Riviera Nayarit, México

I had high expectations coming into Nayarit, México. I’ve visited Baja California  and always left incredibly satisfied with the experience. I’ve been to México City, albeit with intentions other than exploring the local cuisine, and left with a new appreciation for México and all it has to offer. But this time, it was different. I came back home to Los Angeles, relieved and ultimately, disappointed.

I can’t take anything away from the people that my wife and I had met while we were there. We both agreed that they were incredibly kind and hospitable. One of our absolute favorite places was a place called Serendipity, a mezcaleria. We didn’t eat any of the food, but we always came back for the drinks. It was a beautiful place. The restaurant opens up to the beach that it’s on. You’re literally walking on sand as you take your seat. You then get to dine (or drink in our case) accompanied by the cool ocean breeze and the serenade of the soothing waves. If you get a chance to spend your time here, get the mezcal sampler. Three different mezcals are offered at an incredible price along with orange slices and roasted crickets (they’re actually yummy!). They also have a fantastic mezcalita, the cousin to a margarita.

Overall, there were still some positives from this trip. I am grateful that this trip offered me an experience to develop my appreciation for mezcal. I think I prefer it over tequila. That’s saying a lot because I absolutely adore tequila. If you ever get a chance to try it, go for it!

I’ve always loved tacos, and this trip only allowed for me to enjoy more of them on a daily basis. I would stop by as many taco stands as I could to explore what they had to offer, even if my stomach was practically about to explode.

It was also very amusing being told, “Wow, your Spanish is very good! Where did you learn it?” It had come to a point where a scripted reply would be given back to them, “I used to live in Puerto Rico when I was younger”. I think it was the Spanish that helped break the cultural barrier that existed between us and them. Not to mention, it made ordering delicious food that much easier.

The disappointment of the trip was multi-factorial. We got incredibly unlucky with the weather. We headed out to Lo de Marcos, a tiny and fairly, pristine beach town, and were greeted by gloom. We had hoped to use that day to bronze our pasty selves. Yes, I can’t fault Mexico for the weather, that would be silly. But, it was a bummer nonetheless. You can tell that tourism is the absolute lifeblood of the area. Many of the places we went to were testaments to the juxtaposition of poverty and riches. In Punta de Mita, the area directly behind our hotel appeared like we walked into a war zone, relatively speaking. Another issue that I want to bring to attention without getting too political is the issue of our general safety. We opted to rent a car while in Nayarit to allow for travel. But I personally felt like our days were governed by an hourglass that always ran out too soon. I always had to make sure to return back to our hotel before sunset so as to prevent having to drive in the dark. My wife was with me and I didn’t want to risk being pulled over or encountering some form of trouble during our vacation there. We could’ve easily just stayed at an all-inclusive resort, but would that really be an exploration of the culture and food in Nayarit? The greatest disappointment of all was realizing that the people of Nayarit may be subjected to what I was honestly paranoid of. To reiterate, the people were so kind and we felt so welcomed. It saddened me to realize that many people may not want to experience that kindness because of our fears.

This point was only solidified on our last full day in Nayarit. We took a day trip out to Lo de Marcos, which has yet to be overrun with tourists. There were a lot of food options there, but because of our condensed day, we couldn’t explore it all. Also, because of the relative lack of tourists, it wasn’t super busy. You could truly just sit back, eat a taco by the street or the beach, and relax. I was getting to a point of relaxation when that timer in my head went off and reminded myself that it was time to go. Boo. Now, I don’t profess to know exactly what the relative risk to our safety truly was. Admittedly, we never got pulled over or had trouble tailing us at any moment. But with all that has been said and all that was heard, I wasn’t going to take a chance at all.

So, it’s hard for me to say if I’ll ever be back at all. If we ever to go again, it’ll be different for sure. I think we’ll stay at one of the smaller towns and explore all that that place would have to offer. No more day trips. In spite of all of that, I can’t deny that the food was absolutely fantastic. The highest quality tequila and mezcal were so cheap and wonderful! The tacos were divine. The seafood was incredibly fresh and perfect.Manao-Cebicheria.jpgI didn’t know it was spelled with a “B”. It’s cool to learn new things about food. Manao Cebicheria prides itself on how fresh the fish they serve is. They only serve fish that is caught on the day of. Great place to try for a flavor of Nayarit.

