“I’m Top chef, you’re top ramen, I’m top shelf”

This post will be a combination of two different locations! This will feature Santouka, a ramen restaurant that is world wide. The first one I went to was in Vancouver, Canada. This past spring, one opened in Bellevue!

Atmosphere: Vancouver – It’s on a pretty busy street downtown. There’s a large table near the front that’s for community seating. There’s some seats wrapping the bar/kitchen and more tables in the back.
Bellevue – Also in downtown Bellevue. The decor here is much more modern and I feel like there is probably as much or maybe less seating at this restaurant. For the first few weeks of opening, there’s a line that forms outside of the restaurant and what’s interesting is that there is a sign saying there’s a max capacity of 48. That seems so little!

Pricing: Same average price of ~$11-12 for a normal size and you can get a smaller bowl for $1 less and a large bowl for $1 more. I added a soft boiled egg for an extra $2, which is a lot more than I would have wanted to pay.

Service: Pretty average in Vancouver. In Bellevue, they mixed up my friend’s order (but this was a couple weeks after opening so that’s understandable).

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Vancouver – Tonkotsu shio ramen! This was probably the best tasting ramen I’ve ever had (or that I was really hungry). The char siu was SOOOO tender and literally melted in my mouth. I added the soft boiled egg for extra. SO good.

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Vancouver – The second time I went to Vancouver, I had to stop by again. This time, I got gyoza along with my order. This was the tonkotsu miso ramen!

IMG_3654Bellevue – Tonkotsu miso ramen along with my $2 soft boiled egg. This serving platter is a staple of Bellevue’s compared to Vancouver’s. I just wish the egg was cut in half for me.

Overall: Vancouver is still by far much better than Bellevue, despite being the same chain. I’m not sure if it’s because Bellevue is still new and working out the kinks, but I prefer Vancouver. I have yet to visit Bellevue again after everything has settled down, but I definitely will give it another try. They also now have happy hour from 3-5p. There are a couple of other ramen places in Bellevue so I will be sure to try those before finding my favorite in the area.

Sashimi galore

I’m surprised I haven’t written about this place on my blog yet! My favorite place to grab some really tasty, quality, well worth your money sushi is at Musashi. They started with one location in Wallingford on 45th, a few blocks from Molly Moon’s. They opened a second location a couple of years ago in Factoria.

Atmosphere: In Wallingford, it’s very tiny! You could probably fit about 30 people at one time. Large groups are hard to accommodate so I would probably go with a max party of 4. The Factoria location is maybe a little bit bigger. The wait time there is much shorter compared to Wallingford.

Pricing: Chirashi bowl is priced at $14.50. You can’t beat that! They also have traditional rolls like california, spicy tuna, salmon, etc for $4 on average. They keep it very simple.

Service: The host at the Wallingford location is always really nice and polite to me. It’s always the same guy who seems to be the host. I remember when I ordered to go one time during the winter, I told him I would wait outside and he said it’s fine to wait right here because my order was almost done. It’s a really small and cramped restaurant so I was a little surprised when he said that.

Food:
IMG_3813I know it’s only one picture for this post, but this really is, in my opinion, the only thing worth going for! They give you four plentiful pieces of salmon, tuna, yellowtail, and albacore EACH. They also give you a slice of shrimp, unagi (DELICIOUS), and scallops. My favorite hands down is the salmon. Look at the ribbed fattiness of the salmon! It’s so juicy and delectable. The texture couldn’t be more perfect.

Overall: As you can tell, I really like this place! Some tips: cash or check only! If you want to skip the wait, I suggest calling in your order to go. Lastly, you can modify your chirashi bowl to your liking. I have gotten salmon and unagi only. My friends have gotten all salmon. It’s all the same price! They are also closed Sunday and Monday. I’m really happy they opened a second location because it’s close to my home home :) Happy eating!

Musashi's on Urbanspoon

Poke poke poke – Sam Choy’s Poke!

I first tried Sam Choy’s at the Mobile Food Truck Rodeo in Capitol Hill. The line was incredibly long! I don’t know if I would go to another food truck festival for that reason. However, I follow them on Twitter @Samchoyspoke to get updates on their whereabouts because I know the line will definitely not be as long. Sooo I went to Sam Choy’s for lunch with a friend when they were at SLU one day. There was no line and it was much less of a hassle to get some poke. Ps. They also now have two trucks now!

