Tako Truk returns for the summer

This post originally appeared on Seattlest

Tako Truk has led many lives. And Seattle eaters have benefited from all of them. The first came during the summer of 2009. This maiden voyage was a pop-up restaurant (before pop-ups were over-exposed) and was situated within Eastlake’s 14 Carrot Cafe. It was a summer party framed with delicious and fun food. Alas, Tako Truk only ran through the summer. The second life of Tako Truk was last spring when they partnered with SoDo’s Two Beers Brewing for a benefit collabo towards ShelterBox‘s relief efforts in Haiti. Just like the first life, it was tasty, yet even more fleeting with its one-time-only showing. Now we’re onto the third life of Tako Truk; it is kicking off its Sunday Social at the fresh digs of its big sister, Madison Park Conservatory. And just like the other two lives, we benefit from this one.

When Tako Truk’s facebook page let out a teaser last week, Seattlest’s ears were perked. Bryan Jarr and Cormac Mahoney’s summer experiment of 2009 was one of my favorite food memories that year. (Full disclosure; I went to high school with Bryan.) So when the facebook page was updated with more info, I had to know more.

Here are the broad details; this Sunday 6/26, from 4pm – 8pm-ish, the smoldering hot Madison Park Conservatory will host its first Tako Truk night. How on fire are they? If you haven’t heard, The New York Times‘ Frank Bruni was quite taken with his visit. Aside from the great plates the Conservatory team is doing most nights, we have another way to connect with them. And this Sunday we have the first opportunity with Tako Truk. The folks at the Conservatory will be creating a party on Sunday nights; a ‘Sunday Social’ different from their regular dinner service. For this first Social, they’re reviving the beloved Tako Truk and the good times that came of it before. They’ll also have a few more Sunday Socials throughout the summer with tentative plans for July 10th, 17th, and 24th for starters.

On the Conservatory events page, the menu mentions their tacos, guisos, fried things, raw things, and booze. But what I gleaned from my talk with Bryan, the menu will take inspiration cues from the original Tako Truk menu. Imagine variations on their chorizo tako, coco piggy (pork belly braised in coconut water), and chicken adobo tacos. Guiso is a type of stew and the fried things will be their bitty fries, their twist on shoestring fries. Prepare to eat these by the fistful.

The big difference from the original Tako Truk is that it will be framed by the devilish allure of booze. There will be Modelo drink specials and shots of tequila to go with your order. As an added bonus for old school Trukkers, Cormac will bring back his famed Green Drink, a variation on limeade with hits of lemongrass. And there will be a spiked version.

As for the flow of the evening, it won’t take on the traditional setting of Madison Park Conservatory – it’s a Sunday Social after all. They’ll use the open window to the kitchen at the entrance to take orders. And cash is encouraged. So bring a $20 and you should be rolling. Place your order and move your way into the dining room where there will be communal tables to grub. But don’t limit yourself to the dining room as you could also sit outdoors, or head across the street to the park and beach along Lake Washington.

Stay tuned to Tako Truk’s Twitter; they’ll provide updates leading up to the night and (if form holds) will call out when dishes are 86’d, so pay attention. Start planning out your summer because the good folks at Madison Park Conservatory have some fun Sunday Socials up their sleeve. Tako Truk starts it off this Sunday.

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Oysters as far as the eye can see

Over the course of the next two weekends, folks in Seattle will have at their disposal two events catering to oyster addicts. If you love the briny bite of the bi-valve, these two events will be up your alley. This Saturday will be South Lake Union’s Oyster Frenzy, while next weekend’s will be Elliott’s Oyster House’s Oyster New Year Bash.

I’m an unabashed oyster fiend. Love them. On the half-shell, in a stew, barbecued, roasted, whatever, I’m in for them. So events like these are totally up my alley. In fact, I went to Flying Fish’s Oyster Frenzy many years ago and was able to be a part of the gleeful carnage of shell and slurp. And it was awesome.

But truth be told, this oyster appreciation has only kicked in during the latter third of my life. Growing up, my parents would eat oysters (roasted, never raw), but they never held an appeal for me. Clams and mussels I was fine with, but oysters, no way. As one does when they get older, I experimented. I’m glad I finally did and now I’m making up for lost time. Which is why events like Oyster Frenzy or Ocean New Year are up my alley. I get to binge.

