April 4th 3.0: mkt.

April 4th 3.0: mkt.

Ethan Stowell is beloved, down to earth kind of guy.  He owns 9 restaurants and 1 pizzeria all in Seattle.  He will be opening 3 more this year.  Yes, he is beloved and down to earth kind of guy, but he is also crazy.

He is crazy about food.  He is crazy about connection and relationships between food and people who eat his food.  Most of his restaurants are intimate settings.  Some have community table and some only seat 30 people or so.  Kitchens are not hidden, usually open.  Today is April 4th and it is a special day for me.  Archie was successful not to disclose where he was taking me this last Saturday night until we were almost there.

019 021

Here is mkt.in Meridian neighborhood near Green Lake in Seattle.  When I opened the door, first thing you see is an small and open kitchen with 5-seat counter.  Very close to people sitting next to you.  We were seated right in front of Alvin. Perfect.  I was able to see what he was cooking and how he prepares the meal.  His expression and his voice.  I was feeling his and his crew’s energy flowing through this intimate restaurant.  They use Pacific Northwest Ingredients.  Alvin puts lots of care and just right amount of Jaconsen Salt and care.  American fare without any pretentiousness.  Great balance of boldness and sensitivities.

025 026

My favorite restaurants always have great balance of 3-pillars, chef, service crew, food.   This place has food and chef covered.  OK, service crew.  Awesome.  Seth was our crew who tended to our  table and he was so much fun, cracking jokes, laughing with us, fist-bumping us, and cursing appropriately (yes, we curse a lot).  He is one of those people you actually want to eat dinner and share a bottle of red wine with.

027 028

030

I am happy to say I found another excellent Seattle eatery that I want to go back many times more.  My April 4th was fulfilled with joy.

60-degree weather:  Il Corvo, Pioneer Square, Seattle

60-degree weather:  Il Corvo, Pioneer Square, Seattle

This place seats 38 people.  You share your table with strangers.  It only opens 4 hours a day from 11am.  It’s jam packed and you feel like canned anchovy.  They only serve 3 kinds of pasta with a few kinds of appetizers. No desserts, no after lunch coffee.  The line gets long at 11:10am.  They have rules how you eat there.  Be in line for a while, order at this tiny counter, find your table, bus your table, exit.  You get tempted to find your table first then be in line.  No, you don’t do that here.

IMG_0004

It’s mid 60’s today and sunny in Seattle.  It was just perfect to get out.  My co-worker and I hopped on to the “lunch shuttle” from our office building to Pioneer Square and headed to Il Corvo.  We got there 11:10am and there already was a line.  We waited in about 15 minutes or so and we were out of there by 11:55am.  Inside of the restaurant is rustic and welcoming.  Reclaimed wood tables and old wooden floor and vintage pasta machines as interior décor.  Totally my kind of place.  I had torchiette (short pasta) with house made pancetta, sugar snap peas, and parmesan cheese.  Savory, sweet, slightly tangy, delicious.  Perfect amount as well.

Thanks to the gorgeous weather and my co-worker Yumi to make me get out.  I feel like I had a real quick trip to Italy during my lunch hour.

Dum Sum in the Evening: 飲茶 Yum Cha

Dum Sum in the Evening:  飲茶 Yum Cha

Silk Road travelers.  They must have traveled under severe and harsh conditions but I can’t stop fantasize about the time period.  Transporting silks, gold, precious stones, fabrics, animal skins, exotic fruit on the back of camels…

飲茶: 飲=drink  茶= tea

Dim sum is linked with the old tradition from yum cha (tea tasting).  Silk Road travelers needed a place to rest and teahouses were established along the roadside. Those teahouses offered food and tea…that’s a short history of yum cha.

002

Dum sum is traditionally eaten during morning and late afternoon.  In Seattle Chinatown however, Chinese restaurants offer limited dim sum items for dinner as well (thank goodness).  I wanted to eat out but wanted it to be quick and easy.  Dim sum can be the perfect supper.

