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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Service Station Coffee Shop

Note:  Since the writing of this blogpost, the Service Station is under new management.  

The Service Station is a coffee house here in North Spokane.. and it serves good coffee if that is what you are looking for.  They also serve light lunches and desserts that will come in the form of things like panini, bagels, soup, wraps and a whole variety of pastries.  You can even drive thru and get your orders at the window without ever leaving your car!

I had the orange cranberry bread.  Yum!

This business, located at 9315 N. Nevada opened their doors in n in Spokane in 2005, and  there are a lot of people who like this place.  You can tell because it is quite trafficked.  I will say though that often when I am here it has been  too noisy for my comfort level. The TV is always on and its distracting.  I dislike having to raise my voice just so the person next to me can hear.  All the noise seems to echo in this place... but if you do not mind the noise, it's still it is a place people can meet and have a cup of coffee and grab a bite to eat.

I have been here before, quite a few times in fact, but a recent visit spurred me to write about it on my blog.  I found myself looking up the address seeing if they had a website and checking that out too, only to learn a few things I didn't know before.... mainly that the Service Station is not your usual American business.

Businesses in America, as far as I understand, are formed to make a profit, but even in doing so, the American idea is to provide goods and services..vpresumably while making an honest wage.  This is not bad, people who earn profits are then free to do what they want with their money and they can donate money to causes and stuff like that...   which is what I thought the Service Station did.  But they are different.  The Service Station is not a "business," it is an organization.... specifically a  Non Profit Organization.  (or NPO)  This means the profits go not to an ownder, nore to shareholders in the company but benefit an interest... like a charity or the community at large in some way.

I was told by the man behind the Service Station, not the owner, but the "person who made it all possible"   that there are plans in the works to have this place expand to other cities all across the nation. Apparently the company is doing well, and the concept is catching on.  Others want to model it. 

As I mentioned, an NPO, does not distribute its profits to owners or shareholders like a business, although the workers and the organizers, if not completely volunteer, do take in a specific salary, the company pays workers there a minimum wage...whatever it costs to run the organization.  The profits, however... things over the cost of what is needed to run the compan yare to then go to to help pursue the organizations goals.  

What are the goals of the Service Station, (if not to make a profit for the "owners"?) 

They declare at the webpage that Service Station "seeks to give back,". (I assume to the community..??..but for what?  for drinking their coffee????) and  "collaborate with the local area through business and community efforts to help make our city a better place for its citizens."

Nice goal, but I cannot help but read that and think such a definition could... (or should) already apply to most any business in the "service industry," The  2006 Press Release at their webpage says that one of the ways the Service Station "gives" back is that they donate to local organizations like Crosswalk and Excelsior (both organizations to help "troubled" teens.)  So, I guess that you can sit back, relax and feel good knowing that the profits from the coffee shop go to "good causes."

: )

Additionally, the  Service Station  announces to the press that it is "a blend of business and ministry" and that serving the community is their "passion," that...and promoting sustainability, both locally and globally.  This caught my attention too, raised my eyebrows just a bit.  This is  because it would be really easy, for me,  to make the assumption that it is a Christian "ministry," but they do not say that.

"Ministry" can be just about anything anymore.

Also, this idea of "blending"  business  and ministry, sounds good, but is such a thing really possible?  Doesn't it eventually become one thing or another?  Isn't it usually better to focus on one or the other? Better to blend coffees...than get God and money mixed up together and have to figure out later which is which....  They do blend coffee well however, and just so that you know, the Service Station is much more than a coffee stand....'s a 18,000-square foot complex.

Within it's walls are, they say,  state of the art meeting rooms for let, and a spacious 6500-square-foot auditorium that holds up to 800 people.  It is an amazing concept and not only that, this can all be rented out for events like banquets, weddings, receptions, concerts, seminars and conferences.
The lobby of the coffee shop area  is large and has a fireplace, a grand piano, HDTV and the station is well equipped with all the technological things of our modern Wifi to make it work for the techies... and it even remains open until 10:00 days a week for late night coffee drinkers and students who want to socialize while they work.   The webpage also says that on Friday and Saturday nights they host Jazz musicians.

