Seattle is teriyaki town, according to a colleague of mine. Teriyaki joints are ubiquitous in this city. Most are Korean-owned, though we can probably attribute the honor of launching the local teriyaki craze to Toshihiro Kasahara. Toshi’s Teriyaki took off, though he retired from the business—until recently.
More on that another time, after I get to Toshi’s new place. Instead, I’m here to report on the surprise cuisine featured at Joy Teriyaki in Lake City. While other teriyaki joints feature Chinese dishes, Korean dishes, and/or sushi rolls on the side, Joy Teriyaki is a unique place to get Mongolian food.
I’m not talking the omnipresent Mongolian beef—though that’s actually on the menu. Nor am I talking Mongolian BBQ. Instead, it’s about real Mongolian cuisine, with ties to both Chinese and Russian cuisine.
Don’t expect spice, as this is far from Sichuanese cuisine. There are no bright red chili peppers floating in the food; in fact, the flavors tend to be pretty bland and the colors quite neutral. When a friend asked if the food is spicy, the cook laughed and said “not at all…we just use some black pepper.” That had me reaching for the Sriracha—after enjoying the dishes with their original intent.
The workers are nice, and eager to educate about Mongolia’s food. Note that the food takes time to prepare, evidence that everything is made-to-order. This is carbo-heavy cuisine, utilizing animal meats and fats, along with dairy. Dumplings and noodles are rather rustic. And you might find some surprises, such as the salty and buttery milk tea.
Oh…you’ll also find sushi rolls (even a bento box), Chinese dishes, and of course teriyaki on the menu. If you try any of those, let me know how they are. For me, the main draw is the Mongolian food—perhaps the only place you’ll find it in the Seattle area.
Buuz ($8.00): Steamed beef dumplings that look like xiao long bao, but don’t have soup inside.
Banshtai tsai ($8.30): A bowl of beef dumplings, smaller than the buuz, cooked in milk tea that’s salty and buttery.
Tsuivan ($8.50): Stew made with simple, hand-shaved noodles and a sprinkling of vegetables.
Khuushuur ($1.80 each): Beef-filled dumplings that look like “fried pancakes”–quite tasty.
Sample of the signs to help you navigate the Mongolian menu. (Pricing and spelling can vary!)
A look at the Mongolian menu.