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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Teriaki Express

This Restaurant is great.  It used to be a Zips, then it was Tae's, Now it is Teriyaki Express.  Today we tried the new version of the restaurant, which now has an emphasis on teriyaki and more recently a sushi bar. The new owners are Chung Kim and Hiyang.  It is very good oriental food!

Since Teriyaki is traditionally more of a Japanese dish, we thought maybe the new owners were Japanese, but they are not; they are Korean.  This perhaps explains why the Kim Chee we had was very good!  It was so good that we bought more to take home. Hiyang made it herself.  She told us that KimChee (or Kim Chi) i is one thing that is hard to make. She makes it about every ten days or so. Her sister is the owner of the Korean store next to our most favorite Korean place... Kim's, where we used to buy Kim chi all the time. Anyhow, the teriaki was tasty and the Kim Chee was superb.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Ming Wah

Eating at Ming Wah is fun. The little restaurant sits at the outskirts of the inner city near the freeway entrance by Sunset Blvd. It is near the railroad track too. You actually almost feel like you are in an American truck stop, especially as the tables rattle when the train passes by, but your not; it's a Chinese restaurant, and as one of my readers mentioned, it is a one of a kind place.

We had visited Ming Wah before and we liked it then, but after having it recommended recently by a friend, (and this when we thought no one else would enjoy a restaurant like this but us!) we revisited it and found it just as delightful the second time! This is one busy little place!

Tonight I discovered that I have a new favorite Chinese food... Chow Mein. I think it is because I like celery and onions and cabbage. However I had not ordered Chow Mein before at any Chinese restaurant because there are so many different kinds that it is downright confusing. I mean, these is Chow Mein... Special Chow Mein... Lo Mein, Subgum Chow Mein... not to mention Chow Fun and Chop Seuy... with so many different kinds of chow, it's hard to know what to order, especially if you already know certain things you know that you like. But tonight I ordered Chow Mein... and I really liked it. I also took the time to inquire about some of the differences in the various dishes.

The server, a very friendly Chinese man, (probably the owner of the restaurant,) said he liked Chow Mein Cantonese style, which he said was also "the real Chinese" (aka authentic) kind as it is made with soft noodles. The kind I ordered, (Chow Mein) has the hard noodles, which he said is more the American version.

If I listened correctly, all these dishes have the bean sprouts, cabbage and celery and onion, but chop suey is served on top of rice, chow mein is served on crispy noodles and special chow mein has soft noodles. Additionally subgum chow mein has bamboo shoots, and water chestnuts. I still have much to understand, but that is okay. All I know is that what we ended up ordering was very good.

In addition to the Chow Mein, we had an appetizer, Crab Rangoon, which was tasty. We then ordered some hot and spicy dishes, Hunan Chicken and Mar Po which came to us with soup and rice. I liked the chicken and Geo liked the Tofu. We really didn't like things the other way around. We also have leftovers for another time, so that is great.

Sometimes eating here is a unique experience, and we have been here several times....

One time, there we were, sitting in this little restaurant on the outskirts of town eating Chinese food next to some pacific northwest cowboys whom we heard talking the whole time about heifers and bulls and pastures. Yes sir.  There we were, in a little Chinese food place with the table beneath us rattling as the train passed on the tracks just outside... the whole place filled with people taling and eating, and these two cowpokes could be heard doing what i call, "cowboy math" as we looked out the window at a downtown skyscraper and saw the mirrored reflection of the setting pacific sun.  We looked at each other, both of us thinking, such was an experience one could have "only in Spokane."

It was great!

The conversation went something like this:

"Well, I got 28 cows. Lets see, 28 cows, minus one... cause one died... that makes 27."

"Ya know, that pasture will hold more cows than you think."

"Well, if I got 27 cows and you have 35, that'll be... "(no answer for a moment.. just thinking going on in the silence....) " but then there's that other five... (little pause) "but they don't count... so..."

"Well. we just need to sit down and figure this all out."

Ming Wah Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Charley's Grill and Spirits

"I am free of all prejudice. I hate everyone equally"
W.C. Fields

"If at first you don't succeed, try, try, again. Then quit. No use being a ___ fool about it."
W.C. Fields

WC Fields, (William Claude Dukenfield) who died at the age of 66 in 1946, was a notable American comedian and well known vaudeville comedian and juggler and he is the celebrity immortalized at Charley's Grill and Spirits. Pictures of W.C. ( and other celebrities) grace the walls, and his "humorous," although often misanthropic, quotes are displayed at every table throughout the dining area.