Blvrd de Nayarit 2 local 2, Nuevo Vallarta, 63735 Nuevo Vallarta, MexicoMarlin-CebicheMarlin-Cebiche-2.jpgTuna-CevicheThey give you a packet of crackers to which you lay the fish on. I don’t know if we were just hungry or what, but man they were good.Tuna-on-a-cracker.jpgYou eat fish. The fish charges you.Fish-Check.jpg

The beach in front of our hotel. Absolute beauty. Punta-Mita-Beach.jpgPunta-Mita-Beach-2.jpg

Huichol bead art found in Sayulita. Incredibly, all made by hand. Proceeds going back to the indigenous people. Huichol-Jaguar.jpgHuichol-Skull.jpg

A surfboard for the surf town of Sayulita. Surfboard-Huichol

There’s a magical food stand in Sayulita called Carnitas Prietos. I didn’t know until this visit but I guess the state of Michoacan is famous for this preparation of pork. Hats off to them! Pork as many of you know is a magical culinary animal. Under the gleam of heat lamps, it glistens advertising the wave of flavor you’re about to embark on. This bag contained all the glorious bits and pieces of pork heaven. I regret not getting more. Carnitas-Prieto's-Sign.jpgCarnitas-Michoacan-2Carnitas-MichoacanCarnitas-Prieto's-TacosPapel picado, a folk art paper decoration, which was hung in the small town of Sayulita.Papel-Picado-Sayulita.jpgIt wasn’t a very hot day in Sayulita, but just warm enough to welcome to cool, refreshing, and vibrant taste of paletas, or popsicles from Wa Kika. If you’ve ever had agua frescas, water that has been infused with fruit, it’s like having a frozen version of that. Wakika-Sayulita.jpgNaty’s offered up some delicious vegetarian tacos. Rajas (strips of poblano peppers) and beans with queso fresco, a type of Mexican cheese that usually isn’t aged, hence the name, filled our stomachs before we ventured out to explore Sayulita further.Naty's.jpg

The cool thing about Naty’s is that you order and you can see everybody working on making the food. Then you can choose to eat al fresco right in front of the restaurant or wrap around on the small counters with stools, which is what we opted to do. It’s a small place, but worth a visit! Not sure if you can tell by the picture but the tacos around 13 pesos, which at the time, equated to less than 1 USD! Naty's-Inside.jpgRajas-Tacos-from-Naty's-Sayulita.jpg

Norma’s tacos in Punta de Mita, is the absolute epitome of a mom and pop shop/hole in the wall. Firstly, it’s literally run by a husband and wife team. They cook some amazingly flavorful tacos and serve it up with warmth and service that frankly wasn’t rivaled at any other place we went to in Punta Mita, Nayarit. A big group had beaten us to the punch of getting to the house restaurant, so seating was practically non existent. We were fortunately invited by a group sitting at a table to join them. But, there wasn’t a chair for me. The husband quickly noted this and ran inside the house and grabbed one of their own chairs for me to sit in. It was such a small act, but one that made me realize how truly warm and generous people were in Nayarit. Norma served up simple food that could’ve been easily passed up as another meal. Instead, they offered homemade, heart-filled tacos served with a lot of pride and care. Norma's-TacosWorking the plancha.Norma-putting-work-in.jpg

Steak and al pastor tacos. To me, al pastor is still the king. Norma's-Tacos-2

We hit up “El Sazon de Mita” (The spice of Mita) for breakfast. I noticed a common theme in regards to many of the restaurants throughout Punta Mita. The restaurants basically appeared to house the family that ends up serving you food. So, it’s like eating a home-cooked meal every time. Sazon-de-mita-menu.jpgIt wouldn’t be any fun to get the “American breakfast” so we opted for something more local: chilaquiles, which is a dish comprised of tortilla chips and some sort of protein drenched in a rich and hearty, often spicy, sauce. It is then topped off with chunks of queso fresco and sometimes eggs.

