ID Update

Divine dessert: pecan torte topped with Shiraz poached pear and green tea ice cream.
I’m feeling lazy today so I’m just cutting and pasting my Yelp review of Red Lantern, a newish, must-not-miss restaurant just a half a block away from Momo (520 South Jackson Street, 206.682.7211).

“If you’re looking for fast, cheap and good-enough Chinese food, don’t come here. However, if you are craving carefully crafted, deliciously different Chinese/Korean/French fare, then definitely give Red Lantern a try. The picky husband and I stopped in for a leisurely lunch (our first visit) and treated ourselves to a starter of slightly chewy, perfectly pan-fried potstickers accompanied by pickled daikon, onions and a hoisin dipping sauce followed by a steamy, spicy bowl of Champong noodles swimming with seafood —plenty of food for even two hearty eaters. We also enjoyed stellar service from Tiffany, who surprised us with the most heavenly dessert in the ID (and perhaps Greater Seattle), a Shiraz pear poached on pecan pie, topped with green tea ice cream. Evidently, owner Eva studied at French culinary school and makes all the pastries in house.

Lunch was completely affordable and afterward, I felt fine, too, not sleepy or stuffed up — signs of MSG. And the picky husband was very happy and satiated.

Red Lantern is worthy of as much attention as any upscale Asian restaurant around town (think Wild Ginger), and a better value if you're willing to travel to the International District (an iffy proposition for less intrepid souls). If I had a large passel of friends, I'd meet them here around one of the big tables, or take up a corner of the very nicely appointed back room (love the color of the ceiling).

I’d love to see this place bustling with business because they deserve it, not only for their fabulous fusion food, but also for their gracious service.”

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 With Seattle temperatures finally climbing above 60, it’s time for my favorite hot-weather noodle dish: ten-zaru soba. Light and tasty, it consists of a heap of chilled buckwheat soba sided with tempura and a cool dipping sauce. In my opinion, Tsukushinbo (515 South Main Street; 206.467.4004) serves the most oishii (delicious) incarnation for just $8. The ever-so-slightly chewy soba is dense, not heavy, and sprinkled with slivers of nori (seaweed). Tom, the haole husband loves whisking wasabi into the sauce, adding green onions, sliding the noodles into the mix and slurping up a mouthful followed by a contrasting nibble of crisp, airy tempura. Add a side of agedashi tofu and you have light summer fare for two. Also, Tsukushinbo serves Friday ramen lunch special complete with gyoza and rice (carbo loading at its finest), for those days when the weather resumes its normal grey gloom.

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Hard to believe, but even I grow weary of noodles in the ID. For a change of taste, I head around the corner to Tenoch (208 Fifth Avenue South; 206.583.8010) where I treat myself to fresh Mexican fare at a very nice price. I especially love the ropa viejo — chunks of beef simmered with tomato and spices. And because I can’t resist a bite of rice, my typical order consists of one taco and a side of rice and beans ... the perfect-size lunch for under $6. The menu also includes hefty burritos and generous bowls. Testament that others have discovered this little gem is the sometimes long line, plus a Google photographer was there the last time we lunched, boding well for the future of this would-be secret spot. 
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Irrashaimase to the Cullom Gallery (603 South Main Street; 206.919.8278; cullomgallery.com) recently relocated from Pioneer Square to their freshly renovated location on the first level of the historic Panama Hotel. Curated by the delightful and well-informed Beth Cullom, the gallery focuses on the tradition and influence of Japanese woodblock prints and related works on paper.

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One thing we love about the ID is the diversity of ages, and now we celebrate our youngest members with the Children’s Garden in the Danny Woo International District Community Garden (South Main Street at Sixth Avenue South in the ID) opened in May. This year, over 100 kids participated in garden design workshops in conjunction with InterIm CDA, a community development organization. They also painted pathway markers, helped plant seeds, and harvested and saved seeds for next season. Complete with a small tool shed, new walkways and prayer flags of our youngster’s photos, the garden also houses a chicken coop, cock-a-doodle-doo!

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In our neighborhood, dim sum is the breakfast — and lunch — of champions. Although best shared in groups so one can sample the many varieties often presented in servings of four, Dim Sum King (617 South Jackson Street; 206.682.2823) now dishes the dumplings ala cart, versus off the cart. Here you can enjoy a solo meal of one succulent shrimp ball (50¢), a tasty turnip cake (60¢), savory sui mai (50¢), and nibble on an order of chicken feet (50¢). The edited menu has plenty of reasonably priced options, and bring cash — $4 should cover lunch.

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You may already love the Panama Hotel Tea and Coffee (607 South Main Street; 206. 515.4000; panamahotelseattle.com) for a chance to sit with a quiet cup of tea. Now you can enjoy the same surroundings while sipping a lovely libation. I stopped in the other evening to check it out and the barista-bartenders concocted a shochu cocktail shaken with decaf hibiscus, apple and cranberry tea ($8.50) and an amaretto cappucino topped with fresh whipped cream ($9). How civilized. 

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Why bother with overpriced QFC or Safeway when fresh is in our own backyard? Lam’s Seafood Market (1221 South King Street; 206.720.0969) is my grocery store of choice and the options just keep getting better. Every time I drop by there’s a new addition: a cold case for fruit, a shining deli stocked with a steam table, or a wing chock-full of all kinds of rice, from jasmine to Japanese. And it’s my pick for seafood (they’ll even fry fish for you, so your house won’t stink). The young brother/sister team of Bo and Yen know what their customers want and they deliver at prices that make it easy to eat well. I can’t wait until they get a wine section going.

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I always appreciate when someone does my work for me. In this case, Dominic Holden of The Stranger has written my latest ID Update detailing ten reasons to discover Thai Curry Simple (406 Sixth Avenue South; 253.205.1797). The casual resto is a regular on our lunch roster since opening a few months ago, brought to our attention by Momo custo Candace the Trash Queen (more on her some day). Read about the merits of this affordable find at http://tinyurl.com/yf34u7b — we’d like to add reason #11: it’s just a block and a half away from Momo.

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It’s not exactly in the ID, but what the heck, they’re located within spittin’ distance just off Rainier so we still consider them neighbors. CafĂ© Weekend (851 Hiawatha Place South; cafeweekend.com), yet another brainchild of talented team Christa and Nin, brings together books and brew in an intimate retro schoolroom setting. Next time you’re seeking a quiet cup of coffee, drop in. Interestingly enough, they’re not open Sunday — Christa believes everyone can have their own personal weekend, any day of the week.
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Mr. T and I tried a new-to-us resto: Hue Ky Mi Gia (1207 South Jackson Street, #101; 206.568.1268) opened for a few months now in Little Saigon. I'm in lurv. The bbq pork/shrimp/lup chong fried rice was savory with salt, light and not greasy. Braised duck noodle soup — fragrant and flavorful — lived up to the Yelp hype, and a just-right side of pea pods was stir fried to verdant perfection. All that for under $20, and they take credit cards, too. Anyone for noodles?


2 comments:

  1. Love you site. Stumbled onto it from Kyoto Art and Antique link. Especially love this page - now I have a few things to try in ID, placed I just drove by before. Thanks.

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    Replies
    1. Aloha Kim, next time you're driving by, pull up a parking space and come on in. We'll share all the secrets we know about the ID and you can tell us your favorites. Happy New Year until then.

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