June 15

Global Eats: SLU Edition

A short list of some of the neighborhood’s best international flavors

Anyone with an eye on South Lake Union knows the dining landscape is developing at a rate unrivaled by any other neighborhood in the city. Perhaps subtler is the surplus of chefs and restaurateurs with internationally influenced menus spanning Berlin to Trinidad, served in sit-down spots, at walk-up windows, and by food trucks lining side streets. Here’s a selection of stories behind the global fare found in SLU.

Pam’s Kitchen

International inspiration: Pam’s Kitchen originally started as Pam’s Snack Shack in her native Trinidad. She moved to the Pacific Northwest in the hopes of opening a full kitchen, and now serves traditional Caribbean fare in Wallingford and on Eastlake Ave E.

What to order: jerk chicken sandwich and a sorrel rum punch.

“The jerk chicken sandwich was born out of curiosity; when we opened in 2006 customers kept requesting jerk chicken. It’s typically a Jamaican dish, but Pam starting testing herb and spice combinations to create a unique recipe. Its served on Pam’s secret recipe for coconut-flavored bread called a Coconut Bake, a Trinidadian favorite cooked in a deep pot on the stove.” (As told by Pam’s daughter, Anjuli)

Mamnoon Street

International inspiration: Owners Wassef and Racha Haroun of Capitol Hill’s Mamnoon bring Lebanese street food and Mideastern-influenced cocktails to the hungry lunch crowd on Sixth Ave.

What to order: Chicken shawarma. (If you’re in time for happy hour, try the Araktail, an blend of Levantine flavors including arak, vodka, orange blossom, and soda.)

“The chicken shawarma recipe was perfected on the streets of Lebanon, and we’re doing our best to bring the experience of a shawarma in a Beiruti souk to the streets of Seattle.” –Will Moseley, restaurant manager, Mamnoon

Hurry Curry of Tokyo

International inspiration: Becky and Tay Yoshitani opened their first location in Los Angeles nearly 30 years ago, and now hope to bring a taste of Japanese culture and community to their new outpost on Ninth Ave N.

What to order: Tokyo Curry, paired with a craft Japanese beer.

“My husband is from Japan and traveled often for work. The first thing he wanted to do when he went back was eat Tokyo curry, and it was the last thing he ate before coming home. It’s a hearty, sweet, comfort food.” –Becky Yoshitani, owner, Hurry Curry of Tokyo

Cinque Terre Ristorante

International inspiration: The neighborhood’s newest Italian spot at the corner of Seventh and Westlake draws on the traditional fare (and cooking style) of chefs of the Italian Riviera.

What to order: Seafood soup, followed by a martini named for one of the five coastal towns of Cinque Terre.

“If you peek into the kitchen of a restaurant in Italy, you’ll see huge containers of seafood and beautifully dressed chefs preparing to make seafood soup. I saw it for the first time on a school trip when I was fifteen, and again when my brother and I went back for research before opening the restaurant. It was our inspiration for both the dish and the open kitchen concept.” –Leo Varchetta, owner, Cinque Terre Ristorante

Mollusk

International inspiration: Chef Travis Kukull calls his new spot on Dexter Ave N a “Northwest curry house brew pub,” with Northwest, Southeast Asian, and Indian-influenced dishes largely inspired by his time at Mandalay Café.

What to order: Chicken Curry

“It’s a homey and satisfying dish. When I learned it I was young and brash, but my chef showed me how to slow it down. He showed me how to heat the oil, let the cinnamon sticks bloom in that hot oil to release their smell, and to know by smell when it’s time to add onion, ginger and garlic, then flour.” –Travis Kukull, owner and chef, Mollusk

Berliner Döner Kebab

International inspiration: Owner Viktor Twu ate his fair share of döner kebabs (Turkish in origin but a favorite in Germany) while visiting his fiancé in Berlin, and sold the sandwich franchise he previously owned in favor of starting a döner shop on Westlake Ave N.

What to order: Lamb and Beef Berliner, paired with Ayran, a chilled Turkish yogurt drink.

“One day I thought to myself “I could do this.” I didn’t speak German, so most of my research was through observation…and ordering a lot of döners. I experimented a ton, and still make gradual improvements every day.” –Viktor Twu, owner, Berliner Döner Kebab

FOOD TRUCKS  

It’s Bao Time

International inspiration: Taiwanese-American chef-owner Sean Jen wanted to start a food truck that stayed close to his roots, and after a trip to Taiwan was moved to bring the street food of Taiwanese night markets to Seattle–with bao at the forefront.

What to order: The Pig Lebowski (Keep an eye out for the passion fruit green tea lemonade or milk tea, which occasionally appear on the menu.)

“The traditional name is gua-bao, or tiger bites pig, because the bun looks like it’s eating the piece of meat. I fell back in love with the complex flavors (a nice blend of sweet and salty) of this dish on a trip back to Taiwan, and developed my recipe after many trial-and-error efforts.” ­–Sean Jen, owner, It’s Bao Time

Hours/Location: Tuesday-Thursday 10-2pm 320 Harrison St (near corner of Westlake and Harrison, Monday and Friday 333 Boren Ave N

Peasant Food Manifesto

International inspiration: Owner and chef Beth Clement (originally from Amish Country in Pennsylvania) describes her menu as “globally-influenced,” the result of conversations with fellow students in the culinary program at South Seattle College, many of whom were from the Pacific Rim.

What to order: Blue Box Got Seoul

“This kimchi macaroni and cheese is a riff on an Amish/Pennsylvania Dutch recipe of my grandmother’s–creamy baked macaroni and cheese served with stewed tomatoes. I substitute kimchi for the stewed tomatoes, then mix it into the mac and cheese along with Korean red pepper powder.” –Beth Clement, owner, Peasant Food Manifesto

Hours/Location: Thursdays 11-2pm, 311 Terry Ave N

Story by Karin Vandraiss, Photos by Olivia Brent

20 million gallons

of water from Lake Union used to level Denny Hill