Homemade tortillas not only taste good because of knowing that they are made fresh, but also because you realize how far short store bought tortillas fall from the real thing. The slightly dense nature of homemade tortilla’s texture lends a pleasant chewiness . The flavor of the corn that makes the taco also becomes more pronounced. Inside-Sazon-de-Mita.jpgChilaquiles-Sazon-de-Mita.jpgBirria tacos – stewed goat tacos. I haven’t seen much of these in the states. You’ll usually find birria being served on the weekends, but I haven’t seen it come in a taco. Because it’s stewed in a rich sauce, the gaminess of the meat is gone. Birria-Tacos-Sazon-de-Mita

We both enjoyed Sayulita a lot so we decided to come back. Good news for me because that just means more tacos! Can you tell I love tacos? We visited Luna’s Metseri Taco. Luna's-tacos-storefront.jpgYou can see the lady with a ball of masa in hand ready to make magic in the tortilla press. Oh yeah, it’s about to go down. Luna's-Metseri-Taco.jpgLuna's-Tacos-making-tortillas.jpgLuna's-Tacos-in-a-clay-plate.jpg

So there’s this churro lady on a random corner in Punta Mita that we were able to find. I actually had to ask about it from a local store owner. I can’t remember exactly what time she appears on this corner, but I do remember it being later on in the afternoon. She extrudes the churro dough with the help of a wheel and drops them into a vat of piping hot oil. The product is magical. The churros were crispy with a wonderfully chewy center. If only there was a magical vanilla ice cream man that popped up next to her. That would’ve been a dream come true. Churros-on-the-corner.jpgChurro-lady-extruding-dough.jpg

The churros smelled so good that the horse wanted some as well.Horse-and-the-churro.jpgChurros-Punta-Mita.jpgOur trip was coming to a close. For our last day trip, we headed out to a sleepy, small town called Lo de Marcos. This was the day we had hoped to use to sunbathe, but instead it turned out to be gloomy, which was a bummer. It wasn’t a total waste, because the tacos were amazing! Yes, I can’t get enough tacos.

This time, we changed it up with some shrimp (camarones) tacos. I forget the name of the place we stopped at. But, it’s on a corner located in the town square, across from Tacos Oscar. Deep-fried-shrimp-tacos-Lo-de-Marcos.jpgFinished-shrimp-tacos-Lo-de-Marcos.jpgThe beach was practically empty, perhaps due to the weather. But, it was still beautiful.Lo-de-Marcos-Beach.jpgAnd, there were horses on the beach (for rental). Horses-on-the-beach-Lo-de-Marcos.jpgTacos Oscar opens up later in the afternoon and serves up traditional tacos. It was our last meal before departing Lo de Marcos – a perfect ending. Tacos-Oscar-Storefront-2.jpgTacos-Oscar-storefront.jpgTacos-Oscar-meat.jpg

Tacos de Marlin, near the airport is a must stop before you leave Nayarit. The marlin ahumado (smoked marlin) is probably their most popular burrito. It wasn’t until after I ordered however, that I found out there is a burrito made with fish wrapped in bacon (tocino). If I remember correctly, I think it was the combinados (combination) burrito. I was incredibly distraught that this choice eluded me. It wasn’t explicitly written on the menu, but was only realized after I had taken pictures of it on the plancha. You’re probably thinking, “Why didn’t you just order it?”. Well, I had ran out of pesos. I didn’t want to deal with exchanging left over pesos into USD, so I made sure to spend it all on the final meal.

Despite this, the burritos were still pretty good. I didn’t get a lot of smoke flavor, but the fish was incredibly moist and flavorful. The burritos are incredibly hearty too, which is always a plus. Tacos-de-Marlin.jpgTacos-de-Marlin-posing-cookUltimate regret. Don’t be like me. Order this and be happier. Le sigh…Fish-with-Tocino.jpgThe final burrito. Hearty goodness.Smoked-Marlin-Burrito.jpgOh yeah, and there was this. Al pastor fish. Brilliance. I didn’t get a chance to order any, however because I didn’t have any cash. Boo. Al-pastor-fish.jpg

