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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Kay Lon Garden

After our last food adventure on Division street- visiting a Chinese food restaurant we had never been, how could we possibly resist another? This one was it! Kay Lon Garden is located at 2819 N. Division, here in Spokane.

I will tell you a secret... we had gone to this place before, but we had only gotten inside the door and decided to go elsewhere. In someways I am picky about restaurants... where exactly I go and do not go and somehow, for some reason I found this place unappealing the first time we went there. We never tried it though and since tonight we were limited on time and it was rather close and we have never been there to actually eat and because the last Chinese restaurant we went to that was one on  Division that we had tried for the first time was so delicious.... we felt adventurous. What more can I say, except we went inside and were greeted and seated.

This restaurant serves both Korean and Chinese food. (Two very agreeable things for us.) We ordered Kim Chi, Bol Go Ki and MApo Tofu. (We are having quite a MaPo tour in this town!)

Kim Chi Chee (or Kimchee or kim chee, I have seen it spelled all these ways) is a traditional Korean dish made from napa cabbage, radish, onions, garlic and peppers. It's a pickled cabbage dish and it's spicy. It's a bit fragrant (in a not so lovable way,) but liker Limburger cheese, people like it and eat it and find it to be a delicious and actually a quite nutritious food. It's a little like Korean "sauerkraut."

The photo to the left shows the kind of jars used in Korea for making this stuff. Interesting.

Geo started eating kim chi when we first moved to Spokane, and we actually went through a period of time where we would have kim chi parties with our friend Lorin. Lorin even began making his own. I didn;t eat it at first, but Geo and Lorin had so much fuin that I had to try it. I was hooked. One thing I really like to eat is cabbage. Once you get past the odor and if you like spice, it is fun to eat. You have to be cautious with kim chee because sometimes it is not so good...

So, because he wanted to order some, Geo asked the waitress about the kim chi, wanting to know if it was fresh. I thought that was kind of funny, since it is a fermented food... anyhow, in response, the waitress asked a man sitting across the restaurant with a few friends who was eating kim chi himself, how it was. He said, "Fantastic! Everything is." It was as good of an endorsement as one can get... so we ordered kim chi and it was very good.

Everything was delicious actually. It was maybe just a tad on the salty side, but delicious and definitely hot and fresh. The Bol go ki was served in such a way that it steamed up and sizzled at our table. (That was cool!) The Mapo tofu was very good too. And while you might think we ordered that because we usually do, I should tell you, the reason we ordered that one is because Geo also asked our waitress what she liked and she said she would probably order tofu.

That was enough for us.. and we went with tofu, Mapo style. Not only was the food delicious, there was a lot of it too, and I forgot to look at the prices. I let Geo pay tonight... and I just didn't worry about it at all.

I guess it goes to show that while first impressions are important, they are not everything. My first impression the time we did not stay was that this place was too busy, too peopled, (kinda like a Walmart or a Denny's "peopled.") This time, I actually too a look around.

There's a lounge and a buffet line (probably only open at lunch hour) and lots of tables. The booth was a little crowded, but comfy. There was no music that I can remember.

It was a little like a Denny's atmosphere, now that I think of it... you know efficient waitresses, clanking dishes from the kitchen area, a tri-fold menu; they even serve hamburgers and fries, like a Denny's... if you order them.

Do you suppose that such "American" things at Chinese restaurants are for those who eat Chinese a lot and want to have something a little different. once in a while? We enjoyed the food at Kay Lon, and so did the table across the room. We Americans skipped the burgers and got to eat the best of both the Chinese and the Korean worlds.

So much for first impressions. Sometimes you can't go by a first impression... something might just look good, but really not be good and all, something might not look great and be the best you wever had. Funny how that is. It just goes to show that more important than first impressions is lasting impressions.

This place made a lasting impression on us tonight. Friendly service, good food and even friendly customers made it a very pleasant experience and we both agreed, we are glad we gave this place another try.

