J. Lo requests that we try something out of the ordinary when he comes to town and there are quite a few eccentric restaurants in Seattle. This time, I chose the Korean steakhouse Girin. What exactly is a Korean steakhouse? It’s Korean BBQ (think calibi beef) in the lettuce wraps using top shelf steak. That’s right – no chewy over-charred meats should be found at a steakhouse! We ordered quite the spread for just four people.
Sometimes you go to a restaurant because it’s your favorite place, and every time you’re in the area, you MUST go there, because it is AMAZING. Now if you have to drive over 180 miles to get there, do you go to the same place twice in a weekend, or do you take your chances on some place new that might become your next new favorite place? Kingyo in Vancouver is definitely a favorite, and The Daring Ronin and I did have to think long and hard about whether or not we wanted to have the invincible dan dan noodles again so soon with the taste still so fresh in our minds (one must savor the memory of the flavor!), but in the end, we opted to try something new: Guu Garlic Izakaya on the north end of Robson, not the original one on Thurlow, but their second shop in the downtown area.
Eden Hill is a tiny, unassuming restaurant that seats 24 at the top of Queen Anne that has been receiving rave reviews for their avant garde dishes. The “Lick the Bowl” foie gras cake batter dessert caught my eye, so t0e and I decided to give it a try.
As the restaurant is tiny, and t0e was running really late due to some horrendous traffic (1 hour to cross the 520 bridge – I’m sure Seattle folks can sympathize), the restaurant let us know that we had to be done by 7:30 for the next reservation on the table. We would have only had an hour and fifteen minutes to enjoy our meal and they would be unable to offer us the tasting menu as that needed the full two hours. They offered to move us to the bar where we could take our sweet time and make some hard decisions.
Order from the standard menu to try the much lauded pig head candy bar OR try the five-course blind tasting menu? They wouldn’t tell us what was on the tasting menu, taking into account only dietary restrictions and strong preferences, and telling us that it had none of the dishes from the standard menu. We weren’t sure if we wanted to trust the chef just yet at place we had never been, without knowing what we were getting into, but we figured that we could order the items on the menu that we really wanted, if we still had any room left. So in the chef we trusted, knowing that this chef, Maximillian Petty, had concocted a way to serve foie gras for dessert…
There are some restaurants that are legendary, impossible to get seats for, and renown as the best meal ever eaten – Thomas Keller’s French Laundry is one of these fabled establishments. I went here for my 35th birthday, to check off one of my items on my bucket list and to celebrate with Kipnik and Noblesse D’Coeur. I’ve cooked from multiple Thomas Keller cookbooks and absolutely adore Bouchon and Bouchon Bakery, so it was an absolute dream come true to be able to sit down at a table at the apex of his restaurants, especially on my birthday! It was more a whim to see if we could pull off this nearly impossible feat, and the fates conspired to make it happen for us.
Making reservations was no easy task either. Kipnik and I started calling at 10am using two lines each to try to get through their system. If get the menu system, press the button to make reservations and hear a busy tone, hang up immediately and dial again until you get hold music. Then stay on hold for the next 20 minutes and drop everything until speak to person and take whatever slots they have for reservations. There are 74 seats available per night, and everyone will start calling at 10am, so be patient and keep trying. We managed to get a 5:30 reservation, one of the first table seatings for Saturday.
I haven’t quite kept up with the food scene in Seattle recently, perhaps too many days of eating out in Bend has dampened my quest for seeking out new restaurants – too much of a good thing I guess. So I was quite happy when Neptune chose a relatively newcomer to the scene, from celebrated chef Rene Erickson, that focuses on meat. Now, I do adore Rene Erickson’s Whale Wins and I have designs to visit her donut shop, General Porpoise, but her latest openings of Bateau and Bar Melusine were not on my radar.
We each did a tasting menu with a shared wine pairing between us, and the waitress helpfully suggested that we insert a steak before dessert. We took her advice as the cuts of meat listed on the chalkboard above our heads spoke the specialty of the restaurant, and we wanted to make sure we didn’t miss out on the meat.
Shiro is a legend in Seattle, and Shiro’s is a testament to his talent with its following hardcore nigiri fanatics. I’d say that the thing that stands out the most about Shiro’s is the perfectly made roll of sushi rice. It stays together, has the perfect amount of hardness, and has just enough mirin to make it interesting. So with Shiro’s new restaurant, Sushi Kashiba, it was no surprise to see that the rice was still perfect. And now he gets to choose the cuts of fish and design the omakase menu.
For $95, there’s 11 pieces of nigiri plus two rolls, miso, and tamago. The fish will be whatever is freshest that day, but these are all extremely fresh pieces of fish, with an oh toro and a salmon belly to boot. The fattiness of the tuna and the flavor of the salmon make you realize how flavorful fresh fish can be! The eel was a highlight for our family, the most tender and flavorful they had ever had. I also heard raves about the sweet shrimp, but I do not like sweet shrimp, so I convey their compliments. I do question why there was a spicy tuna roll in the omakase, but maybe it’s a popular request?
They call a new type of dining experience, sitting around a communal table in a tiny restaurant that seats only 24 people, served prix-fixe style, but really, it’s more like sitting down a table at home with family, except mom is a gourmet chef with a penchant for charcuterie and formage blanc. Welcome to the belly of Beast, where the dishes are playful and the service est compris (tip is included, European style). There are six dishes, with optional wine pairing, and it’s a journey from beginning to end.