Dim sum in the evening in Chinatown.  It could be a good place to take your date as well J

Seattle Food Icon: The Dish (no famous chef required)

Seattle Food Icon: The Dish (no famous chef required)

There is something romantic about eating at a diner, especially at the counter. Drinking a very bad cup of coffee in a very thick unmatched ceramic mug.  The food is greasy and its portion is gigantic so it’s promising that you’ll get a huge gut-bomb even while you are eating.  You can easily find those diners in NYC but there are not many in Seattle.  The Dish is one of only a few and very valuable.

Since I moved to Seattle in 2000, I have been coming here.  It is a small restaurant.  The counter seats 8 people and there are 9 four-top tables.  They only open from 8 am to 2 pm, are closed on Mondays and all national holidays.  If you arrive there after 10 am, you should be ready for waiting. Outside.  Summer in Seattle is gorgeous, so there is no problem waiting outside. But winter?  Wet and cold…but the line does not get shorter.  Of course, there is bottom-less coffee with unmatched ceramic mugs while waiting.  You sometimes have to go to the bathroom twice before you get seated.  People in Seattle adore this place despite these inconvenient factors.

The menu is not that original, regular American.  Lots of eggs, starch and meat.  Not a lot of gluten-free or vegan options but this place attract people.  98% of Seattle population either knows about this place or has been there, I bet you.  Nobody will judge you if you dine there alone.  It’s actually quite comfortable place to do so.  It has lots of sunlight so it’s nice to eat there when the weather is nice.  It’s equally good to dine there on rainy Sunday’s as well.

IMG_3602

Their food is good, it doesn’t necessarily wow you.  But I repeatedly go there because of the charm, consistency, nostalgia, comfort and romance that this place offers.  The Dish will remind you of your grandma.  It’s like eating your breakfast in her 50’s kitchen with a bunch of other people.

Sixty Four Minutes of Patience Takes You to…Amsterdam: Arabica Lounge

Sixty Four Minutes of Patience Takes You to…Amsterdam: Arabica Lounge

1. It is a long line to order your food and drink.

2. It takes a long time until your food comes out.

3. Staffs are not so  attentive.

If you do not like these facts of restaurants or cafes, you would not like to keep reading this post because this place I write about today does have a long line to order, they take a long time to prepare your food and the staff are not super attentive.

I love Capitol Hill in Seattle.  It’s weird and not-so-clean, but it offers a lot of character and feels welcoming for some reason.  I came to Seattle for the first time to study English and lived at a dorm at Seattle University.  It was located (still is) on 12th and James, and I used to walk to Broadway to check out  funky small shops and do some human watching (there were LOTS of “interesting” people back then).  Capitol Hill has gone through numerous changes and people say it is not the same Capitol Hill anymore, but this place still attracts me and I notice I feel nostalgia every time I go there.

Arabica Lounge is located at the corner of East Olive Way and Denny.  Many of the old buildings (I love old architecture!) still remain around there instead of being replaced by these ugly new apartment (cheap materials and ugly…ugly!) buildings with no character nor the care.  This place is located in one of those old buildings with big windows and lots of sunlight.  If you are like me, as soon as  you enter this café, you feel like you are transported to somewhere in Europe.  Maybe like Amsterdam.  People working there and people drinking, eating, chatting, reading, laptop-ing, iPhone-ing or just being are all beautiful people.  I am not saying they all look like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.  What I mean is that they have their own style.  Some are hip, some are cool, some are groovy, some are rad, some are indie and some are just not.  They just look comfortable in their own skin.  This space a good level of intimacy but in the meantime you can still be alone with other people there if that makes sense.  I feel most comfortable at this kind of places.  They offer simple yet delicious food, well prepared drinks (traditional French bowl with Stumptown beans!  Oh MY!) and good music.  I wish I had a living room like that space.

016017

Arabica lounge is the best place to be yourself and alone with someone.  It is a place to connect with people who are exactly like you, who want to be themselves and are comfortable in their own skin without exchange of words.  You’ll want to bring 2 or 3 books when you go there.  Trust me, you want to easily stay there half a day but please be careful who you go with.  Go there by yourself or with someone who is like you.  I went there with Archie and this one friend who was sort of cranky that day.  While I was enjoying the time waiting for my food, he mentioned how long we had been waiting (it was 64 min actually but it did not feel like that long) and you don’t actually need to know that kind of information at Arabica Lounge.  This is where you go without your watch.

Bring no watch.  Bring your books, notebook and your favorite pen.  64-minute wait is totally worth of your time.

