Friday, August 11, 2017

2nd Ave Deli

We haven't made as much progress on our pastrami taste-off for this year as I thought we would, but I at least was able to get out to 2nd Ave Deli with my coworkers to welcome some new members. I still wish I had been able to try it when it was at its original location on 2nd Avenue, but walking over to 3rd Avenue was well worth it.

Pastrami is always a little on the salty side, but this pastrami was so rich and delicate. It melted in my mouth, and was incredibly delicious. I ended up adding a small spot of mustard to enhance the flavor, and the tartness really accented the flavors of the pastrami. This was easily the best pastrami sandwich I had ever had, and I'm extremely excited to next try to hit up Katz's as the coworker who set this lunch up made it very clear that, as good as I thought this was, Katz's is just transcendent. Hopefully M and I can make that judgment for ourselves!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Georgetown Patties

On one of our visits to the Queens International Night Market, we chanced across Georgetown Patties, a Guyanese stand serving an assortment of patties, tarts, and drinks. Seeing as how there are so few Guyanese restaurants in NYC, and definitely none close to us, we figured this would be an excellent opportunity to check off another WorldEats country.

When we first got to the stand, we asked what they had, and all they had available were the pine tarts. We first thought that meant something using pine needles or some sort of extract from them, but it ended up just being pineapple filled tarts. It was the start of our "dinner" at the night market though, so we weren't really in the mood for sweet at the time. They said the chicken and the beef patties would take a little more time to finish baking, so we decided to go back later.

When we went back, they were just finishing up taking out the beef patties, so we got one chicken and one beef to make sure we could try them both. Because of our experience with other pies and patties from Caribbean islands, we were expecting flavorful, stew-like fillings inside buttery crust, something like turnovers or Jamaican beef patties. What we found inside the bags instead were patties that bore more resemblance to British pies. Of course, this made some sense seeing as how Guyana used to be British Guiana back when they were part of the British Empire, but we didn't really make that connection until we saw the patties (which we can't stop calling pies). 

We first tried the beef one. Inside was a filling of ground beef with a minimal amount of spices. We both thought this was the better of the two as the beef just seemed to pair better with the crust. Even after we tried the beef patty and found it to just be ground meat instead of a stew, we were still for some reason expecting the chicken patty to be filled with some sort of stew or curry. Clearly our other experiences with Caribbean cuisine were influencing our expectations (although Wikipedia's summary of Guyanese cuisine suggests we weren't far off since curry is very popular there). The chicken patty was mostly filled with chopped chicken. It also had some chopped up vegetables mixed in that were visible after we bit into it the first time, but couldn't really taste. Similar to the beef, it wasn't very highly seasoned, and probably even less than the beef.

We really weren't sure what to expect from our first experience with Guyanese cuisine, but we enjoyed it. We were mildly disappointed at first because, in our heads, we kept thinking about Caribbean patties when they were, in fact, more like British pies. That being said, the flaky, buttery crust was delicious, and the filling, while not of the same flavor profile as some other Caribbean pies, was still good. Hopefully at some point we'll get to a Guyanese restaurant in our city, but for now we can eat patties in the summers.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Week 28 - Vanilla

After baking and berries, seeing vanilla pop up on the challenge list was a little painful. All of those things would be great if I were making desserts for the challenge, but I have been pretty set on sticking with dinner whenever possible. There was a vanilla challenge during my first year doing this challenge and I made some tasty macaroons, but really wasn't feeling inspired to make any dessert with vanilla this time around. Been there, done that, don't really feel like making more vanilla-flavored things. I looked at all the vanilla submissions that other people sent in and other sites of vanilla-filled recipes, but couldn't find a single savory dish I wanted to make, so I just decided I wasn't going to make something new.

Somewhat recently, A made some banana bread, and his version of banana bread used vanilla extract (along with flour, sugar, bananas (obviously), and coconut oil). Sure, it wasn't a whole vanilla bean like I did for the last challenge, but vanilla is vanilla. Good enough for me since I'm not officially participating anyway. (Normally A uses melted butter to make this, but just for fun he opted to use coconut oil to see how it would turn out this time, and it was good.)

