An array of Asian eateries

Still catching up on all my pre-December restaurant reports. Consider these quick bites of the Asian variety:

Buddha Ruksa serves up some beautiful plates, placing it in the upper echelon of Thai restaurants in the Seattle area. Not as high as Noodle Boat in Issaquah, which might be the best around, but certainly a solid choice and worth a try in West Seattle. I especially like that they offer a selection of trout dishes, including an interesting skin-on trout salad.

For pho, there are so many choices in town. And many of those places have numbers in their names, which made me interested in finding out why. More straightforward is the use of a number in Time 4 Pho, Magnolia’s pho joint. There’s a fuller menu that includes salads, vermicelli bowls, and rice plates, but I was there for the $7 large bowl of pho that came with a choice of meats and use of the pho condiment bar.

The Signature opened in the old Moxie space in lower Queen Anne. It’s a family-run operation, with friendly folks who are working seemingly endless hours to bring some new dishes to this part of town. (They also have seemingly endless happy hours. After lunch, all but 6-8pm is happy hour?)

But I’m not sure whether the soup bowls are an indictment on the restaurant, or its customers. The pho ($8 small, $9 large) broth isn’t bad, though I can travel and get something better for half the price. And those bowls will include choices that go beyond rare beef, well-done beef, and beef meatballs. Where’s my tendon and tripe, providing textures and tastes that I love in pho?

Then there’s the bun bo Hue, which The Signature calls “spicy beef rice noodle soup” ($10). Again, it’s got good flavor, and I’ve seen other customers enjoying it. But I missed the congealed pork blood cubes and pork feet–or at least a hock–that make this bowl beautifully special. (And that I can enjoy by driving to the south of Seattle.)

The Signature says that they fear people won’t eat these soups as they’re meant to be served. I say that omitting these key ingredients is dumbing the dishes down, and not allowing people to discover a bowl of dreams.

End of rant, except to add that after all these months, I don’t understand why a quote from the PR firm representing The Signature appears on their “reviews” webpage. That makes the Yelp quotes seem, well, credible.

Is it better Vietnamese soups you’re seeking? Get to the International District or further south on Rainier, and you’ll find some restaurants offering good ones. But one I’ll miss is Tu Oanh, which offered some delicious bowls until it closed recently. I liked the Hu Tieu Nam Vang Nuoc/Kho (Cambodian rice noodle soup) with its ground pork, fish meatball, prawn, and “meat load” (I couldn’t resist sharing that typo!), but even better was the Bun Mang Vit – a noodle soup with fresh baby bamboo shoots and cabbage salad with herbs, fried shallots, and bone-in duck breast, served with a sauce that contained grated ginger.

Transitioning to Chinese food, I checked out the recently opened Noodle King upon hearing that they offer hand-pulled noodles. For $2, it’s fun to watch the noodle show, but the Taiwanese beef noodle soup was disappointing, as the broth was weak.

Chiang’s Gourmet receives much fanfare, especially from folks on the northside who don’t want to travel to the International District or Bellevue for Chinese food. I’ve had brunch there and found it consistently, well, brown. Not bad, but as with all the other dim sum places in the area, not compelling enough to make me return. I continue to hold off on dim sum until I get north of the border to Richmond. Dinner offers a variety of Chinese fare, from congee with pork and egg preserved in lime to tea-smoked duck to stuffed bittermelon. Overall, the dishes are a mixed bag, though I do like that they serve “steamed tofu of strong odor” (stinky tofu).

One of my favorite restaurant find, courtesy of food-loving friends, is Ton Kiang B.B.Q. Noodle House in the International District. The modest little restaurant is basically a family act delivering quality dishes at quaint prices. There are soups (noodle and otherwise) and other items on the menu, but the real reason to come here is the beauty of the meats. There’s roasted and BBQ pig and duck, but my favorite is the poached chicken. Given my love of spicy food, my love of this subtle dish might come as a bit of a surprise, but the chicken, which is free-range (!), is simply delicious. Oh…and the sauce that accompanies it flavors it up nicely. Seriously good stuff.

And finally, on the BBQ front, way back when I visited Old Village Korean BBQ Restaurant. The service was strange and the music mix from Michael Bolton to Led Zeppelin was even stranger. The food was okay. I’ve found better Korean food in Federal Way, and have a few new places on the to-do list. We did a lot of grilling; after all, who can resist “born less short rips”?

Buddha Ruksa on Urbanspoon

Time 4 Pho on Urbanspoon

The Signature on Urbanspoon

Tu Oanh on Urbanspoon

Noodle King on Urbanspoon

Chiang's Gourmet on Urbanspoon

Ton Kiang B.B.Q. Noodle House on Urbanspoon

Old Village Korean Restaurant on Urbanspoon


, ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply