Tuesday, June 24, 2008


I had heard good things about Jasmine Provincial Restaurant, which is located next door to Vieng Thong just north of Franklin Highschool. The dining experience started off with some mystery and promise... attention had been given to the atmosphere of the restaurant, starting with a large puppy shaped humidifier spewing a constant stream of steam from the bartop and ending with a very classy grand piano laying in wait on its own special stage.

There were other details, nice tableware, a white paper table cloth whisked on clean before the meal and whisked off embarrassingly splattered after the meal, that reminded me very much of Tamarind Tree. Unlike the Tamarind Tree, however, there was an element of weird in the feel of the place. It was perhaps exacerbated by the brightness of our long spring evenings.

We ordered the lemongrass tofu vermicelli bowl, and an unusual vegetarian soup that was amongst the more expensive items on the menu.

While we waited for our food, listening to the Musak, sitting deep in the laps of our vinyl arm chairs, my dining companion made the note, "I'm not digging the smell of the wall."

I leaned out of my chair and pressed my face against the wall and sniffed... from his seat, he had an overwhelming odor of mildew that his honed detective sense determined as wall-origin. It wasn't so bad from my seat, but the seed had been planted in our impressionable little minds that something smelled off, and our appetites began to wane.

The Lemongrass tofu arrived long before the soup, and its hearty garlicy smell made a good attempt at overtaking the wall.
It was tasty Vermicelli bowl, with all of the usual delicious stuff... grilled tofu in a savory spicy lemongrass sauce, herbs, lettuce, cucumber, peanuts, noodles and a vegetarian sauce to pour over it. No complaints.

Next came my soup. Even though I had been warned by the very nice waitress, it was still a little bit strange to see this in it:
It was a vegetarian shrimp, handmade, according to the waitress, at the restaurant out of tofu. Of course it didn't taste like shrimp, but it had a springy pop when bitten into that my shrimp-eatin' dining companion said was quite remarkably realistic.

The soup had some other unusual stuff in it, including long pieces of spongy Bac Ha, full rounds of pineapples, and whole okra pods. The broth had a sweet tangy pineapple garlic flavour. Given the price and time it took to arrive relative to the rest of the meal, the homemade vegetarian Shrimp are a complex item to create.
We were lucky enough to be present for the music to switch over from the speakers to the Piano, but unfortunately the regular pianist wasn't there. The understudy played a soothing mix that made me feel just a little bit like I was in Nordstrom in the 1980s.

All in all it was an interesting evening, but I'm not quite in the large group of devoted admirers yet. The hesitation probably comes in part from my inability to really get in there and try the (non-vegetarian) specialties, and quite possibly in part from the situation with the wall. Also, I can image that dining when it was dark outside might make the place feel a little bit more pleasing to my aesthetic. On the upside, the staff were notably nice and helpful.

Jasmine Provincial Restaurant
(206) 722-3225
2822 Martin Luther King Jr Way S
Seattle, WA 98144

Jasmine Provincial Vietnamese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Friday, June 20, 2008

Taxi Dogs

I was in need of a quick easy bite while weaving through the crowds in Pike Place market the other day, and was so happy to see that Taxi Dogs offer vegetarian hotdogs. I'm not even sure how much I like vegetarian hot dogs, but the experience of grabbing a hot dog on the street has been so off limits for so long that I relished the chance to ketchup.Taxi Dogs has a nice selection of toppings that you can add to your hot dog for a price (cheeses, grilled onions, grilled peppers, chili, etc), and also a nice selection of free condiments too (both dill and sweet pickle relish, chopped raw onion, all sorts of hot sauces, a couple types of mustard, ketchup, etc.)

I ordered mine with cream cheese and grilled peppers, then garnished with dill pickle relish, black pepper, raw onions, and hot sauce. I think I even felt a tinge of All American pride as I crammed that baby in!

Taxi Dogs
1928 Pike Pl
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 443-1919

Taxi Dogs on Urbanspoon

Monday, June 16, 2008

Seven Stars Pepper

I tend to be drawn to a place that has the words "pepper" or "spicy" or "Szechuan" in the name, and Seven Stars Pepper Szechuan Restaurant is made all the more appealing by the tease of seven stars. It was a little bit tricky to find on first visit because it is located on the second story of the building it is in.
The restaurant is located on the second floor where the white curtains decorate the windows

Upon being seated, we were given a little surprise plate of pickled salad that was really delicious. It was spicy and oily and vinegary, and involved small pieces of diced cabbage, carrot and celery. I'm still not completely sure whether we were supposed to eat it as a garnish with the rest of our food, or do as we did and eat it while we waited for the meal to arrive.
Next we got the Green Onion pancakes, which were flaky, layered, savory, slightly chewy and deep fried. They came with a slightly spicy soy dipping sauce. Yum.
For our main course we ordered the Dan Dan noodles and Vegetarian Mo Po Tofu. The noodles were the biggest Chinese noodles I've ever seen, so big that when they first arrived at the table I mistook them for strips of meat. These had the serious dimensional inconsistencies that make hand shaved noodles really hold their sauce. They came in a savory, slightly spicy peanut sauce with a bit of cooked cabbage.
The MaPo Tofu had a flavour in it that is distinct, but I'm not sure quite what it is. It might be a classic Szechuan spice because I've encountered it before... It is a little bit earthy and a little bit floral, and unfortunately tends to remind me a little bit of dish soap.
I was a bit timid in ordering a spice level at a restaurant that is named off the spice scale, but at 3 stars found the dishes to be not very hot. I guess it is always possible that they adjust the customer's demand to their assessment, so be sure to let them know you like like it spicy.

