Xinh's in Shelton WA - WOW!
What a jewel this place is, a million thanks to Leper for pointing the way.
Lady PB and I took a dear friend and her daughter for dinner on Sat. July 1, on our way up to Canada for a vacation.
A once over of the menu told all of us that we would have to make some tough choices, it all looked so good. We started with the Manila Clams in Black Bean Sauce (8.50) and Baked Oysters in Hoisun Sauce topped with Bacon (8.00) from the appetizer selections, and asked if we could also have the Jumbo Prawns in Tamarind sauce from the entree section as an appetizer, which they were happy to do. All were excellent but the oysters were simply outstanding, not over-sauced but just enough to compliment the plump fresh bivalves with a zippy tang.
I ordered the Mussels in Curry Sauce which came without the shells, Viet style curry powder, coconut milk, lemongrass, cayennne pepper, ground peanuts and seafood sauce, served with Jasmine Rice (16.50). The mussels were fresh and plump, and the sauce very rich and tasty. Lady PB had the Spicey (sic) Black Tiger Prawn Stir-Fry, prawns in red bell peppers, Napa Cabage, jicama and carrots in a spicy Asian sauce with Asian Clear Noodles (19). We both agreed this was the least successful of all the dishes, not that it wasn't good just that the others were so incredible. Our friend ordered the Sauteed Mussels in Mediterranean Sauce (16.50), butter, garlic, onion, finely chopped jalapeno and ripe tomatoes over pasta. She ended up taking most of hers back to her Son-in-law since we had pretty much stuffed ourselves on the apps. Her daughter got the Black Tiger Prawns in Curry Sauce (19), the same as was on my mussels, it worked as well if not even better.
We had a bottle of Cartlidge & Browne Dry Riesling that I'd picked up prior to leaving CA. We also brought in a couple of desserts we'd picked up that afternoon at the Olympia Farmer's Market, a lemon and coconut pie-like delight on a square of cookie type dough and a slab of this decadent peanut butter - chocolate - cream cheese log. We were not charged corkage for the wine or a plate service fee for the desserts. Unsure of whether this is normal policy or related to the fact that we shared some of the dessert with the waitress.
Total for 3 apps and 4 dinners was $112, pre t/t. We all agreed it was an excellent value.
I'm not familiar with what the Olympia and Tacoma dining scenes have to offer, but if you're way up the eastern side of the Olympic Peninsula, this is the best meal we've found south of Port Townsend.
Xinh's Clam and Oyster House
221 W. Railroad
I finally made it to Xinh's and am kicking myself for waiting so long. Xinh is a genius with seafood. The marinated mussels in tahini sauce, black tiger prawns in curry sauce, and manila clams in black bean hoisin sauce were my favorites; they had dramatic flavors yet didn't overwhelm the high-quality, perfectly-cooked seafood. The fried dishes we had -- Thai crab cakes and a geoduck special -- were also good, though not exceptional.
We enjoyed talking with Xinh, who is warm and modest yet proud of her cuisine. She even volunteered that, while she sticks to seafood because she has a small kitchen, her meat dishes could "knock your socks off". We actually decided not to use the Entertainment Card that my in-laws had lent us -- I thought the meal was such a great deal that I didn't feel right taking the discount (even though of course I had every right to). If you knew what a cheapskate I am, you'd realize what an endorsement this is of Xinh's.
If you're anywhere near, or can come up with an excuse to be near, give it a try.
(Menu and directions at www.xinhsrestaurant.com.)
PolarBear, I'm glad you discovered Xinh's! They really are a South Sound treasure. Now, if you want a unique food experience, consider going to the Oyster Festival in Shelton the first weekend in October. (It is held at the Shelton airport, North of the city.) If you get there early (11:00) traffic is not a problem. The festival has about 30 food booths of which about 20 are devoted to Oysters. The Native American salmon with fry bread and slaw (About $6.00 an order) surpasses anything served at Ray's Boathouse. Spend a few hours grazing the fest and then have dinner later at Xinh's. A true Chowhound day.