Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Mai Place - Renton, WA

Looking for decent Chinese food in the south side?  Well, there's one place that even I will recommend and that's Mai Place.  No, I'm not inviting you to "my" place, but Mai Place.  The exterior of the restaurant has the liking of a small, dark brown house. It's hidden on the corner of a major intersection next to Rite Aid and some apartments.  There's a small sign hanging above with the letter 'M' that almost looks like the golden arches.  But this is not the Chinese-American fast food-version of McDonald's.  You'll be suprised to find that Mai Place serves some quality Cantonese food that can't be found elsewhere in Washington. 

Since it was my dad's birthday last week we decided to go there for dinner. Our first course was bitter melon soup. It was way too bitter for my liking. I felt like I was drinking Chinese medicine. But I was told this is how bitter melon soup tasted and that it's good for you. Well, if that's the case, I do not like bitter melon soup and won't order it again.

Our next dish was roasted squab, which you have to pre-order so they purchase it fresh.  I have not found any other Chinese restaurant around town that serves  roasted squab except here.  The roasted squab was perfectly done - the meat was tender and full of flavor.  We also pre-ordered the fried chicken. Out of all the Chinese restaurants that I have eaten fried chicken, I think they might be one of the best. The skin is crispy and the meat is juicy with just the right amount of salt. Even the white meat was moist and not dry at all. I'm not a huge fan of the chips that come with fried chicken, but my family likes them and they said that it was pretty good too.

Out last dish was steamed tilapia. It was very fresh since they buy it at the grocery store nearby. The sauce contained Chinese fish soy sauce, cilantro, green onions, and fried oil. I prefer the sauce without the cilantros, but the fish itself was good and I would order it again.

So if you're in the area or plan on shopping at Ikea or Fry's, I would recommend trying out Mai Place for dinner.  Just remember to call in advance to pre-order the roasted squab and fried chicken!

Mai Place
3152 NE Sunset Blvd
Renton, WA 
(425) 228-6388‎

Chinese BBQ Pork

I have been trying to perfect my Chinese BBQ pork dish.  My recipe doesn't taste exactly the same as the BBQ pork you can purchase at the Chinese stores, but this home version comes pretty close.  I especially like the sweetness that comes from the honey and hoisin sauce.  This dish is very easy to make - just marinade it for at least 4 hours and pop it in the oven for about 45 minutes and it's done.  I like to make it on Friday's when I'm too lazy to prepare a huge meal and can't think of anything else to cook.

Chinese BBQ Pork

1 lb pork tenderloin

1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons hoisin  sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon five-spice powder
4 slices fresh ginger

Add all the sauce ingredients in a sauce pan.  Heat over medium heat for 1 minute to dissolve sugar.  Let cool.

Marinate the pork with 2/3 of the sauce for at least 4 ohours or overnight.  Save the remaining sauce for later use.

Bake in a 375 degree F oven for 30-45 minutes.  Brush the remaining sauce over the pork while in the oven.  Cut into thin slices and serve hot or cold. 

Monday, January 4, 2010

Chinese Red Date Soup

My hubby was feeling a little under the weather so I made Red Date Soup for him.

Red Date Soup is a Chinese sweet soup that is typically made for dessert or for health purposes.  Red dates (also known as jujubes) have many health benefits.  Below are just a few of the many health benefits:
  • Rich in Vitamin C
  • Increases blood flow
  • Aids in digestion
  • Protects the liver from toxins and the ill effects of free radicals 
  • Calms the mind
  • Soothes the stomach
This recipe also calls for brown sugar candy, which can be found in your local Asian grocery store (see picture below).  This dessert is simple to make, sweet, AND good for you.  What could be better?  Give it a try!

Red Date Soup

1 thumb size piece of ginger, peeled
20 Chinese red dates (seeded)
1 piece of brown candy
8 cups of water

Soak the red dates in a bowl of hot water for at least 30 minutes.  Drain the water and rinse thoroughly.

Boil water in a large pot.  Once the water has come to a boil, place the ginger, red dates, and brown candy in the pot.  Turn the heat down to medium-low and let it simmer for 30 minutes. 

Serve hot..

Monday, December 28, 2009

Piatti Ristorante & Bar - Seattle, WA

My cousins came down from BC to visit us during Christmastime. We decided to take them to U-Village and have lunch at Piatti's. To my surprise, Piatti's is actually a chain restaurant. We realized after we saw the Piatti's logo that it was exactly the same as the one in San Diego that we went to over the summer. The food at the Piatti's in San Diego was delicious so I thought the quality of the food at the Piatti's at U-Village would be comparable.