I really like when A makes banana bread since it's not overly sweet, and the magic number for the texture of banana bread we like seems to be three bananas. Since the temperature is kind of warm in our apartment and bananas ripen quickly, it's a good thing we have a tasty banana bread recipe to rely on.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Week 27 - Garlic

We love garlic, and so much of what we cook already includes garlic, so the big question for the garlic challenge was to figure out what we could make that really shone a spotlight on garlic. Sometime after the challenge theme was announced, BBC Good Food published a recipe for cheesy garlic bread wedges, and the timing couldn't be more perfect. I bookmarked it for the garlic challenge, and then got around to making it a few weeks after the challenge. (Very behind this year...)

We generally followed the recipe, since the photos that accompanied it were drool-worthy and we wanted similar results, but did make some adaptations as usual. The ingredients we used were:

- 2 ciabatta sandwich rolls ($2.50)
- 5 tbsp of butter, room temperature ($0.31)
- 10 cloves of garlic, finely chopped ($0.40)
- freshly ground black pepper, dried oregano, dried parsley, red pepper flakes ($0.20)
- about 1/4 lb of Jarlsberg lite cheese, shredded ($2.21)

The cost of the garlic bread was about $5.62. We probably could have gotten less expensive bread, but we made this several days after our grocery store visit and went to the local bakery instead for some fresh ciabatta.

The process for making the garlic bread was simple, but time-consuming, especially if you don't take the butter out to warm up to room temperature until you start prepping everything else. Basically, you chop up the garlic, mix it with the seasonings, and then beat that with the room temperature butter. Shred the cheese and then combine that with the butter mixture. Spread the thick butter-cheese-garlic mixture over each half of the ciabatta all the way to the edges. Last steps are to bake it at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes in loose foil pouches, and then open the pouches to bake for another 10-15 minutes.

Our garlic bread didn't come out quite as cheesy as the one in the BBCGF picture, as they probably used much more cheese than we did. We were happy with the results here though as the garlic flavor really came through, and it was so buttery and garlicky and delicious. In addition to the bread, the little bits of buttery cheese that fell off the ends of the bread and cooked on the foil were tasty cheese crunchies by the time the bread was done which was a nice bonus. This was actually the first time we had ever made garlic bread at home, and it was a pretty successful experiment.

Since garlic bread alone wasn't going to be a full meal, and we also needed some vegetables to offset the bread, we decided to make some pasta with a sauce full of zucchini, mushrooms, onions, and of course, lots of garlic. It was originally going to be turkey meatballs and mushrooms, but then one of my parents' friends gifted them a giant homegrown zucchini which was too big for them so they passed half of it down to us. It was seriously massive, so we decided to just swap that in for the meatballs for an unintentional Meatless Monday.

We had a ton of sauce left over after dinner, mostly thanks to the zucchini. It was a pretty good sauce and a nice garlicky accompaniment to the garlic bread, which was really the star of the night. Would definitely make that again.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Antiguan Adventure

We love going to the Queens International Night Market. There are so many interesting things to eat, and it's the perfect spot to go to make some WorldEats progress. While many of the vendors return every week, the lineup does vary week to week, and it's always fun looking to see who is showing up on any given Saturday. When we looked at the list for the most recent night market, we were excited to see Caribbean Soul, specializing in Antiguan and Southern eats. We've never had anything for WorldEats to represent Antigua and Barbuda, and we didn't have any places on our list to go, so we mentally bookmarked them for a visit.

They had a few different menu options. We saw some people get the fried chicken and cole slaw, which looked delicious, but we were really focused on the Antiguan dishes we had never had before. The first thing we tried was the codfish fritter ($1 each), to which they added a honey and tamarind sauce before serving it.

The honey tamarind sauce gave everything a pleasantly sweet note. The crisp exterior of the fritter encased the smooth, almost creamy texture of the fish inside. The fish itself was mildly salty, and it paired very well with the sweet sauce on top.

