??

duh, deviled eggs. i don't get down with that, but there weren't any left at the end of lunch.

crackers and dip. this dip is really something else. it sounds strange, but it's made with onion soup, water chesnuts, spinach, and love. t makes it almost every potluck because people demand it. i don't know what it is about this dip, but it is bomb.

this fruit salad was nice. it was more than just mini marshmallows, apples, grapes, and cherries. there were also plums, pears, walnuts, pineapple, and oranges with a touch of cinnamon. it was rather enjoyable.

these tiny trader joe's tidbit chocolate chip cookies are an office favorite. in fact, we just bought some today and put them out for our group to snack on...along with some casher caramel cookies. so good. too bad they're the size of quarters and i always end up having about 30 of them at a time.

and last, but not least, my addition to the potluck. i made two types of cupcakes....vanilla ones with green tea powder mixed in, filled with dark chocolate nibs, and chocolate-based ones with just a hint of green tea powder and chopped, dark coffee chocolate throughout. they were lightly-frosted with chocolate. thank got there weren't any leftover.

i hate bringing home anything from a potluck. :)