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.

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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.

Buddies: Anthony Bourdain and I

Buddies:  Anthony Bourdain and I

I feel like Anthony Bourdain and I know each other. At personal level.  After watching his shows millions of times, when he says, “this is delicious,” I can actually tell if he means it or not.  I actually understand how happy he is when he is slurping his noodle bowl at this tiny street vender in Saigon.  I do because I love slurping noodles and I can taste them when I watch his show.  He and I should start traveling all over the world together to eat, eat and eat, especially Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia…beautiful Southeast Asia.

Ba Bar.  http://babarseattle.com/  This is a Vietnamese restaurant with a French influenced bakery shop.  This place is not your regular  joint so you can’t have 6-dollar pho here.  But they use happy cows and do not use any MSG.  Store design and interior are very well thought out.  It almost looks like the club or bar where hipsters go to inside.  Wait staffs are actually pretty hip as well.  Don’t get fooled by it however.  They serve fragrant, satisfying and deeply comforting pho so you don’t want to leave any drop in your bowl after eating it.  They are legit.  Again, this bowl costs you 4 more dollars than regular pho, but you will not regret paying the 4 dollars extra.

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I am day dreaming about Anthony Bourdain coming to Seattle and me taking him to Ba Bar to slurp Pho Bo Tai Nam together.  I am certain that I can get his genuine “oh, this is delicious!” out of him.

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.

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

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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.

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Dark Place to Happy Place: Just Like That – Outerlands, SF

Dark Place to Happy Place:  Just Like That – Outerlands, SF

I was crying for help inside for weeks. I had been experiencing some hardships that I was not really able to figure out and had been frustrated about not knowing what was going on. As a result, I was being so short with a couple of people, especially my poor best friend, he had to be my punching bag for a while. Even though he bought tickets to San Francisco Ballet (3rd row from the front) and traveled with me. What did I do for return? I snapped at him a couple of times during the trip, which he does not reserve whatsoever.

8 am Sunday morning, we got on to MUNI to headed over to Ocean Beach area to get a nice breakfast. On MUNI, it felt like my chest was being filled with dark emotion and I didn’t want to talk to him at all. We got out and walked toward to this restaurant called, Outerlands near the beach http://outerlandssf.com/ . I was already frustrated because there was a long line even if we got there 20 min before their opening time, 9am. When we sat down on the wooden bench outside while waiting, I started telling him about I need some time for me to be alone for a while. He was very supportive of that. As he asked me a couple of questions about work, all of a sudden, my thoughts are getting clearer, as if clouds are moving and I started to see sunlight. I found the core problem of what’s been eating me this last 2 to 3 weeks.

Of course Outerlands’ food did help me out. Beautiful looking corn bread with crumble of goat cheese, cheerful looking chicory open sandwich with eggs and salad, and fun looking rice porridge with pork belly, pickled veggies. They were all luscious and I could taste their dedication and passion.

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After this inspiring (for food and for my soul) breakfast, I felt revitalized and uplifting. I was getting out from that dark spot to a sunny and hopeful place.

Thank you, Outerlands and Archie for pulling me out of my cave. You guys are both beyond wonderful.

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Musician, Author or Rocky?: No, she is Emily Crawford Dann

Musician, Author or Rocky?:  No, she is Emily Crawford Dann

Have you ever been disappointed in a second album of a particular musician who released a phenomenal 1st record?  I have many times.  How about writers?  His/her 1st book was so damn good and you can’t stand the second book?  Or the movie “Rocky,” which I don’t think I need to explain.

Emily Crawford Dann is not a musician or author who produces a disappointing 2nd creation or Rocky.  She is a law school graduate, bright, very sincere, calm, fun, knowledgeable, thoughtful and beautiful.  This is a story about her and her restaurant, The Corson Building.  http://www.thecorsonbuilding.com/

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One night in February 2012, somewhere around 9:30pm, he and I were driving through Georgetown on Corson Avenue in Seattle after checking out a couple of venues that we considered having a party with a small group of close friends and family.  We were looking for something quaint, classy, vintagie and yet fun.  We were not quite excited about both places and were tired, and so headed home.  We stopped at red light.  I looked out to the window and I saw this quaint, classy and vintagie place tucked away on Corson Ave, and I let him know.  As soon as he saw that place, he flipped a U-turn and got out of the car.   We hesitantly opened the gate and looked inside the building.  We could see someone in the back of the building so we approached the back door and poked our heads in.  It was a gorgeous, organized and stunning kitchen.  Pots and pans hanged from the ceiling. Utensils and kitchen tools were on one side and plates on the other.  And unmatched silverwares!  I fell in love with that kitchen with just a glance.  Then this soft-spoken, elegant looking women, with a gorgeous smile and apron said, “Do you want to take a look inside?  Come on in”. As soon as I heard her voice and encountered her graceful manner, I decided this place was it.  It must have been the same for him because I remember him saying, “We don’t need to look further.”