On deck is this Saturday’s Oyster Frenzy at Flying Fish. The one I went to was a blast. It was in Flying Fish’s Belltown location, and if anyone has been there, you know that the space can feel tight in a hurry. The newer Flying Fish in South Lake Union feels larger and will probably have a nice feel and flow. For $35 you get all you can eat oysters; raw, fried or in a stew. Along with tastes of beer and wine that aim to pair nicely. The event runs from 1-4pm, and it’s a crazy popular event, so call Flying Fish stat for last minute availability. Flying Fish 300 Westlake Ave N, Seattle 206.728.8595

I’m really looking forward to next week’s Ocean New Year at Elliott’s Oyster House. I was invited to a ‘slurp-up’ a few weeks ago as a teaser to the event. Local oyster growers told us of the history of the bi-valve in our area. We tried out some of the wines that Jon Rowley noted as being ideal oyster wines. And we were able to indulge in fresh oysters and other seafood bites.

All of this made me anticipate Elliott’s Oyster New Year bash (as part of their Ocean Harvest Festival) even more. On Saturday night from 5-9pm, Elliott’s will host a big bash with live music, a 90-ft bar, seafood buffet, wines from dozens of producers and more. An added bonus to the festivities is that all proceeds will benefit the Puget Sound Restoration Fund; a group with a mission to protect our waterways and the species calling it home.

For more information on the event, visit the Oyster New Year site; where you can see what’s on tap for the seafood buffet, the roster of wineries, and how to buy tickets. For $95, you can be part of quite the ocean party. Added bonus; Elliott’s is aiming to make this event as sustainable as possible. From compostables to recyclables, most everything will be handled as green as possible. I’m sure my SO’s dad would want the empty shells; he’s had a grand goal of lining his driveway with oyster shells. I’m sure an event with several hundred people consuming thousands of oysters will help this endeavor. Because otherwise, I think the turn of the century is the feasible goal.  Elliott’s Oyster House 1201 Alaskan Way, Pier 56, Seattle 206.623.4340

Look forward to seeing you around town; knee deep in oyster shells with the look of delirium that all oyster lovers have. See you around the shucking table.

Photo courtesy of Serious Eats.

Queen Anne’s Icebox Grocery

For a funky little neighborhood gem, you can’t really get much better than Queen Anne’s Icebox Grocery. We mentioned the Icebox a long time ago as part of the 10th Ave microhood it shares with Muse Coffee Co, Red Square Yoga, and Le Visage. However, this Icebox Grocery is different and fresh; with new owners, a new layout, and new offerings, the neighborhood has a new option for good eats.

The Icebox has always been a great spot to grab some last minute essentials. I would often make a quick run to grab some flour, chicken stock, and most importantly when we were out of butter (the horror…). So when the new owners bought the space, it was exciting to see what they had in store and how they would place their own spin on it. On the subject of the new owners, they come to us as the original owners of Ballard’s beloved breakfast spot, The Dish, which means tasty food is definitely in play.

And their food is quite good. We’ve gone several times and have enjoyed ourselves each time. The last trip involved an excellent shrimp po’ boy sandwich. Perfectly fried shrimp in a rich, tangy tartar sauce, all housed in a roll from Macrina Bakery. On another trip, it was a bold Reuben sandwich with their house salad. Other menu items of note; waffles, their hot salami sandwich, and they serve beer. Keep an eye on their daily specials, we’ve had their breakfast burrito and that aforementioned po’ boy was one.

So when the mood strikes for a good neighborhood sandwich spot, or when disaster strikes and you’re out of butter, head to the Icebox Grocery. Then lament the fact that your neighborhood doesn’t have something like it. Fortunately for those on the west slope of Queen Anne, we do.

Icebox Grocery on Urbanspoon

Decision ’10: Dick’s Drive-In and Marination

We’re in the midst of another election period. Votes will be cast and like any election, there will be a hard-luck loser and a winner. However, what makes this ballot stuffing experience different is that we are dealing in the world of local food, not local politics. Some big decisions are ahead for two local favorites and your voice needs to be heard. Because if the breaks go the right way, Dick’s Drive-In and Marination will have a decidedly different future.

Photo from Trip Advisor

First up, is the big decision ahead for Dick’s Drive-In. We’ve touched on the cultural impact that Dick’s has in Seattle, and the latest development for the local burger fave is their first new drive-in restaurant in over 30 years. Two nights ago, news releases announced the big decision for Dick’s to expand. It breaks down like this; Dick’s is putting it to a vote for where they should open up their sixth location. But that’s where it’s nebulous, they are regions:

  • North – Shoreline, Mountlake Terrace, Lynnwood, Edmonds, South Everett
  • South – West Seattle, South Seattle, Renton, Burien, SeaTac, Tukwila
  • Eastside – Bellevue, Redmond, Kirkland, Bothell, Mercer Island, Issaquah, Sammamish

Well, dear reader, I’m casting my vote to the North end and here is why; I’m an unabashed Northender. I grew up there and understand the draw that a place like Dick’s will have. A suburb like Lynnwood would actually appreciate having an institution like Dick’s. This is a biased opinion, but I would love to see a Dick’s north of 175th. I’ll draw a line in the sand and say that I don’t think a place like Dick’s would go over on the Eastside. I’m generalizing here, but the Eastside has a polish and air about it that doesn’t lend itself to greasy hamburgers. Besides, would Dick’s really want to be a part of the bridge and tunnel crowd? I’d hope not. So do the right thing and vote North, or South, but really I just don’t want to see Dick’s on the Eastside… makes me shiver just thinking about it.

