Category Archives: Travels

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Seattle, Thai food, Travels

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Seattle, Travels

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?

IMG_1218

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.

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Sushi, Travels

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

1 Comment

Filed under Travels

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.

Eggs-Benny-Boat-St-Cafe-1Eggs-Benny-Boat-St-Cafe-2

Preach…

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Travels

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.

Beef-Staple-and-FancyStaple-and-Fancy-Fish

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Meat, Travels