Fabulous field trip

Posted by Cameron on 10.11.06 6:48 PM

Beer (c)2006 AECGirls, the next time your man (of any gender) gives you the tiniest bit of lip about shopping excursions worth the name — and I mean the kind that require provisions and a Sherpa — you just take Medea Jones’ advice. Saddle him up for a field trip like the one we did last Saturday.

Start at The City Beer Store, a new-ish spot down on Fabulous Folsom: Less Scummy, More Yummy! (and that one’s a Medea Jones original, sealed with a kiss, lovey, so remember that you read it here first). Your faithful correspondent has previously pined on these pages for the bodacious Seattle beer scene and the absolutely fab Bottleworks. Well, color me amber with glee!!! City Beer is too cute for words and it’s just jam-packed with little and big bottles of malty joy, all begging to be taken home. Everything is sold as singles, and the boys there encourage experimentation. Not like that, presh!!! I mean you get a discount if you mix and match your purchases. Love the funky concrete loft decor, (Ed. no, really, it’s a converted live-work loft) and the three taps — soon to be five — pouring draught beer. It’s a store! It’s a bar! It’s a store and a bar!

Pause! Breathe! Wave! Blow kisses! Touch the pearls for sincerity! Wave!

On to the next destination, the gritty, downmarket BevMo on Bayshore for a little atmosphere and some things that a girl just needs…like a bottle of Clear Creek Pear Brandy for Falling Leaves and a shopping cart full of wine! Special to Mr. Windbreaker Man, lashing four one-gallon jugs of Gallo into the milk crate on the back of your powder-blue moped: Those are just the weekly rations, aren’t they? Call me. We must party.

Where next? Why, Blackwell’s Wine & Sprits in The Avenues! Now, there was a time when I’d never venture west of Park Presidio unless it was for a really hot pickup roller derby match. But not any more, chickadees! A frantic cross-country quest for Carpano Antica at the end of September put paid to that. Cue scene from A Nightmare on Booze Street. Yours Truly is on the mobile with who-ever:

“Um, HI! I’m looking for a bottle of Carpano Antica. Do you have it?”

“Yes, I’ll wait.”

“Hi! I’m looking for a bottle of Carpano Antica?”

“Carpano Antica.”

“It’s a kind of vermouth, I think.”

“No, I don’t know what you do with it, honey, but I hope I’ll find out!”

“Well, my friend said if I showed up with a bottle he’d make it worth my while.”

“Yes! Ha ha! An offer you can’t refuse!”

“4-1-5…Wait, why do you need my telephone number?”

“A-N-T-I-C-A.”

“V-E-R-M-O-U…oh, never mind!”

But then I found Blackwell’s, way-y-y-y-y out on Geary, where Gary and Tristan simply saved my life. So, zip zip zip and we’re back to the present, or at least the more recent past, when we visited again. Tristan recommended some wines for when the spirit is willing but the pocketbook is weak: very lovely, very French. I went all wobbly in the knees again on beholding the wall of booze. I’m on a complete bourbon kick these days and honestly, I’m stacking the bottles sideways in the closet, my foil-wrapped cherry bon-bons. I screwed up my courage and limited myself to a bottle of Bulleit (very chic on the custom cocktail circuit — mixes well, but bo-ring alone…. OOPS! Did I say that?), and one of the 15-year-old Pappy Van Winkle, which is simply impossible to find but is my Favorite Bourbon Of All Time, aside from the Sun King, of course.

There! A plan for a happy Saturday! I’m exhausted just writing about it. Mitzi, fetch the English cucumber slices and fill the bath with raita. I must regain my strength.

Love and kisses,
Miss Thing, Medea Jones

The City Beer Store
1168 Folsom Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 503-1033

BevMo Bayshore
201 Bayshore Boulevard
San Francisco, CA 94124
(415) 648-1233

Blackwell’s Wines & Spirits
5620 Geary Boulevard (between 20th and 21st)
San Francisco, CA 94121
(415)386-9463

beer, drinks, shopping
8 Comments »

 

Concentrate

Posted by Cameron on 10.09.06 2:31 PM

glaceLeftovers are the very fabric of happiness. Half the fun of Thanksgiving dinner is making cold turkey and stuffing sandwiches the next day.

I’m grooving on the leftovers of Saturday’s dinner: braised beef short ribs that Anita bought from Bristol Farms last week on spec, knowing that I’d make good use of them. I used a really simple treatment and they rewarded me by tasting absolutely wonderful. We ate them Saturday night with polenta and roasted brussel sprouts.

