Motamachi Shokudo (Vancouver, Canada)

740 Denman Street
Vancouver, BC

Southern Californians and cold weather don't mix. It's like oil and water. To warm ourselves up, we decided to get some ramen. Vancouver has a very large population of Asians and as a result, Vancouver has tons of Asian restaurants to choose from. We heard good things about Motamachi Shokudo so we decided this was  the place to warm our bodies with some ramen.

Motamachi Shokudo is a small and narrow restaurant, but it has a nice design aesthetic to the restaurant. Wood and finished concrete cover most the walls and floors.

Nama-Shoyu Ramen (8.95)
We decided that we wanted to try out 2 different flavors of ramen. The shoyu ramen had a very clean tasting broth that was perked up by the veggies and the addition of an egg. The egg has a orange color yolk as opposed to the yellow ones that we are used to. This was a soft boiled organic and local egg from what we have been told.

New Generation Miso Ramen (9.45)
I am not exactly sure what makes this a new generation, but it was delicious. The broth was much more rich and fatty than the shoyu. I loved the addition of the corn to the ramen for an added sweetness and texture. 

I am not ramen expert, but overall we really enjoyed both our ramens at Motamachi Shokudo and would not hesitate to return on our future trips to Vancouver. Especially on a cold day!!


The Walrus and Carpenter (Seattle, Washington)

4743 Ballard Avenue NW
Seattle, WA 98107

"Best New Restaurants In America," "10 Best New Restaurants in America, " etc, etc, so on, and so on. These are just some of the kind words that have been written about the The Walrus and the Carpenter this past year.

Seems like nowadays the recipe for a successful restaurant is to be seasonal, market driven, have a strange location, little to no signage on the restaurant, strange name, and of course good food. The Walrus and the Carpenter has all the criteria above and more.

Back of the restaurant, or was it the front????  Not really sure.

Roasted Almonds – espelette pepper, sea salt (3)
A nice little snack to kick start our appetites. Didn't really need a kick start - we were already starving. The sea salt and espelette pepper added a salty and peppery flavor.

Marinated Olives (3)
Another little snack to nibble on while we waited for our real food to come out. The olives were nicely brined in a mixture of spices.

Chicken Liver Mousse with candied squash and dried cherries (10)
Pretty much anytime I see chicken liver mousse on a menu, there is a really good chance I am going to order it. The mousse was smooth as butter and delicious. I really enjoyed eating the mousse with the candied squash and the dried cherries.

Treviso Salad – apple, hazelnut, creamy dressing (8)
Treviso is an italian vegetable that is also known as "winter flower"; it is a red radicchio. The salad was slightly bitter due to the treviso but nicely balanced with the creamy dressing and the slices of apple.

Fried Oysters with cilantro aioli (8)
Looking around at other tables, it seemed as though everyone was ordering the fried oysters. The oysters were breaded in what seemed to be a cornmeal crust.  The texture and taste was a bit overly complex. I didn't really enjoy this one much.

Smoked Trout – lentils, walnuts, crème fraiche, pickled onions (10)
The various components of this dish really balanced and complemented each other.

Kale Gratin – gruyere, hazelnuts, tarragon (10)
This was my first encounter with a kale gratin. The flavor of the hazelnuts were really predominate in this dish.
Didn't love this dish nor did I dislike it.

Pumpkin Pudding Cake with espresso butter sauce and whipped cream (8)
This was a nice dessert to end our meal. Since it was freezing outside, the warm pumpkin pudding cake with its spices was a fitting dessert. 

I am not sure if The Walrus and the Carpenter really deserves all the high praise and attention that it has gotten. Overall, we did enjoy the food that we had, most notably the chicken liver mousse and the smoked trout dish. The restaurant space was beautiful and the ambiance were just right, but the food was not quite what we expected. 