The dish we most wanted to try was ducana and saltfish ($5). We had no idea what ducana was when we got in line, but that was why we knew we had to try it. We looked it up on Wikipedia while waiting and learned that it was an Antiguan boiled sweet potato dumpling (also found in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (another country we haven't done yet for WorldEats) and other islands in the Caribbean). Texturally, it was like a tamale but without filling and much denser. Flavor-wise it was like nothing we had ever had. The sweet potato and coconut gave it a really nice, mildly sweet and nutty flavor. You could really taste the coconut, and it was quite delicious.

We tried the ducana, the saltfish, and the spinach separately, and while the saltfish and spinach tasted good on their own, very fresh and clean, they tasted even better when mixed with the ducana. The freshness of the spinach, combined with the saltiness of the cod, and finally melded with the sweetness of the ducana made this a truly unique and delicious flavor combination. We were really glad that we happened to go to the night market on the day that they showed up with delicious Antiguan food. We got to try something new and it was great!

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Week 26 - Berries

I think I say this on a regular basis because of the cooking challenge, but I'm not a huge fan of mixing fruit into savory dishes. Citrus really isn't too much of a problem, apples are generally fine, and there are some other fruits I can tolerate in savory dishes, but outside of lingonberries with my Swedish meatballs (and I have no access to lingonberries really), I'm not into using berries in savory dishes. For one, I find them incredibly sweet, almost too sweet for most dishes. Second, berries are so expensive that it just seems like a waste to blend them up for sauces and stuff. Third, my favorite way to eat berries is whole and unadulterated. So needless to say, I wasn't a big fan of the Week 26 challenge.

At least, I wasn't until I read the weekly challenge description where they gave a very broad description of what constituted a berry. Basically, this comes from the difference between what we normally think of as a berry and the botanical definition of a berry. Botanically, according to Wikipedia, a berry is "a simple fruit with seeds and pulp produced from the ovary of a single flower." That brought in tomatoes, eggplants, pumpkins, bananas, and things I was much happier about making for dinner. I didn't know exactly what I wanted to make, but I knew it would be centered around the tomato.

We were shopping for groceries for the week, and unlike most weeks, I was without a meal plan and shopping list since we weren't originally supposed to be in the city at the time (long story). I was browsing through the tomato section and the grape tomatoes just looked so plump, red, and fresh. Not far away, there was a section of gigantic local cucumbers, so I decided to just make a salad full of grape tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and feta cheese, along with olive oil, red wine vinegar, and some salt and pepper. All together, it was probably about $6 for a giant bowl of fresh vegetables, perfect for a 90 degree summer day.

We paired the salad with a couple of baked chicken tenders, and it was a healthy, light dinner. I was so much happier making this than I would have been using anything we commonly think of as berries, and was very thankful for the botanical definition!

Friday, August 4, 2017

Week 25 - California Cuisine

When I thought of California cuisine, the first words that came to mind were local and produce, since the produce out on the West Coast is so much better on average than anything we can get here. In addition to local produce, even though we've never been to the restaurant, one of the places that really stood out in my mind when I thought about California cuisine was Gjelina in Venice, so I started off looking for fresh vegetable recipes inspired by or from Gjelina. Lucky for me, there was a Gjelina cookbook with some recipes reprinted online, and the recipe for braised sweet corn seemed perfect for this challenge.

Whole Foods had an amazing sale on corn - 10 ears for $1 - around the time we were going to do this challenge, which made this so much easier and more affordable. The ingredients for our version of the braised sweet corn were:

- 6 ears of corn, shucked
- salt
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 shallots, minced
- crumbled feta cheese 
- onion salt (TJs), to taste
- juice of 1 lime
- 1/2 batch of cilantro, chopped 

The steps for making the corn were:

- shave corn kernels off cob and set aside
- scrape cobs with back of knife to extract milk and set aside milk
- cut cobs into smaller pieces
- place cut cobs in saucepan covered with cold water and season with salt
- bring to boil, cover, simmer on medium low until stock is cloudy and smells like corn (about 40 min)
- strain and discard cobs, but save corn stock for use
- prep shallots and cilantro while corn stock is in process

[I had no idea there was corn milk or that making corn stock was even a thing until I saw this recipe, but it felt really good knowing that we were using all parts of the corn and nothing was going to waste.]