Photo from Herbivoracious

Next up, is the vote to be cast Marination‘s way. This is for a contest that the Food Network is having for next season’s The Great Food Truck Race. For the contest, the Food Network is putting up to a vote which food truck should win. Fans can vote through the website or by texting. And the winning truck gets $10K and the chance to get featured in the next season. Democracy is great and may the best truck win. Which is where Marination comes in. You see, the truck in first place right now is from Oklahoma City. I’m sure they are a very nice food truck, but they are from OKC. Which means they have the stink on them, again this is a biased opinion.

As a jaded Sonics fan, I cannot stomach having something (anything) from OKC beat out something from Seattle. So that is one of the reasons why we must vote for Marination. Another is that they serve really great food and have already been anointed by Good Morning America as one of the country’s best food trucks. One more reason why you should vote for Marination is that they are the only Seattle truck within striking distance of the top (they’re currently in 5th place). Many of our other great local trucks are up for vote, but I’m backing the horse that has a shot of winning.

Here’s how to help: one way is to go to the Food Network’s site and vote for Marination. You can vote for them up to 10 times daily. The other way to vote is by texting FT44 to 66789. You can do this 10 times a day. Go vote now! What’s also very cool is that Marination will donate $5K to breast cancer research if they win. Keep up to date with Marination by following their twitter page. They also have a YouTube channel to document their daily goings on.

There you have it. Two monumental voting endeavors that directly affect the Seattle area. So do the right thing and make your voice heard. Particularly if it’s for the North end for Dick’s and Marination for the Food Network.

Jollibee and Chowking coming to Seattle!

If Filipinos are led by their stomachs, then my belly and the rest of me will be finding its way to Southcenter often. Why? Because Jollibee and Chowking are opening up at the new mega-grocery store/eatery, Seafood City Supermarket, coming to the Westfield Southcenter in Tukwila later this summer.

The murmur that Seafood City would be coming along with Jollibee and Chowking (their Manila website) started on their Facebook page this past winter. As soon as I learned that this new grocery destination would have two of my Filipino fast food faves, I was already anticipating going to Tukwila for some Chickenjoy from Jollibee and Halo Halo from Chowking.

I know what you’re thinking; fast food? Wha? Yeah, it’s a little different from my normal food leanings, but for Filipinos local and from afar, this news is exciting. The Filipino population in the Seattle metropolitan area is large and hungry! We love to eat and having the opportunity to have some food that reminds many of home is always welcome.

In the case of Jollibee they’ll have the standards that have made them in the Philippines a quick eatery. Chickenjoy (a plate of fried chicken), Yumburger (their hamburger), Palabok (a Filipino noodle dish that is an amalgamation of flavors and textures), and a bunch of breakfast options. Yup, I’m looking forward to going and dragging my friends along with for the eating. It may remind you of McDonald’s, but would you see Ronald do this?

As for Chowking (which is actually a subsidiary of Jollibee), I am absolutely excited to have their Halo Halo a short drive away. I’ve shared my love for Halo Halo before, and when I eat at Chowking in the Philippines, it’s one of my favorite things to do while I’m there. It is fast food, but something about their combination is divine. Word off the street is that they have a special formula for their ice. This is the key to good Halo Halo. (ed. note – apparently they’ve already opened!)

Seafood City is opening up next week on July 22. Their Facebook page has been dropping all sorts of information and my friend Nancy Leson is planning on visiting Seafood City soon. The market will have all sorts of different eateries and a grocery store that purports to serve unique food, but I’ll most look forward to going to a couple of places that remind me of eating in Manila. (I’m crossing my fingers that their transition to Seattle is as good as what I have had in the islands.) And for this food loving Filipino, that’s a good thing. I think the thousands of other Filipino and Filipinas in the area would agree. See you in Seafood City in the near future.

UPDATE – Jollibee is opening Thursday September 16!

