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May 25, 2011 12:50 PM

Seattle Trip Report

Lucky enough to catch five days of good weather in Portland/Seattle last week as well as sample a bunch of food. Thank you everyone on the board for providing tons of suggestions and info. My rating is on a +/-10 scale (so a zero isn't "bad", but not something I'd order again). See separate post for Portland if interested.

The Summary:
Highlights: Almond Croissants from Nouveau Bakery
Disappointments: Seven Star Crab, Paseo Sandwich

The Details:

Nouveau Bakery, West Seattle
Vanilla Blueberry Pastry. +1. Flaky crust, filling was creamy and not too sweet. Blueberries were fresh and tasty. But they put big sugar sprinkle things around the outside that made it unnecessarily sweet.
Roasted Duck Sandwich -2. Bread had nice crust but too dense and rubbery. Duck had no flavor..almost fishy. One layer of lettuce, nothing else worth mentioning.
Spicy Pork Pizza -1. Bottom was crisp but dough almost undercooked. Tomato sauce very ordinary...jalapenos were supposed to provide the heat. Bleh.
Twice Baked Almond Croissant. +10. Not sure if its truly deserving of a +10 rating but its definitely the best almond croissant I've had by far (and I've had a LOT). Dense inside, flaky outside. Lots of almond flavor and perfect amount of marzipan...from end to end. Only the tiniest little bite at the very end would be without some marzipan. So good we ended up making three trips there, eating six, and taking a box of 10 home. Yum. Our favorite thing on the entire trip. Hoping they would consider sending some down...or if there are any Chowhounders from Seattle coming to the SF Bay and willing to carry down a box full of 'em...well, lets barter!

Seven Star Pepper, Seattle Chinatown
Dry Fried String Beans +5. One of the best I've had. Crunchy and fresh, perfect amounts of garlic, chili and salt.
Spicy Pepper Crab -1. Chowhounders raved about this crab. Looked absolutely delicious...fresh and large (2.5lbs) crab served with mounds of chili and peanuts. But extremely salty and spiced with a very strange seasoning that left my mouth and tongue kind of numb and fizzy/tingly. Could it be Sichuan pepper?? Hmm...dunno, but the fear of OD'ing on MSG or going into some kind of convulsions while walking the streets of Seattle Chinatown kept me from enjoying the dish. (note: did not, however, keep me from finishing the dish.)

Paseo Caribbean Takeout
Cuban Roast Sandwich +1. Highly regarded sandwich. Got recognition on National TV. Pretty tasty pork but a little fatty. Not much else going on with the sandwich, except for WAY too much maybe 5x too much. Okay, so I don't like a lot of mayo normally but this was total overkill. Should take a page from Roli Roti (SF Food truck) which just rubs the bread with the juice from the roasted pork.
Smokin' Thigh Dinner +1. Side salad was actually pretty good. Beans and rice were good, nothing special. Chicken was a little dry, outside was crisp. I thought it would be more garlicky/savory but was actually more sweet. Not bad, but not as good as Sol Food.

Tolouse Petit, Late Night Happy Hour. Very cool place, great service. Hip but laid back and not overly trendy.
Catfish Bites +0. Batter was pretty good...not too thick. Crunch outside. Tartar sauce average.
Crispy Pork Cheek Confit. +0. Sounded good, but nondescript. Not crispy, not porky. Just kinda...there.
Beef Sliders. +1. Fries were good. Sliders were pretty tasty but a little overdone.
Moscow Mule cocktail +3. Vodka, Ginger Beer, Fresh Lime. Nice amount of fizz and lime. Perfect sweetness. Strong.

Lowell's at Pike Market
Corned Beef Hash +4. Nicely cooked over easy eggs. Corned Beef Hash with real corned beef?? Nice!! Not too salty either. Very tasty.
Breakfast Tacos +4. Tortillas were very good...chewy and tender and almost translucent. Chorizo tasty but not too greasy. Avocado salsa was very good, eggs were fresh...excellent recommendation!

