This is our last post on our quick vacation to Seattle. It’s Day 5 and we decided that we go to Chinatown and check out the dim sum in an American city. We had expected that the dim sums here would be Americanized … you know … serve things like chop suey, beef & broccoli, fortune cookies and such.
We had wanted to go to a place called the Jade Garden and Hongkong Restaurant. It was recommended by Jeniffer who also recommended Cedar’s to us. As it turned out, we could not find parking. Well, we could find pay parking but we did not want to pay for parking. Alright, I admit, we are stingy especially for things that is supposed to be free!
So, we ended up going to this place called the House of Hong. As it turned out, it was a good thing we came here.
The House of Hong had won a lot of awards over the years. The awards (for best chinese, best dim sum, etc) were all plastered all over a wall near the entrance. The interior was cavernous which surprised us. We hardly had such a huge dim sum place in Vancouver and yet the one we went to is so big. It was very early on a weekday when we were there and there were only two tables taken.
We like the courteous and prompt service.
The Baked Char Siu Bun were great … soft and fluffy with moist sweet BBQ pork in it. We were pleasantly surprised how authentic the dim sum was.
Braised Chicken Feet … we love it. He he he … I know almost all my whites friends do not touch it. But seriously, it is really good and we always order this for dim sum. Until today, I am trying to fully figure out why chicken feet puts people off. Some told me that there is no meat in it but I think its the thought of chicken feet walking around chicken shit that really puts people off.
For the chinese, they don’t call this chicken feet. No, no … that’s too crude. The formal name for this is “fung jau” which means Phoenix Claws.
The Char Sui Bau (BBQ Pork Bun) was equally superb. Suanne had never quite figure out how to make fluffy texture buns like these although her buns can beat any Char Sui Buns in the world, no kidding.
Oh, one thing we noticed here … they serve the dim sums in metal tiffin cans, not the normal bamboo basket we normally see. Weird.
Potstickers … I am not sure if this is really Chinese traditional dish. Can someone confirm? I always thought that Potstickers are more Japanese than Chinese … you know, gyoza?
Beef tripe … nice. If people who are not used to dim sum ask me what this is, I normally tell them “don’t ask, just eat”. I love the crunchy texture. You guys know what tripes are, right?
Bean Curd Rolls are another favourite of ours. Looks awful right? But they are quite harmless … just meat wrapped in bean curd rolls.
Siew Mai … traditional chinese dumplings. Quite good … and very authentic.
Siew Mai is not complete without the type of chili sauce above. I don’t know if there is a specific name for this but we simply must have this chili sauce with siew mais.
The Shrimp Toast was OK. This I think is Americanized dim sum. I am not familiar with this.
We could not resist the delicious looking BBQ Duck with the crispy looking skin. It turned out cold. We would have preferred it warm. No bad though.
The Shrimp Rice Roll was also good. This is the favourite of Arkensen and Nanzaro.
Zeen Dui are sesame seed coated ball. You gotta love the fragrance and crunch of the sesame seeds and the chewiness of the glutinous rice ball.
We give this place a double thumbs up. The service was great, and the food was great. Highly recommended. We’re still quite surprised that there is such a place in Seattle.
So, here ends our Seattle series. Hope you all enjoyed it. Suanne and I are plotting our next vacation this summer. We’re gonna ship our boys to a 2-week camp which we scoot off, just the two of us. We are now looking at a 2-week trip of flying to Washington DC, rent a car, drive to Philadelphia, to New York City (yeah again but Suanne wants to see NYC) and fly home. It will be fun … and am sure I’ll document the entire trip too!!
Back to Suanne’s recipes for the next two weeks while I take a break from blogging!
One of the must-visit places that I had on my list was Paseo. I did some brief research before the vacation and found that everyone is raving about this place. I could hardly find anyone that had anything negative at all despite the various shortcomings like parking, tables, etc. As a matter of fact, everything is bad except for the food. The food is so good that everyone overlook these shortcomings.