- heat olive oil in sauce pan and add shallots, cooking until softer
- add corn kernels and season with salt
- add corn stock (1 cup), corn milk, some feta cheese, and cook for a few minutes until liquid has reduced a little
- add the lime juice and onion salt
- remove from heat and stir in cilantro and some more feta cheese

We ate the braised corn along with some baked panko chicken and avocado (how could I leave avocado out of California cuisine week?), and there definitely seemed to be California vibes to the dish. We really liked the braised sweet corn, but it didn't taste so dramatically different from and/or better than other similar corn dishes we've made before (if we were to make them with non-roasted corn, dishes like esquites or a simple corn and vegetables saute) considering all the extra work involved. Glad we tried this experiment, and it definitely had great corn flavor, but considering how slow I am in the kitchen, I think I'll stick to the easier versions.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Avocado or Matcha

On one of our Trader Joe's shopping trips this summer, I came across some new flavors in the Greek whole milk yogurt line that I just had to try. I'm always up for trying new yogurt flavors, especially ones that are unique. I didn't actually get around to trying them until weeks later since we were eating the yogurt in the fridge in order of expiration date, so hopefully the availability of flavors on the shelves hasn't completely changed in such a short time.

The first was avocado citrus, and this one has been pretty widely publicized by both TJ's and the food sites, probably because people love talking about avocado. The citrus here comes from blood orange concentrate, also not your typical yogurt flavor, which brightens up the flavor a lot. I'm not really sure what I was expecting, but the avocado gave the yogurt an earthiness that I'm not sure I really liked that much. It was fine, but I probably won't get this one again.

The other new yogurt on the shelves on that shopping trip was the matcha green tea flavor. Throughout the year, TJ's has seemed to be experimenting with a bunch of new matcha products, like the Joe-Joe's and some other stuff, so the yogurt seemed like a natural next step. Oddly, there is almost nothing online about this yogurt except some posts from 2007-2008. It's almost like it doesn't exist, which is a little worrisome for me since I liked this one so much more than the avocado citrus which earned a spot in the Fearless Flyer.

It completely slipped my mind that I should take note of the ingredients in this yogurt, but I think at the time I had just expected that it would be widely reviewed online. I'm not sure what exactly was in it but you can definitely taste the matcha. I had never had tea-flavored yogurt before, but after eating this, I loved it and wanted to buy a case of it if it was still in stock. The flavor was so light and clean and really pleasing, a nice way to start the day. I really hope they're still carrying this, because I need more of it!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Week 24 - Baking

I couldn't decide on something new and special to make for the baking challenge, so I decided that whatever I baked around the challenge weeks would be good enough. In this case, I needed to use up an open package of smoked salmon, so a baked salmon and tots casserole was the plan.

There wasn't too much prep to this. I baked the tots most of the way to done, cooked the peppers and onions from a freezer bag that had been sitting there for far too long, and beat about 4 eggs. (Yes, this was kind of a pantry clean-out meal.) After greasing the baking pan, I added the tots in a layer on the bottom, topped them with the peppers and onions, and then added about half the egg mixture. The smoked salmon went on top of that, along with the rest of the egg mixture and then a layer of Mexican shredded cheese blend.

I made this some time ago and am only getting around to writing about it now, so I don't remember the actual baking details like temperature and time (you know, the actual challenge). I'm guessing I would have done 400 degrees, and then just baked it until the eggs looked fully cooked through.

The casserole was pretty good and an easy way to use up things that were taking up space in our fridge and freezer. It was also quick and simple to make with minimal prep, so perfect for a weekday meal unlike a lot of my challenge choices.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Week 23 - On a Stick

The Week 23 challenge was titled on a stick. We came up with a number of different things we could make that are often served on sticks or cooked on skewers, dishes like adana, tsukune, kebabs. But no matter what we did, we would have to do it in a way that didn't actually use sticks despite the challenge being on a stick. I don't like buying things for challenges that I'm not going to use again, and I haven't really needed skewers for years. We aren't able to cook on an actual grill anyway, so the use of skewers wouldn't be as necessary in a grill pan.