The real party started Sunday, though, when we made sandwiches from the leftovers. Pulling apart the meat was just the start. I had about a quarter-cup of the sauce left over that, refrigerated, set up like meat-wine jelly. Demi-glace, more or less, only without the tomato. Perfect for spreading on bread with a little mayo.

The First Braised Short Ribs of Fall

  • 2.5# beef short ribs
  • 2 medium onions cut into half-inch slices
  • 1 medium carrot roughly cut (3/4-inch chunks)
  • 1.5 c full-bodied red wine (e.g. syrah, zinfandel)
  • 2 c chicken stock or broth
  • 4-5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • 2-4 T butter

Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Liberally salt and judiciously pepper the short ribs. Haul out your dutch oven or other large, deep, heavy, ovenproof pot. Heat the pan over a medium-high flame until it’s way too hot to touch. A droplet of water should bounce off the bottom of the pan. Really hot. Pour in 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil. Maybe even four. Enough to coat the bottom of the pan with style and grace. Let the oil heat up.

Turn on your hood. Open the windows. Close the door to the living room. Genuflect. Crank the flame up to afterburner and USING TONGS, gently lower the ribs into the pan and sear all sides until a good brown crust appears. Do not crowd the pan. Sear the ribs in batches if you have to, but keep that pan Top-Gun hot. Don’t burn the meat, but don’t wimp out on the sear: if it just looks gray, you’re not done yet. Keep your kitchen clean (ish) by covering your pan with a spatter guard. As you finish the ribs, remove them to a plate. Nice and brown all over, right? This whole affair will probably take 10-15 minutes.

After the meat is done, dump in the onions and carrot with a half-teaspoon of salt. Sweat the vegetables until the onions are translucent. If you want a sweeter sauce, you could go until they’re golden. Pour in half the stock and half the wine. Use a wooden spoon to loosen any browned bits sticking to the pan. Put the ribs back in the pot along with any juice that’s pooled on the plate. Add the rest of both stock and wine slowly, stopping if the liquid level threatens to submerge the meat. At least 1/4 of the typical meat-and-bone mass should be poking out above the liquid. Add the thyme. Bring to a low boil, cover, and put in the oven and cook for three hours or until you can have your way with the meat. It should be soft and falling off the bone, easy to pull apart (see bonus note below).

Put the meat on a plate and tent it with aluminum foil. Pour whatever is left in the pan through a strainer, and then get the resulting delicious liquid back on the stove in a skillet or saucier. If you didn’t go the way of the extra bonus note, you’ll want to skim as much fat off the top as you can.

Reduce the defatted liquid over medium-high heat until it’s thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Kill the flame and stir in a couple of tablespoons of butter. Taste while holding onto the counter top so that when your eyes roll back into your head you won’t fall over. Adjust the seasonings. Add more butter if you think it needs it. Plate the meat and drizzle some sauce over it. Don’t blow all the sauce on your guests. Save some that you can put in the refrigerator and spread on sandwiches after it gelatinizes.

Bonus note: You can make this recipe both more tasty and easier to handle by executing it over the course of a couple of days. After the meat has cooked, cool the pot and then refrigerate. It will be fine for a few days. When you’re ready to serve, skim the congealed fat, reheat gently until all is liquid again, and then continue as above.

cooking, meat, recipes
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DOTW: Falling Leaves

Posted by Anita on 10.06.06 7:13 AM

falling leaves (c)2006 AECSince tonight marks the beginning of Sukkot and the Chinese Autumn Moon festival, I suppose it’s futile to pretend that it’s not yet fall. Even though we live in a place where we don’t really see the leaves falling from the trees, all this rain makes it pretty obvious that Indian Summer is, at last, behind us.

This Audrey Saunders cocktail — a favorite of our Seattle crew — requires a bit of shopping, but the end result is well worth it. If you try it, I suspect that you’ll enjoy making it well into the holiday season.

Falling Leaves
1 oz. Clear Creek pear eau de vie
2 oz. Trimbach reisling
1/4 oz. honey syrup (equal parts of honey and water)
1/2 oz. Orange curacao
dash Peychaud bitters

Measure all ingredients into cocktail shaker, add ice, and shake well. Strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with a whole piece of star anise.