Did I mention that this is no ordinary coffee shop!  

I also learned from my reading of their webpage that they are in partnership with Dominion Trading Company, ... "a vertically integrated company." (I had to look that one up too.) According to my sources, (Wikipedia,) calling it a vertically integrated company, does not mean that the company claims "vertical" connections to God. ( I wondered about that, since I was thinking in terms of ministry and Christian ministry as well, wondering if there was something religious about that term or company name.) I learned that "vertically integrated" is a term that refers to one company owning many steps of the production process for a product, one company controlling all the processes involved from start to finish. It is like forming a monopoly. (In this instance, the product that is in control is the coffee in your cup which comes from the far away, poverty stricken country of Ethiopia in Africa.)

Interesting, isn't it?  

Who would have thought that there is so much more that milk, sugar, water and coffee beans that goes into one little coffee cup!

Service Station on Urbanspoon
Note:  Since the writing of this blogpost, the Service Station is under new management.  It is my understanding it is no longer a non-profit company, but that it is now run like a regular business, in business to serve good coffee just the same.  They have added some great pasta salads to their fare too. 

Thursday, January 28, 2010

King Yen

We went to King Yen last year...and I think it was before beginning this blog.  It was a funny experience...

We ordered our food spicy and it came covered in chili sauce.  The funny thing was that we knew the food underneath the sauce was yummy, and we wished they had instead just offered us the sauce on the side... and so it was an unusual situation.  We left vowing to return and try this place again...  this was the night.

 We found this place to be friendly, and with a nice atmosphere too.  Located on Monroe St.,
King Yen lis a great place with good food.  Only being there for dinner, I wonder how busy they are for lunch.

As you walk into the door there is a wall with photos of various dishes you can order.  I imagine that this is in case you do not know what what you want or want to explore ordering something else, you can see what it looks like.  Also if you are in for a quick lunch... you can choose something while you are in line without waiting for a table. Here you see what is on the menu.  You can also see some dishes and prices at their website..

The menus is kind of pretty.  The restaurant is pretty too.  there is lots of room as it is rather large.

I think they like very much to celebrate holidays here.   It was decorated for Valentines day... (and there were flags as if for fourth of July and some Christmas remnants too..) Actually I exaggerate just a little there, only to say it is very colorful and they like holidays.  You could definitely tell Valentines day was coming

I loved watching the cook cooking while we were waiting.   I could see flames firing up in the kitchen as he was sizzling stuff back there.  It was pretty cool, cool too is that this is a family business.

The first thing we ordered was a Thai tea,  but they were out.  We had water instead.

Then we ordered hot and sour soup.  I have to say, I thought it was the best ever anywhere.  Not sure why...maybe a secret recipe or something... very tasty!

Most restaurant make you order a huge bowl, but we were able to order these little cups. (Cost was 1.50.)

It was nice to do this, but it was so good we wished we had ordered the larger portion.

I let Geo orde the food... and he ordered the Ma Po Tofu, (he added Pork to their otherwise vegetarian offering,) and Chicken Chow Fun, which we had never had.  (He thought it sounded... fun!) There special feature is that they are made with rice noodles.  Seemed to me to be a lot like those extra wide egg noodles... only "rice" instead.  Nice flavors. 

Here (on the top) is the Ma Po Tofu, which came with rice.

Here (below the MaPo)  is the picture of the Chicken Chow Fun, which was something we had never tried before.   In addition to the wide noodles, and chicken, this dish had bok choy cabbage and zucchini too.  Maybe also some onions, I do not quite remember.

