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Jul 23, 2009 09:28 PM

Izumi, Brazil, and Totem Lake West Shopping Center

I saw an ad for Izumi in You Maga magazine, and I had lunch at Izumi today.
The restaurant was very busy, and most of the customers were ordering the lunch special.
I had the Nabeyaki Udon. The broth was amazingly delicious.
A Japanese lady came to speak with me, inquiring if I was from Japan. I think she must be the owner. I suspect that was because I spoke to the waitress in Japanese a few times.
Found out from the lady that she makes her dashi with Konbu and Katsuo.
So that's why the Udon soup was so delicious. She told me her miso dashi is also wth Konbu. She spoke very proudly of her dashi, as well she should. If you can make a good dashi, it is a sign of great skill.
I will revisit again and actually sit at the sushi bar.

Walked around the shopping center and saw the Brazileceria (sp?).
How cool is that place? I chatted with the gentelman at the counter and he explained the various meat pies and pastries in the counter. He looked scary, when I walked in but when I started talking to him, he was wonderful. There was a buffet , set up in chafing dishes, $5.60 per lb.
He told me that the ladies in the kitchen make something different everyday. All the customers were men, who were speaking Spanish or maybe Portuguese.
I bought Pao de Quejio de Maria...chees puffs by Maria, made in Seattle. I baked them per instructions, but the pastry never browned, and so I overcooked them, and they are a bit hard now.
Also bought Yuca Fries. Nothing special, but I loved fried yuca. I guess i could have bought fresh Yucca and sliced them myself.

Who would have thought in Totem Lake Shopping Center? This area is chock full of surprises and I'm loving it!

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  1. Ritabwh,

    Glad you posted this. Did not know that the Brazilian shop had hot food. The full name is "A Loja Brasileira" Stopped in to grab a bite on your recommendation.

    My knowledge of Brazilian cuisine is the rodizio style of all you can eat and living vicariously through Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations. To sum up, limited. I do remember from Bourdain's show the feijoada, basically a stew made up of black beans, pig and sausage.

    For my first taste of "A Loja Brasileira" I loved their version of feijoada. Not spicy but a very well balanced stew. I liked being able to suck on the bones and the breaking down of the collagens added a velvety texture. This was served over white rice.

    I had a side of their beans and also a side of stewed beef, all very delicious. Just over a pound of food to go, $6.89

    Will have to add them to my "cheap eats" lunches on weekends. Certainly not fancy, probably more home style Brazilian cuisine.

    1 Reply
    1. re: urika

      Thank you for your report!
      Heh. My knowledge of Brazilian cuisine is zero. I shall have to find the Bourdain episode of Brazil. I would have had lunch that day, but I was too full from my Izumi lunch. <sigh>.
      The gentleman at the counter explained that the special that day was a central Brazilian dish; that Brazil is so vast, that the coastal people may not even know of a central speciality. He also commented that Brazil had the largest population of Japanese, outside of Japan, due to the immigration from Japan. He said there were some Japanese/Brazilians who stop by regularly.
      When I was at the Brasileira, I saw slices of beef, rice and what appeared to be some kind of a stew go by.
      I'm planning on lunch there, next day off, next week.

    2. Izumi is really the only worthwhile Japanese place on the eastside, unfortunately.

      9 Replies
      1. re: HungWeiLo

        That assessment is bit strong, IMO. Flo has some quality sushi, if expensive and unadventurous. Ginza has decent ramen, bento and izakaya style items, and it attracts a Japanese clientele.

        1. re: equinoise

          I actually went to Flo one time with someone who knows the chef. He made some special dishes that were pretty to look at, but still lacked the skills. I didn't like the noodle texture at Ginza too much (a bit too rubbery, as I recall).

          Izumi really is the all-around winner by a long shot in terms of eastside selections.

          1. re: HungWeiLo

            But! They don't do Ramen. <sigh> You'd think if they cared enough to make true konbu and katsuo dashi, they would venture into Ramen territory.

        2. re: HungWeiLo

          I agree Izumi is the best Japanese on the Eastside. Authenitic and tasty. I'm not a sushi lover, but I have heard many rave about the quality and freshness of Izumi's sushi. I'm partial to the prawn tempura and the pork cutlet. Both are terrific.

          1. re: HungWeiLo

            Hung, when you say "unfortunately", do you mean that you consider Izumi to be the best of mediocre choices? I've tried Ginza's ramen. I thought their shoyu ramen was bland and unmemorable. What do you think of the other Japanese restaurants around Bellevue, and thereabouts? I work in Bellevue, but never hang out there after work.
            Also, when you say "Japanese", do you mean non-sushi items ? I am interested inJapanese restaurants that have good non-sushi items on their menu.

            1. re: ritabwh

              Unfortunately as in there are not many other places to go to. Most Bellevue places are too happy-hourish in terms of their selection.

              Most places in Bellevue strike me as places that sell teriyaki combo lunches, with a few trying to do more interesting things - but not nearly enough and not nearly well enough.

              1. re: HungWeiLo

                Thanks, Hung. I see by your post above that you like Izumi. I spoke with my local sushi joint chef, and he told me that Izumi's flavors are flavors for the Japanese palate. And yes, we discussed the excellent dashi and the flavor of the broth of the Nabeyaki Udon.
                Now, here is something to think about: the restaurant spells their name as "Izumi" in English .
                The Japanese characters of the restaurant should actually written as "Itsumi".
                I wonder why the difference?

                1. re: ritabwh

                  Maybe it was the "tsu" character with the dakuten quotes? Then it would be "zu".

                  Or maybe they were doing the retro thing. I believe classical Japanese texts did not use/differentiate the two different sounds until the 1600s.

                  Or that someone decided that "Izumi" just looks and sounds more aesthetically pleasing and marketable than "Itsumi".

            2. we were at Flo last night and had a lovely time. I can't remember the name of the sake, but it was wonderful. Sashimi was divine. Straight up really good sushi. And it was almost packed at 845pm on a Tue. when we walked in...

              1. I agree that Izumi is a very high quality for Japanese in the Eastside. In that same Totem Lake shopping center now is Mediteranean Kitchen. This is an off shoot of the Bellevue location that is slightly different. It is more casual and cheaper but with only slightly smaller portion sizes and the flavors seem to still be quite good to me. You have to absolutely love garlic, but if you do, you'll be rewarded.

                As for the Eastside Japanese food discussion, I think that Ginza is great in that it is open really late and offers yummy bar snacky foods. I feel that their sushi is often underrated as well. Tuna House in Bellevue next to Schezuan Chef is great for more homey fare like oyako donburi as well as inventive rolls. I have had some very tasty bowls of ramen at Mamasan. And I recently tried Momoya in Kirkland and liked it and will go back to try more items.

                5 Replies
                1. re:

                  Where is the Mediteranean Kitchen? I thought i walked / drove all around the shopping center. I will have to take another look-see when I return for lunch at the Brasileceria.
                  As for Mamasan...I read that it had closed from a Yelp review.
                  Isn't there a Japanese restaurant somewhere called Crossroads? And, alot of my coworkers in Bellevue seem to love, "I Love Sushi".

                  1. re: ritabwh

                    Mediterranean Kitchen is in the upper part of the mall, on the flipside of where Brasileceria is located. If you're at Brasileceria, you'll head up the drive toward 124th and take a right into the parking lot in front of Romio's.

                      1. re: gmm

                        What should I order, when I go to the Mediterranean Kitchen?

                        1. re: ritabwh

                          I like the Kibby appetizer and have generally been happy with anything else i've ordered. The Farmer's chicken wings seem to be popular but i've never had them before.