FOB (fresh off the boat) Seattle: Love Letter to Seattle

FOB (fresh off the boat) Seattle:  Love Letter to Seattle

There were so many clouds to see through  the window of the plane.  The plane was about to land but I remember it was gray and wet.  I thought it was the most beautiful place on the planet however.

February 13th, 15 years ago I moved to Seattle from Tokyo.  I love Japan and I am proud to be Japanese but I have never felt I belonged there.  I have been wanting to get out of there since I was 5 years old.  When I studied 1 year in college as an exchange student, I fell in love with this City.  Ocean, lakes, mountains, trees…I even didn’t mind rain at all.  I loved everything about Seattle.  I tend to use my guts to decide something significant.  So moving to Seattle was the easiest decision I have ever made actually.  All I had to do was to follow my heart.

Here I am, 15 years later still in Seattle (I took a detour in Atlanta for a couple of years).  Where is the best place to celebrate for this crazy life for 10 years and merry-go-round life for 5 years?  There are millions of wonderful restaurants in Seattle but there is only one place I want to go with Archie for this kind of celebration, of course Emily’s place, The Corson Building.  Archie, a couple of friends and I went there last night and their theme was “Winter Vegetable Dinner.”  Her vegetables gave me so much more than just vegetables.  She took “just vegetables” to next level while she uses spices I can’t really identify and made them taste so much more than just vegetables, but you can still identify each vegetable she uses.  She is just like a magician.  I do not know how she does it every time.

My love for Seattle will never go away.  I am happy to call this city my “home” and I want to thank everyone who loves me and are always there for me.  I have just a few and I hope you know who I am talking about.

To Be or Not To Be: Red Cow Has an Answer

To Be or Not To Be: Red Cow Has an Answer

To be or not to be a meat eater, that is the question.  Right?  I was vegan for a while and was pescetarian until October 2014.  I was vegan when living in Atlanta, which I was eating vegetables, fruits and grains.  When I moved back to Seattle in 2008, I just added seafood to my vegan diet. But I was vegan and pescetarian not because of animal cruelty, wanting to reduce CO2 emissions or wanting to save the world eventually or anything like that.  My body got used to vegan diet for a while so every time I tried to eat meat products, I didn’t feel well afterwards so I just avoided for a long time.

In October 2014, I traveled to Paris with Archie, my best friend.  The trip turned my world upside down.  I wanted to taste EVERYTHING that Paris had to offer.  Beef bourguignon, beef tartar, pork rillettes, lamb, quail, baguette and butter (of course, French cuisine is not complete butter!)  My stomach felt a little funky at first but slowly I have gotten used to eating meat.

So, this is one of Seattle’s be-loved chefs, Ethan Stowell’s 9th restaurant called Red Cow.  It is located in this quaint Madrona area in Seattle near Lake Washington.  They change menu seasonally, which I respect and admire so much.

002

http://www.ethanstowellrestaurants.com/locations/red-cow/

003

We shared smoked duck breast, beef tongue, pork rillettes as charcuterie plate and the plate was more than excellent.  They had so much flavor and melted in my mouth.  Smoked meat can be tricky sometimes but this one was quite tender and had a very unique taste.  They offer 16oz Rib Eye.  Yes, 16oz.  I kind of wanted to try to be honest just to see how ridiculously big that was but I didn’t want my heart to stop next day either so I decide to have 8oz Filet Mignon.  It was superbly prepared (well, for my taste, medium rare) and inside was perfect reddish pink with crunchy fries and lots of homemade butter!  What a divine plate of Steak Frites.

When we were seated, we told our waiter “We are vegans.  What can you do for us?”  “We have tons of lettuce,” he replied.  I like witty and smartass people.  I consider Red Cow is doing something right by offering excellent healthy and well-taken care of animals and hiring experienced smartasses.

Just to mention, if you are vegans, vegetarians, or pescetarians, or whatever diet method you are using, Red Cow is not the place for you.  At all.  But if you are meat-eater, flexitarians (I can’t keep up these names anymore…have you heard kangatarian; vegetarian diet plus occasional kangaroo meat consumption?), you would appreciate this place very much.

To be or not to be…is not a question for me anymore.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.