Kay Lon Garden Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Peking North

Some people really just have to get out more... I mean, I have driven up and down Division Street for years, seen the place as long as i can remember, but I have never eaten at Peking North until tonight. I think this place is actually one of the prettiest Chinese restaurants I have ever been in! The food was good too.

Geo is feeling like we have tried every restaurant in Spokane by now, so I had to assure him that there are plenty to go. We gave serious consideration to going someplace we had been, mostly for a lack of the adventurous spirit one needs to go where one has not been before... and so as a compromise we decided to cruise Division... (do people even do THAT anymore?) and see what we could find. We headed North on Division and we saw this place Peking at us... beckoning us to one of our favorite things... Chinese food.

This restaurant/bar is located at 4120 N Division, and now that I think of it, I do recall driving past it for years. Lately I recall seeing the advertisements for karaoke, wondering if I would ever have the nerve for such a thing myself. I guess this explains why karaoke is done mostly in bars... and lounges.

I am not sure why we had never been here before in our travels. Maybe it's because it has always seemed like a bar or maybe I was just in a Chinese food know having my favorite places already scoped out.. reluctant to try something unknown for fear I would miss out on an already known and very good thing. I do not know why we have not come here before, but one thing for certain; this restaurant was worth the stop.

We were greeting right away and escorted to our seats, which were located in the third room back from the entrance. The restaruant was quite a place with little Buddha statures typical of this culture, fish tanks (with cool fish,) and very ornate, wood furnishings. Usually we are amazed at how hard it is to read menus, but the menu was easy to read and there was a nice bright light right over our table so we didn't have to use a flashlight to order and we could see our food, which was presented very nicely as well.

We may not be in a restaurant rut, but we are in food ruts. We have our favorite things to order, that's for sure. I need to learn to order "half orders" if we can, so we can try a variety of foods.

This is where one may guess what we ordered... and if you know our food adventures, ou might even get it right.

Well, I ordered Kung Pao Chicken, and Geo order Mapo Tofu. even with the rut, it's a good way to compare restaurants, I think. Dinner dishes averaged between $12.00- $14.00. We didn't order any appetizers or soup, but we were impressed that one could order just a cup of hot and sour soup. Usually one must order a large serving. We would have ordered cup to share, just to taste it, but we took so long deciding whether to try something new or order an old favorite that we forgot to.

Everything was flavorful. The Kung Pao was so pretty we actually took a picture of it. We ate it all too, which was funny, because when the food arrived, our thought was that we would definitely have leftovers, but we didn't. Also at first George liked the Tofu dish, but he said it was not as good as some others he had eaten before. However, the more he tasted it, the more he liked it. He even ended saying it was probably the best he had ever had! (He always has a tenancy to say that though.) Me? I liked my food, the server was efficient, the pretty decorations and the cool Chinese sounding music was nice too. Over all, it was a very pleasant dining experience.

The people who owned the restaurant were nice too. You can tell that like many family businesses, this is a home-away-from-home for the owners and there is something special about that too. They told us they have been there as a restaurant for 30 years!


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Opa Pizza

CLOSED 2012 

Last evening we had the chance to go out somewhere and after thinking of options, we decided it would be fun to try a place on the Northside. I have heard a lot about Opa Pizza, so after reading the online menu, which was interesting and calling to see if we needed reservations or not. The man who answered was really helpful and very welcoming over the phone, so we decided to try it. After browsing the online the Pizza of the Omega kind. (see menu) got our attention and we just had to try it. So off we went...

The restaurant was not quite like the photo on the internet... but it was a very cute little place and nicely decorated. We sat next to a fireplace, which was not a real fireplace, so, you might say it was a little tacky, but it did serve as a heat source and it lent itself to the romantic feel of this little adventure on a raining Saturday night.

I loved all the photos of the Mediterranean landscapes and buildings, the little touches here and there, especially the stone "columns" (which were "fake" also, but still, with a little imagination, you could have fun with it all, We enjoyed the music too, which was a mixture of Italians, Greek and to our surprise, Spanish sounds and lyrics.