As I finish up this post, I realized that that was a ton of tacos (whew!). But I assure you, it wasn’t just all eating. I took the opportunity of being in Mexico to sample a variety of tequilas and mezcal, as previously mentioned. I definitely gained a new appreciation for them. Sadly, prior to Mexico, tequila to me was associated with just Patrón. Now, I’m not saying that’s not necessarily a bad thing. After the trip, my eyes were opened and horizons expanded. There’s a beautiful world of reposado and añejo tequila out there waiting to be explored. The depth of flavor that you get on your palate from these types of tequila is nothing short of marvelous. It would be short-handed to just describe it as smooth. So please, do yourself a favor and venture away from Patrón silver. Try reposado or añejo. You’ll thank yourself for it.

If you ever get a chance to try the following, you’ll REALLY thank yourself.

  1. Jose Cuervo – Reserva de la Familia (personal favorite, but very expensive)
  2. Don Julio 70 –  It’s a clear añejo, which is mind-blasting itself, but the flavor of it will add more mind-blastingness to the overall experience. You can find this at Costco for a fair price!
  3. Clase Azul – Another one of my favorites, but very pricey as well.

Thanks for stopping by. I look forward to your next visit!

 

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Seattle Part 10: A visit to my alma mater

Many people say, and many people would concur that the Spring and Summer in the Pacific Northwest is hard to beat. I remember being absolutely in love with the weather during those seasons and then absolutely hating it during the winters. In fact, it was the seemingly, perpetual gloom that convincingly made me return to sunny (and blazing hot) Southern California.

When my wife and I decided to visit Seattle, the weather decided to kindly remind us of how truly supreme it is. Combine the absolutely, sublime weather with the gorgeous backdrop of my alma mater, you’ll have a formula for an unforgettable experience.

UW-Rainier-View.jpgThis duck bridge was not around when I was scrambling to make it to class. I think it’s a great idea. The ducks loved Drumheller. Duck-Bridge.jpgJust a tiny sample of the architecture you’re eyes will feast upon when walking around campus. UW-Architecture.jpgA visit to the campus wouldn’t be complete without a visitation to “Hogwarts library” as it is unofficially known. Suzallo-Library.jpgOn the menu for the day was a local favorite, Thai Tom’s. It’s strategically located on the Ave, which is the main street located adjacent to the campus where you can find all the great eateries. I remember my first experience at Thai Tom’s. I don’t think I’ve ever had Thai food prior to that moment, but me being in college I thought that I might as well be adventurous and give it a try. It would be a decision that I would come to be very grateful for. It’s quickly and simply, prepared food that packs a boatload of flavor. It’s also very easy on the wallet, which is always a plus. You go in to a very cozy space, sit, order, and enjoy your well-crafted meal. Just be prepared to sweat, not only because of the heat level of the dish (1-5 stars), but mainly because of your proximity to the flames. Thai-Tom-Flames.jpgA Thai salad was one order of ours. To our surprise it came with some potato chips! It was sweet, salty, and spicy all-in-one. The sauce was freshly made on one of the burners, so it ended up being a warm salad. Thai-Salad.jpgGrill and serve it.Thai-Tom-Serving.jpgA scoop of rice alongside noodles with oodles of flavor is never a bad thing. Just note that there is no beef served at this restaurant. No problem though, because the chicken that they cook up here will do just fine. Pad Kee Mao | Pad See Ew.

Pad-kee-mao-Thai-TomsPad-see-ew-Thai-Tom

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Seattle Part 9: Bakery Nouveau + West Seattle Farmer’s Market

A double-baked almond croissant and a finely made latte is hard to beat on a beautifully sunny Seattle morning. Many almond croissants have been consumed from a number of different coffee shops in the Los Angeles in the hopes of finding an equal. I have to admit that I have not been successful. It’s hard to describe exactly how good one of these triumphs of baking really is. You see, it begins with an adventure in texture from the outer crust and crumbles of almond. You then ride the sweet wave from the powdered sugar and arrive at an explosion of almond flavor from the heart of the croissant itself. The innards are incredibly moist and perhaps even juicy. As you continue to chew and chew, you realize that you’ve arrived at bakery nirvana. Luckily, there’s another bite waiting for you (hopefully).

