Monday, May 17, 2010


A favorite of FIT and S.E.A.L., Paseo Caribbean Restaurant has finally been labeled as the #2 Sandwich in America. On May 3rd, TLC debuted a  six show series called "Best Food Ever" and awarded the local Seattle favorite the number two spot.  

As unbiased as we can be, as this is S.E.A.L.'s all time favorite eatery, we would argue that the list must have been rigged.  Obviously the The Lodge in Scottsdale, Arizona paid the producer for the number one slot.  That must be it! 

As we (FIT and S.E.A.L) are experienced Paseo patrons, we are giving a little homework to our friend Cheeky. Cheeky, your challenge, if you should choose to accept, is to try Paseo's in the near future and write up your amazing, mouth-watering, mind blowing, food coma experience! 

The Challenge starts NOW!

How could one say no to this guy? (Our mouths at SFD are watering)

The grease bucket competition... doesn't even look that appealing!

Go here for the official top ten sandwiches in America for 2010!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Seoul Hot Pot

Date: 4/5/10
Address: 2560 152nd Ave NE, Redmond, WA

Occasion: Dinner with Maman

Atmosphere: Cozy and bustling. This is a smallish restaurant – probably seats about 30 – and probably family-owned, so it had that small, family restaurant feel. It was about half full when we arrived so we were seated immediately. The place felt clean and organized and although they had some open storage in view (glasses, utensils, teapots, etc.), it, too, was organized so there was no visual clutter. Like many family-owned Asian restaurants, the wait staff wasn’t out of this world and super friendly but they were fast, got our orders right and were very good about refilling our tea. Works for me!

Food: Good. I can’t say this place knocks my socks off but it was pretty tasty. Six or seven plates of kimchi/pickled appetizers arrived shortly after our tea and Maman said they’re quite good. I don’t eat kimchi and pickled whatsits but since she does, I trust her judgment. Maman ordered the Sun Du Bu (a spicy tofu soup) at medium heat and I had the Korean BBQ rib eye. The food arrived promptly and was fresh and piping hot. The spicy tofu soup was bubbling nicely enough to cook the raw egg the waitress cracked into, and it had just the right level of spiciness with a good amount of cabbage, tofu, etc. The rib eye was delivered on a bed of onions on a sizzling plate and although it was good, it was also not very inspiring; it didn’t have the full level of flavor that I’m used to at traditional BBQ places. (Mind you, this has nothing to do with the onions; I may absolutely hate eating onions but I like cooking with them and the flavor they add to food.) Both dishes paired really well with rice, which brings me to that topic. They serve purple rice! Okay, I don’t know what it’s actually called but I do know that it’s some sort of bean/grains mix that you throw in with your plain white rice and it turns the whole batch purple, and it’s healthier for you, like brown rice. I always thought Maman was the only weird person with purple rice from “the Korean store.” You’re not alone in this world, Maman!

Price: The BBQ dishes ranged around the $15-$17, which is fine for a big plate of meat, and I think the Sun Du Bu was around $8. Truth be told, I don’t remember much of anything else on the menu. Six (or seven?) little appetizers, two hefty bowls of rice, a medium bowl of spicy tofu soup and a big plate of BBQ rib eye – not bad for $25.

Overall Recommendation: While this isn’t a destination restaurant for me, I’d probably recommend it if someone asked me for a place to eat in the Overlake/Redmond area. The food is proper Korean comfort food, familiar and well done, and the prices are good. Maman really likes this place so I’m sure I’ll be back again. Perhaps I’ll go with Bi Bim Bop next time. Or more BBQ. (I sure love me some Korean BBQ…)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Orexi Restaurant

Date: 4/2/2010
Address: 31 Bellevue Way NE, Bellevue, WA

Occasion: Lunch Break/B-day Celebration

Birthday Girl wanted Greek food, so ελληνικά τρόφιμα it was!  And for us, her friends and lovers of all things Passport, Orexi in Bellevue was the chosen location.  Unfortunately, the horrible service has created a fog over our dining experience that possibly is reflected in this review.

Atmosphere: I’ll admit that from the outside, this place doesn’t seem like it would be enjoyable.  The parking lot is tiny and the spots are at hard angles for the average car.  The murals on the wall and hosted service (If you can even call it that!) are a nice advantage over Gyro Express, which resides across the street.

Cheeky: “Hosted service” and “Orexi” shouldn’t be in the same sentence together!

Food:  I’d have to say that although the service is some of the worst I’ve seen, the food wasn’t that bad.  If I was to rate this restaurant strictly on the food I’d give it a B-, but I’d much rather drive into Kirkland for the gyros at Santorini Greek Grill or Padria in Juanita Village (we will have to review those another time).  For me, the food was just “ok.”  I would argue that the lemon-chicken soup was worth going back for though.