It was interesting to hear that the owners of this restaurant that opened in December 2006, had sold it and it was under new management. It was a little surprising to hear that the new owners were from somewhere in South America, I think it was Peru. This explained the Spanish music for me, because I was kinda in disbelief that a Greek/Italian restaurant would play what sounded like mariachi music to me. This mystery was solved, but I have to say it suddenly became quite an international restaurant in my mind, not just Mediterranean. I imagined the new cook and the old recipe book together in my mind.

Our host for the evening he wasn't Greek either, nor Italian, and not even South American, he told us he was American, of Dutch ancestry. I think the word "eclectic" came up in our conversation. As eclectic s it was, it was fun and a most enjoyable evening. The pizza was yummy, definitely a change of pace from Pizza Hut and quite likable. We liked the bread-like texture of the crust. A little dipping oil and vinegar to go with it would have been perfect, but I decided not to ask and just enjoy.

For dessert, we shared a piece of Baklava. It was said to be homemade and we liked it, but then how could one not? It is Baklava! It was not as sweet as other Bakalava I have had, which I was happy about as usually it is so-o-o-o sweet. This was pretty good stuff.

Opa, in Greek, is an exclamation, It means something like, "Hooray!" or "You go!" I was thinking that it means grandpa, but the server told me, that, would be German. He said a lot of people do that besides me. (This restaurant was getting more international all the time, I tell ya.... but then this is more the way it is in America anyhow.) Even so, this was another place to enjoy foreign sounding words that described unusual foods, like "Baklava," and next time I may try something a little more exotic, "more Mediterranean" than pizza, but the pizza here definitely gets a hurray!

Actually... OPA!

Next time I might try something fun to say like, Tzatziki, or Saganaki, or Dolmades, or Tyropita, or Spanokopita or Gyro or Meze....

(Until then, it's all Greek to me!)

Friday, October 16, 2009

PHO 999

I never really know where it is I will end up on our restaurant adventures. Tonight it was PHO 999.

The name really cracks me up! It's fun to say, and though you might be a little wary when you pull up to this place, the food here was really really good.  In talking about Vietnamese food with a an Asian  friend named Gary, he told me this is his favorite place in all Spokane! He should know.

What is fun about Pho999 is that it makes a person who is familiar with the Bible think of the number 666, which, in scripture is the number of a man, and the number of a man who will be the epitome of evil. (Note, this number is not 666, it's 999.)  We asked the owner about the name and he told us that he thinks of as a lucky number.  Perhaps this is why????

I am not convinced of the luck, but if it is the exact upside down-ness (aka opposite,) then that would be good, (as opposed to evil)  so, God bless them for that one there!.

PHO, "999" is located in Spokane at 2904 E Sprague Ave.

So this is how we got there...

When I asked Geo about where we were going, he said, "How about Vietnamese food? I found a little place on Sprague."


I had to think about it. Quite frankly, I hesitated. (Geo would tell you a different story of my reaction.) This is because "s little place on Sprague" was, well, you would have to know Spokane. It sounded a little, " scary." Then he gave me more information to try to convince me. He told me that he called already and it sounded really good. He said that the man who answered the phone seemed to speak very little English.

Another hesitation.... (on my part.)

Then, with excitement and a little bit of pleading in his voice he added, "It's probably really authentic!"

I am still not convinced. Now, I like Vietnamese Phood (just thought of that one) or at least, I am learning to like it... but still, the whole concept of it is pretty new to me, but "Sprague?"... It's well, totally off my beaten path...

"Where on Sprague?" I asked. "Is it way out in the Valley?"  I was hopping it was far.

Geo pulled out the GPS, took note that it was not "too" far.  Taking that as affirmation from me, that I would go, off we went.....  I made a funny face and hoped for the best.

He was so excited.  I was nervous, and even moreso as we drove into what appeared to be a nearly vacant parking lot at a pretty run-down looking diner, (on Sprague Avenue none-the-less.) But I kid you not... he was really so happy to try this place; How could I possibly say "no"?

Easy....  but he was so excited...