Mini-Donuts +0. Fresh, but a little too greasy for me...when you can taste the oil over the sugar its a little too much. Not sure if its because the surface/inside ratio is too high or they needed to change the oil. Bonus point for the extra donut (7 instead of 6) but minus points for the tipping sign that said "GOD KNOWS IF YOU TIP" or something like that.

Din Tai Fung, Bellevue, WA
<Plane was delayed so got another meal in just before leaving>
Sauteed Green Beans +2. Nicely cooked, simple seasoning
Juicy Pork Dumpling +3. What they are famous for. Handmade dumplings with soup inside. Pretty good, but not better than what I've had at dim sum here or at San Tung.
Singapore Rice Cake with Chicken +4. Love the super chewy rice cakes. Remind me of Korean dok-bok-ki. Nicely cooked - not too much sauce, not too salty.

Paseo Caribbean Restaurant
4225 Fremont Ave N, Seattle, WA 98103

Green Bean
210 N 85th St, Seattle, WA 98103

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  1. Thanks for the report! Always like to see a visitor's opinion.

    Seven Star Pepper used to be a favorite, but has changed ownership and the crab and food have suffered alot from it in the recent years.

    I cant agree with your take on Paseo's cause I love the mayo pork, bread, pretty much everything about it... but i can agree that Sol Food in Marin is heaven. How bout i trade you some almond croissants for a bottle of their hot sauce?

    1 Reply
    1. re: shaolinLFE

      In hindsight, maybe the +1 rating was a bit harsh because I would definitely go back and try another sandwich.

      Ahhh, the hot sauce at Sol Food...that is some good stuff. Are you serious about a trade? I'd be more than happy to do that!

    2. Mouth numbing is definitely part of the Sichuan flower pepper experience.

      3 Replies
      1. re: forkit

        CW415, you actually described Szechuan peppercorns very well! It's in a lot of Szechuan food so if you didn't enjoy it, it might not be the cuisine for you. Frankly I think you are lucky to have gotten that--the last time I went to 7 Stars I got NOTHING in the way of peppercorn flavor or spice. I don't go there regularly anymore anyway--I prefer Bamboo Garden in Bellevue by a mile--but it was disappointing to be treated like such an American that can't handle the spice/numbing. Dumbed-down Szechuan with no peppercorn flavor is just sad.

        Paseo's "mayo" is actually an aioli that the owner comes in at 6 am to make so that no one else can see what's in it (so staff has told me). I don't like mayo but I love the aioli!

        I had no idea Lowell's was actually good. Good to know.

        Bamboo Garden
        202 106th Pl NE, Bellevue, WA 98004

        1. re: christy319

          Christy, Go to Lowell's early a.m. and join the others and order a red beer (tomato juice and beer) and you'll be a regular in no time. (Of course your life will change but, hey, it's worth it to be a local.)

          1. re: christy319

            My first experience with Sichuan pepper was similar, anxiety and fear that I was having some kind of stroke. But once I understood the cuisine's intentions and after some continued sampling, it grew on me to the point that Chongqing chicken became a kind of addiction. Fuschia Dunlop, a food writer famous for her Chinese cookbooks and memoirs of time living and eating in Chengdu recounted a diary entry describing her first experience with the famous peppercorn nearly verbatim to the way you did. So I wouldn't give up on Sichuan food just yet, it may become a great love when you realize the sensation is harmless and intentional.

        2. Stopped reading after the -1 on szechuan crab and the +1 on the paseo sandwich. Unless both places have gone massively downhill recently (or maybe you got a bad crab?), I think you're just kind of entirely missing the point of these dishes.

          1. NIce summary, CW415. RE: Paseo, IMO the Roast Cuban Sandwich is not their best effort. I find the the marinated pork to be overly sweet for my taste. Much better is the Pork Loin or Prawn sandwich, which are more savory and spicy.

            Agreed on the Twice-Baked Almond Croissant at Bakery Nouveau - I dream of that pastry. (Resisting urge to get in car and drive to West Seattle . . .)

            Bakery Nouveau
            4737 California Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98116

            1 Reply
            1. re: LemonyRoux

              But why resist? they're almost open...