Seafood City Seattle
1368 Southcenter Mall, #100
Tukwila, WA 98188

Joule’s 3rd Annual Urban BBQ

Joule is at it again. Seif Chirchi and Rachel Yang have kicked off the 3rd edition of their Urban BBQ at their Wallingford restaurant. And eaters of Seattle can now rejoice because on every Sunday from 3-9pm, Joule will be opening their doors for some enticing dinners.

For the past few summers Joule has treated us to their Urban BBQ; a special Sunday dinner series with themed menus different from their usual fare. Last summer, Korean streetfood, JFC (Joule Fried Chicken), and Food on a Stick were a few of the dinners. We went to a bunch and are already looking forward to attending a more this summer.

After this past Sunday they’ve gotten rolling on the 2010 iteration of their Urban BBQ. This year, they are bouncing around across the globe for inspiration. Yesterday’s interpretation was of Seattle and from the looks of their Facebook page, the dishes sounded excellent. Take a look at the list below to see where they’ll be hitting the world next. I’m keen on the Rio de Janeiro, Havana, and Halong Bay days.

What I really like about Joule is that they continue to create new and unique dining experiences at their restaurant, which all showcase Rachel and Seif’s depth of talent in the kitchen. Joule is one of our favorite places to eat in Seattle and with fun and creative events like their Winter Supper series and this summer’s Urban BBQ we’ll continue to go back again and again for a uniquely delectable experience. See you around the table at Joule sometime this summer.

  • June 6 – Seattle, WA
  • June 13 – Austin, TX
  • June 20 – Oaxaca, Mexico
  • June 27 – Havana, Cuba
  • July 11 – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • July 18 – Marrakech, Morocco
  • July 25 – Marseille, France
  • August 1 – Sicily, Italy
  • August 8 – Phuket, Thailand
  • August 15 – Halong Bay, Vietnam
  • August 22 – Busan, Korea

Frost Doughnuts in Mill Creek

Donuts are one of the foods that reach down to the very core of my food-loving self. If I were to classify the foods that got me to this level of food geekdom it would be fried chicken, dim sum, ice cream, chicken adobo, and donuts. Perfectly healthy. Perfectly awesome. Growing up, all of these framed my love of food.

In the case of donuts, the local grocery store did the trick; grab a couple of maple bars, maybe a bismark and I’d be rolling. And if I could hit that maple bar in the microwave? Hell yes. But as I’ve developed my palate and started thinking about what I eat, the grocery store donuts don’t really cut it anymore. Odd, off flavors, inconsistent, super sweet. Locally there were some OK donuts; Top Pot is pretty good – but the Surly Gourmand isn’t a fan. He did turn me on to a place in New York called the Doughnut Plant. Which has some of the best donuts (heck, best eats) I’ve ever had. But since I don’t live on NY’s Lower East Side, I needed to shift my attention and cravings to local offerings. And I’m happy to say that I think I’ve found a donut place that I’m happy to indulge in on a regular basis. Frost Doughnuts, welcome to my food decision-making process.

I heard a fair bit about Frost before visiting. They were talked about on Twitter often and were recently a hit at the Seattle Food & Wine Experience. What I like about them is that they opened up in the North End, particularly Mill Creek. I have a soft spot for places that open up in Snohomish County; good for the area and good for me when I go back home. But I reserved my excitement for Frost. I knew that donuts could be great, most are good, many are awful. Where would Frost fit?

Well, when I finally visited, I really enjoyed their donuts. Jonathan Kauffman (formerly of the Seattle Weekly) wrote a great post about the Frost experience and what he had. I did love their cruller; that thing is like a delicate drop of fried heaven. And they have a lot of clever and creative flavors. For bacon lovers, they have a bacon maple bar. Sweet, savory, bacon-y, what you’d expect with a bacon donut. On their menu, they mention a bunch of their flavors that are unique. When I visited in March, they had a few flavors that were St. Patrick’s Day inspired. One thing to consider, these donuts aren’t cheap. It’s a premium product, so be prepared to shell out a couple of bucks for some of these donuts.

A few other things to know about Frost; they donate their end of night donuts to a local food bank. Very noble and I would like to see more restaurants/eateries do this. The place has a lot of polish to it, so you can see that they have grand goals with branding and merchandise. And be prepared for a lot of brown & pink when you step inside. And if you do make the trek to Mill Creek for Frost’s donuts, be sure to check out their Twitter for the latest.

Another thing for donut lovers to keep an eye on; the unbelievably talented Lara Ferroni is working on a donut book. And yes, it’s just as awesome as you’d think it’d be. And lastly, another link for people to go nuts over donuts. My friend Tracy Schneider went crazy with donut posts lately. If you want to learn about the fried deliciousness of donuts, check out her Choice Morsel blog.

Frost Doughnuts on Urbanspoon