"How many people get to eat real Vietnamese food?" he asked.

"How many people do, and live to write about it?" I joked back.

We went in and the man, (probably the one who answered the PHO-ne earlier,) greeted us and seated us promptly. and to my surprise there were other tables with customers. The place from the outside looked deserted. But from inside it was a whole different perspective. It was also a very homey atmosphere. The ball game was on, people were enjoying their food and the sound of fishtanks bubbled in the background. Everything was neat and tidy, (at least out front) even to the tray of condiments that graced the tables. It was nice, run down a bit, but pleasant.

There is something special about ethnic diners in that they often have pictures displayed on the walls to remind them of their homeland. Their are things important to them all around. Part of it is I am sure because as a hard working small business owner, the restaurant becomes a big part of your life, a reflection of who you are. This is perhaps the beauty of the middle class, the beauty of a land of opportunity and freedom, but I digress to philosophy here... let's talk restaurant and food..

There were a couple of pretty waterfall posters on the wall. (Hey, it was....PHOtography!) One of the fishtanks housed a large cichlid. The sound of the fishtanks was actually a very pleasant sound to eat by, that and the dim roar of the football game. It was like being in someones house and very pleasant.

The people at the next table told us they eat here often and that the food is always good while we were waiting for our food to arrive. They recommended the teriyaki chicken, but we had already ordered. Are you wondering what we had to eat?

For an appetizer, we had Goi Cuon and then we ate Bun Bo Hue and Mi Xao Don Thap Cam.
(Isn't that wild?) I love the language, the way it sounds and they way that I have absolutely no idea what it means is so intriguing to me. "Lasagna," I understand, but Xao Don Thap? Hardly.

This of course makes it hard to order, but fortunately here in America they are nice enough to have translations. Translated the Vietnamese menu means that we ate: A spring roll, (or "mixed salad roll") which consisted of lettuce, shrimp, pork and noodles wrapped in a rice wrap. We dipped this in peanut sauce. Then we ate Spicy Beef & Pork Noodle Soup (Bun Bo Hue). It comes with mung bean sprouts, and a beautiful fresh sprig of basil, sliced fresh jalapeno peppers and slices of lime on the side that you add into your soup to your own liking. The soup itself has lots of noodles, shredded cabbage, and meat. It is spicy but not too spicy, and the basil is incredible! This makes for a very flavorful soup. Also, I never knew how good mung beans spouts were until eating them like this in soup! And then we also ate Crispy Noodles with Chicken, Beef, and vegetables. The crispy noodles were new to both me and Geo. We loved them, and the shrimp was awesome.

The meal prices were pretty reasonable and I say this as the two of us ate all of this for $18.00. Not only that, we were served by the chef himself. Nice guy. He even helped us say the cool words of the foods we ordered.I would say it was pretty authentic Vietnamese Phood.

I will never forget Geo looking at me over the meal, with total sincerity too, as he was considering the yumminess of our dinner saying, "American food is so boring."

I had to agree, but you know what? I think he just likes eating soup with chopsticks!

We really did like eating here, and hope to go again soon.  Last time we went, not remembering exactly where it was, we ended up visiting Viwn Dong.  We even called once before driving over there, only to get no answer on the phone.  We will however try again and investigate this further, in the meantime, Gary, you are right... and we agree, this little out of the way  place has GREAT FOOD!

Gary says it's the best PHO in town.  Nothing PHOny about it

Pho 999 Vietnamese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Pizza Factory (Deer Park)

I went with some ladies to Pizza Factory in Deer Park. This is a fun place to gather with friends. The atmosphere is always lively, the people are friendly and the restaurant has a niuce fireplace to help one stay warm when it is cold outside. Apparently Pizza Factory is a franchise. I never knew that before now. There are Pizza Factories all over Washington State. They actually boast 140 restaurants in ten states!

(Now that'sa lotsa mozzarella!)

Their motto is "They're awesome. We toss em," part of the fun is actually watching them toss the dough and make the pizzas. I think the people who work their like doing it to. It muist be fun. One guy was even spinning his cloth in the air.