Drink of the Week, drinks, recipes, Seattle
4 Comments »

 

It’s no Harrods, but…

Posted by Anita on 10.02.06 6:04 PM

Bristol Farms bakery (c)2006 AECAs luck would have it, I’m working right around the corner from the new addition to the Westfield San Francisco Centre — home of the first NorCal outpost of posh grocery Bristol Farms, as well as the foodiest food court this side of The Loft at Bangkok’s Central Chitlom department store.

I decided to pass on the food court for now and take a gander at Bristol Farms. Unlike the L.A.-area locations that I’ve seen, this shop is definitely geared toward the lunch crowd, with passing nods to real groceries. Well, maybe that’s not entirely fair: The butcher counter is fully stocked, albeit with shockingly pricey all-natural cuts of meat. (I’m the bozo who paid $21.89 for 2-1/2 pounds of short ribs, yep.) Cheeses, fresh pastas, a full dairy and dry-goods selection… they’re all here, and I’m sure the folks moving in to those condo-hotels are celebrating having a real grocery nearby. The produce section seemed a little slim for a store with “Farms” in its name, but I suppose you can’t have it all.

I’m not sure if it’s because Bristol Farms has such strong ties to the Southland, but I was shocked to find both Bob’s Big Boy salad dressing and Clearman’s cheese-toast spread on the shelves. Who knows what other SoCal treats are lurking in the aisles?

The pastry and bakery cases are definitely drool-worthy, and the housewares department — across the mall from the main store — looked remarkably comprehensive, if a bit precious. Salad bar, deli, and hot food stations seemed pretty decent, and not terribly overpriced considering the neighborhood. I picked up a pint container of “roadhouse chili” and garnished it with cheese, onions and crackers for just $3.99.

The crowds were still pretty thick, just four days after the grand opening, but a dozen cheerful cashiers kept the queue moving briskly and helpful staff answered questions in the aisles. All in all, a good first visit. And, I have to say: It’s just so damned European to have a grocery store in the basement! Maybe we can get our public transit working, now…

Bristol Farms
San Francisco Centre (Concourse Level)
845 Market Street, Suite 10
San Francisco, CA 94103

lunch, shopping, SoCal
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Chunky chicken

Posted by Anita on 10.02.06 6:04 PM

krispy creme chicken (from LATimes.com)The Los Angeles Times — a serious newspaper, by all accounts — ran a story recently, profiling Charlie Boghosian, a purveyor of deep-fried everything. The wrapper of the story is a recap of all the fried goodies (and I use that term loosely) available for sale at the Los Angeles County Fair, including “deep-fried Twinkies, deep-fried Oreos, deep-fried avocados, deep-fried pickles, deep-fried olives … deep-fried macaroni and cheese, deep-fried spaghetti and deep-fried cosmopolitans…”

But Mr. Boghosian — a Christmas tree wholesaler when he’s not hardening arteries in the summertime — has a heart-stopping item that’s the real star of the piece.

This year, Boghosian’s new item is the Krispy Kreme Chicken and Swiss sandwich with a side of honey. Imagine a jelly doughnut hollowed out, cut in half and garnished with a fried chicken patty and slice of gooey Swiss cheese.

Boghosian says he came up with the idea one night while buying a dozen doughnuts for his staff at a Krispy Kreme with his manager, Jerald Smith, who said he had a hankering for a chicken sandwich instead.

“And then a light went on,” Smith said.

The reaction has exceeded Boghosian’s expectations. He sold nearly 1,000 of them his first weekend at the L.A. County Fair at $5.95 apiece.

The even scarier part? They tot up the calories on this puppy, and it’s about the same as a Big Mac, and about 200 below the Jumbo Jack with cheese.

levity, SoCal
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Little bit of sol

Posted by Anita on 10.02.06 6:54 AM

pambiche sign (c)2006 AECAt Union the other night, Rocky overheard us talking about our Portland jaunt and immediately said “You have to go to Pambiche. It’s the most awesome Cuban food.” And then he reminded us again the next morning over breakfast. When the Rock tells you something’s this good, twice, I advise you to listen.

With all the wedding goings-on, we weren’t really sure if we’d be able to fit Pambiche into the agenda. Luckily, we timed it right: On our way out of the hotel, we checked the map and — sure enough — Pambiche is even en route to PDX. Sweet. They’re also open from lunch straight through to late night. (There’s a joke here about having your medianoche at medianoche, but I am too tired to pull off a bilingual pun.)