Eventually I found a recipe for chicken satay, so the plan was to make that along with a peanut sauce and a little cucumber and shallot relish, trying my best to replicate what you would get in a restaurant. Since that probably wouldn't be enough for a meal, we also made a salad on the side with a Thai-style peanut dressing. It was a little ambitious for a single dinner, since there were technically five different components going on at once, but I was trying to get out of a cooking rut and got a little carried away. Thank goodness A and I could work on it together.

Chicken Satay

The centerpiece of the on a stick challenge was the chicken satay, which was also the first thing to be started since it needed to marinate for a few hours. After slicing up two boneless chicken breasts into smaller strips, we put together a marinade based on an easy chicken satay recipe on Allrecipes with the following ingredients:

- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- 1 spoonful of minced garlic
- 1 tsp curry powder
- 1.5 tsp brown sugar
- salt and pepper

I didn't measure everything exactly, but that's about how much was used. Once we mixed the marinade together well, we added it to the sliced chicken and stuck it in the fridge for about 2-3 hours.

While the chicken marinated, we worked on all the other components of dinner. When it was time to cook the chicken, we just stuck the pieces on the grill pan with some oil and let them cook through. The only problem is we don't always know when the chicken is fully cooked on the grill pan, so they were a little overdone. The flavor of the marinade tasted pretty good before we added it to the chicken, but somehow it was more subdued after the chicken was done cooking. They were fine, but not quite what we expected, and they definitely needed the peanut sauce that we made along with it.

Peanut Sauce

For the peanut sauce accompanying the satay, we used the same Allrecipes recipe as the satay itself. The ingredients for the sauce were:

- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 tbsp curry powder
- 1/2 cup peanut butter
- 3/4 cup chicken stock (using bouillon)
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- juice of 1 lime
- 1 tsp low sodium soy sauce

The peanut sauce was pretty simple to make, but just took some time and stirring. A took care of this while I prepped other stuff, and we stuck closely to the recipe. The ingredients (other than the lime juice and soy sauce) were mixed together, simmered for about 10 minutes until a smooth and thick sauce (so maybe a little bit longer than that), and then once off heat, the lime juice and soy sauce were added. The peanut sauce was delicious, and we knew immediately that we would be making this again sometime, even if we never made satay again. We had a lot leftover after this meal, so we used the rest of it with an assortment of vegetables over ramen for a tasty dinner.

Cucumber and Shallot Relish

I tried to model the cucumber and shallot relish after the ones we would get in tiny cups at restaurants, but it didn't turn out quite as well. I looked around online and found a relish recipe on Meaningful Eats, which I used for some ideas of what else should be added to it besides fish sauce. In the end, we mixed together some chopped cucumber (about 1/3 of a hothouse) and shallots with a few tsp of white vinegar, a few tsp of fish sauce, a tsp of agave, and some red pepper flakes. In our unmeasured version, whatever ratio we used didn't taste quite right, and the vinegar was incredibly overpowering, so we added more fish sauce and then everything just tasted like fish sauce. Not the fault of the recipe I don't think, but I kind of wished we had just stuck with the peanut sauce. Since we had the salad, we didn't really need the extra vegetables this time.

Overall, the satay was okay. The chicken wasn't anything special, the relish wasn't great, but the peanut sauce saved the whole thing. In the end, we probably won't make chicken satay again (at least not like this), but we will be filing that peanut sauce recipe away for further experimenting.

Thai Crunch Salad

The salad we made to go along with the satay was pretty straightforward, but just required a lot of prep. I did a lot of the vegetables with a little bit of A's help, while he put together the dressing, which was also peanut butter-based, just like the satay's peanut sauce. We were inspired by a salad recipe I found on Once Upon a Chef and used that as the starting point for our salad.