I have to admit though that reason I go here isn't because I need a pizza, or a salad, when I go here it really is simply to be with friends. When I think Pizza, I tend to think of Pizza Hut, mostly because that is what is closest to me. I am really happy though that when we are there we can have pizza to eat. It's so... sooo. well, Italian! Besides all that, the people who work here and even the owners are always really friendly too. There is also a great selection on the menu.

I had to laugh this last time as I was reading the menu, deciding what to order. It was hard to choose between a one trip salad and an all you can eat pizza and salad bar. The single trip salad was 5.99 and the salad and pizza bar was 7.99. Their Pizza and Salad includes soup de jour... soup of the day that is, as well as dessert pizzas. Hard decision huh?

I went for pizza and salad.

I like the salad plates. I think they use the same size pizza hut did a long time a go for their all you can eat salad. It's nice because your food does not fall off. The salad bar itself doe not have an over abundance of items. This time they had romaine lettuce, which I like but usually they have had head lettucey stuff, which to me is not really salad at all. I was happy about the romaine, so the other items didn't really matter to me so much. I did notice they had a lot of dressings to choose from, probably a lack of salad items due to space for the dressings.

In addition to traditional pizzas, they have pizza with things like basil and tomatoes, spinach, garlic, feta cheese and chicken. They also make various kinds of pasta, calzones and deli sandwiches. One of my friends even ordered a sundae dessert, which she said was delicious. But you know, I kinda wonder, "How can anoyone really go wrong with ice cream and chocolate?'

Picnic Company

Fun, fresh food!

Needing a Northside location to meet a friend for lunch, this place came to mind. I have eaten, I mean, "picnicked" here before but so long ago that I wasn't even sure if they still existed at this location. It was not objectionable when I suggested it as a meeting spot to my friend, so we planned our outing and met here for lunch.

One things about this restaurant that intrigues me is the names of some of the items on the menu. I love the references to cities I know and love, like Sedona, Tempe, Mesa, and Phoenix, my hometown. Spokane is on there too. Their selection of salads and soups is amazing and the food is good too. The price is much comparable to that of a Subway sandwich shop, but the atmosphere is different. While Subway sandwiches are good, (We like them) like Subway the sandwiches here are made to your specifications, you tell them what kind of bread and cheese and items you prefer. What I like is that unlike subway you do not have to babysit your sandwich as it is made and you can even order spouts.

We ordered a tuna salad sandwich and we shared that, then we each ordered our own salad.
I ordered the "Italian,"salad, she ordered the "Northwest."

The server cut our sandwich in two for us and put it on separate plates and trays too, without us even having to as. We really appreciated this special touch. They call you from the counter when your order is ready and then you go and pick it up.

This might be a fun place to call and order food "to go" from, if you were really wanting a impromptu picnic sometime. (It's a switch, a change from the usual , routine, well known, fast food options!) I mean you could even drop by and order and take your food with you, it's just not drive through, so it's not so convenient. But you could even surprise a friend and bring them lunch, a home-madeish lunch, a cup of soup and a sandwich, at work, in the middle of the day... after all, everybody needs a picnic sometimes.

In case you are wondering, here is the ingredients of our salads:

Italian Salad
This consists of Romaine lettuce, fresh mozzarella, garlic, chopped pepperoni, chopped hard salami, Roma tomato, pepperoncini, red onion, seasoned croutons, and Italian dressing

Northwest Salad
This consists of butter lettuce topped with bleu cheese crumbles, chopped tomato, dried cranberries, toasted pecans, red onion, and seasoned croutons, served with choice of dressing,

Picnic Co Gourmet Cafe on Urbanspoon

Italian Kitchen

We had passed by Italian Kitchen on our way the other day when we were on our way to dine at the Sukiyaki Inn. It is next door.) The sign outside Italian Kitchen read, "family owned and operated." It smelled lovely, a little like and Italian kitchen, I might add, but since we had another destination in mind that day, yet we did consider the possibility of a return; and return we did, to Italian Kitchen 113 S. Bernard St, Spokane.