As we drive up Glisan, it’s not difficult to find Pambiche. Even from blocks away, we spot the brightly-colored building and row of umbrellas covering the patio tables. Inside, the colorful chaos continues, with art and artifacts verging on kitsch covering nearly every surface. (Here’s a link to the photos.) It smells impossibly good in here, and already I’m verging on sensory overload. We’ve been blessed with remarkably sunny weather all weekend, so I can only imagine what a wonderful touch of the tropics Pambiche would be during the depths of a Portland winter.

We scan the menu and find many familiar tastes: Ropa vieja, various plantains, beans of many colors. We need a little coaching through ordering a sampler appetizer plate called the Primera Vuelta — neither the menu nor our server does a very good job explaining how we choose which aperitivos and in what quantity.

In the end, we settle on the empanada de picadillo (spicy meat-hash turnover). and two each of the croquetas de papa y bacalao (potato and salt cod croquettes) and frituras de malanga (garlicky taro-root shreds formed into cakes and fried). They’re attractively presented, served with remolacha (beet and watercress in sour-orange dressing) and ensalada caribiena (citrus cabbage slaw). Everything on the plate is delicious, although we both agree the empanada is the standout item, with the earthy beet salad a close runner-up. We dab on a bit of a house-made smoky chile sauce, brought to the table in a plastic squeeze bottle.

It’s not even 5pm yet, and the place is filling up, with guests putting their names on a sign-in sheet and retreating to a set of benches along the sidewalk. While we wait for the rest of our food, we sip a pair of Limonadas de Guarapo, a cool concoction of fresh-squeeed lime and sugar-cane juices, served with a chunk of the cane to nibble. it’s an acquired taste — Cameron likens the sour-sweet flavor to pickle juice — but it grows on you… and works well with the food.

Our entrees arrive hot on the heels of the appetizers, but we’re not bothered. My Cuban Sandwich looks amazing: Pressed between a perfectly crunchy-soft roll, there’s plenty of ham, roast pork and Swiss cheese, slathered with a mustardy spread and a tart pickle. It’s served with a pile of tostones, a barely-sweet version of banana chips. Cameron’s Plato Cubano features roast pork, white rice, and a cup of the best vegetarian black beans I’ve ever tasted. How do they get them so flavorful without meat? Man. Seeing an order of red beans go by on their way to another table, Cameron flags down our waitress and asks if he can have a cup of them, too. She’s initially confused — “didn’t you order black?” — but we set her straight, and the red beans arrive within minutes. And what a grand idea! They’re even more amazing than the black ones, redolent with herbs, bacon, and other porky bits. After my first taste, I’m not even asking Cameron for another bite before grabbing the spoon. The beans alone are worth a trip.

We’ve been ogling an impressive display of traditional Cuban cakes and pastries all through our meal, but we haven’t saved room. Their descriptions take up two whole pages of the menu, and they’re glorious to behold but United waits for no man, Ah, next time… and there will be a next time.

Pambiche Cocina y Repostreria Cubana
2811 NE Glisan Avenue
Portland, OR 97232
530.233.0495

Portland, restaurants
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No gold star for Red Star

Posted by Anita on 10.01.06 11:28 PM

red star bloody mary bar (c)2006 AECWe’re staying overnight at the 5th Avenue Suites, one of two Kimpton hotels in Portland. And as much as we love Kimpton — and recognize that their restaurants can sometimes be better than merely decent — we’re pretty clear on the fact that you’re not going to a hotel restaurant in search of culinary excellence. You’re usually pretty safe with American standards like burgers, club sandwiches, Cobb salads and the like, but expecting anything memorable is a recipe for disappointment. This, we know well.

So why in the name of all that is foodie did we take the elevator downstairs to the Red Star Tavern & Roast House, rather than seeking out a truly worthy place to brunch? Well, kids, today’s the Portland Marathon, and the whole city — most especially the area around our hotel — is jammed with people. And, on a more personal note, it’s also the morning after a very late night spent celebrating the marriage of two long-time friends, Karen & Nelson, out at Edgefield, the McMenamin’s brewery’s rustic resort on the edge of town. Let me say that again: Brewery. Wedding reception. Nelson’s crew. You get the picture…

Now, we didn’t know this ahead of time, but it turns out that Red Star has a D.I.Y. bloody mary bar on the weekends. You choose one of ten decent vodkas, and they bring you a very healthy glug in a salt-rimmed pint glass, and point you to the bar. Along said bar you’ll find a wide assortment of bloody mary mixes, plus straight tomato juice, celery salt, hot sauces, horseradish, and what must be the city’s best-stuffed array of olives. No Worcestershire sauce, Tony Cachere’s, or celery stalks… but I suppose pickled asparagus will do in a pinch.