The food was yummy.  After dinner I thought to look and see if they has any desserts.  They did.  Two choices, ice cream or cake... with no descriptions.  In the mood for ice cream I ordered us an ice cream for us to share.  After a little discussion with out waitress, we decided to get two.  You can only imagine our surprise when they brought us this:
.....yep.... Too funny! 
Hey, it was icecream....and it came complete with wooden spoon.  It was quite surprising to us, but we ate it and it was good.  I hadn't had orange sherbet for a long time.  I forgot how good it was.  This was also a nice ending to our meal.  I was sort of wondering what they might have brought has we ordered cake.

One other interesting feature this restaurant has is the art corner, and traditional shrine too... The art displayed kids artwork from a local art school on display.  I enjoyed looking at the pictures.

King Yen is good.  Try it sometime.

We will be back...
Love that hot and sour soup!
Nice art work too..... good job kids!

King Yen Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Sunday, January 24, 2010


After living in the Great Lakes region of the USA for 5 years without REAL Mexican food it was great to move to Spokane where there was REAL Mexican flavors once again.   Azteca has been in Spokane as long as we have, maybe longer and I think it is pretty authentic tasting.... rice, beans, asado, cilantro... fajitas... all without oregano and mozzarella as the main ingredient, you have to love that!

We grew up in the Southwest where burritos, tamales and enchiladas are part of life...thought of as American food.  What we endured back east just wasn't the same.  (The stories I could tell.)  We did get rescued during that 5 year period when someone finally opened a good Mexican restaurant, but it was three  long years of leaning to eat Italian flavored "Mexican food" while laughing at it.  It was tasty, but not Mexican, not by far.  We endured.

Geo has a chile relleno addiction, and I love tamales  so Mexican food sounded especially yummy today when some friends invited us to dine with them for lunch!  The place of choice was Azteca, (on the north side of town.) located at  9738 North Newport Highway, in the Northpoint shopping center.

Azteca, to my knowledge, has always been one of Spokane's favorite Mexican food stops.  People talk about it all the time.  We have been here before, but not in a long while.

The first thing I look for in a Mexican food restaurant is good salsa, and Azteca has it.  I also like their chips.  What I do not like is their big, fat, heavy, photographic menu, (but that is just a personal preference.)  Besides being heavy to hold, I think it is a confusing menu.  Looking to try something out of the ordinary for me, left me... ordering nothing unusual. 

Photos on a menu are helpful if you want to know what something looks like... I can appreciate photos... but I was a bit disappointed that one of the photos had a disclaimer that the food  in the picture, (a three enchilada dish) was not served in a hot plate dish as it is pictured in the photograph,  which made me dislike the menu more... but hey, we are not eating the menu, right?  We are eating the real stuff that they bring you and that is what really matters: 

Here is what our food looked like:


 Mine was the green plate.

Unfortunately, and I am sad to report that  my taco arrived soggy.

Fortunately, and thanks to my friend Steve who had flour tortillas with his meal, I was rescued!  I simply created my own "Paco Taco" as we call them and I didn't have to cry.

My food was good, and I was in the mood for a tamale,  (I always am,) which was on my "combination plate."  I was not so happy about the soggy taco though...

Soggy taco?
(They are supposed to be crunchy!)
This was a stuffing kinda fell out of my taco.

Nan ordered a dish and asked for "no cheese."  you should have seen the waiter's expression.  A few minutes after taking our order to the kitchen,  the waiter came back, told her this was nearly impossible with what she ordered and asked her how much she did not want cheese in her food.  She changed her order, glad that he was attentive.  Funny thing was though, she ended up with cheese on her beans and didn't eat them!  Geo noted, "Ordering Mexican food without cheese is a little bit like ordering a hamburger without meat."  She was a little bummed-out about not getting a salad as per the first thing she ordered....

Geo says his enchilada was cold, and his relleno, good, but not "the best."  He always makes me try a bite.... and I didn't like it, but then I seldom do.  I have had good rellenos though!  (It just seems to me that too often these restaurants make a common practice of making them ahead instead of fresh... and this was one of those."