The croissant is probably the only thing that I’ve revisited every single time I’ve come back to Seattle. Trust me, it’s worth it. Double-Baked-Almond-Croissant.jpg

The only other breakfast food that may give eggs Benny a run for its money, in my book, is either a croque madame or croque monsieur. Bakery Nouveau has a perfect iteration of the latter as you’ll soon see. It’s ultra-rich and may be a little too much for some, admittedly. I really enjoyed it, however. The combination of bechamel, cheese, and perfect bread is hard to beat. Oh, it’s also really buttery, which doesn’t hurt. I want one right now as I’m writing this. I hope you’ll get to enjoy one the next time you visit!Croque-Monsieur.jpgMy wife went with the croissant sandwich that was filled with gruyere and turkey. When the bakery staff brings it out for you after being reheated, you can see the gruyere just oozing out and the turkey glistening, beckoning you to eat it. The croissant was flaky and airy in the center, which to me, is pretty much a perfect croissant. Turkey-croissant-with-gruyere.jpgThe only minor disappointment from my experience were the macarons offered at the bakery. I want to stress that they weren’t bad at all, but because I also had some from Honore Bakery, I had something to compare Nouveau’s to. Head to head, I would say Honore has the advantage. To me, the ones offered at Bakery Nouveau’s weren’t as moist and airy in the center. Some also were a little shorthanded in terms of its filling, as you’ll see in the photo. It’s a slight difference, but just enough to separate it in a bad way. Nouveau-Macaron.jpg

Bakery Nouveau has two locations in Seattle. The West Seattle location was featured in this post.

4737 California Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98116

West Seattle Farmer’s Market

There was an incredible energy that you could feel as you walk around the farmer’s market. I’m sure the combination of the vibrant looking foods and handcrafted offerings had something to do with it. Oh, and not to mention the incredible weather. I really enjoyed seeing everything that was offered. It was also cool to see all the dogs out and about. I’m a huge dog person, so that was a nice treat to see all of them roaming about.

I have to admit that it was at this farmer’s market is where I tried kombucha for the first time. To this day, I don’t really know what it is exactly. All I knew going in, was that it is a hip, trendy, and quite literally a funky, fermented drink. I’ve smelled one iteration of it and I have to say that it smells like some feet that have ran through a marathon were dunked in some vinegar. Then, you were kicked with said feet in the nostrils. The ones I tried weren’t that pungent admittedly, but it still reminded you that you were about to partake in the kombucha. It was fairly good because it was flavored, but I don’t think it’s going to be a part of my regular beverage lineup.

Some things I captured were the amazing colors in the flowers that were being sold at the market. All throughout my trip in Seattle, I was mind-blasted by all the amazing flowers and colors dotted throughout the city. Another, was a mobile adoption truck. It was filled with cats to my dismay, but I thought the concept was awesome.

West-Seattle-Farmer's-Market-Flowers-2West-Seattle-Farmer's-Market-FlowersWest-Seattle-Farmer's-Market-Pet-Adoption

West Seattle Farmer’s Market – California Ave SW & SW Alaska

Every Sunday all throughout the year. 10am – 2pm

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Seattle Part 8: It’s about to become epic…Shiro’s epic.

I have to admit that my knowledge about this place has been skewed. Many of you may have heard of the documentary on Netflix called Jiro Dreams of Sushi. Jiro, who is an ultra-guru master of sushi has an apprentice named, Daisuke Nakazawa, who was in charge of making the tamago (egg) course for the restaurant. Well, that apprentice landed up in a sushi restaurant in Seattle, by the name of Shiro’s, under the tutelage of Shiro Kashiba. I had thought that Jiro’s apprentice had started up the restaurant himself. Wrong. You live and you learn. I’m not sure if Mr. Nakazawa is still at the restaurant, but his tamago persists. Mr. Kashiba has moved on from Shiro’s and opened up a new place called Sushi Kashiba.

The last piece in the torrent of sushi you get when you go the route of omakase, is that treasured piece of tamago. Just wait for it. It’s coming. But, I’ll be honest in that pictures just don’t do it justice. Alright, enough talk. Let’s get started. Omakase time.

