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    Rama Food Tour: Seattle

    At the end of last year, I was approached by the folks at Crimson Bamboo and was asked a very simple question: Where would you send people to eat in Seattle, if you wanted them to experience the “real” Seattle.

    I scoffed at their question, until they said that there could be money in it for me if I would write down my answers and let them be part of their Rama Food Tours. Never one to pass up an opportunity that would allow me to tell people where to eat, I signed on as one of several food writers out in the world who want visitors to their fair cities to know where to find the good and/or interesting places that most tourist guides miss.

    For me, answering the question as to where would I send people was a difficult one to ask, much more challenging than I expected. For one, due to several variables, many of them self-imposed, I could only provide six places to start, with an eye to adding six more when time and opportunity would allow.

    Second, I had to balance the list. It’s no good having several lunch places to go to on the tour, because most people won’t go to all of them. A balance between breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner all had to be weighed against one another.

    Finally, I wanted to send the users of this tour to, yes, visit the more popular tourist locations, but also to get off of the beaten path a bit, and see parts of Seattle that represent the neighborhoods of the city.

    To wrap this all up, all of the places should have an element to them which is quintessentially “Seattle”, as vague and as ambiguous as that idea may be.

    The first six places I have feel right to me, albeit incomplete. I get the tour user to Pike Place Market and the Space Needle, but also send them off to Fremont and Alki. I don’t send them to the best restaurant in the areas, but those which I believe represent a good Seattle experience.

    And yes, this includes getting a cup of coffee at a local coffeehouse, and no, that coffeehouse isn’t owned by the green mermaid.

    I could list each place here, but that would sort of defeat the purpose. Suffice to say, those who use the tour will see a lot of Seattle, and have some good food, and learn a bit about Seattle’s food history.  If you’re interested, feel free to download the Rama application for the iPhone (it will work for the iPad, but it is iPhone specific), and then buy (and hopefully use!!) the Seattle tour.

    More Food Porn: Fried Fish Combo

    Not seen, because it was hidden beneath the halibut, were the oysters and prawns.

    Quick question: which is more oily? Fried fish, or politicians? I’m betting on the latter.

    We get letters v.30: What are the “must visit food spots” in Seattle?

    This popped into my inbox the other day. Tatiana wants to know where she should visit whilst in the Emerald City:


    First I want to tell you how much I enjoy your blog. It’s fun and spirited and entertaining.

    Secondly, I want to tell you that I know you get a lot of these requests and I’m still going to ask… sorry. : )

    I will be coming through town in the middle of July for a two day visit. I will be eating about 4 meals while I’m there and I’d like your suggestions.

    I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, leaning much more towards salt and spice and while ethnic food is wonderful, I’m not coming to Seattle for Vietnamese or Thai. Having said that though, we do not have a single good Mexican restaurant in Calgary so if there’s a taqueria out of this world – I’m in. I’m looking for the unique experience that you just can’t get anywhere else, something so uniquely Seattle that NOT to eat there would be a sacrilege. One item on my menu is Salumi. What else should I just not miss?

    I really really appreciate your suggestions.


    Tatiana K

    Thank you for your e-mail Tatiana, as well as the compliments on the site.

    I do get a fair amount of questions surrounding food recommendations in Seattle. So much so, that I’ve taken to creating a Google map that highlights fifteen different places close to downtown Seattle that are worth your time.

    Keep in mind that this map was written with a tourists point of view in mind, rather than a traveler’s point of view or an obsessive food lover’s point of you. Some of the places are more for people watching and/or shopping rather than eating, so keep that in mind. I am working on a map designed for folks who are hard core into food, and several of the locations on the above map would be noticeably missing.

    However, one item missing from the map that you’ve requested is that of a decent Mexican restaurant. The problem with that request is that finding great Mexican food in Seattle is like finding great Sushi in St. Louis – meaning that what is considered great Mexican in Seattle would only be considered passable in a Tucson.

    Bearing that in mind, I’m recommending El Puerco Lloron at Pike Place Market (1501 Western Ave.). I’ve written about this place before (albeit indirectly), and it’s one of those “hit or miss” restaurants. People I’ve talked to either love the place or are indifferent to it. I don’t believe this is adequate enough to categorize it as “out of this world”. In my own opinion, it’s a step or two above the average Mexican place here in Seattle, but that’s somewhat of a low hurdle to overcome.

    I hope this helps, and feel free to let me know if there are any other questions you would like to have answered.

    Seattle Teriyaki Reviews: Yummy Teriyaki

    Yummy Teriyaki
    4746 California Ave SW
    Seattle, WA 98116

    This here is the first of hopefully dozens reviews of teriyaki restaurants found here in Seattle. I’m going to try to publish these primarily on Saturdays, when traffic is a little slower on the site, and the readers tend to be more from the Pacific NW. This is me giving back to my community.

    I have to say that writing reviews on Saturday mornings is fraught with distractions. First, my head is full of cobwebs from sleeping in. The caffeine (in the form of a latte from the local cafe) has yet to fully take affect. Instead of the words jumping out from the page, they’ll more likely wave, or perhaps give a simply nod of acknowledgment.

    It has been my experience that the great majority of teriyaki restaurant in the Seattle area work on two premises which can summed up in one sentence: We must sell cheap food served in as short of a time as possible. As “taste” or “quality” never really make it into consideration, I have found that there are teriyaki establishments so bad as to be comical. A discovery of an adequate teriyaki restaurant is akin to winning five dollars on a scratch off lottery ticket: It’s a little unexpected, but not unheard of, and in several days the experience will be forgotten.