Azteca is a lot of people's favorite place for Mexican food in Spokane.  We do not think it is the best, but we know why people like it.  It has a fun, festive "Mexican" atmosphere, (Mexican music, waiters who speak Spanish.... and (in my opinion) great salsa... good chips and delicious guacamole...and three convenient locations too.  It's always been a good place to gather with a few friends for food and very accommodating for a large group as well as kids.   I think one reason people like it so much however is not the food, but the "happy hour" and the specialty beverages they have with their food...margaritas, tequila... etcetera....Not being drinkers, we go for food, and usually drink water with our meal.

The food at Azteca, at least today, was "good," but nothing I would call "excellent."  It was a nice time however with our... muy buenos amigos."

As for the food:

"Quizás la proxima vez."

Azteca Mexican Restaurants on Urbanspoon

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Asian Bistro

The Asian Bistro, formerly Tokyo Stop on North Division Street has always had good food.  Last evening I "stopped" for some food to go and so now I have to blog about it. Here is their menu.  You can double click on it to get a closer look if you'd like.

I have been in this restaurant several times, but this was the first time with Geo... or rather... eating with Geo, and the first time since it opened under new owners.  Yes, it is no longer Tokyo Stop.  Now it is called Asian Bistro.

Nate has eaten here and he really liked it, so have I, but not Geo.

I ordered Yakisoba and Chicken Teriyaki and being as I LOVE, Japanese food, I was very excited to take it home to surprise Geo who had to work later than usual.

The to go package was nicely wrapped up and the food was OH SO DELICIOUS!  I loved it.

Geo was happy, although he likes saucier foods.  I added to our dinner at home with sliced bell peppers and some cilantro lime shrimp.  It was way more than we could eat an unfortunately Nate missed out on this tasty treat.
Maybe next time!

It took about 20 minutes for them to prepare it, but it was just enough time to run and do an errand at a nearby store and back while it cooked. 

Here is our delicious dinner:

the teriyaki came with a salad and both meals came with rice and a slice of orange.

Geo says the noodles were especially good!  They were yummy!

One feature of the new management is the addition of a Lunch Buffet and a new Sushi Menu.

Here is a picture of their Sushi stuff... Who knew there were so many options?

This restaurant is located at 7458 North Division Street in the Northgate Shopping Center just East of Costco on Division...It is in the corner of the southern  building near the dance studio and the karaoke studio.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Crazy G's

My friend Dave told me that this new place in Spokane has the best hamburgers around, so we just had to give it a try.  The name of the place is Crazy G's. and it is located just North of the river on Division Street. (It is on the west side of the road on the part of Division that heads south... You cannot miss the big green "G". 
I thought it was rather fun to think that there was another specialty burger place in town.

It was very busy when we arrived.

I waited until the people left to take this photo inside the restaurant.  One thing I liked about this restaurant, and you can perhaps tell by the photo, is that they kept it very clean!  They were even prompt to wipe off tables when they saw that costumers had left.  (One thing I dislike about eating as some hamburger places, especially where people clear off their own plates, is not always knowing if the tables are clean or not.)

Gary’s “Crazy” burgers have the special toppings of Gary's "secret" sauce, sautéed mushrooms, caramelized onions, and your choice of cheese: provolone, cheddar or Swiss.   If you don't like these be sure to tell them when you order because these are what certifies his burger.

There are also "Super" add-ons if you like, things like bacon or pastrami that you can add to the 6-ounce Angus patty, which is the feature of every burger here.  If you drop the "crazy" toppings, add your own, or add your very own old favorites to Gary's list.  They offer, grilled jalapeños, lettuce, tomato, mustard, ketchup, pickles or sauerkraut for anything on the menu.  They have Philly's, Dogs and Chicken-y sandwich options too.

