The Mein Man: Joy Teriyaki Serves Up Noodles of the North

joy_tsuivan_640_4617Dish: Tsuivan
Place: Joy Teriyaki, Lake City
Price: $8.50

On the plate: Per the menu: “Steamed flour noodle dish with beef and veggies.” Or, per the photo in the front window: “Stewing Beef, Salt, Flour Noodles, Garlic Onion, and Black Pepper. MSG and Sugar Free.” Those vegetables include yellow and orange bell peppers, broccoli, and cabbage.

Supporting cast/What to do: Nothing. But by the counter you’ll find Maggi sauce, Sriracha, and other condiments. Keep those in mind for potential use.

Noodling around: It gets cold in Mongolia. Animal meat and fats, along with dairy, are a primary part of Mongolian cuisine. So when I learned that Joy Teriyaki is perhaps the only place in the Seattle area to find Mongolian food, I knew I was in for rustic food featuring lots of carbohydrates and fat.

The tsuivan is a stew made with simple, hand-shaved noodles. For someone who likes long, thick noodles, these are unfortunately in small pieces, perhaps broken during the cooking process. There’s a sprinkling of vegetables included, and beef substitutes for the mutton that you usually find in Mongolian dishes.

The seasoning is very mild, typical of Northern cuisine. It wasn’t long before I started eyeing the condiment cart and squirting Sriracha on the noodles. I can’t say that I loved the tsuivan. They were just so-so, but the workers were nice and also proud of their food, and I do love that there’s the option of Mongolian food in Seattle.

If you want more: Staying with the Mongolian menu, you might get the buuz ($8.00), which will be a plate of ten steamed beef dumplings. They look like xiao long bao, but don’t have soup inside. If you’re more adventurous, order the banshtai tsai ($8.30). This will net you a bowl of beef dumplings, smaller than the buuz, cooked in traditional milk tea. The milk tea, also available from the beverage section of the menu, is salty and buttery and worth a try if you’ve never had it.

Be aware/beware: I arrived right at the Saturday noon opening time, but had to call at 12:15 to get someone to open the door. Even then, the worker asked for fifteen more minutes for preparation. At that point, we just wanted in from the cold rain.

If you order any of the dumplings or the khuushuur (beef-filled dumplings that look like “fried pancakes”), you’ll be told how long they take to prepare. Take that as a good sign that the food is made-to-order.

The menu also includes sushi rolls (even a bento box), Chinese dishes, and of course teriyaki, but the main draw should be the Mongolian food.

First published in Seattle Weekly’s Voracious on March 19, 2012.



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