Japadog (Vancouver, Canada)

899 Burrard St
Vancouver, BC

At first I was a little skeptical thinking, what's so special about these Japanese hot dogs? They can't be all that different from any other hot dog that we have had. Overhyped?? Wrong....

This little Japadog happened to be right on the corner of the hotel we were staying at, so it made it all the more convenient to sample these dogs. Fortunately for us, it was raining that day and as a result, this shortened the supposedly long lines considerably. 

The most popular of the dogs at Japadog would be the Kurobuta Terimayo. Kurobuta or Berkshire as Americans know it is the prized black pig. Similar to that Kobe Beef, Kurobuta is the best of the pig breeds. At $7.25, this better be a dang good dog. That is $7.25 with no drinks or chips, just the dog.

The Kurobuta Terimayo comes with Kurobuta hot dog, nori (seaweed) strips, and a teriyaki mayonnaise. We added a bit of the Wasabi mayo for a nicely added heat to the dog. The actual hot dog itself was juicy, flavorful and had a nice snap to it. I would say it's probably the best hot dog that I have eaten. The terimayo and wasabi mayo complement the hotdog and the nori strips add an extra dimension of flavor. This hot dog was delicious!!!

There was quite a bit of hype about the Japadog. Some saying it's just a hot dog and not worth the trip and some saying that it is all that and then some. I have to say that the hype is warranted. Although the hot dog is pricey for a hot dog, I would say it is definitely worth the trip to try it out. 


Serious Pie (Seattle, Washington)

316 Virginia St.
Seattle, WA 98121

We couldn't leave Seattle and not try one of Tom Douglas's many well regarded restaurants. When mentioning the best pizza throughout the United States and best pizza in each state, Serious Pie is often mentioned amongst the contenders. With a name like Serious Pie, they better be serious about their pie. 

The inside of Serious Pie is separated into a lower dining area and an upper cooking area. The restaurant is actually a bit smaller than I thought it would be.

Yellowfoot chanterelles, truffle cheese (16)
Serious Pie's pies are more of a rectangular oval than a traditional pie shape. Being a lover of the distinct taste and smell of truffles, we ordered the yellowfoot chanterelles and truffle cheese pizza. The yellowfoot chanterelles gave the pizza an extra boost of earthy/umami flavor. It was kind of strange to see a pizza with slices of cheese as opposed to grated cheese on it. The crust on Serious Pie's pizzas are actually seriously good with a crunchy crust and great taste.

Close up shot of the pizza.

Sweet fennel sausage, roasted peppers, provolone (17)
I wanted to order a pizza that was more on the meatier side and the sweet fennel sausage pizza fit the bill. The sweet fennel sausage was delicious with an apparent but not an overwhelming taste of fennel. The roasted peppers added great flavor to the pizza.

Close up of the sweet fennel sausage pizza.

The ladies both enjoyed the truffle pizza while I preferred the sweet fennel sausage pizza. Man = meat = good. They were both delicious in my opinion...just preferred the sausage one more. 

Chocolate budino, sea salt, cinnamon-walnut cookie (8)
For dessert, we had to try out the budino (which is Italian for pudding). I loved the sweet and salty combination of the dessert. I really appreciated the addition of the extra virgin olive oil on top that added the delicious taste and aroma of the high quality olive oil. 

The cookies weren't half bad either but I was fine with just the budino itself. You aren't going to hear any complaints over here about some chocolate cookies though.

Serious pie is pretty serious about their pies and their food. I am serious when I say that the food was seriously delicious and I am can seriously recommend Serious Pie to anyone.


Elliot's Oyster House (Seattle, Washington)

Pier 56
1201 Alaskan Way
Seattle, WA 981011

Apologies for the lack of posting these last few months. We just purchased our first home and it was quite a fixer upper. Most of our free time went into fixing this fixer upper up. Almost there. Still some more things to be done but it's getting there.

Thank you Lady G for reminding us that there are a few people that actually read our blog. We will try to update more regularly.