We didn't set out to Crazy G's, in fact we were headed for our usual favorite.. Asian food, but when we remembered Dave's conversation,  something about a hamburger just sounded good... so off we went.

Here is our lovely American "hamburger dinner." Geo had Root Beer,and I had a Cherry Coke. 
Geo ordered the Hot Dog, and I ordered the Crazy Burger... then we shared half and half.

He ordered the Onion Tangles with his, because Geo loves onion rings and things like that,  I ordered the fries, but we didn't share those much.  I liked my fries better and he liked his tangle-y onion things, and we ate them all.

It's really great to have a good burger and fries from time to time... one you can write home, or on your blog about. 

I tell you, "Dave was right."   This is pretty good, and it's right in the heart of Spokane. 

Above is the story of Crazy G's and how it started, you can read it better on their webpage...

Also to note, this is a sit down or "To Go" place, not a drive thru, and it will take about 15 min for your order to be done, that is what they told us anyhow, and just about how it was as well.  That is because they make the food to order, just the way you like it too.

We enjoyed our food very much, although it was a little messy. It was worth it though because the caramelized onions on both the hamburger and the hot dog was delicious!

The other people in the restaurant could be heard telling the guys in the kitchen how good they thought their food experience was as well.  They had been there before, but this time they had brought a friend!  I was impressed with the friendly and personable atmosphere and it was apparent that the owners and staff are practiced in making customers feel welcomed here, and well fed!

Here is their menu board... you can view their menu and prices at their website too.

Geo says he would definitely come to this place again... but I reminded him that it might be a little while, after all, we are on a Spokane Tasty Trek and there are a few more places we hope to try.

Crazy G's is located at 812 N. Division
Hours:  Mon-Sat 10:30 AM - 9 PM:
Crazy G's on Urbanspoon

Saturday, January 9, 2010


Ginger is fabulous! 
 It's not a large restaurant by any means, which makes it rather busy if it's a Friday night during the dinner hours, but we were very pleased.

We had tried to visit this restaurant a few weeks ago, but it was on a Monday and they were closed.  It looked a lot different that day than it did tonight.  The place was packed.

It is located at 1228 S Grand Blvd. 

When we got there, we had to wait...but only a few minutes.  It was kind of fun waiting, watching all the stuff going on.  We stood by the doorway as people crowded in and about and around and quite frankly for a little while we thought that the hustle and bustle was crazy.   We  had second thoughts about staying, but it was kinda fun and we were there and no where else we wanted to go, so we stayed and then, then the next thing we knew they had a table for two tha they called us to.

I had a great view of the guys working at the sushi bar and all the food they made, most of which went past my table on it's way to the guests. This was really something to see.

People at the table next to us ordered two giant sushi boats... and the sushi is really served in "boats!"  I wish I would have asked them if I could take a photo... they would have let me I am sure because they were very nice, but I didn't want to make a spectable of taking photos.  All I can tell you is that the colors served up are amazing.  The colors of the sushi bar we amazing...

I have only been to a sushi bar restaurant once before and then I did not eat sushi.  I have been to restaurants that serve sushi, and I like sushi, only I have only eaten those California Rolls... (the sushi without raw fish.) Tonight was no exception, but I am getting closer.  As I understand my dd has eaten eel, and I tell you THAT is an inspiration.

 We ordered hot and sour soup, happy to know we could order it by the bowl.  We ordered the Dynamite Roll from the Sushi Menu and General Tao Chiucken..

This is the Dynamite Roll.  Strips of Ginger are in the upper left and wasabi is on the lower left.   Not sure exactly what the sauce is in itbut it looks like it could be  dessert.  

Geo said that it was the most incredible "sushi " he ever had.  (He has been to sushi bars a lot in his many world travels and adventures.)  He loved it!  Really... talked about it several times on the way home. I asked him what was different and he said the fact that it was served warm, sid it was not like anything he had ever had before.   (This is probably because it is not a raw dish!)  >I thought<.