We ordered the Di Parma appetizer which had prosciutto di parma, mozzarella, arugula & grissini.  The proscuitto was finely cut and authentic; the mozerlla was fresh and light; the bread sticks and black olives, however, were too salty for my liking. 

We also shared the funghi pizza.  It was supposed to have porcini & chanterelle mushrooms, garlic, roasted tomatoes, fontina & rosemary.  I say "supposed to" because all I could taste was the cheese and the grease, which is not my idea of an authentic Italian pizza. 

For my lunch entree I ordered the Pappardelle.  It had wide ribbon pasta, prawns, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, arugula, garlic, white wine & basil.  This was probably the best dish out of the entire meal.  The wide ribbon pasta tasted like it was freshly made.  It almost had the texture of a cross between lasgna pasta and Chinese egg noodles.  It was well done.  Unfortunately, the prawns were not fresh and rather dry.  The sauce and vegetables were fine so just stuck to eating the noodles.

My cousin had the Rigatoni and she said it wasn't very good. I tasted a little bit of it and the sauce was too salty and the noodles were undercooked.  And the spaghetti that my husband ordered was like your typical spaghetti dish. He said it was decent and would order it again.

I guess not all restaurant chains are equally the same. It's basically a hit-and-miss at this one. I would probably go again with friends, but I'll stick to the items I know are good. If you're willing to take a risk and try the other items let me know how it turns out.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Carrot Cake that Hits the Spot!

There's something about carrot cake that makes you believe it's good for you.  Maybe it's because I'm getting my daily vegetable intake or maybe because it tastes so light and not too sweet that you just can't stop eating it!  Regardless of however many calories are in this cake, it is just so good that I am willing to do an hour of Jillian Michaels work-out to burn it off. 

I usually make carrot cake in a square cake pan, but today I was feeling adventurous and decided to make an entire round cake with two layers.  I didn't add any coconut inside the cake, but toasted sweetened shredded coconut on the sides and top after I spread cream cheese frosting over it.  I think the coconut flakes add a nice finish to the cake and a great texture when you bite into it.  Below is the recipe:

Carrot Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
3/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
3 cups peeled and shredded carrots
1 cup toasted sweetened shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease two 9-inch round cake pans and dust with flour.   In a bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt together.  In a another bowl, beat the eggs, oil, granualted sugar, brown sugar, and buttermilk until completely mixed.  Stir the flour mixture on low speed 1 cup at a time into the egg mixture until just combined.  Fold in the carrots.  Pour the batter evenly between the prepared pans.  Bake for about 40 minutes.  Place 1 cake layer on a plate.  Spread the cream cheese frosting over the top (see recipe below).   Place the second cake layer on top.  Spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake.  Press 1 cup toasted sweetened shreeded coconut evenly onto the sides and top of the cake. 

Cream Cheese Frosting
1 lb cream cheese
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups confectioners sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Bring the cream cheese and butter to room temperature.  Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter together on medium-high speed until smooth.  Reduce the speed to low, add the sugar, and beat until smooth.  Beat in the vanilla.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Metropolitan Grill - Seattle, WA

My husband is a meat lover so for his birthday we took him to the Metropolitan Grill in downtown Seattle for dinner.  It's been at least 3 years since we've been there and I found that some things have changed, while others have stayed the same.

After we were seated, the waitress gave us a basket filled with sour dough and pumpernickel rolls.  I'm not a huge fan of the sour dough bread, but the pumpernickel wasn't bad.  (It doesn't compare to the Cheesecake Factory's bread, of course)  For an appetizer, we ordered a side dish of the Cedar Plank Roasted Wild Mushrooms ($12).  I was excited to try this dish because I love chanterelle mushrooms.  However, I was pretty disappointed as the mushrooms were dry and flavorless.  Also, the complimentary baked potato that came with my steak was a disappointment.  The baked potato itself was fine, but the choice of complimentary toppings was pretty sad.  We were offered cheese, sour cream, and butter.  The last time we were there, I remember they had a choice of chives and bacon bits.  What happened?  They definitely need to bring that back.  Onto the the star of the show -- the  STEAK.  I ordered an 8 oz. Filet Mignon ($45).  The meat was so tender, juicy, and rich (that's probably all the butter they use).  And it was still as good as I remembered it 3 years ago.  I would still recommend going to the Metropolitan Grill for the best steak in Seattle....just don't waste your money on the sides.   

The Metropolitan Grill
820 2nd Avenue
Seattle, WA  98104