We had no idea what it would be like at all, never heard of the place before. Geo usually does the finding. I usually look up later to see if there is information on the internet of the places we have been and to see what others have to say about it, or if there is a menu I can post here in my blog.
It was a great dining atmosphere and very aromatic. Being as there are apartments (the Metropolitan Apartments) upstairs of the restaurant, I couldn't help imagine what it would be like to always have your house smelling so very good!

(I was having flashback childhood memories of great Italian spaghetti sauce and meatballs.Yum.)
We were greeted by being asked if we had made reservations.
(We didn't make reservation. oops)
We didn't need them apparently, even though the place was a little crowded, filled with happy people, eating and conversing. We were given a lovely table right away.

I was a little shocked at the high prices on the menu. An average dish was $20.00-$25.00. It was a little more than our usual fare. And of course, being as I am, of heritage, 1/2 Italiano, going out to dine on pasta just seems "unnatural." It was a great menu though and we were hungry, so we ordered. I order Gnocchi and Geo, Lasagna. They have a different menu for lunch, one with lower prices, more the usual price for the likes of us.

Our waiter, a really nice guy and fun to chat with throughout the meal, brought us basket of bread. Geo asked me, Should I ask him for butter? Then we remembered we were eating Italian, and used the oil/vinegar dipping sauce instead. (I have to say they have the most interesting oil and vinegar dispensers I have ever seen myself!)

This restaurant is a beautifully decorated place, (in my humble, little, part-Italian opinion.) One thing I like to note about restaurants is the cleanliness of the bathrooms and this one was very clean and I loved the decorating touch in here as well. The doors inside were like portals at a marina or on a boat. Maybe that is the motif for Venice or something. Having never been I do not know, but I thought it was a special touch.

Our meals, in addition to the bread, came with our choice of salad or soup. I have salad and George had the soup, which was Minestrone. Small bowls and plates and very good, I loved the peppercini, a salad pepper, (I call them mousies,) which was quite spicy. Though I cannot help to mention nor to notice that he lettuce looked just like the blend of gourmet lettuce I usually buy and use, hey, what can I say, it felt just like home!

It only felt a little like home actually as the ceiling here was really high and quite ornate. Besides I do not have little servants who offer to pepper my salad or grate my cheese as our waiter did for me there. I suppose one could grow accustom to being waited on hand and foot, but I live on a farm myself, I mean, serve my animals their dinners. Treatment like this is just a little awkward if you know what I mean. as our host for the evening was peppering my salad I asked him about the building.

He said that it used to be the Spokane Hotel, the Regis, he called it. He said it was not the original building because it had to be rebuilt after the fire in 1889, (a fire that burned down 32 buildings on 27 blocks of Spokane.) I love older buildings. I always wonder how they did it, and like the ceiling here, I love the artistry and elegance.

Our food arrived, and it was delicious! As I said, we ordered gnocchi (with sausage) and lasagna. The servings were quite large.

I asked if they made the gnocchi there, and the waiter said no, it comes from somewhere else, he told me where from but if you really want to know you will have to ask them yourself. I excuse them for not making it themselves there because it was good. (Good gnocchi, you know, homemade gnocchi, is hard to find.)

My grandmother made gnocchi! : )

We were quite stuffed and even had leftovers which allowed our son to try the gnocchi.

He is quite brave. He ate it in the dark on the way home in the car, not really knowing exactly what it was either, just that it was called, gnocchi.

He hated it.
(I guess he is not quite as Italiano as I.)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Sukiyaki Inn

Last night we went to Sukiyaki Inn on Bernard Street downtown Spokane. I walked past several times, usually because we have parked downtown for an event at the Convention Center or Riverfront Park, but never ventured inside before. From the outside it kinda looks more like a bar than a restaurant, but the Sukiyaki Inn is very much a restaurant and I was excited to eat Japanese food, as I personally have a bit of a love for all things Japanese.