This will be the stage where greatness happens.

Shiro's-Tray.jpg

I love sushi just like many others out there. There are some fish that I can recognize without second guessing myself. I still tried to document every course so that you may follow and learn more about it. But, as fate would have it, my phone for my note-taking died shortly halfway through the course. So, I’ll have to go by memory for those. Regretfully however, I cannot remember all of them as I’ve never tried them before as some are truly Japanese fish. Enjoy!

Boiled baby sardines. Chewy, tangy, and salty, but yummy.

Baby-sardine's.jpg

Albacore and albacore belly from Oregon. Albacore is one of my personal favorites. The belly has an increased fat content adding to the overall butteriness of the fish and flavor. You just can’t help but smile with happiness after eating it.

Albacore-and-belly.jpg

Sea bass

Sea-bass.jpg

Red snapper + charred golden-eye snapper. I’ve never had golden eye before. Both were a little tougher, I thought, but still good.

Red-snapper-charred-golden-eye-snapper.jpg

Meet Jun, our sushi chef for the evening. He masterfully compiled the piece of nigiri for us. He’s getting our salmon course ready in this photo.

Jun-intro.jpg

Sake (salmon) three ways (left to right): sockeye salmon from Alaska, salmon with ponzu sauce, and salmon belly.

Salmon-3-ways-lateralSalmon-3-ways

(Left to right): Seared scallop, seared conch, and geoduck. Can’t say I was a fan of the geoduck. It had a weird texture.

Scallop-geoduck-seared-conch.jpg

Can you tell which fish is which?

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I honestly wouldn’t have been able to tell by looks and taste. They actually tasted very similar, which is why it was probably included in the same course. Left: hamachi (yellowtail, another of my favorites) and to the right, is kanpachi (amberjack).

Next up, firefly squid. The name is given due to its bioluminescence capabilities.

Firefly-squid.jpgFirefly-squid-2.jpg

Chef Jun is literally torching it.

Jun-Torch.jpg

Kawahagi (thread-sail filefish) with a surprise of fish liver underneath. The liver gave it a sublime creaminess. It’s the first time I’ve ever had this fish before.

Kawahagi-w-fish-liver

There’s a certain dexterity that is required when attempting to assemble sushi.

Jun-assembling-sushi.jpg

MAGURO (tuna)!!!!

Right to left: Otoro (fatty tuna belly), marinated tuna with shoyu (soy sauce) and vinegar, chu-toro (medium fatty tuna), and akami (regular tuna). I consider the tuna the king of the sushi world. Nothing comes close in terms of depth of flavor, texture, and just simple goodness.

Tuna-course.jpg

It’s so good, I had to give you another angle of it.Tuna-topside.jpgThen I had to give you a close-up of the absolute king: otoro. You can see all that fat nestled in between the muscle. It’s the equivalent of wagyu/kobe beef. Except, it didn’t go “moo”. My wife doesn’t like it, however. This saddens me.O-toro.jpg

This prawn was actually alive before it was deep fried. Prawn-topsidePrawn-faceThe tail is cut off and the shell removed. It is then served up as sushi. It’s sweet and incredibly fresh, of course. The head is deep fried for consumption.Prawn-processed.jpg

There’s a Korean snack called 새우깡. It’s basically sticks that are made to taste like shrimp. Although we have a prawn here for sushi, I have to say it reminds me of them. Note, the picture of the snack is not mine.

Shrimp Flavored CrackerFried-prawn.jpg

These next few courses, I can’t remember the types of fish I had. Sorry everybody. I will assure you that with pretty much all the other sushi to be had at Shiro’s, it was a pleasure to eat. Comment below if you can identify them! I’ll update this post as best as I can.Unknown-fish-course-2Unknown-sushi-course

Anago (saltwater eel – left). Unagi (freshwater eel – right). I really had to think about differentiating the two…for a while.Anago-Unagi.jpg

Pigfish (left) and Needlefish (right), both new experiences for me.Pigfish-and-needlefish.jpg