We actually ordered the Lobster Roll at first, and when we did, our waiter, who was talking to use about the food in general, said this is the one he liked the best, and so we changed to this.  He said it was the same as the Lobster Roll, only with scallops too.  Yum!

Here is the rest of our meal... soup and the General Tao's.  Beautiful isn't it?

We enjoyed our dinner here.... as did most of Spokane it would seem.  Remember how I said it was really busy?  Well it was also really LOUD, unbelievably so.  It was so loud we recorded the noise with our cell phones just for fun.  On the way home we played them for each other, compared recordings and had little rabble wars in the car being obnoxious with each other...  just for fun.  I have never heard so much noise while I am eating, ever before in my life.  There was no music, and there was not room in the air for it if it were there.  The ambiance here was a little like being in a whole different place, like maybe somewhere in New York!

After giving you the idea this is a great place to dine, I hope you think the same when you are there. 
We can hardly wait to pas this way again....

Ginger's Asian Bistro on Urbanspoon

Friday, January 8, 2010

Vien Dong Fareast (second visit)

Another visit to Vien Dong.  
 (Click the link to read about the last!)

We had been here once before but liked it so much we had to go again.

It is in the International District of Spokane, which is not considered to be an elite part of town by any means, but there is something to be said about bringing life to areas of town like this.  If you need a good reason to go to the "International District"  good food is it.

Beautiful food, fresh and lovely as you can see.  This is the Chow Mein.

I really was not sure what it would be like, as I have issues understanding the variations of Chow Mein, (but I am learning) I was not sure what it would be like when I ordered it because I neglected to ask.  We came in rather late and it was something that the waitress recommended so
I just agreed, knowing that to experience chow mein would be good for me no matter what.   It was good.  Lots of delicious veggies and shrimp and chicken.  Pork came with it too.

This is Lemongrass Chicken...  which we didn't actually order.   We had thought that to order it until we remembered we had it the last time we we there. We even talked to the waitress about it and then we ordered Kung Pao Chicken, which she also recommended.  However she brought us this.   There must have been some confusion.  It's okay.  Geo loved it.

It went great with the egg rolls.

This restaurant is simple, but nice.  It is one we like a lot.

Here is another  follow up from our last visit.
Remember the drinks?

The last time we were here we purchased some drinks in can to try and home.  At Christmastime we tried one of them as a family, the Grass Jelly Drink.  We poured the drink into a lot of portions so that everyone could try it.

 It was not particularly a hit.  It's definitely something that one would have to acquire a taste for, and none of us really had the "taste".  The Pennywort is still on the shelf, behind the toaster, under the monkey...(David)  waiting for a special day, but it may be a while.  I have investigated around on the web about it, and it doesn't look too promising as something that we will just love when we try.  It will take another party to share the wealth of it I am sure. 

Thanks to all the brave souls in my household who tried the Grass Jelly. (You know who you are!)
It was fun!

Bubble Tea

This is another kind of Tea Party!

Here is what it looks like...

What is it?  Fruity, fun snow-like substance with bubble like beads of tapioca that is much like gummy bears at the bottom of the cup. (It comes with a very large straw for which to retrieve them as you drink!)

If you have not tried Bubble Tea... Why not?  What are you waiting for?
 It is a bit of fun.

Here is one of my tea buddies now...
She giving me the American handsignal that she thinks her coconut flavor drink is REALLY REALY GOOD!

In Spokane the places to find this crazy, wild, smooth, cold, sweet and tasty drink is: The Bubble Tea Garden in Pho Vina Restaurant 2303 N. Ash Street or at a place called BoBa Bubble at North Town Mall, (first floor across from a place called Silver Safari)

Here is a banana coconut tea with Jelly instead of tapioca "bubbles."

Enjoy!  This is our fav location...

Once you try it, post your comments about Bubble Tea below!