We entered and were asked where we would like to sit, which I thought was a little strange. (You know, usually a hostess will say, "Right this way," and then they lead you to a table?) I was confused at this and so the hostess asked if we would like a table, to sit at the counter or in our own room where we take off our shoes and sit on the floor. I picked the room, meanwhile, as we were walking to our "room." Geo was wondering what was wrong with a table.

(This was feeling very Japanese.)

We removed our shoes in the little hallway outside of our door and entered the Ayame room.

One thing I like about eating Japanese style is the little cubical concept. It is nice to have your own little space and not eat with the whole crowd around you. Unlike the Moroccan restaurant, where you really DO eat sitting on the floor, here the table is low and you do ppear to be sitting"on the floor" but there is a well beneath the table where your feet can go. It is nice because it is very much like sitting on the floor and yet you are comfortable as in a chair.

Many things about this restaurant seemed run-down and in some ways it looked like it could use updating. The table in our room was even a bit wobbly. Even though it was this way, everything seemed clean and tidy and there was certainly no lack of Japanese hospitality, as we felt very welcomed and honored as guests, even paying guests. I was very surprised to hear that this restaurant had been here in Spokane, at this location, for over 60 years and in that regard I felt we were eating at some kind of Spokane landmark!

We ordered the Dinner for Two- with Teriyaki and Sukiyaki. It came with Osumashi soup, Japanese style salad, rice & tea.

The first thing our waitress brought was the soup and salad. It was a simple soup with mostly broth and a few noodles and it was very nice. The Japanese salad was three separate small bowls for each of us, one containing a pickled cucumber medley, one with seasoned bean sprouts and one with a couple of pieces of raw vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower and carrot) in a bit of some kind of salad dressing.

When we ordered the Sukiyaki, Geo asked Nori, (our waitress) for some specifics of what "sukiyaki" is like. She pointed to another area of the dinner menu that gave a better explanation. She also told us it is a very traditional Japanese dish and that sometimes non-Japanese people who order it, do not really like it. We were pretty sure that we would, (since we like oriental food in general and because our Japanese student who visited with us made it for us before) so we ordered it.

I would describe the sukiyaki as a roast-like beef dish, this one came with unique noodles, (actually rice noodles,) lots of onions, cabages and tofu and lots of sauce. The teriyaki was also very good, and garnished with edible pretties. Our tea, a green tea, was served after the meal.

This restaurant also cooks things at your table and serves a veriety of seafood items as well as has a sushi bar which can be ordered from a separate type of menu.

Walking downtown, I realized there are a lot of retaurants in this city and happily a lot of flavors of the world. I am so glad that tonight we got to eat not only Japanese food, but Japanese food, japanese style.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Puerto Vallarta

Tonight we headed out for a Mexican food adventure.

Driving towards Spokane Valley, we took a bit of a backwoods way, so much so that no one besides Geo, the driver with the GPS, knew where it was that we were. Geo hadn't told us where exactly it was that we were going, either, except to say, "How about Mexican?" To which we responded "Yes!" All we knew was the direction we were going in and that it was dark where we were driving.

David and Beth, (who were with us on this particular adventure,) noted that we were driving over an awful lot of railroad tracks too. David even commented that it was more railroad tracks than he ever had ever driven over in a single day!

This, plus the fact that it was night and that we felt like we were in the middle of no man's land... roaming around on dark streets in unfamiliar territory and not knowing where it was we were headed, gave us all a sense of adventure about the whole thing... and we who had
no clue where we would end up really wondered what and where that would be.

It seemed a little like we were somewhere besides Spokane, maybe even lost in the fringe of the city, somewhere in the boonies, you might say. If we stretched our imagination a little we could have imagined we were in the desert of Mexico at night, hoping to find not only our way, but maybe a cantina. Then, finally, we saw civilization! (That is, we found ourselves on the corner of Vista and Sprague.)

Turning right, heading West on Sprague, we saw what we believed to be our "south of the border "destination, and to our surprise it looked a little bit like a true Mexican "cantina." At first, Geo wasn't sure at first if it was the place or not, but the sign said OPEN. This had to be it.