The ingredients for our version were:

- 1 package of shredded cabbage
- 2 carrots, shredded
- 1 green pepper, diced
- 2/3 hothouse cucumber (the rest of the one from the relish), halved, scooped out, and thinly sliced
- 1 cup frozen edamame, soaked in hot water until thawed and then drained
- 4 scallions, thinly sliced
- 1/3 batch of cilantro, chopped

And for the dressing:

- 1/4 cup peanut butter
- 2 tbsp rice vinegar
- juice of 1 lime
- 2 tbsp grapeseed oil
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp honey
- 2 tbsp agave
- 1 spoonful of minced garlic
- ginger paste (in an equivalent amount as garlic)
- salt
- red pepper flakes
- 1/6 batch of cilantro, chopped

Since it was a salad, it was pretty much all prep. It tasted so good, very fresh and crunchy with that excellent dressing, that we kept snacking on it while we waited for everything else to be ready. While we would make the salad again, the two superstars of dinner were really the peanut sauce and the peanut salad dressing, both of which we definitely want to make more of another time.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Week 22 - Thai

I generally try to do new things for the cooking challenges, but for the Thai challenge, I decided to just make larb again. It felt like ages since the last time we had made larb at home, and I was really craving it for dinner. It may not have been new, but it was definitely satisfying.

The ground meat challenge two years ago was the first time I had ever tried making larb, and it went pretty well. At that time, I made lots of notes about modifications that I wanted to make in the future, most of which I followed this time around. In addition to those, we used ground turkey instead of ground chicken because that is generally easier for us to find (and cheaper). We now also have Thai chili flakes that we bought after making that recipe, and one heaping tablespoon definitely made it hot.

But overall the method of making it was mostly the same, and by working together (A cooking the turkey while I continued doing more prep), it got done pretty quickly. It's such a simple recipe in concept - just cook the ground meat and when it's done and off the heat, mix in the roasted rice powder, chili flakes, sugar, fish sauce, lime juice, onions, scallions, cilantro, and mint, and adjust the seasonings until it tastes just right. We should definitely make this more.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Whole Foods Bryant Park

We were looking for a light dinner on Memorial Day (yes, this post is a bit overdue), and as we walked through the Herald Square area, started thinking about Chick-fil-A. It wasn't Sunday, unlike most days that we find ourselves thinking about Chick-fil-A, so we figured they would be open. Unfortunately for us, we got there about two minutes after they closed for the holiday, so no Chick-fil-A for us. Since we were close to the Whole Foods in Bryant Park, we decided to go there and finally try out the prepared foods in their "food hall." It wasn't really much of a food hall as there weren't any stalls, but instead you order from a menu with different themed options on some central kiosks.

We split two things. The first was a Korean hot dog which was topped with kimchi, a sweet and spicy sauce that looked gochujang-based, and scallions. We were pleased to see that the kimchi toppings on this hot dog were plentiful, and the toppings and sauce tasted good. The hot dog itself seemed fine but nothing extraordinary, but went well with the kimchi and sauce. However, the bread was not great at all. It was dry, crumbly, and cold, and really detracted from the rest of the hot dog. A griddled bun would have been much better.

The other thing we split was from the hot chicken menu - the Nashville-style hot chicken sandwich, a fried chicken thigh which came with slaw and some pickles on the side. We ordered it with medium spiciness, since we figured hot chicken would be hot and we probably shouldn't order it spicy because we might end up with something extra spicy (like saying spicy at a Thai restaurant). For hot chicken, it wasn't really very spicy at all. I think I got one bite with any kick to it at all, and A got none. Considering this was what medium was, we figured that if we had ordered it at the spiciest level (one above), it probably wouldn't have been that spicy either. The pickles and slaw were fine but nothing special.

We weren't that impressed with our first visit to WF Bryant Park's "food hall." The two things we ordered were just okay, and we probably wouldn't get them again. Also, considering how few other people were ordering at the same time we did, it took a very long time for the food to be ready. We might try some of the other options at some point -- they had Italian sandwiches, reubens, and Indian-inspired bowls as well, the last of which was probably the most interesting of those three -- but there are lots of other places we'd like to go in the area first. I also think we like the WF buffet bar better than what we got here.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Uwajimaya Food Court

When we got to Uwajimaya, we were pretty hungry. Although we wanted to investigate the store, we thought it would be a bad idea to do that on an empty stomach, so we stopped at the first stall in the food court that looked good to us. It happened to be the very first stall right next to the doors, but not that surprising that we stopped there since we like takoyaki.

