Friday, July 31, 2009

Full Tilt

Full Tilt Ice Cream has opened a sistership to its White Center shop in beautiful Columbia City. It took a little bit of searching to find its location, which is just about a half block outside (to the south) of the "cute" section of the stretch, and is located in a worn looking stripmall on the west side of the street.

There it is! With the yellow sign behind the white SUV. I suspect there will be an awning soon.

The concept is the same at the white center location: homemade, high quality ice cream, pin ball machines, and all ages music shows. They have a rotating list of flavors, and some of the notables on my visit were: Blue Moon (a fruit loop flavor popular in the mid-west), Mexican Chocolate, Horchata, Birthday Cake, Ube (purple yam), Swiss Chocolate Orange, and blueberry. They also had three different vegan flavors: Chocolate Oreo, Lime Lavendar Sorbet, and Lemon Peppermint Sorbet.

I ordered the Horchata, which tasted exactly as you'd expect: sweet, creamy, cinnamony and delicious. My dining companion ordered the Birthday Cake, which tasted more like what actually happens in the bottom of the bowl at a birthday party than like artificial cake flavor.

Horchata up front, party in the back

There were a few flavors that I wish were on the menu that weren't (at least not during this visit): a good simple chocolate, and some sort of caramel/dulce de leche flavor, both of which are some of my personal favorites.

Something that I really love is that these guys offer "kids" cones, meaning a nice round single scoop that is non-taboo for adults to order, that costs just around $1.75. To my sensibilities, this makes a world of sense because I don't need or want a skyscraper of an ice cream cone that costs me a fortune. Bravo for figuring that out!

They also sell sparkling water and inexpensive beer.

Welcome to the neighborhood!

Full Tilt
5101 Rainier Ave S, #105
Seattle, Wa 98118

Full Tilt on Urbanspoon

Monday, July 27, 2009

Rancho Bravo

Rancho Bravo is a taco truck that parks in the Winchell's Doughnuts parking lot in Wallingford. There are a couple of things that are immediately notable about this place, the first of which is an extremely vegetarian friendly menu. The menu consists of all the inexpensive taco truck standards: tacos, burritos, tortas, and the addition of bowls (more or less a burrito sans tortilla). For any of these, the customer is given a choice of various meats, or a vegetarian mix that includes grilled veggies and mushrooms (and beans if you ask).

Photo courtesy Stephanie P.

I ordered two tacos with the veggie mixture + beans, and for around $4, received a huge gorgeous plate overflowing with soft warm corn tortillas, big piles of colorful veggies and black beans, fresh cilantro, radish slices, and juicy lime wedges. I slathered them in all three of the self serve salsas, which turned out to be hotter than I expected (I like spicy stuff, but almost ruined my tacos by adding too much without testing it out first), and sat down to eat.

The second item of note is that the food is remarkably unsalted, which is a detail that I immensely appreciate. And it seems that they intentionally left the salt level low and instead supplied a large container of little salt packets to allow self-salting, which I did to my taste, and which contributed to a home-cooked healthy feel to the meal.

As with any taco truck, there seemed to be a wide swath of society coming through ordering up a cheap dinner. And as with any taco truck, the furnished plastic dining table wasn't the cleanest surface in the world, but all of that is to be more or less expected. For me, it is the generous accommodation to vegetarians that is the most noteworthy!

Rancho Bravo
211 NE 45th St
Seattle, WA 98105

Rancho Bravo on Urbanspoon

Monday, July 13, 2009

Snappy Dragon

The Snappy Dragon is a restaurant that sets the standard for what I tend to look for in Szechuan Tofu and twisty, doughy, homemade Chinese noodles. Can't speak to the authenticity (I don't think I actually taste any Szechuan peppercorns), but it is spicy, garlicky, oily and delicious and a busy, well-loved North Seattle mainstay.

