Dish: Black Bean Sauce Beef Chow Fun
Place: Regent Bakery and Cafe, Capitol Hill
On the plate: The menu doesn’t offer any further description of the dish, but you’re getting rice noodles with beef, red and green bell peppers, onions, and fermented black bean sauce.
Supporting cast/What to do: Same as with most of these dishes: Ask for chili sauce if you want more spice, and otherwise just dig in. These slippery, flat noodles provide a test of your chopstick skills.
Noodling around: Chow means stir-fry and fun are rice noodles. I love wide noodles, which always draws me to this dish. At Regent, you can choose from several types of beef chow fun. For dry beef chow fun ($8.95), the noodles are stir-fried with a little soy sauce, but otherwise cooked “dry” to bring out the wok hei smokiness. Beef chow fun with sauce ($9.95) is wet-fried, so it comes with more of a gravy. A fan of fermented black beans, I went with the black bean sauce beef chow fun as it would offer the stronger flavor. (For a non-beef option, you can get spicy sauce shrimp and BBQ pork chow fun for $8.95.)
This noodle dish has pungent appeal from the black beans, the sauce coating the noodles in slippery fashion. They’re soft with the slightest chew, the bell peppers offering a contrast in textures. There’s a generous amount of beef on the plate, and I detected underlying flavors of garlic, ginger, and I’d guess sesame oil (traditional ingredients for chow fun).
As Regent is an American-style Chinese restaurant, you’ll find other “American” dishes in the noodle section of the menu (Singapore rice noodles and chow mein), as well as in the non-noodle sections (including, yes, General Tso’s chicken).
If you want more: There are predictable appetizers like crispy spring rolls (three for $4.95) and Chinese potstickers (six for $5.95), as well as a selection of meat or vegetable skewers ($1.75 each), but why not take advantage of being in a bakery? Select from a wide variety of cake slices, like the luscious chestnut ($3.85). It’s spongy with layers of light cream and chestnut, and not nearly as heavy as many Western desserts.
Be aware/beware: Regent Bakery and Cafe just opened its Seattle location (there’s also one in Redmond) on Wednesday, and was already drawing good crowds over the weekend. If you don’t want a full meal, you can come for a slice of cake (or a whole cake!) with coffee or tea (including bubble tea), or perhaps a pick of Chinese pastries–which are also great to go. Look for hot dog buns, pineapple buns, a variety of croissants, and much more. While you order your cake at the counter, the pastries are self-service. Grab tongs and a tray to collect what you want, then proceed to the cashier.
First published in Seattle Weekly’s Voracious on February 13, 2012.
Here’s more, from my article on TheSunbreak.com:
If sweet-and-sour pork, fried wontons, egg foo young, and almond chicken (or General Tso’s chicken) are your thing, you’ll be happy to know that Regent Bakery and Cafe is now open in Seattle. This offshoot of the Redmond location adds another Asian restaurant to Capitol Hill’s commercial core.
Regent has added elegance to the new restaurant’s atmosphere. It’s casual enough for coffee and cake while being classy enough for a cocktail. And you can satisfy your cravings lunchtime to late-night, as well as get goodies to go.
This is not my favorite type of Chinese food (you’re more likely to find me at a Sichuanese or Taiwanese joint), but if you accept the premise, you’ll be rewarded by decent portions and pricing a little higher than in the International District, and a little more reasonable than in the higher-end Chinese restaurants. Plus, there’s sponge cake–and soon some bubble tea.
Well, yes…Regent Bakery and Cafe is at the corner of 14th and Pine.
A look at the dining room.
My partly devoured plate of sweet-and-sour pork, complete with its radioactive-colored sauce.
Part of Regent Bakery and Cafe’s menu. How many spelling errors do you notice? (No worries…this version is just a first draft.)
Regent has its own bar area.
Selections from the cocktail menu.
The bakery part of Regent Bakery and Cafe. There’s a separate seating area if you want to eat a slice of cake or some other baked goods.
Part of the pastry collection. It’s a Hong Kong-style bakery, so there’s definitely a Western influence. I liked the soft, eggy quality of the cone-shaped sponge cake. My pineapple bun, on the other hand, was dry and bland. This area is self-service, so grab tongs and place what you’d like on your tray, then pay at the cash register.
A nice selection of cakes, whole or by the slice. My chestnut cake wasn’t bad, though I would have liked stronger chestnut flavor.