And, you know, the drink’s pretty average. It’s not a stunning beverage, but I’ve got no one to blame but my own sweet hung-over self. (Mental note: This is why we generally leave brunch to the experts.) Cam wisely sticks with coffee and water in the beverage department, and busies himself with the Sunday NY Times. I never did trust a newspaper that’s too uptight for comics, but that’s probably best left to another post…

In a strange departure from our usual preferences, Cameron opts for fish & chips — a lunchy brunch option! — and I choose the biscuits and gravy. The service is polite, prompt, and cheerful, and we’re all happy. Until the food comes, that is.

My biscuits are fine, but the gravy looks and tastes rather prefab. And I don’t understand why a fancy hotel like this can’t afford a slotted spoon for the kitchen: my poached eggs come in a bowlful of water… a pet peeve of mine, admittedly. On a more serious note, Cameron’s fish is coated in a delectable-looking batter, but what’s inside is clearly wa-a-ay past its prime, reeking of ammonia. He calls over our server, who apologizes profusely and whisks the plate back to the kitchen. Almost as quickly, she brings it right back to the table, explaining that although she’d be happy to replace it with another dish, “the cooks say it’s catfish and that’s just how it smells.” Uh, yeah. No.

Ultimately, French toast with real Vermont maple syrup turns out to be a wiser choice.

I vaguely remembered having eaten at Red Star on our last swing through Portland — what is it about this city that brings out the food-slackers in us? — and being unimpressed, but I suppose the bright spot in the whole debacle is that I certainly will remember this round… even I won’t make the same mistake three times.

Red Star Tavern & Roast House
503 SW Alder Street (at Fifth Avenue)
Portland, OR 97204
503.222.0555

breakfast, drinks, Portland, restaurants, travel
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Layover in Burgerville

Posted by Anita on 10.01.06 6:22 PM

burgerville burger (c)2006 AECIt’s almost a law: You can’t drive down Interstate 5 without stopping for a burger and fries. Back home in California, of course, it’s In-N-Out that’s everyone’s favorite I-5 stopover. In the Northwest, no sooner will the phrase “road trip” cross your lips than someone will mention Burgerville.

Burgerville — at least the location in Centralia where we stopped yesterday — looks and feels much like any major fast-food outlet. Unlike other specialty burger spots, there’s nothing retro, chic or upscale about it. But when you take a closer look at the menu, you notice some telling differences: Tilllamook cheddar cheese, seasonal fresh berry shakes, Diestel Farms’ free-range turkey, and Oregon Country natural beef — just like at Palace Kitchen.

Holy cats! It even says “fresh, local, sustainable” right there on the brightly-colored menu board, in huge letters… and yet, everyone eating (and working) here looks like normal semi-rural folks, just like you’d probably see in the McBurgBox down the road. Nobody’s a hippie, nobody looks like Alice Waters. It’s downright tear-jerking to see so many of My Fellow Americans choosing to vote with their wallets and feed themselves something other than crap.

The fries are pretty good, with a nice potato-y taste; the so-called ketchup we’re dipping them in is ghastly, worse than you’d find at a cheap diner. The burgers are merely serviceable: They may be made from happy cows, but they’re typical machine-made smashpatties, cooked to within an inch of their lives. They’re saved from snackbar status by fluffy sesame-seed buns, leafy lettuce, truly ripe tomatoes, and tasty cheese. And Cam’s Mocha Perk milkshake — made with real ice cream — sports little flecks of espresso.

As much of a sustainable-food geek as I am, I’m not sure I could give up In-N-Out for Burgerville; the food’s just not as tasty. But it’s a damn sight better than McD’s or any other mainstream greasepit, and a worthy stop when hunger strikes on your next Northwest road trip.

Cameron says: I’m not in love with B-ville — certainly not enough to give up In-N-Out. But Anita pegged how I feel about the place as we were pulling out of the parking lot: “I don’t feel like I just ate a vat of chemicals.” A poignant note, particularly with the memory of a desperate, nasty, late-night trip to Jack-In-The-Crack in Seattle still fresh in my mind.

Burgerville
818 Harrison Avenue
Centralia, WA 98531
360.736.5212
(and 38 other locations in Oregon and SW Washington)

locavore, Portland, restaurants, travel
3 Comments »

 

Perks of the Palace

Posted by Anita on 10.01.06 3:23 PM

palace kitchen (c)2006 AECit’s our last night in Seattle, and where better to wrap things up than Palace Kitchen, the casual-dining jewel in the Tom Douglas empire’s crown. Palace quickly became one of our Seattle haunts when we were locals, and somehow they always managed to have “our” usual table ready and waiting just as we walked through the door — no mean feat, given that they don’t take reservations.