On this particular visit, we ordered appetizers, which I hadn't done before. He got a pork Hom Bao, and I got a vegetarian egg roll. The eggroll was as expected: greasy, crispy, full of cabbage and served with spicy horseradish mustard and some ridiculous but standard sweet red dipping gel.

I rarely stray from my usual when I order here because for me, a trip to the Snappy Dragon is synonymous with Spicy Garlic Szechuan Tofu. To receive this exact delight, one must order the Garlic Szechuan Chicken and substitute in soft tofu (there is a Szechuan tofu dish, but it comes with a different vegetable arrangement.) The Garlic Szechaun Chicken, substituted with tofu, comes with big chunks of bell pepper and onions, soft tofu, and loads of chopped garlic in a spicy red black bean Szechuan sauce that is NOT sweet.

We also ordered the handcut noodles, which are fantastic. You can order them either stirfried in some delicious oil, or brought to the table simply boiled.

As delicious as this food is, the mounds of garlic and abundant oil have the potential to leave me feeling a bit on the heavy side, so there are a few things I tend to do to make it feel a little bit lighter:

1. Order the tofu soft instead of deep fried
2. Order the noodles boiled instead of stirfried (the sauces are oily enough to plentifully lubricate the noodles).
3. Order without MSG. There is a note at the bottom of the menu that states that some dishes do include MSG, but that all can be made without it if you make the request upon ordering.

The Snappy Dragon has been consistently delicious for years and years, and I leave satisfied every time I visit.

Judy Fu's Snappy Dragon
(206) 528-5575
Maple Leaf
8917 Roosevelt Way NE
Seattle, WA 98115

Judy Fu's Snappy Dragon on Urbanspoon

Friday, July 10, 2009

Bell Thai

I recently ate lunch at Bell Thai in Belltown. I chose it because I was on a tight time schedule and it was convenient.

With this in mind, I was really pleased to see a large menu that included tofu as a meat choice, and was especially impressed when the waitress easily honored my list of modifications: soft tofu instead of fried, and a completely vegan preparation with no fish sauce.

I ordered the "Garlic" entree, which was tofu with steamed broccoli and cabbage covered in a pile of fried garlic and red pepper. It was tasty for sure (hard to go wrong with that combination!), and the tofu was soft and fresh.

The lunch entree also came with a bowl of watery soup, a scoop of rice, and two greasy, crunchy mini vegetarian eggrolls.

Thanks to B for the photo.

Bell Thai
(206) 441-8488
2211 4th Ave
Seattle, WA 98121

Bell Thai on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Tamarind Tree

Tamarind Tree is the fancy Vietnamese jewel in the cluster of tight parking and Asian delights at the corner of Jackson and 12th-ish.

I was there recently for a special occasion with a couple of meat eaters who split the infamous "Seven Courses of Beef." I started off my less dramatic two course meal with a first course of kumquat cocktail that came with its very own tiny bottle of champagne for tabletop mixology.

For my second course, I ordered the tofu vermicelli bowl, which was fantastic. Per usual vermicelli bowl procedure, it came in a large bowl with a bunch of lettuce and fresh herbs, rice noodles, carrots, cucumbers, green onions, roasted peanuts and a small bowl of watery sauce to pour on top. One of the reasons I enjoyed it so much was that the tofu was fresh and lightly grilled. The second reason that I especially enjoyed it, the real stand out, was that their (fully vegetarian!) sauce is exquisite: It is savory, un-sweet, and unexpectedly spicy. My only complaint was that there wasn't quite enough of it, but this was quickly remedied by the friendly waitress who brought me a second cup.

I have had other vegetarian items here before, and none has struck me quite as favorably as the vermicelli bowl did.

Meanwhile, the meat eaters were slurping, splashing, rolling, digging, smacking, cramming and gnawing at their seven courses. Here is a small peek into their world:


Tamarind Tree
(206) 860-1404
International District
1036 S Jackson St Ste A
Seattle, WA 98104

Tamarind Tree on Urbanspoon