Guess who’s going on holiday to Shanghai this fall? Yep! The Astronomer and I recently booked our flights, which reminded me of this most excellent Shanghainese dinner that we shared with Diep a few months back. Located in the same busy San Gabriel strip mall as Golden Deli and Ton Chan Ramen, Southern Mini Town came highly recommended to me by my friend Tsz.
Seemingly less splashy than its northern, western, and southern Chinese counterparts, Shanghai cuisine satisfies with subtlety and finesse rather than a double punch of sodium and spice. Sometimes, it’s just what I crave.
A ‘lil dish of salty peanuts covered in seaweed, as well as hot tea, arrived with the menus. A classic Shanghainese start.
Next on the scene was a platter of fresh-from-the-fryer “Fried Seaweed Yellow Fish.” The fish, coated in an airy, tempura-like batter flecked with green algae, were crisp-tender and completely addictive sprinkled with a bit of coarse salt. These are the kind of fish sticks that I can really get behind.
Continue reading ‘Southern Mini Town – San Gabriel’
When Sunday rolled around, it was time to pack up our bags and bid farewell to Seattle.
Since The Astronomer and I had enjoyed such a stellar meal at The Corson Building on Friday night, we decided to brunch at another of Chef Matt Dillon’s restaurants before leaving town: Sitka & Spruce. I loved that our #2DaysinSeattle stay was bookended by thoughtful, Pacific Northwest-inflected meals, with a winning mix of booze and biscuits in between.
Chef Dillon opened the original Sitka & Spruce in a nondescript Eastlake storefront in 2006. The restaurant relocated to spiffier digs inside Capitol Hill’s Melrose Market in 2010. While I can’t speak to the ambiance of the first spot, the current one is absolutely gorgeous, with tons of natural light streaming in.
Brunch, which is served on Saturdays (10 AM to 2 PM) and Sundays (10 AM to 3 PM), is a beautiful affair. The menu features a selection of small and large plates that encourage family-style sharing, and the offerings go far beyond basics like French toast and eggs Benedict. It’s the kind of interesting and delicious fare that I would gladly sacrifice sleeping in to experience.
I wanted to order the entire menu, of course, but our party of four could only handle so much, especially after last night’s never-ending feast at Staple & Fancy.
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After happy houring at Bathtub Gin and gastropubbing at Essex, The Astronomer and I jammed over to Staple & Fancy Mercantile for a late-night feast. We were joined at dinner by Lang, a native Seattleite and one of my best friends from college.
While I’ve eaten at quite a few of Chef Tom Douglas’ restaurants over the years, I have thus far ignored Seattle’s other dining darling: Chef Ethan Stowell. A self-trained cook and Food & Wine magazine’s “Best New Chef” (2008), Chef Stowell, along with his wife Angela, own and operate Tavolata, How to Cook a Wolf, Bar Cotto, and Rione VIII in the area.
Staple & Fancy’s Italian-inspired menu is comprised of “staple” items, including appetizers, pastas, sides, and proteins, as well as a “fancy” family-style supper served in four courses ($45 per person). The fancier option is highly encouraged. In fact, the menu nudges not so subtly, “We would like to inform you that you really should do this.”
Since this was technically our second dinner of the evening, The Astronomer and I left the “staple” or “fancy” decision up to Lang. He chose the latter and thus, the fate of our stomachs was chosen. Dinner started with a loaf of crusty bread served with good olive oil and vinegar. Classic.
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To ease the dissapointment of not being able to dine at Willows Inn on Lummi Island during this trip to Seattle, I treated myself to happy hour and two dinners on Saturday night. Not to sound like a complete lush, but nothing makes everything all better quite like a few rounds of cocktails!
We started off the evening at Bathtub Gin, a speakeasy hidden in a downtown alley that came highly recommended to us by our server at The Corson Building. After taking full advantage of their half-off special, we moved on to Essex in Ballard for more adult beverages and a bite to eat.
Brandon Pettit, the chef and owner of pizzeria Delancey next door, opened Essex with his wife and business partner, Molly Wizenberg of Orangette, last summer.
“The Delancey Street and Essex Street subway stops in New York share a station, so Essex seemed a fitting name for the restaurant sharing a façade with Delancey,” according to Ms. Orangette.
We arrived at the bar before the sun had fully set, so seating was relatively easy. We pulled up two seats at the counter and proceeded to order our “first” round. While my darling Astronomer stuck with the beers on tap, I was in a cocktailing mood.
My salted margarita ($10), sparkling and on tap, was comprised of reposado and a combination of orange, grapefruit, and lime juices. Tequila-based cocktails always treat me right.
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The Astronomer and I have visited Seattle four times in past three years, which is really something considering that we don’t have any family in the area. On each of these jaunts, we’ve made a concerted effort to explore the city’s sites beyond the hectic fun of Pike’s Place Market.
We’ve spent time at the Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum (I liked the Sir Mix-A-Lot exhibit best), toured the Ballard Locks, witnessed the art of glass blowing, quacked aboard the “Ride the Ducks” spectacle, and hiked to Kerry Park for the best view of the city.
On this latest #2DaysinSeattle trip, The Astronomer and I took it super-easy, filling our time with long stretches of walking, a little shopping, and much eating. Following breakfast at Dahlia Bakery, we strolled to South Lake Union to explore two of Chef Tom Douglas’ newest ventures, Dahlia Workshop and Serious Biscuit. Both entities are housed in the same lovely industrial space, along with a second outlet of Serious Pie.
Our seats on the second floor provided excellent views of Dahlia Workshop, which bakes bread and prepares pastries for the entire Tom Douglas restaurant empire.
We saw pie crusts being formed for the famous Triple Coconut Cream Pie and rhubarb being chopped for jam. Spying on the worker bees was an excellent way to pass the time while waiting for our food to arrive.
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