Monday, September 11, 2006

Thai Carrot

I've had many a less-than excellent dining experience driving through Aberdeen on the way home from surf trips to Westport tired and hungry, and was thrilled to find this little Thai gem on the edge of town.

So far every dish I've tried has been delicious and my dining companions have had similar experiences. They are totally accommodating to vegetarians (vegans too), and just about every dish can be made without animal products. I had a hard time getting a strait answer about whether there was shrimp paste in the curries (the waitress wasn't sure), but I tasted a curry a friend ordered and it was really good and didn't have any hint of fishiness.

I've tried the Phad Kee Mao (spicy, red, full of charred tomatoes, a little on the oily side), the Garlic Pepper (good sauce flavored of black pepper and fried garlic over a good mix of vegetables including fresh spinach and cabbage), the Phad Prik King (possibly spelled wrong... bell peppers and green beans in a spicy garlicky sechaun style sauce), and had a taste of the green curry (rich in coconut milk, garlic, spices, yum.) All were really satisfying.

This place has definitely become my "after westport" main stay, and I'd recommend it to anybody hungry who is passing through Aberdeen.

Also of note: their Thai iced tea (sweet, creamy, slightly spicy) comes with free refills... a nice little caffeine boost to help finish the drive back to Seattle.

Monday, June 12, 2006


The meat is clearly the specialty here, but this smart little restaurant has done something fantastic for the vegetarians: they've created a tofu version of their messy, saucy, delicious sandwich that doesn't hold back on all of the other elements... plenty of grilled peppers, onions, cilantro, spices and greasy (in a delicious way) sauce and slices of tasty tofu on a fresh warm baguette type bread.

It is probably my favorite tofu sandwich in the city, but one that I eat somewhat rarely because it drips so freely in flavorful fats that I tend to leave Paseo 95% satisfied, 5% preoccupied with finding myself some spinach.

The restaurant is small, and popular which lends to long waiting times and difficulty snagging one of the greasy plastic tables. It's not really the sort of place that you'd go to with the intent of spending the evening at your table and lingering over a slow dinner because it is so small and chaotic feeling inside.

But the food is delicious, and supplies exactly the sort of vegetarian indulgence that I dream of stumbling upon in a restaurant known for it's amazing meat.

UPDATE 2/10/08

Went to Paseo the other evening within an hour of closing time, and found that they were sold out of sandwiches (as their hand lettered sign applogized, "yes, really.") So instead I ended up with a rather delicious dinner out of two remarkable sides:

1. The House Salad. I love this salad... it begins with a base of fresh green romain lettuce, then is genorously piled with thin, crisp shreds of purple cabbage, marinated beets sticks, cilantro and a tangy lime vinegrette.

2. Tofu with Rojo Sauce. I was really surprised at what I recieved here... given the price (under $4), and the designation as a "side", I was expecting a small pile of something, but instead received a full dinner sized plate with a nice mound of basmati rice (it always tastes really good here... butter?) with a great pile of their delicious tofu strips in a rich and spicy red sauce. I was having a hard time figureing out the flavours in the sauce... I think I could pick out a red pepper/tomato base/onion base, but the details of the rest were elusive. It sure was good though.
Paseo in Seattle

Thursday, June 1, 2006

El Sombrero

My favorite detail about El Sombrero is the salsa, which tastes fresh and homemade and keeps coming with hot chips as long as you'd like.

My experience with the rest of the food (vegetarian options only) has been somewhat hit or miss... the vegetarian burrito is pretty good, and I've ordered it smothered in their unusual and good creamy chipotle sauce (usually reserved for a chicken dish), but the avocado tostada was a disappointing mound of iceberg lettuce and avocado slices. I don't know what I was expecting... maybe that's what a tostada is. Also slightly disappointing is the fact that they have homemade tamales, but none that are meatless.

I've heard decent review of the meat dishes, but have to say that the vegetarian options are a little bit lackluster compared to the options at other places around town.

The staff is pleasant and consistent, and seems to be headed by a matronly woman who always looks beautiful and in charge.

There is also a full bar that makes blended drinks, which is a nice addition, and they don't use any lard in their re-fried beans.

Edit: El Sombrero has awesome vegetarian spinach enchiladas.
El Sombrero Family Mexican Restaurant in Seattle

Tuesday, February 7, 2006

Blue C Sushi

First I should say: I don't eat fish.

But I really like sushi, and am always on the hunt for a good vegetarian roll. I really enjoy eating at Blue C because they have many vegi options:

1. Tofu roll: has all of the regular stuff you may expect from a vegi roll... tofu, avacado, cucumber, sprouts, etc. I think it compares well to the fancier vegi-rolls of the more expensive sushi joints.

2. Tempura Vegi roll: I haven't found this any place else, and it is super good... fresh hot greenbeans lightly fried in a tempura batter and then rolled. The contrasting textures are really pleaseing.

3. Avacado and Cucumber rolls: old standbys that are cheap... I think that an avacado roll (6 pieces) is around $1.50.

4. Lots of non-sushi items... sesamie noodles, cucumber salad, potatoes katsu, spinich gomai (I'm not sure how to spell that... it is a ball of steamed spinich in a sesami soy sauce), soft tofu in a chili sauce, etc

Like just about everybody who eats there, I was curious about the "how long does it go around the belt?" factor, and asked one of the waitresses. I learned that there are bar codes on the back of each dish on the belt, and that each dish is scanned each time it passes around the belt and plates not taken in a certain amount of time (I don't remember how much time exactly, but it was a surpriseingly short time) the dish is removed.

Blue C Sushi in Seattle

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Baguette Box

I enjoyed a really tasty variation on the typical vegetarian tofu vietnamese sandwich at the baguette box, the Braised Tofu sandwich. Like most tofu vietnamese sandwiches, it consisted of chunks of fried tofu, carrots, pickeled (?) radish, cilantro, onions, etc, but the high quality bread and the exceptionally delicious tofu made this sandwich stick out.

I also had the beet salad, and it was super good... thin tender slices of beets swimming in garlicy olive oil.

Downsides: a little bit expensive, and parking can indeed be difficult if you plan on arriving via car.

Baguette Box in Seattle

Friday, January 13, 2006

Pho Cyclo

Pho Cycle has an incredibly satisfying vegetarian dish: the Spicy Lemongrass tofu with noodles. It comes in typical Vietnamese noodle bowl fashon with a big bunch of basil and herbs, a nest of tender rice noodles, chopped peanuts, cucumber, shaved radish, carrot etc with some really tasty slightly smoky spicy strips of lemongrass tofu and a cup of soy (vegan) based broth to pour over the whole thing.

If I ate meat I'd likely go for the charred pork version of this dish, which looks similar but replace the tofu with large flat strips of really good looking charred pork and includes some fish sauce in the broth.

The staff is always really friendly too.

8/11/07 Addition...
Holy Cow, I just had the vegetarian Pho at pho cyclo and I don't know what took me so long!! Only the Broadway location has the vegetarian version (the 1st ave one has a bowl with tofu, but it has chicken broth instead of vegi broth). In addition to the regular pho stuff, this one comes with chunks of cauliflower and carrot, roasted garlic, and a little bowl of the MOST AMAZING spicy red ginger sauce that you can dump in. I am a big fan of Than Brothers, but I might have a new favorite. This bowl, with the ample vegis and tofu that somehow feels less fried than Than Bro's, actually feels more like a balanced meal. Delicious!!!
Pho Cyclo Cafe in Seattle