Years before ‘small plates’ became a thing that every decent chef dabbled with, diners at Palace were already constructing delicious meals from just the left side of the menu, where you’ll find favorites like plin (ravioli-like Piemontese dumplings), mind-bogglingly good oysters with shave-ice mignonette, and a rotating selection of five artisanal cheeses.

After extensive research — and 18 months of the foodiest folks in town trying hard to dethrone the resident Royale — pretty much everyone I know agrees that Palace is home to Seattle’s best hamburger. (It’s also home to the world’s coolest ladies’ room stall: the size of my first apartment and just as funkily furnished.)

Palace also is one of just a handful of locations where you can buy a slice of Tom’s justly famous Triple Coconut Cream Pie. (He also sells it at touristy Etta’s near the Market and the upscale Dahlia Lounge, plus Dahlia Bakery.) If you don’t have room for dessert, they’ll box it up for you to eat later… and throw in some napkins and plastic cutlery, too. Or come late, just for dessert: Palace serves their whole menu until 1am — pretty much last call for food in sleepy Seattle — and a special breakfast-style entree just from 10pm through closing time.

Palace Kitchen
2030 Fifth Avenue
Seattle, WA 98121
206.448.2001
(reservations for parties of 6+ only)

restaurants, Seattle
1 Comment »

 

Movin’ up to the Eastside

Posted by Anita on 10.01.06 3:07 PM

onion pancake (c)2006 AECA recurring theme at our house is the sad downward slide into mediocrity that many of our former restaurant favorites have taken. I’m sure we’ve got more than a handful of friends who are thoroughly sick of hearing me crab about how Thep Phanom has languished, for just one example. So we were sad to hear of the departure of the chef (and most of the staff) of our old Seattle haunt, Seven Stars Pepper. Apparently they’re still cranking out decent food, but nothing compared to the mind- (and mouth-) numbingly amazing treats of yore.

Thank the eight immortals that Szechuan Chef is essentially the reincarnation of Seven Stars Pepper. Instead of a dingy Asian mini-mall at 12th and Jackson on the fringe of the International District, you’ll now find yourself at a thoroughly generic strip-mall in the ass-end of Bellevue, which once housed a really skeevy Kmart. (One interesting side note: The drive may be a haul, but the parking lot is a lot less reminiscent of a place where the hero gets jumped in a video game.) And Szechuan Chef has slightly higher pretensions than ol’ Seven Star: better decor, better uniforms, nicer dishes and menus — although the prices remain insanely reasonable. Six of us ordered a thoroughly sufficient amount of food — check out the photos if you don’t believe me — and spent exactly $20 each, including tax and a 20% tip.

Best of all, it seems that much of the kitchen staff and most of the waitresses have followed the chef to his new location, including Ming, the amiable woman who we’ve always called Szechuan Auntie. As we walked through the door Friday, she stopped cold in her tracks and blinked, then walked toward us with outstretched arms and a huge grin.

“I can’t believe it’s you!” she said, cracking a huge grin. Man, we knew we missed her, but we had no idea she missed us, too. She must have come over three times in the next 10 minutes just to explain how surprised / happy / amazed she was to see us. And then she quipped: “I’ll tell them to start your Chong Qin chicken right now!” Wowsa… this doesn’t happen at San Tung.

Never one to tamper with a successful formula, we started out with a pair of old favorites: the green onion pancake and an order of hand-shaven dandan noodles with pork. Both were served promptly and piping hot… and tasted just as good as ever. We waited for one our party to arrive, and enjoyed an array of beverages, including a trio of house-made (but adorably packaged) fruit slushies. And then the food onslaught began. Chong Qin chicken, just as crispy and glorious as in the old days, smoky flash-cooked water spinach (aka ong choy), and many other faves. Even a couple of mis-steps — they were out of shell-on prawns so our salt-and-pepper shrimp came white-people style, and the whole Szechuan fish we thought we were ordering turned out to be chunks — couldn’t dampen our enthusiasm.

It’s good to be missed, but it’s even better to find an old favorite doing even better than you remembered.

Szechuan Chef
15015 Main Street
Bellevue, WA 98007
425.746.9008

restaurants, Seattle
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