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Aug 13, 2009 09:05 AM

Best Kept Secrets on the Eastside

Given that the Eastside is being populated with the PF Changs and Spazzo's of the world (not to knock them, they have their time and place), I would love some rec's for any hidden gems to try over on this side of the water.

Thai, Italian, Bahn Mi, Cuban, Mexican, Best Sandwich...come on, what does the Eastside have that I have been missing out on?

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  1. There is a strip mall in Redmond (although it feels like it's in Bellevue) that is cheap ethnic food heaven-- on a 152nd between 24th and 25th NE. There you will find Malay Satay Hut, Mayuri Foods (an Indian grocery, with a bakery and Indian sweets/chaat store next door--forget the bakery to the extent they do Western stuff, but the Indian things are good but the Indian things are good), Kabob Palace (Pakistani) and a Brazilian bakery that I have yet to try but have heard good things about. Highly recommended. On the high end side, you can't do better than Cafe Juanita in Juanita. Trellis in Kirkland is also a good choice.

    1 Reply
    1. re: PAO

      Mediterranean Kitchen in Bellevue, get the Grandfather Chicken!

    2. Well, there are certainly some good options on the Eastside, just not as many as in Seattle.
      For Thai, Issaquah's Noodle Boat is considered by some to be the best Thai on the Eastside or in Seattle. It is very good and I have liked some of the more unusual dishes a lot - check out the menu if you have a chance.
      For Italian, Cafe Juanita is awesome. Tropea in Redmond might be the best standard Italian place i've been to on the Eastside. Calabria was good in Kirkland but i'm not sure if they had to close when those business were kicked out.
      Bahn Mi is a rare thing on the Eastside for some reason. Pho Express in the Totem Lake area of Kirkland though does a very good one. Nice baguette, very flavorful meats, they can be a little heavy with the butter spread though and I don't believe that they smear any pate on the bread.
      I don't believe there are any Cuban places on the Eastside.
      Mexican food is a little iffy. I enjoy Ooba's in Redmond. Also I think that of the standard Americanized Mexican places (one taco, one enchilada combo) that Mi Tierra in Woodinville is the best. I will also admit that I like Cactus for what they do. Not sure if Barrio opened up their Bellevue location yet but I know that the Seattle restaurant got mixed reviews but with some high praise. To be honest, Baja Fresh is quite a bit better than what often passes for Mexican around here (I am from Southern California so that means I am immune from getting flamed for that statement!)
      I am a big fan of sandwiches so here goes: The price is borderline ridiculous, but the sandwiches in Bellevue at Gilbert's on Main (check the hours they are open before going) are outstanding. The reuben is better than I Love NY deli in Seattle or any other reuben in the city. The sandwiches at Goldberg's Jewish Deli are not amazing but usually quite good. Twisted Sandwich in Woodinville has solid flavors placed on a tasty homemade bread. The hidden gem sandwich on the Eastside... the Taiwanese sandwich with egg at Cafe Happy in Kirkland. After Paseo, and Salumi, this is my favorite sandwich.
      Other Eastside places of note: Meze in Kirkland (fantastic hummus, everything else is okay), Taj Palace in Bellevue is my favorite Indian place, Seoul Hot Pot (in that same strip mall that PAO suggested) serves really high quality Korean, Bamiyan in Issaquah serves better Afghan food than Kabul in Seattle, i'm sure there are other places i'm forgetting but this post is long enough.

      1 Reply
      1. re:

        My goodness, thank you so much! It sounds like you love food as much as I do! You've tried it all!!! I will make a list (and check it twice) from your rec's.

      2. There's the stuff that always gets listed, so I won't rehash here, but some that I don't see as often:

        Kafta sandwich at Persian Grocery-Deli on Main St.
        Swedish pancakes with lingonberry jam at Pancake Corral on Bellevue Way
        Dumplings at the little noodle place in Lake Hills
        Tacos and the torta at the place outside of the mall (to the east) in Crossroads
        Ooba Tooba
        Facing East

        I'm personally a big fan of Garlic Crush, but I realize it's nothing incredibly special (although I like it alot more than Med. Kitchen, which gets fawned over)

        This doesn't consider much on the Redmond (Microsoft) side of Bellevue, where there are decent places like Taj Palace, Spice Route and Kiku Sushi

        20 Replies
        1. re: GreenYoshi

          Oh yeah, Won Ton City in Lake Hills. The wonton mein is not too far from what I had in Hong Kong.

          1. re:

            I second Won Ton City...Please keep them in business. I love their wonton noodles....and the vinegar they serve with them. Yum!

            1. re: soypower

              Soypower, sounds like we could be related. My sisters and I get teased for "drinking vinegar."

              1. re: ethereal

                I do practically drink the vinegar they serve at Wonton City. Truly amazing stuff!

                1. re: soypower

                  Speaking of drinking vinegar...
                  You could most likley find some at uwajimaya

              2. re: soypower

                This is the first I've heard of Won Ton City? Do they serve xiao long bao with that vinegar?

