Monday, April 25, 2011

Mandarin Chef

I'd read that Mandarin Chef in the U-District had some of the best Chinese Noodles in the city. This was quite a statement, considering the output of Szechuanese Cuisine, Seven Stars Pepper, Szechuan Noodle Bowl, Shanghai Garden, and the Snappy Dragon and I was more than happy to do a little follow up research myself.

We started with some jiao zi, reported by the sassy older waitress to be a specialty. I am happy to report that they do have a vegetarian dumpling option, which our table ordered along side a order of meat. The savory, sharp, spicy dipping sauces and oils, one of my favorite parts of dumplings, were tasty but not especially spicy.

For a main course I ordered Mo Po Tofu (fantastically available in a vegetarian version, or with pork) and a side of stir fried hand shaved noodles. The ma po was great... rich, red and super savory (may have been a bit of MSG involved... I just kicked back and enjoyed it). The noodles though, with all of the emotional culinary buildup, were a bit of a disappointment to me. I've really come to love thick, twisty, chewy noodles, and these seemed to be more on the thin and delicate side. It's hard to come into a restaurant with really high expectations of anything.

I would go back for the MaPo, but might leave the more severe noodle cravings to some of my other noodle faves.

Mandarin Chef on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 18, 2011

Senor Moose

Senior Moose has long been on my list of restaurants to try, and I recently, finally, went there with company from out of town. We started with an appetizer of chips and guacamole and it was really outstanding. The chips were thick and salty and so fresh the grease burned our fingers, and their sturdy texture was perfect for the chunky homemade guacamole. In addition to this appetizer, there were other interesting looking starters too, including one particularly intriguing pile of roasted, cheesy corn also served with hot chips.

There were multiple interesting vegetarian dishes to choose from, including enchiladas in some sort of special salsa, and a vegetarian mole made from "25 ingredients". I chose a dish that was made from roasted chilis, roasted corn, potatoes and cream. It came on a plate split down the middle with tasty black beans on the other side, and a plate of warm tortillas wrapped in a cloth for scooping it all up. It was some heavy dense delicious food.

Many of the salads looked awesome too, and I wish we'd had room to try some desserts, including both a regular and a chocolate tres leches cake. Oh my, got to go back!

PS: My one complaint was that they kept the door wide open, likely to vent the kitchen in the small and somewhat crowded restaurant, but it was a nasty, rainy, cold night and I had to eat with my jacket and scarf on. A cozy, steamy, warm room would have much better suited the food!

Señor Moose Café on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 11, 2011

Q Bakery

The Q Bakery is located in the same complex as Viet Wah on MLK and Graham down in my neck of the woods in South Seattle. It's not hard to find a good banh mi in Seattle, but a good vegetarian banh mi a stone's throw from my house is cause for celebration!

To start with , the Q Bakery is indeed a real bakery and it pumps out baguettes and rolls at regular intervals all day. If you choose to eat in the small shop, you'll know the bread is almost out of the oven because the population temporarily swells with people eager to load up their baskets and bags with hot bread. So this means that the backbone of the banh mi, the baguette, is oh so fresh and tasty. Off to a good start!

I'm not sure if they actually remove some of the center of the baguette, but somehow the ratio of fillings to bread is way better than usual, and the sandwich feels packed with innards and not just a bread baby.
Another reason I especially love Q Bakery is the sauce on the table. I recently discovered that one of the little plastic jars of red seedy sauce is NOT the typical vinegary chili garlic, but chili garlic lemongrass. I loaded up my sandwich and was in heaven.

The prices are similar to banh mi elsewhere: amazingly low. And in addition to sandwiches, Q bakery has a wide and interesting selection of other foods and snacks that are largely mysterious to me. Definitely worth a stop in if you're in the area!

Q Bakery on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 4, 2011

Seasonal Goods

I recently had the pleasure of coordinating a catered lunch and chose Vince at Seasonal Goods to complete the task. Turns out he was a great choice: his bid was below our budget and his list of meals was huge, healthy and fantastic. The real clincher (for me) was that he routinely includes a fully-formed vegetarian version of the meal that matches it's meat brother.

The meal pictured below was szechuan chicken with noodles and asian slaw. Vince used a surprisingly tasty faux-chicken for the veggie version, and his sauces and salad dressings were all homemade and quite delicious. He also brought cranberry lemonade and a dense gingerbread cake with molasses whipped cream.

The next day we had enchiladas with chili roasted potatoes and cesar salad. Very satisfying for both the vegetarians and the meat eaters, and he was kind enough to, upon request, make a small portion of enchiladas without cheese for the lactose intolerant.

The whole scenario was cute too... Vince, a reticent somewhat gruff guy in chefs whites comes quietly blitzing in, sets up a little table, and serves up the eaters on nice glass plates and with real cutlery. Once done, he whisks it all up on a little cart and takes the dirty dishes with him.

I don't have many opportunities to employ a caterer, but he won me over with his menu variety and attention to vegetarians!

Seasonal Goods Catering
(253) 630-2233
14545 Se 261st St
, Kent, WA 98042