Din Tai Fung
700 Bellevue Way NE
First of all, Happy New Year everybody!
During this last holidays, I decided to do something “unusual”: Rather than staying in town, I decided to go down to the US. Why??? Why not! Considering that a lot of places were closed or people flooding to the malls, I just wanted out. So, for that purpose, I checked with my friend “Stimulant Junkie”. OK, OK. Normally, I would go down to the US by myself; however, in this case, I had an agenda of my own and Stimulant Junkie was more than a “willing” volunteer. And what was that agenda? Visit Din Tain Fung, a well know restaurant from Taiwan which specializes in xiao long bao, aka, XLB. Given all the hype that restaurant have had, there were several questions in my head, and the only way to answer them would have been to visit it!
2001 4th Ave
As I have mentioned in the past, Vancouver, being so closed to the US, at times, it can be trivial for us to go there – border crossing aside, that is. So, with that in mind, I recently did a day trip just to get out of the holidays madness in town. Nothing wrong with it; except that, well, I felt I needed to be out of here. (Or, go from one madness to other madness!).
Originally, I was considering on taking a detour to Din Tan Fung for some XLB; however, when I was told there would be hour long wait, I reconsidered: Do I want to drive to another country just to line up? I would have done it had there been other people with me; no, if I was by myself. Anyway, back to Seattle, I decided to go to that one major point of interest: Pike’s Place Market. But, given I was parked a couple of blocks away and was hungry, rather than walk to the Market and search for (possible) good eats, instead, I went to a backup option which I had a small previous encounter with: Dahlia Bakery. Nope, I haven’t been there previously; rather, I was earlier this year in Lola, another restaurant under the umbrella of Tom Douglas, which Bahlia Bakery belongs to.
Honey Hole Sandwiches
703 E Pike Street
One of the “interesting” features that is seldom mentioned is that of Vancouver being *really* close to the US. Border crossing queue aside, you should be able to go to the US from Vancouver in around an hour (or less). Once there, two or so hours later, you hit Seattle, another major US city. Sure, you could go from Windsor, Ontario to Detroit, Michigan or Hamilton, Ontario to Buffalo, New York in about the same time but, c’mon, there is no comparison here. So, on Thanksgiving, I chose to do a day trip “just because”. While timing worked great, weatherwise, it ended up being awash: It was miserable and detracted me from some outdoor activities. Well, I was on that side of the border so… Let’s go to eat!!! Originally I had two places in mind: Latin food in the form of La Isla or more “regular fare” in the form of Honey Hole Sandwiches. The later was chosen because, well, it was an odd combination of timing and circumstance. Does not matter how or why, what matters is that I was there and it was time to eat!
If there is one thing I can say I am proud of is that I listen to my readers. From minor layout changes and, most importantly, suggestions: If you have something to say, as long as it makes sense, it is not burdensome and does not go against my code of ethics, it is pretty much fair game. That’s why I was quite excited when reader jlomein, in my Southern Kitchen post wrote the following:
Next time you’re in Washington you should check out Alligator Soul in Everett. It’s my favourite southern restaurant by far.
Well, that suggestion was quite interesting so why not! As a result, in the last trip through Everett, I decided to drop by to have a taste of Cajun/creole.
Johnny’s Burger Stop
I-5 Exit 212
There are time where I believe I am a glutton for punishment (but in a really bad way). On my way to the US, before crossing the border, I decide to “skip” lunch and hopefully find something on my way to Seattle. However, there are times you are not certain what/when to eat and you skip option after option (of course, these options are usually well known chain restaurants). Now, there is nothing wrong with your McD’s if you are hungry but, you always think “I want to get something ‘better'”.
In a wacky way, that’s what sort of happened to me: I was so darn hungry but was still at least an hour away from Seattle so I decided to take an exit and eat first. However, it was the same usual suspects for several exits and suddenly I gave up and take the very next one. When I did, I realized that, after the exit, I had to drive several Kms before hitting those chain restaurants. Almost admitting defeat, I then look at the other way and see Johnny’s Burger Stop, a place that I have seen everytime I drive through I-5 to Seattle because of a sort of unique feature: that chimney with smoke puffing out. As they say, when there is smoke…
Red Mill Burgers
1613 West Dravus Street
312 North 67th Street (Location visited)
Just prior to my trip to Seattle, I checked with Mijune and Sherman to ask “Hey, Mijune, Sherman, I will be down in Seattle, what restaurants do you recommend I visit?” While she didn’t really say it, I knew Mijune wanted to say “Bakery Nouveau!” After all, is is one of the few places she has ranked it “6/6”! And, yes, I indeed brought Bakery Nouveau goods on my way back – so much, in fact they threw me a baguette for free! As for Sherman, well, he actually stuck with some new places and, among them, Red Mill Burgers, mainly because he has been there previously. So, no reason why I shouldn’t go!
Jimmy Mac’s Roadhouse
34902 Pacific Hwy South
225 SW 7th Street (Location visited)
I have told people a couple of times that, when I am on a business trip, I have a meal budget (a topic which was briefly mentioned in Tuesday’s post of Shiro’s Sushi). While that is all good, truth is constant business travelling is not as glamorous as a lot of people believe it is – specially not in North American airports. Sure, some expenses are paid for; however, you still have to deal with a lot. For example, security check-in, customs checks, dealing with different time zones and then there is the travelling itself component (delayed flights, among a long list of things that can go wrong…). In my case, depending on the customer’s hours and the project itself, I can be out of their office as early as 4:00 p.m. (mainly because all the office start work early due to commute) and as late as 9:00 p.m. (needed things done). That is why, a lot of times, I do research of places I want to go ahead of time as well as backup plans. On one day, I had to stay in the office until late because, well, it was a case of things needed to be done and didn’t leave until it was close to 8:00 p.m. At the time of my visit to Seattle, it was technically spring but it was so close to the solstice (which was this past Monday), that, having still that sunlight gives you some desire to go outside and venture. However, rather than venturing to Seattle as previous nights, I decided to go to the areas near the hotel, namely, Renton. Alas, a couple of wacky turns lead me to nowhere and, when I finally found the place I wanted to go, it was sort of a disappointing looking fast food restaurant. It was a mixed blessing as that gave me an out but, at the same time, that meant looking for another place to eat. That’s how I spotted Jimmy Mac’s Roadhouse and just went in for something to eat…