                1. re: equinoise

                  Nope. A very limited menu. The won tons and sui kau are great. The congee is very good as well. But the menu pretty much consists of that and also some chinese donuts.

                  1. re:

                    Won Ton City closed.
                    Was worth the trip.
                    Boo hoo!

                    1. re: pmelvoin

                      Noooo! I'm so disappointed! I noticed that Yang's dumpling house moved to Kirkland though.. Still not much consolation for losing WC.

            2. re: GreenYoshi

              ooo, I have heard of the Kafta sandwiches at Persian Grocery, but I had forgotten about that. I will have to try! I do yoga on Main just down the way!

              1. re: kgreig

                One note, I've occasionally had times there where my sandwich has come out a little greasy. I don't know what it is, (probably just the fact that they don't make tons of sandwiches, so the process isn't super refined) just note that a place like that can have it's off days.

                1. re: GreenYoshi

                  was it any sandwich in particular that seemed to come out greasy? I have heard so many great things about it, I will be sure to cut them some slack if it's not stellar the first time. Besides, I love the Mom and Pop stores. I'd rather have a greasy Persian sandwich than a dry Subway any day!

              2. re: GreenYoshi

                Was in Bellevue today on Main and looked for the Persian Grocery-Deli. It looked closed down. A google search shows one in Kirkland (Totem Lake). Does anyone know if this is the same place and they just moved? I was really looking forward to a good sandwich.

                1. re:

                  It's still open, well, at least as of a couple weeks ago (maybe not on weekends?)

                  Up on Main and 108th or so, right?
                  By the Toy's chinese.

                  1. re: GreenYoshi

                    Yep, it's still open. I was by there the other day. You have to get past the murky exterior, and go inside...the food will make you forget about the dingy storefront.

                    1. re: kgreig

                      When I checked it out, they had a note up about how they're moving and changing the name, I think to Persepolis or Persepolis Grocery or something like that. If they're closed up, check to see if there's a little note in the window.

                      1. re: seattledebs

                        The space that housed Persian Grocery is now truly vacant. Does anyone know the whereabouts of Persepolis or whatever other current form they are in?

                        1. re: equinoise

                          I went yesterday to their new digs to check them out.
                          It's now called Perseopolis Grocery and they are now located at
                          13112 Northeast 20th Street
                          Bellevue, WA 98005-2045
                          (in that big office park with King's Chinese next to Himitsu, the Japanese/Korean place)

                          The sandwich wasn't quite as good as I had remembered, but it was still solid. I think that you now have to ask for the spiciness specifically which was part of the problem, but it wasn't just that. Something seemed different about the meat and the way it was cooked or flavored.

                          Also, I had to ask if they still served sandwiches, since there was no indication that they do so.

                          They gave me a nice little lentil soup, on the house, which was FANTASTIC. I hope they start selling that.

                          Still one of my "Best Kept Secrets of the Eastside"

                          1. re: GreenYoshi

                            Thanks for the update. It's a further trek for me now, but probably still worthwhile. Maybe I'll roll out today.

                            1. re: equinoise

                              I made it to Persepolis yesterday for lunch. The sandwiches (kotlet and chicken kabob) were as good as I can remember from the old location--I love the tang of housemade yogurt sauce and the sliced pickles combined with the savory meats. As Yoshi pointed out, it is not readily apparent that the sandwiches are offered--the flip-book picture menus on the tables show other items. While the grocery items seem about the same, the prepared offerings seem to have expanded to include polo (rice pilaf) and kebab platters, as well as, oddly, Thai food.

                              I also concur with Yoshi that the orange-hued lentil soup was outstanding. I noticed a group of men, awaiting their sandwich orders, making an appetizer of persian style sliced mortadella, tomato, pickles and sprigs of fresh tarragon wrapped in lavash bread. It looked so inticing that I bought my own ingredients to try at home.

              3. One place that doesn't seem to get mentioned often is Ginza in Bellevue. They do Japanese small plates and have a huge menu. I especially liked the tea smoked pork belly and the pumpkin fried rice.

                Tasty Thai in Factoria does a delicious Mussamun curry, and Zenyai Noodles (in the Bellevue Trader Joe's shopping center) has a cracktastic crispy garlic chicken. Also, Can Am Pizza, in the same shopping center, has really good Indian pizza.

                3 Replies
                1. re: creepygirl

                  My mouth is literally watering for the crispy garlic chicken. Is it served on noodles, or just a la carte chicken?

                  1. re: kgreig

                    The crispy garlic chicken is served with rice.

                  2. re: creepygirl

                    ehh... I used to like Ginza alot more.
                    Something seems to have changed with them.
                    Best Japanese in the downtown area, but that doesn't say a whole lot....

                  3. Any Pho rec's? I am taking my brother for some this weekend, and he's quite the expert...

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: kgreig

                      probably too late for you kgreig, but I always liked Saigon City.