Locating the place was difficult. We have an address but Paseo did not have a sign in the store front at all. There is not even a number posted on it. We took a couple of drive up and down the road and each time the GPS announced “you have arrived”, we looked around and did not see any restaurant at all.
Paseo, after all, is just a shack. We had not expected that.
Paseo is sometimes described as a Cuban and at times a Caribbean restaurant.
We only found this place after the third day. When we first came by at night, we could not locate the place and left. On the next night when we finally figured out the location (by counting address numbers!), we found out to our chagrin that it was closed. Paseo closes on Sundays and Mondays.
The place is a shack alright, not quite what we expected. He he he … it is certainly not what one would call a family restaurant. We felt kind of out of place here.
The place is so small that they had only six very tiny tables in the entire place. Also, if there is a queue, the queue will snake out of the outlet even if there are 6 people in line.
They accept cash only, so be forewarned. After all, this place is a no frills place. All they care about is good food.
The first order was their Cuban Roll Sandwich. Although it was snugly wrapped in paper, this had got to be the messiest sandwich we had ever had. It was awesome because it is also extremely juicy and moist and had oozings all over our hands and plates. The sandwich too was crusty.
Oh, you know how cheap Paseo is when you see that they serve their stuff on plastic Chinese plates!
We also ordered the West Caribbean Bowl. It is like some chilli rice. I am sure it is great for some but we found this like some weird combination. We did finish this but I won’t say that we love this.
The 1/2 Chicken Dinner Platter was much better. It was no big deal really … just chicken and rice with some of the most colorful vegetable combinations we ever had.
The total bill came up to $30. For a shack like this, it seems expensive but we’re not complaining.
When we were done, we were expected to clear our own table. We just need to chuck everything through the hole on the counter. If you want a drink of water, you could help yourself with the cups and tap just next to it.
We could come back for their sandwiches again but not the other stuff.
The last place we went to this trip was the Pacific Science Center. Entrance to the Science Center is covered by the CityPass we had. We almost had difficulty getting in because the guy who manned the entrance were quite insistent that we produce our media credentials. This is because the CityPasses that we had been issued were “media passes”. It took him a few phone calls to get clearance for us to get through.
The Pacific Science Center is located in the area of Seattle called the Seattle Center. The Seattle Center is a park, fairground, arts and entertainment center all rolled into one. This is actually the site of the 1962 World’s Fair and when they constructed the Space Needle as the centerpiece structure of the fair.
We had been up the Space Needle before and did not go up again this time.
The entire Pacific Science Center is located in several buildings, each focusing on a particular areas in science. It is designed more for young children.
There are actually TWO IMAX theatres here. Our CityPass admission includes an IMAX movie. Because of time constraint, we opted for the one which is the most convenient timing-wise. We caught a show called “Mummies, Secrets of the Pharoahs”. I enjoyed the IMAX a lot … the chairs were so comfortable and the air conditioning so cooling. Good thing Suanne nudged me everytime I started to snore. No, the show was not boring … it’s just that I was tired.
I don’t know the story behind the structures in the center of the Pacific Science Center. I am sure that there’s a name. It’s like an open air cathedral of sorts.
The boys enjoyed the outdoor fountain the most.
The exhibits were quite extensive. Arkensen took pride in being able to explain to mum some of the exhibits. As much as we wanted to spend more time there, it was closing time (they close at 5PM).
After the Science Center, we took a short walk around the Seattle Center. It’s still spring and cold. The International Fountain is closed apparently. During summer, they turn on the fountain and water spouts from all over the globe. It’s a great place to bring the kids on a hot day.
The other main attraction in the Seattle Center is the Experience Music Project. We had been in there before and decided to give this place a miss.
If there is one restaurant chain that is described as an institution of Seattle, it has to be Dick’s Drive In, or at least that was what I was told.