Any oyster lovers out there? If so, have we got a place for you!! Elliot's Oyster House has a progressive happy hour. What in the world is a progressive Happy Hour you ask? The prices get progressively more expensive as time goes on. Starting at 3:00, oysters are .50 cents and go up .25 cents each half hour. Guess what time we got there?? 3:00!! .50 cent oysters for us!

Every day they have a different oyster for happy hour. On the day we came, the oyster was the Hama Hamas. Pictured is the assortment of oysters that Elliot's has on any particular day.

Salt and vinegar housemade potato chips (2)
The chips were not bad. It was nice to have something to snack on in between oysters. Wish they were a bit more vinegar flavored.

Elliot's happy hour menu. Not only are oysters on the happy hour menu but there are some other selections as well. Can't comment on any other items on the menu. We were here for the oysters!

hama hama oysters (.50 per oyster)
The oysters were as expected - fresh, slightly briny, firm flesh, and delicious!

Elliot's Oyster House for happy hour is a must for any oyster lover looking for a steal of a deal. These oysters were cheaper than when we went to the oyster farm north of San Francisco. At .50 cents an oyster, you cannot pass this place up.


Pike Place Chowder (Seattle, Washington)

1530 Post Alley
Seattle, WA 98101

Seattle is best known for the Space Needle, the Public Market, original Starbucks, Nirvana, and rainy-cold weather. Southern Californians are definitely not used to the cold weather of Northern neighbors. One of our first stops was the Public Market, and as we were walking around freezing our you know whats off, we figured what better way to warm us up then some chowder.

With a selection of about 5 to 6 chowders to choose from, we sampled a few of them and although all tasty, we settled on a cup of the New England Clam Chowder. Continuing on with the trend of award winning foods, Pike Place Chowder proudly displays its numerous awards over the years for the satisfying soups and chow worthy chowders.

The chowder had an ideal texture that wasn't runny nor was it super thick either. The chowder had the taste of clam that wasn't overwhelming and nuances of bacon flavor along with other secret spices. I like the proportion of clams to other ingredients making each spoonful a body warming and delicious treat!


Beecher's Handmade Cheese (Seattle, Washington)

1600 Pike Place
Seattle, WA 98101

As a tourist visiting Seattle, one of the main attractions of the Seattle area is Pike Place. Within Pike Place is the original Starbucks, Pike Place Fish Market, and a multitude of other places to browse and to eat. Beecher's Handmade Cheese is one of the places that lures in tourists like Medusa. Can't... stop.... staring..... at the beautiful cheeses....

Not only does Beecher's sell artisanal handmade cheeses but they also sell grilled sandwiches and what I usually come here is for their "World's Best" Mac and Cheese. World's Best?? Quite a claim, don't you think? I'll be the judge of that.

Mac and Cheese – creamy blend of Flagship, Just Jack, penne pasta and spices (5)
The pasta's texture isn't too mushy like you would think it would. Instead of the traditional elbow noodles, Beecher's likes to use penne pasta. I think this is a good move on their part. Larger pieces that are easier to eat and are able to be stuffed with cheese. The blend of cheeses works really well too that has a excellent cheesy taste and texture. This definitely is not that powdered mac and cheese we all grew up eating.

World's Best? Still not sure about that claim. Haven't tried all the mac and cheeses in the world, but I might give it the "One of the best mac and cheeses that I have ever tasted in the Seattle, maybe even possibly in the West Coast" title. Quite a mouthful for an award, but this is my blog and I can give any award I want.


Brix - Napa Valley

7377 Saint Helena Hwy
Napa, CA 94558

Brix bills itself as a farm-to-table restaurant.The restaurant and garden has more than 2 acres of farm land in which many of the dishes vegetables coming directly from the garden. Does it get much fresher? The menu actually indicates what vegetables come directly from the garden. How cool is that?

The architecture of the restaurant fits in perfectly with the Napa Valley region. Flowers and plants surround the perimeter of the restaurant...this entices guests to wander around the beautiful grounds.

