Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Seattle Day Two: Fremont and El Chupacabra

Our second day in Seattle was mostly spent in the neighborhood known as Fremont, home to the center of the universe sign post, a statue of Lenin, and the Fremont Rocket. Originally, Fremont was a separate city from Seattle, and was annexed by the latter all the way back in 1891. Today it is known for its offbeat, counterculture vibe. Or at least it was. I read in a guide book that Fremont is not nearly as kooky as it once was since Adobe moved into the neighborhood and made it more Serious Business. 

Anyway, Fremont definitely has some kick-ass places to eat. Chief among them, in my opinion, is Blue C Sushi, the only kaiten (=conveyor belt) sushi restaurant I have been to outside of Japan. How it works is simple. The sushi chefs are in the middle of an oval shaped half-wall. Along the outside of the wall are booths and counters where customers sit. Along the top of the wall is a conveyor belt that is constantly running at a sluggish pace. The chefs in the middle make the sushi, put it on plates, and set the plates on the conveyor belt. The customers then peruse the passing tasty offerings and take the ones they want. 

Each plate has a different color band painted on it signifying what the price of that particular plate is. A green plate is $1.50, for example, because they are simple rolls with not a lot of ingredients, while an orange plate is $3.25 with more complicated sushi creations. Eat as many plates as you want. At the end, the prices are totaled together by your server (who mostly just brings you drinks and makes sure you understand what is going on and are happy) thus assessing the cost of your meal. I usually eat a bunch of cheaper plates because I'm poor. My friends and I did this a lot in Japan. 

This is not only great for people who don't have much money, but also for people on the go, like businesspeople! California has something similar that I experienced during my time there that was, in true California fashion, like a Disney boat ride for sushi. Rather than a conveyor belt carrying the plates of sushi around to the waiting customers, the sushi floats by on little boats down a guided waterway. I do not know if this exists in Japan; it might. But given its similarities to the Pirates of the Caribbean and the Small World rides, I would totally accept it being a California special.
For dessert, Greg and I stopped at a place recommended to us by the walking tour I found online. It was so freaking amazingly delicious that I must also recommend it to anyone visiting Seattle: Simply Desserts. I ordered a slice of Red Velvet cake that was divine, and Greg got the strawberry white chocolate cake, also quite tasty. Be warned, though, that they don't take credit cards. Bring cash. Eat cake. Perhaps enjoy a hot chocolate as I did. Done. There is a reason this place has been voted one of the best bakeries in the Pacific Northwest for 20 years. They're that amazing.

From there we walked (and possibly should have driven) up Fremont to a bookstore called Book Larder that only deals in cookbooks. They also offer tastings, classes, and demonstrations in their kitchen which is right in the middle of the sales floor. Greg ended up picking up a copy of Mosh Potatoes: Recipes, Anecdotes, and Mayhem from the Heavyweights of Heavy Metal. (You may find some of those recipes on this blog one day. Just a warning.) There were a number of books I would have loved to have poured through, but I prefer to get my books from the library if possible. One day when I have a better kitchen and no debts hanging over me, I will invest in a small personal library of recipe books. But that day was certainly not while I was on vacation in Seattle.

The friend that Greg and I were staying with, Amanda, is vegan, so when she accompanied us to dinner, we liked to find places that were Amanda friendly. And with the help of the internet, I found the ultimate vegan and nonvegan alike food hangout. In a neighborhood called Phinny Ridge sits El Chupacabra, the most awesome Mexican bar in the world (that any of us has been to so far). The prices are more than reasonable, the selection for meat eaters and non meat eaters is commendable, and the atmosphere is beyond compare. The wait staff is friendly and helpful, the jukebox is free during the quite lengthy happy hour (and stocked with tons of goth favorites), and the bar is well stocked, as well. Plus there is a patio, delivery options, and wi-fi.

I ordered one of the chickens (I can't remember what it is called), Greg got pork, and Amanda had I think the vegan version of the chicken that I ordered, all three in burrito form. They offer both dry and wet burritos, and I appreciate the option. (I prefer dry.) You can also choose between small and big. I kind of wish I had ordered the large one simply because I never wanted the deliciousness to end. Seriously one of the best burritos I have ever eaten, and I lived in San Francisco.

If you are vegan, go to this place. If you are not vegan, go to this place. I'll admit, the appearance may initially turn off some people, but please don't let a bunch of Dia de los Muertos memorabilia deter you from an amazing meal.

And that, my friends, concludes our second day in Seattle.

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