Cheeky: Alright, I’ll admit the meat was delicious, the soup was just “ok” in my opinion and the pita was perfectly soft, but the horrible service was enough to turn me off for life.  At least the food seemed freshly cooked even though it took forever and a day to arrive!

Price: The prices were average.  The combo plates had a good variety of food and it was enough to feed two people.  Combined with the Passport Unlimited card discount, the prices are a bit better.

Overall Recommendation: I (FIT) won’t be headed back to Orexi.  With the long wait, drunk sloppy waitress, late  arrival of one guest’s food, forgotten drinks and little apology… us FITs were not impressed.  Boo you Orexi! We give you our first Two Thumbs Down!

Cheeky: I won’t ever go back to Orexi again.   Like I said earlier, the service was horrible and I am anal a STICKLER for good customer service!  The waitress was nowhere to be seen for the first five or so minutes of our arrival and I hate not being greeted within 30 seconds of entering a restaurant/store ( except maybe a grocery store but the Downtown Bellevue Safeway now employs the friendliest people and someone always greets me when I walk in so even that’s no excuse now).  She was really loopy, too Chatty Kathy and terribly forgetful; I believe she forgot our request for lemon slices at least three times and we didn’t get them until almost at the end of our meal!  The aforementioned late arrival of a guest’s meal was an order they’d completely messed up and it was the last one to arrive to the table, too!  It should’ve been comped.

Side note: Chatty Kathy waitresses are okay as long as they’re getting their jobs done correctly and efficiently.  There’s a way to connect with customers and still get your work done right.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Toys Café and Bakery

Date: 3/30/10
Address: 131 106th Ave NE, Bellevue, WA

Occasion: Escape from the office Lunch break

For our first review together and to celebrate the sudden break in the rain, we fled our respective dungeons and hightailed it down to check out Toys’ new location in Bellevue Plaza (just one block northwest from their old location). 

Atmosphere: Quiet and casual but bustling.  Like all good Chinese restaurants, Toys Café is one of those places whose unimpressive exterior hides a true gem inside.  Their new location is much less dingy thanks to a wider glass storefront that lets in more sunshine and brighter interior lights; happily, the food quality remained the same.  The staff is a competent and efficient lot: we were promptly seated as soon as we walked in, given glasses of water and a pot of tea, and our orders were taken shortly afterwards.  Even though the bakery isn’t stocked and running yet, the space didn’t feel unfinished and everything seemed to be running smoothly. 

Food: We ordered the Beef Chow Fun and the Seafood Combo Over Pan Fried Noodles, two very basic dishes that any good restaurant shouldn’t screw up, and they didn’t disappoint!  Our food was quick and hot, just the way we like it, and it certainly appeased the hungry monster residing in our bellies.  The chow fun wasn’t very greasy nor was it too salty (some places put too much soy sauce in it), the noodles were perfectly cooked and the beef was very tender. 

FIT: “It also had a healthy serving of bean sprouts in it, but it could’ve used a bit more beef.  We like our meats.”

The pan fried noodles, aka “both sides browned” noodles, aka “twice browned noodles”, is another popular Cantonese dish, and Toys’ seafood version is very good.  The seafood was fresh, although the fish was a bit “fishy”, but the prawns, squid (!!), scallops were fantastic.  It also had bok choy in it, but I’d suggest they chop them up a bit for easier consumption.

FIT: “Yummy squid!!”

Lastly, the portions were just about right.  Even though we stuffed our faces, we still had a little leftover enough for one more lunch.

Price: The prices are pretty average: most of their dishes range from $7 (rice dishes) to $12 (combos and seafood dishes), with the Canton Roasted Duck and Peking Duck peaking at $25-$30. 

Overall Recommendation: For the speed of service, deliciousness, leftovers and decent prices, we’d definitely recommend this place for lunch or dinner.  As soon as they open their bakery, we’ll bring you a new review on that.  Can we say pineapple and custard buns??

Friday, March 26, 2010

Yum Yang Chinese Restaurant

Date: 3/24/10

Address: 456 SW Mount Si Blvd, North Bend, WA 

Occasion: Take-out with S.E.A.L.

A late night dinner with S.E.A.L. in the land of far-far-away.  Well, actually, North Bend isn't that far, but it was only a few years ago that this was considered the "boonies."  We've heard of a few good recommendations surrounding the North Bend area, and being the FITs that we are, we took on the responsibility of researching these recent rumors.

