Sometimes a picture’s worth a thousand calories.
We just got back from a two day eating blow-out in Seattle, and I can’t wait to show you some of the places we went to — some exciting new finds plus a few family favorites.
Grab a napkin or a tissue — when you see all the places we went to, you may start salivating with hunger or weeping with jealousy (or a bit of both).
First thing I need to tell you about was our favorite new discovery.
Din Tai Fung.
Seattle is the location of one of only two North American outposts of the famous Taiwanese dumpling house (the other being in Bellevue), so we had to check it out.
After all, when a restaurant is recommended by CNN, Forbes, WSJ and three of your food fanatic friends (plus two Seattle natives), it has to be good.
Was it ever.
Here’s what you see before you even get into the reception area.
In a glass paneled work room we spied five tables at which almost twenty people were making dumplings at record speed.
Obviously, these guys don’t mess around.
Let’s start with the dish for which Din Tai Fung is probably most famous — the Pork Xiao Long Bao, pork soup dumplings.
I’ve never had these morsels before, and I imagine this version has spoiled me for any other dumpling house.
The waiter explained us how best to tackle these pork and broth-filled dumplings — you put the piping hot morsel on a soup spoon, poke it slightly to allow a tiny bit of the broth to fill the spoon, and then eat the whole lot.
Or if you’re brave and don’t fear a scorching burn, just drizzle a little of the sauce (three parts vinegar to soy sauce) in the spoon on top of the whole dumpling and go for the gusto.
I’ve had amazing dumplings before, but this one was ethereal; a juicy pork tidbit bathing in a flavorful stock encased in a paper-thin wrapper.
The rest of the meal had plenty of other treats in store, like the spicy shrimp and pork dumplings.
And the pork buns.
You know how it can be scary to look inside a steamed pork bun? Who wants to see that mystery meat up close, right?
This pork bun just held a gloriously juicy pork meatball, intensely flavorful with fresh ginger and green onion.
There were also some blissful green beans with lots of garlic
and the most interesting presentation of pot stickers I’ve ever seen — a single sheet of joined cooked pot stickers that snapped off under pressure from your fork.
Although we got lucky with seating (under ten minute wait for a table because we ate a very late lunch), I’ve heard the horror stories about the lines here (easily one hour during busy times).
Be prepared to stick it out– this is one of the few places that lives up to the incredible hype.
Our waiter said that this place and the Bellevue location are so popular that they go through 4,000 orders of just their soup dumplings daily.
Think about that– 40,000 soup dumplings alone are ingested daily in these two spots. No wonder they had fifteen people making dumplings — it takes a lot of hands on deck to make that much delicious handmade food.
Din Tai Fung, I can’t wait to return — and next time I’m ordering my own soup dumplings and spicy pork dumplings.
Sometimes sharing makes me ornery.
So many other wonderful food places we went to during our Seattle sojourn.
There are so many terrific options at Pike Place Market, but this time I’d promised the kids an old favorite.
Beecher’s Handmade Cheese makes wonderful products (the Flagship is my favorite), and there’s always a huge line just waiting for some of that bechamel-heavy mac and cheese in to-go bowls.
I wonder how much of this they sell daily.
They serve it right out of a giant hotel pan –and they emptied it twice just in the time I was there.
So while the kids busied themselves with this
I went off in search of fish and chips — one of my favorites from my last Seattle Trip.
I can’t tell you how happy it made me to realize that Nosh, one of my favorite food trucks, was going to be just blocks from Pike’s Market that day.
Chance favors the prepared (and time spent researching food options is oft well spent).
I’m happy to report that the huge volume of to-go orders didn’t mar the quality of my favorite fish and chips around — anywhere.
A whisper light batter graces the exterior of hot, flaky cod inside. Cut-to-order chips and minty mushed peas are served alongside.
Going to Seattle anytime soon?
It’s worth tracking down the Nosh Food Truck — year after year, every publication bestows Best Of to Nosh, and with good reason.
Their fish and chips are beyond compare.
And to think — what you’ve seen is only half of our edible adventures.
There was ice cream at U Village (near the University of Washington campus).
Why ice cream?
— especially when it’s served in such a pretty place
that smells of vanilla and homemade waffle cones.
And your ice cream looks like this.
(This picture is thanks to the Molly Moon website as we were too busy eating Scout Mint to take pics.)
I love me some Molly Moon’s.
Once we came up for air, we went to another Seattle highlight for us.
Red Lantern in the International District.
I think it’s our favorite Chinese restaurant in Seattle — and I just can’t understand why the crowds don’t flock here.
Lunch can be fairly busy, but at night it’s pretty quiet as too few people flock to all this goodness.
It’s upscale contemporary Chinese food (think jumbo prawns with basil and lime) and the service is fantastic — and every single thing we ordered was clean-tasting, vibrant, and packed with flavor.
The potstickers were stellar — crispy and delicate with a savory porky filling.
Another favorite — the crispy Mongolian Beef enlivened with sauteed green onions.
And those fried shrimp with basil and lime sauce.
Despite the fact that we were stuffed, we ate every one of these plump and juicy morsels.
They even make Chow Fun (rice noodles) the way I like them — dry style with lots of smoke and char from a super hot wok.
Red Lantern, we love you so much.
And then before you know it, it was time to go home.
We took one last look from the balcony of our hotel room overlooking Lake Union.
It had been so enjoyable watching the sea planes take off throughout the day and everyone out enjoying the calm water — in kayaks, canoes, sailboats and yachts parked there.
We’d eaten lightly for breakfast, so by noon we were ready to go all in for lunch.
Seattle readers, can you guess from this picture where we ate?
Yes, Red Mill Burgers.
There’s a reason that everyone from Oprah to GQ and most Seattleites all proclaim it one of the best burgers spots around.
Whether you go for the unusual Ancho Chile burger
or the main reason people come to Red Mill,
it’s always worth a visit– and all those calories.
Unapologetically old school, these burgers feature char-grilled 80/20 beef patties, a special Mill sauce, Bibb lettuce, tomatoes and if you order right, strips of expertly cooked pepper bacon.
It’s a shame all my pictures of this Tower of Bacon came out blurry; it was awe-inspiring– maybe twenty slices across and fifty high.
I watched a news clip about Red Mill, and the owner said that it takes four hours a day to cook all that bacon — they go through about 75 pounds a day of it in just one location.
It took every last ounce of willpower not to jump over the counter and dive into that bacon tower.
And the burgers are fantastic — especially if you remember to add a couple of your French fried friends inside.
Thanks, Red Mill Burgers.
You guys are serving up so much goodness.
And then there was time for just one last stop was for souvenirs to bring home.
Eltana — a local bagel chain that features wood-fired Montreal style bagels.
Let’s be clear here.
These bagels are wood-fired.
And crazy good.
Especially when you bring them home, toast them properly, and top them with Smokery Lox from the PSU Farmers Market.
So that’s our forty eight hours in Seattle.
So much pant-splitting deliciousness — and it feels like we barely scratched the surface of that great food town.