Tako (octopus – left). Ika (squid – right)Tako-and-Ika.jpg

Uni (sea urchin – left) and ikura (salmon roe – right). I found that people have mixed responses to both of these. I love how creamy and delectable uni is and how briny and vibrant ikura can be.Uni-and-ikura.jpg

It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for folks. The tamagoyaki (egg) is here. By this time, I was ready to tap out. The thing about omakase is that you can tell the chef at any moment that you’re done. I wanted to conquer the menu, but my stomach was conquering my mind at the time. So, I told chef Jun to bring on the tamago because I was done. It literally was the sweetest ending to the ultimate sushi experience. Tamagoyaki-sideTamagoyaki

Shiro’s has been my absolute, most favorite sushi restaurant of all time (from all the ones I’ve been too). There are many others to try, of course. It’s always difficult to state that a particular restaurant or dish is the best thing ever because there’s just so many copies of it out there. Despite that, you can’t argue with the quality of the fish served at Shiro’s. Additionally, the experience is unforgettable – it has the ultimate ending.

Just in case you’re wondering about my #2 sushi restaurant, that would be Gaku on O’ahu, Hawaii.

Shiro’s – 2401 2nd Ave, Seattle, WA 98121

If you want the omakase experience, I highly recommend getting there several minutes before opening. There will already be a line forming. If you miss the cutoff, you’ll have to wait up to 90 minutes for your turn. But, they do take your number down and call you when your spot is ready. Also, if you do miss it, it’s not the end of the world. There are a lot of nice bars to go to to enjoy a drink.

 

 

 

 

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Seattle Part 7: Washington State Park Arboretum + Japanese Garden

I’m no botanist/horticulturist. So, I’m not even going to try to expound upon the nature you’re looking at. I’m just gonna let the pictures do the talking.

Arboretum-PathFern-HeadsFunky-TreeJapanese-LanternJapanese-Red-Maple-2Japanese-Red-Maple

Wisteria-1Wisteria-2Lone-AzaleaOverall-Japanese-Garden-ViewPine-LeavesPink-and-Red-AzaleasPink-Azaleas-1Pink-Azaleas-2Pink-Azaleas-3Pink-RhodoPrehistoric-PlantsRed-AzaleasWhite-and-Pink-Azaleas-2White-and-Pink-AzaleasWhite-Azalea

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Seattle Part 6: Boat Street Kitchen

An absolute gem of a brunch spot. When you say “brunch”, I think “eggs Benedict”. I’m an absolute sucker for eggs Benedict. That moment when you take your knife and cut across the poached eggs to let out that sequestered liquid gold is what keeps bringing me back. So, when I learned that this place makes a good eggs Benny, I couldn’t turn down an opportunity to eat there. If you want to as well, make sure you make reservations. The eggs Benedict is customizable in that you can add whichever additional protein you want to it. I opted for the smoked salmon.

This take on a classic breakfast choice was sublime. Eggs were perfectly poached. The bread that supported it all was perfectly crisp. The smoked salmon rounded everything out and reminded you that you’re eating a perfect brunch in Seattle. The salad was well dressed and not too heavy. The sweet mandarins were a great ending to everything.

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Preach…

Julia-Childs-Boat-Street-cafe.jpgBoat Street Kitchen and Cafe – 3131 Western Ave, Ste 301, Seattle, WA

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Seattle Part 5: Staple and Fancy

I have to apologize for not having enough pictures for this place. It was dinner and the restaurant is normally, dimly lit, which is never conducive for good photos. A good friend of mine joined us for dinner this night and was even kind enough to treat us out to Staple and Fancy’s tasting menu. I have to say that Chef Ethan Stowell’s thinking in the progression of this tasting menu was indeed well planned out. From the starter of prosciutto drizzled in rich olive oil to the end with what may be considered a modern take on a surf and turf was truly a great experience. On a side note, he also owns another restaurant named Tàvolata, which has an absolutely phenomenal happy hour. You’d be truly mad to miss that one. I hope to go back there and take some pictures for you all the next time around!