Atmosphere: Casual.  Walk in for a sit down meal or call ahead and take it home.  The restaurant itself is fairly small but can still accommodate a family very easily.  There’s a small bar in the back near the cash register and kitchen, and through a peep hole, you can see through to the kitchen and hear the "action" going on.  They have a few items (arch in entry way, pieces of art, etc.) which define the character within the restaurant, and while I'm taking a guess, I’d argue that this is a family-run business.  While we were waiting for our food, we only saw one cook in the back, and if that’s the case, she had quite the workload.  The service (even for take-out) was impressive.  Our order came quickly, given we did not order ahead of time, and we were pleasantly surprised to be offered complimentary tea while we wait.  Thank goodness, an Asian restaurant that doesn't charge for tea!! That’s a lost art now-a-days!

Food:  I am a fan of any Chinese restaurant with hand-shaven noodles.  Although S.E.A.L. was a little disappointed to not find Chow Fun (wide rice noodles) on the menu, Yum Yang redeemed themselves with Squid with Spicy Salt (an all-time favorite of the Sir).  They had the typical "American" Chinese food choices, but we were overjoyed to find great options to satisfy a hungry Chinese man.  We ordered the House Special Chow Mein with Hand-Shaven Noodles (+$1.50), the Happy Family dish, white rice and Squid with Spicy Salt (SwSS).  We have been searching for a part-time replacement for the Sir's favorite dish, and have tried at many restaurants, but Yum Yang takes the cake for the best SwSS that we've found in the Seattle area! You heard it here folks!

Price: Very decent especially for the "valley."  We've noticed that the further you move away from the big cities, your prices increase, but Yum Yang was very reasonable in their prices.  Most entrees were around the $10 range.  

Overall Recommendation: I think that Yum Yang will be a family favorite for us.  It has great food, and it’s local.  Typically we would head out to Chinatown for the "good stuff" – and still will for the dim sum – but for an easy Chinese dinner, Yum Yang easily competes with any of the local Chinese restaurants.

Friday, March 19, 2010

King and I Thai Cuisine

Date: 3/19/10

Address: 10509 Main St, Bellevue, WA 98004

Occasion: Lunch with The Seester

The Seester’s on Spring Break this week so I thought we could catch up and hang out for lunch today.  I’ve had a mad hankering for Thai food lately so we went to this oldie but goodie to feed my current obsession.  Plus, the sunshine called for some Thai iced tea. Ohhhh, yeah!

Atmosphere: Casual.  The nice thing about the King and I is that it’s casual and cozy without being sloppy.  You can come here with your friends in jeans and a t-shirt (well, I don’t wear t-shirts but you get my drift) but a business lunch would be not out of place here either.  The service is fast, friendly and therefore fantastic.  We arrived around 1pm, after the Bellevue lunch rush, so we were seated very promptly, given our menus and glasses of water immediately, and our order was taken promptly, too. Throughout our meal, they also came by quite frequently to check on our water levels and to check if everything was alright. A+ there!

Don’t judge a book by its cover!  This place is more spacious than it looks from the outside, although parking can be a pain at peak hours.  There’s parking in front and in the back of the building, as well as 2 tandem spots on the side.  You’ll see what I mean when you go.  Inside, there are tables and booths alike, and everything’s spaced out just right so you don’t feel like you’re drooling breathing on your neighbor’s food.  The interior design is a little kitschy, as most Thai restaurants can be, but it’s not horrendous and certainly not bad enough to dampen the appetite.  Tasteful kitsch, if I dare say it (and obviously I dare). 

Food: The Seester and I both ordered Chicken Phad Thai with no stars, and I also ordered a Thai iced tea.  I’d debated over Phad Thai or Yellow Curry but I’m extremely sensitive to spicy food and I know their curry sauce is pre-made to 1 or 2 stars and I was in no mood to sweat it out today.  The Phad Thai isn’t ketchup-y (a tragic downfall of Chantanee, another local Thai restaurant and a review for another day) and the chicken was properly tender.  The meat to noodle ratio was just right.  The dish also offered a decent amount of bean sprouts, a non-overpowering sprinkle of minced peanuts, as well as a slice of lime.  The Seester squeezed lime juice all over hers, gleefully I might add, while I ignored my slice.  Let us not forget about why we love King and I…the portions!  One plate of Phad Thai is enough for two meals, even for a Fat Kid.

Price: Very decent, even if I didn’t have a Passport Unlimited card (Prime Card for all you Microsofties out there).  How can you go wrong with $10 for essentially two portions of non-ketchup-y Chicken Phad Thai?  Their entrées range around $10 - $17, depending on what kind of protein you get and whether or not it’s a Chef’s special.  The portions are all around the same size so even if you get the most expensive dish (Lamb Panang, $17), it’s still a good deal.  I didn’t get any dessert – I normally don’t for lunch – but I might have to next time because the Fried Banana with Coconut Ice Cream is calling my name.