We took a short detour after the zoo trip to find a Dick’s as I wanted to see what it is all about. We were not really hungry at all, after all the food in Shari’s.
Dick’s is exactly what I had imagined it to be. It is old-fashioned, no-frills kind of place reminiscent of 1950s, the date that Dick’s first opened in Seattle. All these years, Dick had resisted changes and seems like doing a good job at it too. The owners had made a conscious decision to not open outlets outside of the Seattle area.
Almost all the Dicks are simple outlets. They do not have seatings; they are what it is described to be … a drive-in.
They have a very simple menu. I thought In-N-Out had simple menus, Dick’s menu is even simpler. They only have burgers, shakes and fries. Even that, they have have no variation … i.e. for burgers, it’s just Deluxe and Special. If you crave for stuff like chicken, tacos, curly fries, forget it.
Dick’s philosophy is simple … the food must be affordable and quickly prepared. We only got ourselves a shake which costs $2. We’ll be back someday for their burgers but that day, we were simply too full to eat.
BTW, they only accept cash.
After breakfast, we headed off to the Seattle Zoo. It is better known as the Woodland Park Zoo and located just north of the city.
I had no idea exactly how big The Woodland Zoo is but it sure felt like it’s a medium sized zoo. We got in using the CityPasses which included entrances to the zoo. Without the CityPasses, it would have costs $11 each.
We did not spend a lot of time in the zoo. I think it was 2 hours or maybe 3 hours max. We like this zoo because it is so compact and well planned. Most important of all, it is very walkable. I remembered how tired we were when we visited the San Diego Zoo which located in a hilly area — lots of steep slope and all.
If you ask me, I would feel that the Woodland Zoo is designed with the young ones in mind. There are a lot of really kid friendly exhibits. Our boys were quite bored because they wanted more exciting stuff.
The last time we were there, there was a flight demonstration at the Raptor Center. Our timing were off. Instead of waiting for the next flight demonstration, we decided to move on.
The African Savanna was a well planned exhibit. It is a large area where the animals are allowed to roam. It’s kind of hard to get a clear view especially when the animals are far away from the viewing points.
It was a hot day when we went. Many animals were sleeping.
Patience is what I did not have that day. It was obvious they boys wanted to move on. So, I managed to take a lot of butt shots. Here is one of the tapir …
… another of the elephant in the midst of dropping it …
… and of the hippos.
Day Four. Today is the last full day we have in Seattle. Sightseeing wise, we only have a couple more places to cover but as far as food is concerned, we still have a long list we wanted to check out.
We started the day with breakfast in Shari’s. For some reason, we had always enjoyed Shari’s when we are in the Washington State. Given a choice of Shari’s, IHOP and Denny’s, we prefer Shari’s. We like the way the restaurant is laid out — it is always housed in a hexagonal building which maximizes use of windows. Breakfasts are to be eaten in bright places — that’s the only way to start the day … bright, sunny and cheery.
We like their menu too. Lots of tantalizingly delicious pictures. We always had a hard time deciding what to order. We wanted everything!
We like their coffee too. I am not sure the background of the Arosta coffee but they are pretty good. I like the consistency of the quality … i.e. they always taste great, always. Some places, we find that the coffee is iffy, sometimes they are great, sometimes not.
Normally, we would order three items to share between the four of us. The first item we had was the Flat Iron Steak and Stuffed Hashbrown Platter. It has a tender 6oz flat iron steak cooked medium rare, and THREE eggs and Sharis’s exclusive stuffed hashbrown. $10.
The steak was great. I wished it’s a bit more juicier but it was alright. Steak for breakfast, I like that.
Suanne’s choice was the Cinnama-sation Platter. This plate is even larger. It has two slices of Cinnama-sation which is basically their ultimate version of French Toast. You should try this Cinnama-sation, they are devilishly good, especially when you drown it in more syrup. Other items here are THREE eggs, homestyle potatoes, two strips of bacon, two sausage links and ham. Just $9. Pretty good looking, huh?
