With the first feel of fall and temperatures struggling to get out of the 60′s, Seattlest had a hankering for a hearty soup. Something healthy to stop the sniffles ahead of a cross-country flight the next day.
We found it in the International District.
We’ve been curious about a cluster of activity around the public library in the I.D. There’s a rather upscale-looking new restaurant on the corner with a name that eludes us (something like “Made in Kitchen” – which is where we tend to like our food prepared). Our destination, though, was Cafe H.K., which quietly rests just to the side of the library entrance.
In contrast to the overly lit and barebones feel of most of the I.D.’s holes-in-the-wall, we liked the warmer atmosphere Cafe H.K. offers. And the cold plates in the glass display case beckoned us, despite the lack of English signage.
While we saw tempting hot pots and wonton bowls headed to nearby tables, we honed in on the “Health Chinese Herb Stew” section of the menu. Bypassing the goat and eel choices until another time, we chose the Oxtail Soup – wanting something we imagined to be cooked to a dark, rich state. It was. The portion was rather small (like an oversized cup) for $5.95, contents hidden by the deep brown broth. Beneath the surface were chunks of bones and meat which had sacrificed themselves for the benefit of the broth.
And yes, the dish had a decidedly herbal tone to it. Thanks to a Chinese-literate friend, we learned that dang shen, also known as “poor man’s ginseng” or “bastard’s ginseng,” was a key ingredient. We ate happily, knowing this Chinese herb would invigorate our vital energy, strengthen our immune system, and help with any loss of appetite. Come to think of it, we were hungry again an hour later.
Originally posted at Seattlest (where “we” = me) on September 1, 2006. The restaurant has been renamed Gourmet Noodle Bowl.