Atmosphere: The truck is a nice bright shade of green. Very easy to spot! You definitely get that island vibe from the palm trees and waves painted on it.

Pricing:  A little expensive in my opinion. Dishes range from $8-$13.

Service: Pretty nice people! The food came pretty quick when I was at SLU. It took a while at the food truck festival, which is understandable. I think they were also new to the scene so there were some kinks they were still working out. For example, they had to let the rice cook for the next batch of poke bowls (which took about 20 mins).

Food:
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Spicy salmon poke rice bowl! The day I tried this was at SLU. A little bit too spicy for me actually.. so I was kind of dying. They give you a lot of rice and a decent amount of fish. This was $11, not including tax.

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This was at the food truck festival. Tuna poke salad. I felt like they gave even more fish this day. Very fresh (and not spicy!). However, it was a whopping $13 :/

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Food truck design!

Overall: They have other things besides poke like katsu, loco moco, sandwiches and wraps. I would definitely come back to try their katsu. I also hear their spam musubis are a hit and they usually sell out quick. I would definitely recommend checking their site or Twitter for updates about their locations!

Sam Choy's Poke To The Max on Urbanspoon

Local sushi

My family lives in Renton and there’s a homey, local sushi restaurant, owned by my friend that I haven’t been to in a long time. I decided to visit because I was craving some sushi while I was home.

Atmosphere: It’s a pretty small cafe, but a nice size to accommodate the average amount of customers that come on a daily basis. There’s a  bar and some comfy seating against the wall.

Pricing: I’d say it’s a pretty average price for sushi, nothing crazy expensive or dirt cheap. A yelp rating of probably $$.

Service: Very friendly wait staff! I’ve had my friend as a waitress and she definitely knows what to recommend. (Her name is Garmyn and it’s a family owned restaurant)

Food:
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Appetizer of gyoza with sweet sauce – pretty much what I expected it to taste like.IMG_6118Lunch bento box with 3 pieces of tuna, shrimp, salmon, and scallop with a California and tuna roll, and seaweed salad. I was really full after eating this!

Overall: It was a pretty good deal, for ~11 bucks. I would definitely come back because their menu is always changing with unique combinations for their rolls. The first time I went, they had a really good dessert – tempura ice cream! In the end, my craving was satisfied :)

Sushi Cafe on Urbanspoon

Buffet brunch!

I heard about a really good brunch from my brother, foodhipster206.com, and I knew I had to try it! I’ve been to their sister restaurant, Revel and I really enjoyed the food there.. so I had to go to Joule (also an asian fusion restaurant). They recently moved from Wallingford to Fremont (they share a building with The Whale Wins which I have yet to try).

Atmosphere: High ceilings make it seem quite spacious. They have their kitchen right in the front just like revel. We got to sit there and just watch them cook. They also have a porch area with a fire place. It’s a little small, but they make good use of the space.

Pricing: For brunch, they had it buffet style but with a twist. You get a main entree and then there were salads/pastries/other assortments that you can help yourself to. Each portion was $17, and if you got a more expensive dish with steak, it’s $20.

Service: Very friendly, we talked to a chef working and gave us good recommendations.

Food: (Pictures taken with iPhone 5)
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We started with the buffet while we waited for our entrees. From L-R, pickled cucumber salad, pear salad, bok choy with ramen bits (actually very good!), tofu, onions, cashew and celery salad.. and a random pickle!IMG_1719

My boyfriend’s entree, their version of chicken and waffles. Black sesame waffles with chicken fried steak (katsu), smokey maple sauce with a dollop of marscapone cream. Overall,  I thought it was ok. The chicken was good only if pieces of salt were sprinkled on it to bring out more of the flavor.

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My dish.. and boy was it delicious!! I had the porchetta with an apple salad. The porchetta is a bacon, breakfast sausage mix. It was crispy on the outside and full of flavor in the center. Apple salad was ok, there were better salads at the buffet counter.

IMG_1721Some pastries from their buffet – mushu pork pastry with hoisin sauce and a black sesame muffin. I thought these were both ok. The mushu pork had a little bit too much hoisin for my taste.

Overall: I would definitely come back to try something new! They have delicious look entrees to try (mac and cheese with sausage is my next). Their entrees are also REALLY BIG. We had to take the rest of our food home. They also have a rotating buffet menu that they change every month. This month was Chinese. I love the new location because it’s bigger and very close to where I live! I will definitely be coming back for dinner too.. to try their kalbi burger.