University District sports a wealth of restaurants from which to choose. The “Ave,” which is actually called University Way, is lined up with every cuisine you could ask for.
Let’s start with a restaurant I had heard whispers about before even arriving in Seattle. Supposedly Thai Tom is the “best Thai food” around the area, so naturally it was the very first place I dined once I moved into my new place at the university. I got the pad thai, as one does. My logic for getting pad thai when trying out a new Thai restaurant is that supposedly I can use it to judge the restaurant against other Thai restaurants at which I’ve dined. On one level, it kind of makes sense that if a Thai restaurant can’t make a good pad thai, it’s doubtful that their other food is good purely because of the popularity of the dish. On the other hand, it does not make sense at all to judge an entire restaurant based on one dish. But it makes me feel good to have a pseudo-reason to eat a lot of pad thai, so let’s pretend that this is legit.
In any news, Thai Tom’s pad thai was delicious. Service was pretty slow; we didn’t have to wait too long for seats, but it took quite some time for the food to get to us because the two chefs were very busy filling out take-out orders. Some of the noodles were burnt, but it was some of the most flavorful pad thai I’ve had. My main complaint would be that the dish is a little small; I was still a bit peckish after finishing it. Overall, I would recommend Thai Tom and would not say that it disappointed me after being hyped up so much.
Before being stationed in university housing for my internship, I was placed in a hotel in South Lake Union for a little more than two weeks. South Lake Union is not that interesting of a place at night, so I found myself watching a lot of Food Network on the TV. Every time I turned on the TV, I would pray for “Chopped” or “Cutthroat Kitchen” but would often have to settle for Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.” While I’m not the biggest fan of Guy Fieri, I was still able to watch people prepare delicious food, so I stuck it out. Call it Stockholm Syndrome, but when I found out that there was a diner near me that was featured on the show, I got a little giddy.
One fateful Sunday morning, my friends and I were looking for a place to get brunch and we stumbled upon Voula’s Offshore Cafe. This Greek style diner even has a section in their menu especially for “Guy Fieri’s Choices.” I’m not sure if that makes it better or worse, but I ended up choosing a dish from that section, so let’s not judge too hard. I got the Greek hobo, which is Greek sausage, hash browns, eggs, onions, and mushrooms all scrambled together and topped with Feta cheese. It is a mighty dish and is pretty tasty. I didn’t really get much flavor fatigue, which is an accomplishment when a dish is as massive as this one is. Would recommend.
Speaking of brunch, Portage Bay Cafe is another place which I had heard many great things about before going. It is known for its unlimited toppings bar, at which you can cover your pancakes or french toast with as much fruit, syrup, whipped cream, and toasted nuts as your heart desires. Granted, some of the fruit is canned, but it’s still good.
The pancakes themselves are quite fluffy but not the perfect pancakes that I always hope for. You know the ones I’m talking about–they have a crisp edge but are buttery and melt in your mouth.
Unfortunately, my roommate’s crab eggs benedict were a bit of a disappointment. The poached eggs were completely cooked through, the hollandaise sauce was too salty, and the roasted potatoes were not that flavorful. Eh.
I would still return though. Cooked-through eggs is probably just a fluke, and unlimited toppings is still unlimited toppings.
Hey remember that time I had dinner and then couldn’t stop thinking about hand-shaved noodles so I ordered take-out from Henry’s Taiwan Kitchen? Well now you do and here’s photographic proof it happened. I got the hand-shaved noodles with pork, and I was a very happy clam.
The noodles were the perfect thick, doughy texture, and the pork was chewy and well seasoned. The dish was a little on the salty side, but I appreciated it overall, and it was a large portion for being relatively inexpensive.
When my sister visited, we also ordered take-out from Henry’s. I swear, one day, I will actually dine there. We both got the beef noodle soup, and I was pleased with this as well. The noodles were a little soft, but they did kindly package the noodles separate from the soup, which shows they really care about us. Both the soup and beef were really well seasoned, and the beef was so tender.
Rarely do I see beef executed so well in the states, but this beef hit the spot. It makes this a pretty legit bowl of beef noodle soup.
Here I visited another restaurant with a reputation preceding it: Cedars. An Indian restaurant known for its massive naan (seriously, check out this photo below), I was excited to carbo load and ingest some buttery sauces. The garlic naan is delicious and huge, and if you don’t order naan here, you should just go home.
The butter chicken masala is also fantastic. It comes with a huge plate of rice, and I could not stop eating it. My stomach felt pretty heavy afterwards, but it was a content heavy.
Quick question: why is Din Tai Fung not in New York yet?? I guess I can settle for traveling to Seattle instead of Taiwan for my Din Tai Fung fix, but hopefully one day, the world can sort this pressing dilemma out.
For those unfamiliar with it, Din Tai Fung is a dim sum place and is some quality stuff. Known for paper-thin skins on the soup dumplings, the craftsmanship and flavor of the dishes here are unparalleled. Am I building it up a lot? Perhaps. But after this most recent trip to the restaurant, I can safely say that I only upheld my positive opinion from the last time I was in Taiwan and got to enjoy its deliciousness.
The pork and shrimp wonton soup was amazing. The soup was really flavorful, and the wontons were so indulgent and filled with umami. The cucumber appetizer is a must. It’s such a simple dish, and my mother makes it all the time, but it’s still a refreshing way to start the meal. The soybean noodle salad is also really refreshing and has a lot of sesame oil on it, so if you like refreshing sesame oil dishes, this is the one for you. The pork buns were basically just the soup dumpling meat but wrapped in a steam bun. Nothing particularly special, but still delicious. The spicy noodles were not that spicy, but were really tasty, and I enjoyed them a lot. Of course, the soup dumplings were perfect. I will never understand how they can make the skins so pliable that they’re so thin but don’t break open immediately when you snatch the dumplings up. It’s a mystery I am happy to continue investigating through more trips to Din Tai Fung, though.