    Which brings me to Yummy Teriyaki. The oxymoronic phrase “perfectly mediocre” describes the place wonderfully. The reasons are listed below.

    Chicken Teriyaki:
    Chicken: (2.5 point) The chicken was charbroiled, which was good. It was also borderline dry, which was not good, but acceptable. It was rather apparent that the chicken had not been marinated in the sauce, but rather was dipped in the sauce after cooking.

    Teriyaki Sauce: (3 points) The sauce was sweet but it was used sparingly. This could have worked if the chicken and rice tasted better. Since this was not case, it made the weakness of the chicken stand out, and there was little to no sauce left to mix with the rice.

    Rice: (2.5 points) It was your typical white sticky rice. Sticky, but a little underdone, making it nearly crunchy.

    Side Dishes: (4 points)It was a rather nice cabbage slaw, a nice turn from the iceberg lettuce salads that usually accompany teriyaki dishes.

    Menu: (3 points)
    It was a fairly standard menu. It did include the Korean dish Bulgogi, which typically indicates to me that this was not a “traditional” teriyaki restaurant.

    Other Entrees: (2.5 points)
    Tara had the Spicy Chicken, and found it not great, but acceptable. She also had the gyoza which was not made in house, but rather obviously started the day frozen.

    Intangibles: (4 points) Service was good and the presentation of the food caught us off guard (in a good way).

    Total score? 21.5 out of 35 possible for an average score of 3.1. See? Perfectly mediocre.

    tags technorati : Chicken Teriyaki Seattle Teriyaki

    Seattle represented in Gourmet’s Top 50 Restaurants

    Congratulations to both Canlis and Cafe Juanita, two very fine Seattle-area eating establishments, for being named in Gourmet’s list of top 50 restaurants.

    Technorati Tags: Gourmet Magazine, Top 50 Restaurants, Seattle Restaurants

    Noooooooo!!!!! (For Seattle Residents Only)

    I know that this doesn’t affect about 98% of you, but Dan Savage is reporting in The Stranger’s blog (called Slog) that the infamous Capital Hill coffeehop B&O espresso may be forced to close.

    An ominous notice has gone up at B&O Espresso on Olive Way: The building the B&O is in may be torn down to make way for yet more condos. “It’s kind of up in the air, and it won’t be for a while,ˮ Katharine, a manager, told me when I called B&O. “The city put up a sign, and it looks like the soonest it would happen would be a year and a half from now.ˮ

    I’ve only lived here three some odd years, and even I have an affinity for the place. Good coffee, GREAT desserts and really nice sandwiches. And as a bit of trivia, it’s reputed that this is where the some of the band members for Pearl Jam decided upon their name, way back in the day. This is as close to an institution that Capital Hill has.

    Technorati Tags: Seattle, Coffee, Capital Hill, Coffeehouse

    Mexican Restaurants in Seattle

    Picture in your mind two Mexican restaurants somewhere in America…Seattle, for example.

    Place 1 serves housemade refried beans, tacos, enchiladas and offer both green and red salsas for your corn chips. The food is competently done. but often not remarkably so. Their idea of an entree means that the burritos come with beans and rice. The floors are tidy, but worn from years of foot traffic. The walls are decorated as if someone had decided to go to a Tijuana garage sale at the last minute and had only twenty dollars to spend. The cost for a dinner at this place? Seven dollars…nine, if you include a tip.

    Place 2 also sells tacos, enchiladas and burritos, but dresses them up a bit. Instead of shredded beef tacos, they sell carne asade tacos. Names like Habenero enchiladas and Chipotle smoked Prawns dot the menu. Entrees are sold with a side of black beans and rice. The restaurant itself is presented in soft light, and candles pepper the space like a Roman Catholic Church on Lent. A fireplace is prominent in the center of the room. The walls are a soft wood paneling, and the skulls of several bulls can be found, giving the place the earth

    The price for a dinner at the second place? Seventeen dollars on average, including tip.

    If someone were to ask me which place I would prefer, I’d have say the first, for reasons I can’t quite put my fingers on.

    Part of it is the fact that Mexican food as we Americans know it, is so blessedly effortless. My favorite place for Mexican in Seattle is a little place called El Puerco Lloron, and the food is simply marvelous. You order one of ten dishes from the board, pick a drink from their choices of beers and sodas and then you have a seat at a card table on folding chairs that appear to have been last used a church social. The meat (mostly pork) that comes with what ever dish you have chosen is so moist that it falls apart in your mouth without the aid of your teeth. Their pico de gallo sings upon the tongue. With a bottle of cold beer, this meal is near perfection. That’s all that is really needed.

    Places like those similar to the second restaurant mentioned above try to impress with atmosphere, yet seemingly have done nothing in the way of proving why one should pay twelve dollars for tacos. They have a fully stocked bar, over 50 beers to choose from, several tequilas and yet have added nothing food-wise beyond what I could get at El Puerco Lloron. There’s no mole, no pozole, not even an arroz con pollo upon the menu.

    I know that perhaps my expectations are too high. This is Seattle after all, not San Diego, or Albuquerque. There are also many fine upscale Mexican Restaurants in the area that either offer more than burritos, enchiladas and tacos, or bring something additional to these standard recipes.

    What we have is a new “Kate’s Law“. Let’s call it Kate’s Law of the Proportional Cost of Burritos. This law states that the more money spent on a burrito, the higher probability of disappointment in the dish. This law can be applied to many Mexican Standards, including enchiladas, tacos, etc. etc.

    You folks can have your Fifteen dollar Enchiladas. I’ll stick to the ones in the four to eight dollar range.

    Technorati Tags: Food, Mexican Restaurants, Restaurants