Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs

Posts Tagged ‘coconut milk

Seattle has a reputation for authentic Japanese and Vietnamese cuisines. I’ve had Tamarind Tree on my list and I finally dined there last month. In Asian Plaza on the corner of Jackson and Twelve, I had to circle the mall a couple of times to find the restaurant at the back.

Our group of five gathered for a weekday lunch. The modern interior was decorated in warm tones. A majestic pot of fuchsia and white orchids was on the bar.

We were seated by a thoroughfare with a view of the kitchen.

Featuring a classic wise men motif, the ceramic teapot was handmade Bát Tràng porcelain, as were all the serving plates and bowls.

A caddy of fiery condiments was on each table.

Myra recommended sửa đá chanh, a blended beverage of fresh lime, condensed milk and crushed ice. It was a refreshing milky drink laced with citrus notes, tempering the bold flavours of the meal.

We ordered several dishes to share. Spring rolls (gỏi cuốn) and egg rolls (chả giò chay) were appetising. Vegetables, herbs and rice noodles were wrapped in rice paper parcels.

A salad (gỏi đu đủ) of shredded green papaya, steamed prawns, pickled jicama, julienne carrot, roasted peanuts and fresh herbs was a symphony of tastes and textures.

A golden cratered crescent was filled with prawns, sliced pork, slivers of shiitake mushroom and bean sprouts. The rice flour and coconut milk crêpe batter was crispy and stuffed with ingredients, a delectable version of bánh xèo.

A favourite homely rice pot (cơm gà tươi Hải Nam), the rice was cooked in chicken broth and topped with Hainanese steamed chicken. It was fragrant and rich, brightened by splashes of ginger fish sauce (nước mắm).

The final savoury dish was bún chả Hà Nội, Hanoi grilled pork noodles. I wrapped grilled pork portions, rice noodles and herbs in lettuce leaves and ate the rolls by hand.

The waitress suggested two desserts. First was flan, a dense silky custard in a pool of caramel sauce.

The second dessert was bánh chuối nướng Cognac, Cognac red banana cake. We tipped the glass of warm Cognac coconut milk over the spongy cake, a sticky sweet adult treat.

I understand why the dining room was full for the two hours we were there!

This is our first full winter in Seattle and I’m learning the art of layering, and loving the essential quartet of coat, scarf, gloves and boots. I’m searching for a hat and considering ear muffs! There is only one walking pace on a frigid day and that is brisk. My glasses fogged up when I entered King Noodle for lunch with Naomi.

A banner tacked to the window announced the opening of the restaurant. A small room with about half a dozen tables, the décor is simple and homely. A blue bird and cherry blossom decal is featured on a cream wall.

The compact menu is printed with checkboxes for self ordering. Customised noodle soup is the specialty and other dishes include congee and clay pots. There is a selection of soup bases, noodles, vegetables, proteins and other ingredients.

I ordered a red bean and sago coconut milk as it reminded me of my childhood. Served in a bubble tea cup, it’s always fun to pierce the sealed lid with the thick straw. The beverage was an icy blend of red bean paste, starchy sago pearls and sweetened coconut milk.

We pondered the noodle soup combinations and submitted our pieces of paper. We spotted a condiments bar which had a variety of chilli oils, soy sauces and fermented bean pastes.

An enormous steaming bowl of flat rice noodles, sliced mushrooms, chives (mistakenly listed as leeks on the menu), wontons and barbecued duck swirled in chicken broth. It was soothing to slurp the slippery noodles and the wontons were a flavour delight.

Naomi had a medley of QQ noodles (Taiwanese), tofu skins (bean curd sheets), sliced mushrooms and chives in spicy Szechuan soup.

I shall return for congee and clay pots!


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