So, all I have for you is the main course of beef and fish. I’m a big beef person. I joke that I would be the saddest person in the world without meat. Ironically, I preferred the fish dish (halibut). It was light and tender, but flavorful. The fiddle heads also reminded me of Washington and also provided a nice textural element to the dish. It was the better executed dish because of how each individual element complemented each other so well. Of note, the only course that I didn’t like in the tasting menu was the salad course. It came out drenched in dressing. Additionally, it just didn’t impress.

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Staple and Fancy – 4739 Ballard Ave NW
Seattle, Wa 98107

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Seattle Part 4: Macrina Bakery + Kerry Park

Macrina is a big-name bakery in Seattle and rightly so. With a handful locations to choose from, my wife and I settled on the Queen Anne location. It’s the perfect pit stop before heading over to Kerry Park for some spectacular views. You can pick up some coffee and baked goods and head over there for a perfect picnic on a perfect Seattle day with your perfect somebody.

Banana nutella hand pie. Honestly, I was left wanting more. I thought there wasn’t enough filling and nutella. Banana, I think, is a strong flavor. The flavor combination of banana and nutella is clever, but just didn’t come through. What filling I did get, I thought was great. The crust was also very dry. Overall, I was sad afterwards.

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I typically don’t eat scones for one primary reason: my mouth is left feeling like a desert. But this scone totally blasted my expectations. It wasn’t overly dry. Rather, the texture was just right. The cheese was perfectly married to the dill. Just the right amount of dill gave it the necessary tang to cut through the richness of the cheese. Oh man, was I pleasantly surprised by this one. You see it, you get this one. No question about it.

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Macrina Bakery – 615 W McGraw St, Seattle, WA 98119

Kerry Park – Soak in the sun while you drench in the views

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Seattle Part 3: Honore Bakery

I feel like there’s something special about bakeries in Seattle. Maybe it’s the great water? I hate to use a word that is becoming more and more cliché to describe them, but they are truly artisanal in that you can sense passion in every nook and cranny in all that is baked. Honore bakery is no exception. And so is Macrina (more on that later). And so is Bakery Nouveau (DEFINITELY more on that later). My bakery sample size is small, but I also got to experience the craft of others in some big name places: Walrus and the Carpenter + Columbia Bakery, Un Bien + Macrina, to name a few. On a side note, I really like those partnerships. Small businesses supporting each other and supplementing each other.

We visited the Ballard location for some breakfast and coffee. It’s a small and cozy location with some face-the-window-seating seats for some people watching.

My drink of choice is a latte. I have an espresso machine at home, but cannot do latte art for the life of me. So, I live vicariously through the latte art of others.

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Honore macarons. Earl grey, coffee, vanilla, and passionfruit. All different. All delicious. Personally, I liked these macarons over Bakery Nouveau’s.

Honore Bakery (Ballard) – 1413 NW 70th St, Seattle, WA 98117

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Seattle Part 2: Un Bien

So, I’m just gonna come out with it. Un Bien was not all that bueno in that it doesn’t live up to the hype. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not a bad sandwich. But, it also isn’t perfection. This statement is probably going to light a mighty fire from within you, but before you go on a rage fest, let me explain. I have to admit that the overall flavor of the sandwich is mighty pleasing. Some people may complain that it’s an absolute mess of a sandwich, but that’s not what grinds my gears about it. The big hunks of pork shoulder you get was actually dry for me. That lone fact was its Achilles heel. Everything else about it was great. The bread was toasted to perfection and soaked up all that flavor in its soft core. That aioli (or perhaps it’s a mayo flavor bomb) that finds itself as one of the sandwich layers does a fine job in boosting the flavor of the sandwich. And oh mah gah, those caramelized onions! The sandwich is sweet, savory, and mmm-mmm goodness all in one. But, one chink in the armor undid it all. And consider this, there are plenty of other amazing sandwiches in the city of Seattle. Rain Shadow Meats Squared serves up an absolute delight in between bread. Heck, so does Bakery Nouveau. And, let’s not forget Salumi. So, if there’s all that hype about a sandwich, it’s got to be perfect.

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What? You want a close-up of the goodness? Sure!Sandwich-Closeup.jpg

Look at the bread. You can just see its crunch factor!Bread-Closeup.jpg

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Un Bien – 15th Ave NW, Seattle, WA 98117

 

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