At long last, Gourmet San

To say that I am a fan of Szechuan food would be to grossly understate an essential truth. I have a hereditary predisposition for Szechuan food, passed down to me from my father (a Jew from New York for whom Chinese food is second in his heart only to my mother’s marvelous Polish-Jewish cooking). Like my dad, I LOVE Szechuan food, love the mingling of chili and numbing Szechuan peppercorn and spicy pickle and cured meats, the hot pots and smoky dark sauces and dense irregular hand shaven noodles, the pervasive garlic and fried peanuts and the crisp snap of vegetables rapidly cooked at extraordinary heat. Continue reading

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Eating in Seattle – Marination Station

I’ve got a confession to make. I just got back from a trip to Seattle (where of COURSE I ate like a pig and drank lots of fabulous cocktails) and I still haven’t finished my restaurant write-ups from the last time I visited, two months ago.

Really, though, there’s only one review from that trip worth doing, and that’s the fabulously named Marination. I know that Korean Mexican fusion is old hat now. It’s all over LA, it’s proliferating in food trucks in Portland and San Francisco, and it has crept and spread eastward, like a virus, to Chicago, Atlanta, New York, and even London. (I’m not 100% sure about this last, but it sounded good.) But Seattle’s Marination Mobile, you must understand, was one of the forerunners of the movement. When the Marination Mobile food truck opened in Seattle, Korean Mexican fusion was new and daring and the Marination Mobile food truck (justifiably) got lots of press and even was voted best food truck in the USA by Good Morning America. Continue reading

Eating in Seattle – Bako

Into every life a little rain must fall. That’s how I feel about my dining and drinking experiences in Seattle, which were almost uniformly stellar, with one singular exception, Bako. Bako opened recently, with plenty of fuss and fanfare, as a self-proclaimed “upscale” Chinese restaurant on the north end of Capitol Hill. I thrilled to fancies of Hong Kong-style visionary culinary excellence. What I ate, instead, was uniformly brown, bland, and soggy. In fact, I disliked everything about Bako, from the mustaches on the bartenders (please, hipsters: shave for 2012) to the self-consciously sleek interior, to our irritatingly perky, alarmingly ditzy server. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Continue reading

Asadal – Korean Food to Beat the Lurgy

Apparently as the universe’s idea of a joke, I’ve been sick more or less nonstop since my return from the Caribbean nearly two weeks ago. ENOUGH ALREADY, UNIVERSE. I GET IT. Anyway, the subtler nuances of food and wine have pretty much been lost on me. The only thing I want to eat is hot soup. Preferably spicy.

Now, it should not come as a surprise to anyone who has read my blog that I am (perhaps inordinately) fond of chilis. So of course I love Korean food. There is some fantastic Korean food in Seattle, but in London there’s a lot of not-great Korean food, and even more not-great quite-pricy Korean food. For this reason I keep coming back to Asadal. Continue reading

Eating in Seattle – Il Corvo

I liked everything about Il Corvo before I ever ate there. The story: a fastidious craft-oriented pasta geek leaves his slick exec chef position at a trendy restaurant to set up what is, essentially, a pop-up in a gelateria. The concept: a few dishes prepared fresh daily by hand, using lovingly-accumulated antique collectible pasta-making equipment, priced within easy reach of budget-constrained diners like me. The principles: Il Corvo’s only open for lunch, Monday through Friday, so that chef Mike Easton can spend time with his family. This singleness of purpose bespeaks a degree of confidence Continue reading

The Delhi Grill

Although I’ve eaten at the Delhi Grill several times (months ago!), the fact that I have not yet reviewed it has been been niggling at the back of my brain like a guilty conscience. I’m not sure what the hold-up has been. Maybe that ‘everyone’ had already written up the Delhi Grill. Certainly the fact that I felt that, in order to be thorough, I needed to come not only for dinner but in the daytime, when the Delhi Grill sells delicious roti wraps at the Chapel Market. A few weeks ago, however, I had a friendly conversation with @delhigrill on Twitter about visiting one of my other must-try London-on-a-budget restaurants Continue reading

Eating in Seattle – Brunch at Skillet Diner

Four years ago, when Skillet Street Food’s shiny silver airstream trailer first appeared, in Seattle’s Lake Union neighborhood in a parking lot near a construction site (if I remember correctly), I went the first week they opened. Delicious food that’s bad for you, cooked with heart. I was smitten. Poutine! My god! French fries with cheese curds and brown gravy! And bacon jam! It was a sunny day and I took the afternoon off from work and played Cornhole with Skillet’s genius co-founders. (Never heard of Cornhole? Nor had I. It’s seriously fun.) So perhaps you can understand my level of excitement when friend Z reported that Skillet was opening a diner (a diner!) a mere THREE BLOCKS from where I used to live in Seattle. Continue reading

Eating in Seattle – King Noodle

When I have a hangover, there is one kind of food I want to eat and one kind only: spicy noodle soup. Preferably with lots of meat in it, and extra chili peppers.

Those of you who have been following my Seattle exploits (now sadly behind me, like a distant dream) will not be surprised at all that by Saturday (after I concluded my second cocktail crawl), I was so toxic that noodle soup was not merely an option, it was a necessity. I was eager to try King Noodle, which had gotten rave reviews Continue reading

Not Getting Served at The Westbourne

For two years I’ve lived five minutes away from the Westbourne, reputedly one of London’s best gastropubs. I’ve felt guilty and faintly disloyal for never having eaten there, so when a friend proposed we have dinner, I told him to come meet me in my ‘hood. We’d go to the Westbourne! Just to be certain I made a reservation. I rang at midday, and spoke with a nice-sounding man who said that the restaurant was not fully booked for that evening. He took my booking for two people at 9 pm. Sounds straightforward, doesn’t it? WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG? Continue reading