I am not sure why WC Fields is honorated here, but it's fun to see all the old photos on the wall. WC was a bit of a drinker in his later life and his quotes reflect that, as also his attitude about life.

At the recommendation of a friend, who told us that this place had an incredible Caesar Salad, Geo and I set out for Charley's which is located near the courthouse on Monroe and Broadway. We figured they were probably closed, being more of a lunch spot for jurors, lawyers and other busy business people in the downtown area, moreso than an an evening restaurant; but we were wrong. They were open. Besides being a lunch hut for professionals and hungry jurors, Charley's is a steak house and a catering company.

The food selection was great, especially if you like steaks, sandwiches and salads. The waitress was welcoming and very friendly, as were the people in the booth next to us. They were locals who visited Charley's from time to time and told us the steaks were really good. We didn't opt for the steaks ourselves, but the food was great.

We orders hot wing appetizers, which were nice. Geo had the chef salad & clam chowder and I had a salmon fillet on a ciabatta bread, which is a sort of soft Italian flatbread, and clam chowder too. I think the people of Spokane must really like clam chowder, either that or is is a soup many chefs like to make, especially on Fridays.

The food was not only great, but it was served looking very pretty and appetizing. The salad even came with a lovely garnish of fresh grapes.

"I love to cook with wine, sometimes I even add food."
W.C. Fields

""The world is getting to be such a dangerous place, a man is lucky to get out of it alive."
W.C. Fields

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Gordy's Sichuan Cafe

On our latest dining excursion in Spokane, Geo and I went wondering the South Hill area. We drove around some of the familiar streets looking around to see what might catch our eye as a place to dine, not knowing exactly what we were looking for. After driving around for a while and considering a few possibilities, we thought about revisiting and old favorite, (Kim's Korean Restaurant) but instead we ultimately decided to venture into completely new and unchartered territory and kept looking around. The whole South Hill Experience is a little foriegn to us and there was a lot to see and explore..

IT wasn't long until our attention was on a little restaurant we saw on the side of the main road, however, as we were looking for parking, another little restaurant caught our eye. I think it must have actually caught our nose, for the smell in the air was what really got out attention as did the name of the type of food, Sichuan. It was a new word to us, but it seemed oriental and since oriental food is something we enjoy, we decided to investigate the dining experience by inquiring of some passerbys who were just coming out from the restaurant.

They were smiling and happy and delighted in the food experience, at least those who were the guests of the one man who happened to be one of the cooks. With their hearty recommendation and their explanation that Sichuan is a type of Chinese food, we parked the car and entered the door of Gordy's Sichuan Cafe.

Gordy's is a small and very busy dining establishment. We did not have to wait very long and we looked at the menu while we waited. One group was waiting for seating and one person was waiting for take out when we arrived. People were definitely enjoying their food and when we took out seats, so did we. Mapo Tofu, Hot and Sour Soup and a Spicy Tangy Chicken was on our table in no time, as well as rice, lemon flavored water and hot tea.

The food and service was speedy and friendly and tasted delicious, though there were some unique flavors, even in some of our more familiar oriental dishes like Hot and Sour Soup.
I inquired about the special ingredient and the waitress told me that these were "wood ears" in my hot and sour soup. Wood ears, I thought, were a mushroom, but the item did not taste like a mushroom, nor was it shaped like one. More research makes me think that the item in my soup was a tiger lily bud, which I understand is one of the more traditional ingredients used in making this particular soup. Gordy's. though not run by Chinese people, is both delicious and authentic.

Gordy's is located at 501 E 30th Ave, in what seems to be an old shopping center, but it has the feel of a neighborhood restaurant, or cafe. I thought that part was great.
There is something special about small business owners serving others in the community and making a living that is just cool, and while people make a living in large restaurant chains, often these chains are not so much to serve the community as they are to make a profit. The waitress informed us that this restaurant had been there 12 years and they did no advertising. She said that most people hear about the place via word of mouth. Of course, maybe she didn;t know that some people, like us, simply just follow their nose.