I love eggs. And practically no one else really care for eggs in the family. Suanne shuns eggs, especially if it’s not scrambled. Arkensen and Nanzaro too does not care for eggs. So, it is down to me to finish the eggs most of the time. I did 4-5 eggs that morning. I need to check my blood pressure the next week or two!
Nanzaro insisted that he has his own order that day. Strangely, after the episode of the coke in the kiddie cup in Famous Dave the day before, he ordered his from the kiddie section of the menu. He has the “Eggs”ceptional Cheese Omelette. It’s a steal at just $3.70.
So, the total bill came up to $31. Not bad, huh? It sure was much, much better than the $55 bucks tab we got for the breakfast from Portage Bay Cafe (yeah, we could not get over how expensive it was).
We heart Shari’s.
We had a dinch at Famous Dave’s. Dinch is the meal in between Dinner and Lunch. Sometime, one can refer to this meal as Dunch or even Lunchner.
Lee Ping of Hip Food recommended Famous Dave’s to us. At that point of our trip, we were craving for meat, real meat. We had planned to go to one BBQ place. It was either going to be Famous Dave’s or Dixie’s BBQ. Since we were south of Seattle and Dixie’s is in Bellevue, we opted to go to the nearer place. It was a great choice.
Famous Dave’s is a chain restaurant specializing in Southern Style BBQ. The exterior and interior is all western with stone and pine wood panelings. It has a very bright and upbeat atmosphere. Since it was Dinch time, there were no one there but us. The restaurant we were in were quite big with, oh, something like 30-40 tables or so.
On every table is Famous Dave’s very own sauces. We tried everyone of them. The hottest of them all is the Devil’s Spit … which they warned are for adults only. It’s funny the way they describe this … “A generous slathering will make girls prettier and boys stronger, taller and more handsome-or vice versa.”
I like it too the fact they have a roll of paper towels on the table. Real BBQ is meant to be eaten by hands and is supposed to be messy.
We love the atmosphere and the service was great. We ordered some drinks. It happened many time before … Nanzaro ordered a glass of coke and they gave it to him in a kiddie cup. Nanzaro was quite offended and asked that he be served in a real glass!
We did not order much. We had their Half Slab Platter 6-Bones Platter. The ribs were large but wished it could be a bit more meatier. The ribs that Suanne makes have more meat in it and so I always compare ribs with hers. This one costs $17. It was quite alright.
We also ordered the BBQ Shrimp Platter. It was alright. The shrimps are not terribly big, wished they were a tad bigger. Also, they were a bit too salty for our liking. Otherwise it was alright. $15.45 … price-wise seems OK.
The best of the Dinch is really their ultra-rich Famous Dave Bread Pudding. Not only does it look good, it tastes great. It has a melt-in-your-mouth bread pudding, smothered in praline sauce and served with vanilla ice-cream. I had placed a special request to Suanne to search out the recipe and try make this at home. She gave me a dirty look. After two months, there is still no sign of bread pudding at home. I guess I got to be patient … a lot more patient.
The highlight of the day is the Museum of Flight. This is the third time we’re here but we’re never bored of this place. For one, I love museums and can spend an entire day checking the exhibits.
The Museum of Flight is located just south of Seattle. I think this museum will interest just about everyone, whether you have any liking for planes or not. It is just so fascinating and they have a very wide range of exhibits. It is not just technical stuff and so it will definitely appeal to just about anyone.
The entrance is $14 for an adult. We used the Seattle CityPass for the entrance. The Seattle CityPass costs about $44 that includes entrances to four other popular tourist attractions.
We got ourselves each an audio guide. It’s just a few bucks each but is an additional cost. Using this is easy … just punch in the number shown next to the exhibit.
The Museum of Flight is divided into several galleries and exhibits. Some indoors and some outdoors — mostly indoors. The grandest gallery is aptly called The Great Gallery. This is a really spectacular sight — a six story high all glass and steel exhibition area with almost 40 full sized planes from all eras.