We placed our order and then waited for a short time as they put together the takoyaki. Since they were freshly made, they were pretty hot when they got to us. We only had a thin stick to eat them with, which when combined with their temperature, made it more challenging to eat.

The takoyaki was good and tasted as we expected it to. The only problem was that not long before our trip, we had stopped by Otafuku in the East Village for some takoyaki, and we've never had better takoyaki than Otafuku (haven't been to Japan), so it suffered a little bit in comparison. The batter here wasn't quite as good as Otafuku, and the octopus came out a little on the chewier side, but as a pre-shopping snack, it definitely worked.

After buying some grocery souvenirs and snacks (probably too many, but that's the usual, and at least we did already eat most of the snacks), we were still hungry. We had planned on visiting Pike Place Market later in the afternoon and food crawling, but it was still a decent walk to get there, so we got one more snack from Uwajimaya.

Right near the registers, there was a deli-like counter with a bunch of different prepared foods from Chef Kenzo, including a bunch of different croquettes - shrimp, kabocha squash, and plain (which was potato). We decided to get one of the shrimp and one of the squash and split them. The croquettes came with a small sauce on the side. Not sure exactly what that was, but it tasted both a little salty and a little sweet. Neither of us really liked the sauce that much and preferred the croquettes without it.

Both croquettes were nicely deep-fried. Between the two, the shrimp one had more flavor and you could see the actual pieces of shrimp inside. The squash one didn't have a ton of flavor to it, but it was kind of comforting, sort of like mashed potatoes are.

There were a lot of stalls at Uwajimaya's food court that had more substantial food that would probably have been healthier than what we got, but we were just looking for something small for a snack. Overall, we had a nice visit to Uwajimaya. Not sure if we would go back on another Seattle trip, just because we have Asian grocery stores and food courts at home, but we're glad we went.

Saturday, June 17, 2017


We only had one day in Seattle before leaving for Vancouver and so many places we wanted to go. We decided to start our wandering in the International District at Uwajimaya, the famous Asian grocery store and food court. For anyone coming from a New York point of view, think of a giant Chinatown grocery store combined with Mitsuwa, but more accessible by both public transit and walking to the center of the city, and that's pretty much Uwajimaya.

As we walked the aisles, we marveled at the selection. That store really seemed like it had everything, whether you wanted ube cheesecake or fresh Dungeness crab. The fish and seafood cases were especially impressive, with sashimi cuts of tuna and salmon, every type of seafood you could think of, and lots of fresh fish and oysters.

They had probably the biggest aisle of matcha we had ever seen, and so we got some as a souvenir. At the time, I was still operating under the assumption that, since coffee doesn't work, matcha was the only thing that might keep me awake when tired, but I'm not sure if that's the case anymore after I napped recently in the middle of a matcha latte.

Like any good Asian grocery store, they had tons of rice. If only we could take all this rice home with us and have somewhere to put it and a way to eat it all before it went bad.

We bought lots of snacks, including three bags of my favorite brand of shrimp chips that I could rarely find at home back then, and haven't seen at all recently, and some Hi-Chews that were discounted because of the store's strawberry fair. We also bought the special Japanese Kit-Kats but they were super expensive (and cheaper in Vancouver, but we didn't know that then).

We couldn't really take any fresh produce with us but we liked looking at all of it. So many choices, and like most produce on the West Coast, it just looked better.

We had a really good time "sightseeing" at Uwajimaya. We did investigate some of the prepared food options and the food court, but those are for another post. The only criticism we would have of Uwajimaya is that, while the selection is massive, the prices on non-sale items are a little on the higher side. (Still thinking about those Kit-Kats, but we wanted to try them!) Worth a visit though, especially if you don't have a store like this at home.