Overall Recommendation: I’d definitely come back again and again, and not only because I get a discount.  (I almost never pay full price for anything anyway, so that’s a moot point.)  The portions are great, the food’s yummy and the FFF (Fast, friendly and fantastic, remember?) service appeases my strict customer service standards

Bobby’s Hawaiian Style Restaurant

Date: 3/18/2010

Address: 13014 Hwy 99 So. Everett, WA 98204

Occasion: In the neighborhood  

Aloha!  Last night Sir Eat-a-lot (S.E.A.L. – at his request) and I were running errands in an area that we do not typically spend a lot of time.  The Lynnwood/Alderwood area does have a rather nice mall, but other than mall food and the restaurants that surround the mall (the BIG chain restaurants you can get just about anywhere), we didn’t know of many places to eat, so we decided to take the extra ten minutes to drive to a favorite we don’t visit that often.  I first heard of this place through “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives," which, for a Foodie-in-Training (FIT) is a show that supplies a list of places to try and dream of.

If you want Hawaiian, sure there is L&L (to review another time) but Bobby’s brings the Aloha to Seattle in a different way.

Atmosphere:  Not the greatest.  If you weren’t looking for their little building, you would miss it.  Situated off Highway 99 and tucked behind a fence, you could easily drive right past the small building.  Inside there are high bench seats that look a bit like they were stolen from an old Mexican restaurant.  They also have a little “patio” out back that has a tiny patch of grass.  They do have great Hawaiian music playing, which magically drowns out the rush of Highway 99, and for a moment you feel like you are back in the islands.

Food:  If you love Hawaiian food as much as I do and don’t get to visit the Aloha State as much as you would like, Bobby’s will hit the spot.  They basically have two different menus: O’hana style (that’s “family style” for all you Haoles out there) or plate lunch.  Each plate lunch comes with the standard two scoops of rice and one scoop of macaroni salad.  We ordered two Spam musubi, fried rice (Yum!) and the combo entrée with kalua pig and Kalbi short ribs.  We’ve also had the mochi chicken before and let me tell you, I regret not getting an order last night.  That chicken is the stuff dreams are made of.  By the way, if you are one who is “afraid” of Spam but have never tried it…get over it.  I love Hawaiian-style fried rice.  It is a little bit lighter in color compared to what you may be used to, but is typically made with Hawaiian shoyu and is not as salty.  S.E.A.L. and I believe it is a good sign if you can see the egg.  The rice is just the way I like it and you can tell that Bobby has mastered the art of creating Kalua pig without digging a hole out back.  It was moist, full of flavor and taste like it had been cooking underground all day.  Next time I am going to try the Lomi Salmon and will not be leaving without that mochi chicken.  I wouldn’t rate the macaroni salad the best – I’ve had better – but I would say the rest makes up for it!

Price: A great deal, especially if you go O’hana style.  We paid $4.95 for an O’hana-sized serving of fried rice and most O’hana entrees were around $10 each.  The plate lunches run around the $7-11 range and can easily feed one person with leftovers.  The side orders, in general, run anywhere from $1.50 to $9.50, but we’ve only had the spam musubi, which was $2.50 each, but were decent in size.  POG juice was a bit pricey ($1.50) but this is a juice that is typically imported in from Hawaii so I expect  to pay a little bit more.

Overall Recommendation:  I would go here again. And again and again.  I love the simplicity of Hawaiian culture and that same lifestyle is reflected in their food: simple and delicious food that leaves your tummy happy.  I wouldn’t say this is a “night out of the town” kind of place, but if you’re looking for good food Bobby’s is your place.  Enjoy!


*If you have a recommendation of a restaurant to check out – leave the information in our comments below! Thanks!

Thursday, March 18, 2010


So here we are, starting another round of this thing called "blogging."  Another shot to be heard.  Let's just hope that I can keep up my own interest in this thing to keep it moving along.  This time I think I have the solution for blog writer's block.  This time, I will write about something that I love... Food.  

When you live in a place filled with as many great restaurants as I do, you must act.  I'm just thankful (oh so thankful!) not to live in a place like... Oklahoma.  Sorry OK, I've never been to your fine state and I don't know what the food is like, but judging by the absence of ocean... I don't think it's a place for someone like me to visit.

Real restaurant reviews from the "Average Joe" (me) and maybe an occasional recipe or homemade dinner of choice. I can't promise what will be in store for the future.  So... wish me luck.

I am no expert. I am not perfect.  I like food. Here. we. go.