It was quaint, and we were a little concerned that our imaginations had taken us just a little further than we really wanted to go. It appeared a little too small and deserted looking for our enjoyment, not really appealing as a place for a sit down dinner with friends. I would describe it as kinda like a roadside taco stand, only housed in a building with a few tables and chairs. It was Taqueria Guerrero, which Geo had "heard had great Mexican food." I will admit, it may very well be authentic and delicious, but to me it seemed more a place for lunch. So we mutually decided to save this joint for another food trek, maybe a lunch time venture... and headed off in search of another place to eat.

In short order we found ourselves passing by Puerto Vallarta Restaurant which is located at 6915 E Sprague Ave. It's just down the road a bit. After circleing their parking lot several times and scoping out the place carefully, we decided, this would be it!

It was a very welcoming place, and it felt a little bit like Mexico too., just not so primitive as a fancy taco stand. We were at first seated at a table that was just too noisy. About five different kinds of music including that of Mariachis could be heard playing. George described it a "like the music in your head when you are having a bad dream." The waiter happily relocated us as soon as we brought this to his attention.

David and Beth had already eated ealier, and we not too terribly hungry so they decided to share a meal. Geirge ordered a Chile Relleno and Enchilada combination and I ordered a Tamale and a Tostada one. I love tamales!

The food was to order and hot, the music was appropriate and we felt like we were in Mexico too as the hispanic waiters served us chips and salsa, filled out water glasses and brought us our dinners. We even got to practice our spanish with a coule of words, "gracias" and "muy bien!" Everything was delicious!

So, that was our little trip to Puerto Vallarta... in Spokane. We didn't get the bullfights or the beach one would have if they were really in Mexico, but the dining experience was great. Next time we head for south of the border we will have to try the tasty little taco stand, the one that is just down the road apiece.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Chinese Gardens

Chinese Gardens and Lounge is located at 5207 E Trent Ave. This is another one of those restaurants we pass by and wonder about. Now we know...

It was very interesting to go here, a lot different than I expected. First of all, there were a lot of cars in the parking lot. It sure seemed to be a popular place.Once inside, we were quickly greeted and given a table. The people around us were all quite happy, eating, laughing and it was apparent that people like it here. It felt like one of those places where the clientele knew the patrons and had a bit of a rapport. There were several families and at one table it was a man who was taking his dad to dinner... it was not a very fancy place, rather down to earth, and it was very welcoming. They even had a little trinket shop.

The food was good. Geo had Mapo Tofu, which on their menu is called "Granny's" Tofu. He liked it a lot. I ordered a combination plate of Kung Pao Chicken and Chow Mein that came with white rice and we had hot tea too. It was cold and rainy outside and hot tea just sounded good.

I have to say that to me it was not a very interesting menu. It seemed like limited choices making it hard to choose what I wanted to order. I have to say too, that I struggle with understanding why it is that you cannot get the dishes you like together on a combination plate in Chinese food places as opposed to say, a Mexican Food restaurant where you can pick your items in a combo. Also, we thought the prices were high.

It was rather expensive too, at least in my opinion. An average dish or appetizer was $10.00 to $12.oo. Even the daily "special", was $9.95, which in my opinion is expensive. I did see that they have some kind of senior discount, but I do not remember what it was. Geo saw it and reminded me that it would not be too long before we qualified for that!

It took a long time for our order to arrive, but to their credit, food was tasty, I will complain though my food arrived cold and that was a little disappointing for me. I almost asked the waitress if they had a microwave, but I didn't. as I was afraid they would offer instead to make me a new dish and then I would be there a longer time waiting without food or something. (That has happened to me before.) Geo's was not cold though and he thought it was excellent in flavor.

Over all, this is just a place to stop for some Chinese food, nothing outstanding or really special, unless of course you are hungry and in the neighborhood. Geo is of a slightly different opinion though due to the fact that he really, really liked the "Granny" dish.