I’m calling this “best of” even though I really only went to three restaurants while I was in Seattle from 6-19 to 6-21-2017. It’s more the “best of” what I ate and I will add to this when I go back!
This place was so funky and cool. It had simple, industrial decor with lots of raw wood and metal light fixtures. They were playing what sounded like retro Vietnamese pop music, while the soft lighting and laid back vibe made it easy to just chill. Despite being low key it was was definitely much fancier than Vietnamese places I’m used to and according to Chef/Owner Eric Banh that’s very purposeful. He described it saying, “now you can bring a date to a Vietnamese place.”
Speaking of Chef Eric, he and his fiance/business partner Teresa were the absolute best. They sat and chatted with us for almost two hours! We talked about their families and upbringing, the scientific rigor it takes to efficiently run a restaurant, and how they’re creating more upscale Vietnamese restaurants (see quote above). They also gave us detailed restaurant recommendations for both Seattle and Vancouver, which I can’t wait to visit!
Crispy imperial rolls (Carlton Farms pork, wild prawn, mushroom, fresh mint, nuoc cham). I remember eating these in France back in the day and they were even better at Ba Bar. They were best all dressed with the various veggies, herbs, and of course dipped in fish sauce.
Bun Cha Ha Noi (grilled beef sausage, pork belly, papaya, nuoc cham, fresh herbs, lettuce, vermicelli noodles). This was a gift from the chef–thanks Chef Eric! The entire thing was good but omg the beef patty was had the most awesome flavor with a slight char. Really delicious and I would definitely get this again.
Pho Tai Oxtail (oxtail, eye of round steak). The steak was really tender but man the oxtail was the star of this show–so delicious. The broth was flavorful without being greasy. This was hands down the best pho I’ve ever had.
Nguyen Dynasty (gin, rhubarb syrup, fresh lemon juice, prosecco). This was like a lemon mimosa and I absolutely loved it.
Saigon Float (espresso, toasted coconut gelato, roasted peanuts and coconut, condensed milk). This was also a gift from Chef. It was surprisingly good, which I say because it sounds like just a sundae with espresso and yet I could.not.stop. eating it!
This capitol hill Mexican restaurant inhabits such an amazing space. It sits on a corner and there are HUGE windows on two of its sides. Inside the festive decor includes lights lining the ceiling and beautiful tile work.
Cucsco sour (pisco, lime, ginger, strawberry, egg white, candied ginger). Yum! This was very limey, with just a hint of strawberry and ginger, and nice and icy. I loved the candied ginger.
Strawberry-habanero guacamole (strawberries, habanero peppers, red onions, mint, lime). This wasn’t very strawberry-y but I did enjoy the addition of the mint.
Carnitas (lager-braised pork carnitas, cilantro, onion, lime, avocado-tomatillo salsa, guacamole, black beans, tortillas). I really liked the sauce on top and could definitely taste the tomatillo and the cilantro. The pork was crispy and good but not great.
Chapulines (toasted grasshoppers, chile-lime salt seasoning). Why are these always so good?! I guess it’s the chile-lime salt but my god I could eat these all day. These were bigger than the ones at Oyamel and had a texture almost like popcorn rather than truly crunchy.
Tres leches cake (strawberry lemon curd, fresh berries, whipped cream, piloncillo crumb). The lemon curd was a really great addition. The cake itself was dense almost like a shortcake but good.
Chicharrones (crispy fried pork skin, chile pequin salt, jalapeno queso). The queso was pretty great. The chicharrones themselves were pretty salty but still good and perfectly puffed.
Din Tai Fung
This is actually a chain that originated in Taiwan and is famous for its soup dumplings. The Hong Kong branch was even awarded a Michelin Star in 2010. It came highly recommended by multiple people and was a great lunch spot.
Pork XiaoLongBao. These soup dumplings are what made Din Tai Fung famous and it’s easy to see why. They were little umami bombs and so delicious–I loved them.
Shrimp and pork wontons with spicy sauce. I don’t know what’s in this sauce (they wouldn’t tell me) but it was out. of. control. good. It was sweet and bright, with flavors of vinegar, scallion, and oil, all served over amazing shrimp and pork dumplings. You must get this.
Sauteed string beans with garlic. They were garlicky and salty. At first they weren’t that exciting, likely because I blew out my taste buds on the flavor extravaganza that was the spicy sauce. However, after a bit they had a rich, complex flavor that was quite delicious.
I had a great time eating in Seattle and there are so many places I want to try when I go back. Stay tuned for updates to this post when that happens!