A view of some of the raised garden beds where various vegetables are grown. This is a view of the backside of the property facing the outdoor patio. The vegetables that you are about to eat are only about 50 feet away from where you dine.

This is another view of the outside seating area where our table was facing the gardens and the hills. Doesn't get much more serene and beautiful than this.

Fresh bread with butter and sea salt. The bread was nicely toasted and warmed and delicious when eaten with the butter. Not sure if it was house made or not but it was good. 

Brix Summer Heirloom Tomato Salad (11)
This was a dish that was beautiful to look at as it was to eat. I loved the flavor of the tomatoes and the crunchiness of the cucumber, adding a freshness to the salad. What really made the salad for me was the vinaigrette. I wanted to pick up the bowl and drink every last drop of it.

Grilled Lebanese Zucchini with cherry tomatoes and basil vinaigrette (6)
This was another vegetable dish that was a winner! The grilling on the zucchini added a nice bit of char and flavor to the zucchini. The tomatoes and the vinaigrette were once again outstanding. Freshness at its peak!

Sonoma Duck Breast with Creamy Mushroom Farro (26)
This was a nice piece of duck breast that was cooked well and portioned just right. The creamy mushroom farro was a change from the normal farro which I find boring at times.

Beef Tenderloin with olive oil poached zucchini and tomato vinaigrette (29)
The beef tenderloin was as you would expect, tender. The steak had a char and smokey flavor from the grill. My only complaint was that the steak was slightly overcooked in my opinion. Not a particularly exciting dish but solid.

Creme Brulee
The creme brulee was an excellent example of how it should be. Beautifully bruleed sugar top that shatters and begs to be eaten. Brix also included some kind of brittle.

Another serene view of the mountains, gardens, and vineyards of Brix. A great way to end the evening: just taking our time with dinner and relaxing as the sun drifted behind the mountains and enjoying what Napa has to offer.

Farm to table. Wouldn't it be awesome if all restaurants could operate with this belief? We enjoyed our meal at Brix, especially the vegetable dishes. It didn't hurt either that we had this beautiful view to look at.


Crossroad Chicken (Napa Valley)

Napa, CA 94558
(707) 280-3868

As we were driving on the highway to the Napa wineries, we spotted the words "Wood Fired" on a food truck and had to make a u-turn to see what this was all about.  I admit, I thought the food truck was serving wood fired pizzas and was at first disappointed when I saw that it wasn't pizza. However, after chatting with the chef a bit and him giving us a tour of the truck we found out that he uses ingredients from sustainably farmed and local products whenever possible.

Having previously worked as a chef at Acacia Winery for many years, he started this food truck business about a year now.  There is actually a real wood fired oven, and he has the proper insignia on his truck so you know he's legit.

An appetizing and concise menu with an assortment of sandwiches, tacos, soups, and salads at reasonable prices.

Here is a picture of the jester/chef himself Chef Kevin Simonson. 

Rancho Gordo Anasazi Bean Chili w/ chopped red onions and sour cream ($4.95).  The Anasazi beans are some kind of heirloom beans. Wow, heirloom beans too? The chili was different than what I'm used to, but good in a way. The beans themselves were actually smoother and less gritty than most beans I have had.  I appreciate the nice bite from the onions and how the sour cream smoothed things out.

Hot Chicken Sandwich w/ Meyer Lemon Aioli, Tomatoes, Red Onions, and Greens ($8.95). Definitely your gourmet sandwich. The bread was nice and toasty and the chicken was quite tasty with the aioli and the beautiful heirloom tomatoes.  The heirloom tomatoes were amazing too. Every bite made me wanting more.

Here is a picture of the wood fired oven inside the truck.

This gourmet food truck definitely is worth the stop for all the tasty food items, quality ingredients, and use of local products. If you are are ever at the crossroads and see Crossroad Chicken, you should definitely cross the road.