the back of The Corson Building

Last night, we went to a “Seafood Chowder” dinner at this place.  I repeat, she is not a musician, author who produces disappointing 2nd creation or Rocky.  We’ve been to her restaurant countless times and she and her creations never disappoint.

When we had a dinner party in October 2012, the only request I had for Emily was no carrots (because I do not like carrot so much).  I had so much trust in her and I didn’t request anything else because I wanted to have HER food, not our modified version.  Of course, she delivered beautifully.

Emily is Seattle’s treasure.  She loves ingredients and has a strong emotional connection to food and those who enjoy food.  In fact, every time I taste what she makes, my heart starts aching.  She uses a mix of many kinds of spices but it never loses its original flavor of ingredients.  Her food makes you want to use all of your feelings, emotions and senses.

If you ever have a chance to visit Seattle, this is the place that should be first on your list.

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Best Restaurant ever (?): Lovely little place in NYC

Best Restaurant ever (?): Lovely little place in NYC

I have one co-worker, and let’s call her Kathy.  Kathy is a very cheerful and fun person to work with.  She also is a foodie and has many recommendations where to dine and what to eat.  I love hearing what she has to offer.  When she gets excited about food and/or restaurants she likes, she uses this phrase “the best EVER” and “the greatest EVER.”  I was born and raised in Japan and immigrated to the States 14 years ago, and as English being as my second language, I find her expression is very interesting.  I did not think I had my “best EVER” place to eat until December 27th, 2014.

New York City is my favorite place to be, especially lower Manhattan.  There are so many places I traveled and I love, but NYC is always No.1 on my list.  Yes, it is busy, crowded, expensive, dirty, and crazy however, there is something very romantic about that place just to override those negative impressions.  Old brick buildings, basketball courts, small parks throughout the city, coffee shops, 100-year old delis, tourists walking, tiny alleys, unique characteristics on each borough.  Gorgeous bridges, small restaurants, bicycles, gigantic buildings, dressed up people, dressed down people, bookstores, theaters, music, cocktails, and food.  My list will go on about 5 pages if you let me.  Anyways, today I want to talk about this restaurant called Joseph Leonard in West Village.

I saw this photo on Tumblr about 6 months ago.  It is a photo taken outside of this place and the glass window is steamed up.  It must have taken one cold winter day.  I could read “Joseph Leonard” on the window and see a few people inside.  I did not know what the place was and I have not heard of the name before either but I had a hunch (or I wanted this place to be a restaurant in NYC so badly) so I Googled.  Of course, it was a restaurant in the City (smile).  6 months later, we were there at Joseph Leonard at 9am sharp on 12/27/2014.

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The place was even better than I imagined.  When I reached out to the door, this friendly guy opened the door and said, “hey, come in!” We entered then my heart got filled with pure joy and expectations.  The place only has 8 tables and one small bar in the middle.  Old wooden floor and unmatched tables/chairs/benches.  We got seated where people were sitting in that photo.  Fast forward, my kale salad was arrived.  Oh my God, it was the best kale salad EVER!  Did I just use those words?  Best EVER?  And it was.  Right amount of kale, dressing, sourness, sweetness, pickled red onion, perfectly cooked boiled eggs, cheese…And care and love.  Plus, Stumptown Coffee roasts beans only for Joseph Leonard and it’s called “Happy Cooking Roast.” The coffee and our dish were perfectly complimenting each other.

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After I talked to our wait staff, Michael B with much enthusiasm about this place and food, he serviced us a big slice of carrot cake (restaurant owner’s wedding cake) and another pot of Happy Cooking Roast, which we did not even ordered.  I told him, “You guys rock.  I don’t use this word too easily but your place and food are the best ever.”  Seeing his smile after my comment was priceless.  Combination of me being NYC, great food, perfect location, lovely atmosphere, and wonderful staff made this magic.  Oh, I cannot forget to mention.  When I came in “London Calling” was playing and Clash was being played whole time we were there.

This place is best restaurant EVER until I find another best EVER.

http://josephleonard.com/