I enjoyed the dinner, even though the MaPo had that spice that doesn't fit my personal taste, but think the meal could have been enhanced by the presence of a few more dining companions and thus a few more dishes to go around family style. As it was, there were just two of us with two dishes, and the dinner could have used some vegetables to balance it all out.

Seven Stars Pepper Szechuan Restaurant
(206) 568-6446
1207 S Jackson St
Seattle, WA 98144

Seven Stars Pepper Szechuan Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


I am so greatful every time I'm out on a burger prowl with meat eaters and we end up at a place that sells veggie burgers. A recent trip to Alki beach with friends from out of town landed us at Pepperdocks in order to satisfy the desire for what the meat-eater-Seattlites swear is a special hamburger, and for me the surprise satisfaction of a lunch that consisted of more than fries.
The Pepperdocks veggie burger was Garden Burger brand and was grilled on the griddle (not just microwaved) and made up with all the fixins: chopped onion, lettuce, tomato, pickle, some kind of mayonaisey sauce, soft bun. I ordered mine with cheese, and it came with a couple of slices of American cheese melted on top.
The fries were fresh and good enough, and the onion rings had chopped green herbs in their coarse batter that made them look especially good.

In addition to the regular types of condiments (ketchup, mustard, salt and pepper), Pepperdocks also has Tabasco and garlic chili sauce, which I used as a dip for my french fries and it was delicious.

An afternoon at Alki Beach is always fun, and it is even more fun to be able to eat lunch out while you're there. A big thanks to Pepperdocks for including the vegetarians.

Pepperdock Restaurant
2618 Alki Ave SW
Seattle, WA 98116

Pepperdock Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Friday, June 6, 2008

Lola's South City Bakery

If you live in South Seattle, you've likely zipped passed this discrete little restaurant and not even noticed it. It is located in Hillman City, just south from the heart of Columbia City, right across the street from the windowless extravagance of Maxim's Nightclub.

But it is worth a stop. Lola's is owned by really friendly and good intentioned people and has quality food. The restaurant is vegetarian (with numerous vegan options), but you wouldn't know it unless you surveyed the menu looking for meat because this detail isn't blaring. The values of the owner are clear: he makes high quality food and does his best to choose high quality, organic, local, seasonal, healthy ingredients.

My first visit landed on a Tuesday, a day that I soon learned is a slow start day for the restaurant, as it is transitioning from being fully closed on this day. We had come for pizzas, but the dough hadn't fully risen, so we got a couple of sandwiches instead.

The sandwiches were a bit light on the filling and heavy on the bread. I ordered the Vietnamese sandwich, and it contained a tofu mix, cilantro, pickled carrots and vegan mayonnaise.
We also had some homemade ice cream, which was made with local organic cream and no eggs. I appreciated the lack of eggs, but it did produce a lightly differently textured ice cream than one might be used to. They also make vegan sorbets. We ordered a bowl with two scoops of ice cream: one scoop of nectarine and one scoop of raspberry.
I also sampled an unusual cookie called the "Herb Garden." It was a short bread type cookie with gritty cornmeal, lemon, thyme and rosemary.
Fast forward to today... another rainy afternoon where the idea of hot pizza was overwhelming. We phoned Lola's with a pizza order to go (the pizzas are individual sized), and chose one cheese topped with Mamma Lil's Hot Peppers, and one cheese with Field Roast vegetarian sausage.
Even after the trip home, the pizzas were piping hot and full of integrity. The crust was really delicious. Not wafer thin, but thin still, and chewy and oily and gritty and crisp in all of the right places. The sauce was simple and good... not sweet at all, good tomato flavour. The cheese and toppings tasted great. I was thrilled.
They also have a fully vegan pizza made with caramelized onions and walnuts (with the option of adding blue cheese), but I'm not sure I'll ever get around to ordering that after tasting the pizza with cheese and spicy peppers.

Next time you're going out for pizza, give these guys a shot!!!

Lola's South City Bakery
(206) 725-0443
5607 Rainier Ave S
Seattle, WA

Lola's South City Bakery on Urbanspoon

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Green Ginger, take 2

After a first (wee bit lackluster) trip to the Green Ginger on Vashon Island, I gave the restaurant another go and had a significantly more noteworthy experience.

My dining companion ordered a lunch special and got a giant pile of food that started with some tasty hot and sour soup. The soup hit the spot... savory, salty, sour... strips of wood ear and long skinny blocks of soft tofu and a little bit of egg (which I avoided) swirled in.
After my first experience, I ventured outside of my usual obsession of Szechuan tofu and ordered Salt and Pepper Tofu instead. I asked if it could be made not-fried, and the scrunched look on the waitress' face told me that she really didn't think that would be a good idea. So I went with the standard preparation.

And it was really quite tasty. The tofu was battered in a light and crunchy batter and quickly fried. The fry oil didn't penetrate the tofu at all... instead the inner tofu remained silky smooth and it was the crunchy outer crust that held all of the oil. Each piece reminded me a little bit of eating a good satsuma in that there was an outer peel, and then a bit of air before the inner goods were reached.
The cubes were heavily garnished with a delicious mix of green onion, garlic and chili peppers, and were mixed in with large shreds of green cabbage.
The serving were generous and I was able to take home a full second meal. I definitely rate this experience much higher than my first one. I think I must have just ordered badly (and with specific expectations) the first time around.

Green Ginger

9851 SW Bank Rd
Vashon, WA 98070
(206) 463-7788