One could spend two to three hours just going through all the exhibits here alone.
Right in the centerpiece is the Lockheed M21 Blackbird — the fastest jet ever built. This all black, sleek jet can hit 3 Mach easily.
The Kitty Hawk is the first contraption that flew. In many ways, this is what gave birth to aviation. This replica of the Kitty Hawk is one of only two in the world. It was over a period of a week that the Wright Brothers flew the Kitty Hawk several times. The first flight took to the air for 12 seconds only. The longest flight that was achieved was 59 seconds before a hard landing broke the plane.
The Museum of Flight recently opened a new space exhibit: “Space: Exploring the New Frontier”, which traces the evolution of space flight.
The picture above is the Sputnik which is a robotic space craft. As puny as it seems (just a mere 2 feet in diameter), this is the first object ever launched to space. With the launch of Sputnik into space by the Soviets, they shocked the mighty US space agency in the space race. It was immediately after the launch of Sputnik that the entire US space program was revamped which led to the creation of NASA.
Now, if I am not mistaken, the Soviets is still using the object above for returning astronauts from space. I thought I saw a news footage of this a few weeks ago when the last cosmonauts came back from the Space Station on one of these things. Seems very primitive to me.
Space food … vacuum packed and dehydrated. The above is from the Apollo missions. The museum also showed the food from the Soviet program … they are mostly canned food. I’ll opt for canned food over these above.
Sleeping quarters … because of weightlessness, the astronauts are basically strapped down here for their forty winks. I notice they did not have pillows … I can’t sleep without my own pillow.
I was looking out for their toilet but can’t see any. I was wondering how they did their business.
The Personal Courage Wing was another exhibit which I enjoyed a lot — not so for the boys. It is an exhibit of WWI and WWII stories. I grew up reading a lot of British World War One comics, particularly Warlord. I would buy every issue each week with my pocket money when I was young.
So, I am pretty conversant with World War II planes. The above is the German Luftwaffe’s Messerschimdt (he he he … I still know how to spell that name) which was the backbone fighter of the Germans. They lost to the British Spitfires during the Battle of Britain.
Just next to the Museum is the “Red Barn”. This is the original manufacturing plant of Boeing when it was just starting up. This is actually an historic site today.
It was quite interesting going over how commercial planes were made in the early days.
There are a few planes located across the street from the Museum of Flight. Two of the most popular is the Concorde and Air Force One.
The Concorde is built by the British and French governments. It was never a successful commercial jet and had not made money at all. It was fraught with problems from day one, the most problematic of which is the noise generated by the sonic boom.
This plane could cruise at 2 Mach (over 2,000 km per hour) and could zip one from Paris to New York in just 3.5 hrs. It was so fast that you could take off from Paris at 9AM and land at 7:30AM on the same day (if my math is correct!).
The Concorde is now retired from service but it had a good 30 years run until a crash several years ago. The avionics on the plane had never been upgraded. So, you will see lots of old fashioned dials in the cockpit. Only about 20 of this plane was ever built.
The Air Force One above is the first presidential aircraft built just for the President of the United States. I bet many of you know that the term “Air Force One” is just a call sign for ANY aircraft carrying the President of the United States. So, the plane above is not Air Force One if the President is not on board. Why … even a small Cessna is called the Air Force One if the president is on board.
OK, here’s some trivia … do you know that the limousine that the President travels in is call Cadillac One? and that the helicopter (operated by the Marines) that the President travels in is called Marine One?
The area above is the conference room. The President gets to sit on the high chair while the entire cabinet sits around the sofa.
The above is specially built for one of the most famous user of the Air Force One … Jackie Kennedy. The First Lady need a proper place to spruce up.
The above is the private work area of the President which also doubles as his bedroom.
It was a good trip. I thoroughly enjoyed this visit … the boys enjoyed about 66% of it and Suanne about 33% of this.