Uneeda Burger

tl;dr: THE ONION RINGS for crying out loud. Buffalo chicken sandwich is the tops if you’re into that sort of thing. If not, the burgers are fantastic, but the special sauce has horseradish, so have them leave it off if you’re not a fan of that.

Sometimes, a thing is perfect. It doesn’t happen often, especially in the world of restaurants, but sometimes, you get to experience the pinnacle of greatness.

The onion rings at Uneeda Burger are the kind of food that happens to you. They’re beer battered, and not in the way that is promised to you on the menu and then they show up and they’re actually covered in panko. I’m not trying to hate on panko in this necessary sidebar, but when beer-battered is the phrase you choose to describe your fried product, there shouldn’t be even a whisper of panko involved.

These onion rings don’t disappoint. They come piled in one of those square, white bowls that rich people probably eat Cheerios out of. They’re golden brown in a way that all fried things should be. They’re simultaneously pillowy and crispy in a way that physics shouldn’t allow. They’re beautiful.

So how about the burgers? Well, the burgers are great, really great. But they come with horseradish sauce, which I’m not big on. So instead, my order is almost always a buffalo chicken sandwich. When I order a buffalo chicken sandwich I expect a mediocre piece of chicken that is more breading than meat, a vinegary hot sauce, a sesame seed bun, and some lettuce. The version at Uneeda Burger is something that can really only be dreamed up by someone who really thinks about food. Someone who has a notepad on their nightstand and writes down food ideas when they wake up in the middle of the night.

The buffalo chicken sandwich has boneless chicken thighs that are fried for so long they’re on the dark brown side of burnt, and then covered in buffalo sauce. The chicken is so deeply fried that it actually stands up to the buffalo sauce, flavor-wise. The toppings are just perfect. Pickled red onions, blue cheese sauce, and celery leaves. CELERY LEAVES. Of COURSE there are celery leaves on a buffalo chicken sandwich. Why the hell doesn’t everywhere do this? Genius.

http://www.uneedaburger.com/

Bamboo Garden

tl;dr: Yeah, yeah, I get it. Vegan food isn’t good. This place is. Get the tofu vegetable rolls, sweet and sour chicken, almond fried chicken, and chicken chow mein. Don’t get the fish.

It’s hard to get people to join me for vegan food, no matter what I say. I can explain and explain and explain, I can offer to pay, I can beg and plead, but I can never make any headway. I think what my friends don’t understand is that I’m not digging on raw tofu or kale smoothies. I will never stand for food that doesn’t taste good, even if it is good for me.

Though I’m very interested in nutrition and how food affects the body, I am always more interested in how food affects my mouth. Taste is of utmost importance to me, because I am a fat through and through. So when I’m saying, hey, this vegan place is spectacular, I mean it. This vegan place is a haven of greasy Chinese food for people who normally care about their health.

You might wonder, what’s the point of eating vegan greasy Chinese food when Seattle is chock full of great meat-filled greasy Chinese? The point is that Bamboo Garden has some magical stand-in for meat that somehow tastes better than meat. It doesn’t taste like meat, it tastes better than it. The texture has just the right amount of give, and whether it’s covered in fried batter or stirfried in strips with chow mein, it tastes like a chicken nugget had a beautiful vegan baby.

So, a disclaimer before we go forward. Don’t even go anywhere near the fish. Vegan fish is a bad idea, even when you have somehow concocted a meat substitute that is better than meat. There is no fish substitute and I am not advocating for one. Now that that’s out of the way, there are four things you should order. They are the four things I order every time I go to Bamboo Garden, and they are unreal.

The four things are the tofu vegetable rolls, sweet and sour chicken, almond fried chicken, and chicken chow mein. If you are unable to order all four, do it anyway. I can’t pick the best one.

The tofu vegetable rolls are a bunch of sauteed vegetables wrapped in a sheet of crispy tofu. This tofu is as thin as paper, eliminating the squishy factor that most people find unappetizing. The vegetables inside are crisp, but the raw edge has been taken off by a couple minutes of heat.

The sweet and sour chicken and almond fried chicken are exact replicas of the dishes you’ve had at every other greasy Chinese place, except they’re made with vegan chicken nugget perfection.

The chow mein, oh sweet vegan mother of god, this is actually my favorite. I lied earlier. This is my favorite. Everything, the noodles, the vegetables, the awesome vegan chicken, is salty and dry fried. The noodles are thin, but still chewy. The vegetables are the same level of crispiness as the tofu vegetable rolls, and the vegan chicken is there in all of it’s nuggety glory.

Anything on the menu that has that chicken in it is worth ordering. Order your favorites, order some weird stuff, order anything but the fish, and you’ll be golden.

http://www.bamboo-garden.co/

Ma’ono

tl;dr: ORDER THE GODDAMN ROLLS. I don’t care what else you order. Everything is good.

When people talk about Ma’Ono, they always talk about the fried chicken. Well, I’m a natural born hater, through and through, and I’ve gotta say the fried chicken was one of the worst things on our table.

THAT BEING SAID, we ordered SEVENTEEN things, and all of them were spectacular. Do you get what I’m saying here? Fried chicken was the worst of the best. Everything else was better, and fried chicken certainly wasn’t bad.

The best of the best was easily a tie between the rolls and the saimin. The rolls were the best combination of food adjectives; light, dense, huge, not filling. How were they both light and dense? I DON’T KNOW. I truly can’t wrap my brain around the idea that these rolls are real. That’s how good they are. They are simultaneously light and dense in a world that doesn’t allow that to happen. How are they both huge and not filling? I DON’T KNOW. These rolls are fantastically huge. Absolutely gigantic, and yet, I could eat piles and piles of them. They must have paid off the same people Lay’s did, because they are like potato chips in that you can eat them forever without feeling the slightest bit full.

After that how could I possibly recommend the saimin? Well really, nothing can top those rolls. I think I’m actually doing myself a disservice here by having this be the third article, because honestly, after those rolls, nothing matches up. Grass just isn’t as green anymore, the sky isn’t as blue, and babies aren’t as cute. They’re so good, they’re depressing.

If you must follow up the rolls with something other than another plate of rolls though, the saimin is your best bet. The broth in that bowl is as close to gravy as broth gets. Fatty, rich, opaque, it’s a beautiful masterpiece of liquid, but the real star of the show is the soft-cooked egg. It’s marinated in soy and sesame, which doesn’t sound especially spectacular, but when you bite into it, it just feels right. It feels like all eggs should be marinated in soy and sesame. These eggs are living their true egg destiny.

If you really want to fat (and you should), go for the banana cream pie. I geek out over dessert menus and Ma’ono was no exception. Even though I was absolutely pushing the limit by ordering a seventeenth plate of food for the table, I had no choice. Banana cream pie is a fantastic indicator of how good a restaurant is, and Ma’ono hit it out of the park. Not only is there no fake banana flavor to be found, but there were cacao nibs in the graham cracker crust which were addictively crunchy, and the whipped cream that topped the entire slice was freshly piped on, which was just about enough to send me into convulsions right there in the booth.

The only regret I have about Ma’ono was that I didn’t get to try more than seventeen things. Ma’ono is the kind of restaurant that is like your favorite album. You can play it all the way through without skipping a song, but there are definitely some songs you play more than once.

http://maono.springhillnorthwest.com/