Seven Courses of Beef, not as many of Sushi

Kumquat-tini. How very asian.

The first day of my parents' visit to my new hometown, my aunt wanted to take them somewhere Vietnamese. For some reason, she decided that this should be Tamarind Tree. The only restaurant in International District with a line out the door.

Comprised entirely of white people.

Anyway, it's a more upscale Vietnamese place with fancy cocktails and very low lighting.

Asian pear flower. Aww.

I had actually only been in for cocktails in the past. They have some pretty sweet ones. And by sweet, I mean sexy. Like lemongrass, kumquat, and asian pear. How cool is that!

Hi Mom (and Dad)!

My parents seemed pretty cool with the whole vibe, though. My dad is white, after all. In typical fashion, we all ordered way too much food.

Hey, check out that mood lighting. Moody.

We started out with the Hến Xúc bánh đa - the baby clams with rice cracker. The clams must be very small as babies, because I couldn't really pick them out from the rest of the stuff in the dish. It was pretty tasty though. I think they were the little vaguely meaty things. Sort of sweet, in a nice savory sauce.

Are baby clams cuter than adult clams? I wonder.

I generally like the concept of food as eating utensils, but the rice cracker thing was kind of a pain. Something in the breaking and scooping and dipping didn't translate into easy consumption for me. But I am half retarded at the dinner table, so there's that.

Delicious char.

The next thing to come was the ever-present grilled meat with vermicelli noodles and green stuff. I think it's pretty much a dinner staple at Vietnamese restaurants. And I'm fine with that.


The "food as utensils" principle works slightly better here - wrapping all the business up in a lettuce leaf for nuoc mem dipping. Quite nice!

Four courses right there.

My dad and I split the seven courses of beef. When the first plate came out, I was nervous. How do you get through seven courses of this? The first one is huge! It was various preparations of beef on a plate, accompanied by the standard noodles 'n' greens.

Well, as it turns out, that was actually the first four courses. Oh. Different preparation = different course. I think that's misleading. The should just call it "a few courses of beef, but with variety." That would look just as good on a menu.

That sauce should come with everything. including tacos.

The salad course of the beefness was really, really good. Probably my favorite dish of the night. The beef was sliced very thin and was super tender, sitting on a bed of shredded cabbage and other greens, and doused with a sweet fish sauce dressing. It was light and lovely.


The last course was a little DIY. Very thinly sliced raw beef came out, with just a sprinkling of white onions and a bit of seasoning. Raw beef course!

This pretty much got us all high.

Ok, turns out you don't eat it raw. It was accompanied by this little mobile cooking pot, heated by fuel source that gave off horrible, nausea-inducing fumes. They should really rethink ending the meal with this number.

Umm. . . soup?

My mom ordered some kind of soup. The end!

"Grip it as you would a mischievous child's neck. . . "

Well, the end of Vietnamese. The next night I took them to my favorite fancy-sushi restaurant in town: Shiki.

It's a cool little place with incredibly fresh seasonal fishes. It's also very, very expensive, so I go there never. But my parents are parents, and therefore I don't pay for food when I'm with them. Score.

We chose the agedashi dofu as an appetizer, and I was a bit disappointed. It came out cold and bland, with too much garnishy stuff and a vaguely unpleasant sauce. I really like the version at Kaname, and this one was sub-par in comparison.

Ah, fishskin.

My dad's king salmon was good. It was listed on the board as a special that day, so it was super fresh. I don't remember much about it, but fresh salmon is always pretty good. Right?


My mom wanted to get the seaweed appetizer. Or was it spinach? I just recall that it was unremarkable. Why do I like this place so much again?

Hey, little guys! How's it goin. . .

Oh yeah. . . the seafood. I remember seeing a tank full of these playful little guys when I walked in the door. Shrimps! Frolicking!


It practically frolicked right into my mouth. The sushi master pretty much fished him out, de-meated him, and put him on some rice. They fried up the heads for us to consume separately. It was deliciously barbaric.

What a spread!

And the rest of the sushis were similarly fresh. I can't quite recall all that we got, let's see. . .

Camera 2.

We got an unagi roll, and some nigiri. I believe it was albacore, salmon, er. . . something pink. . . .something. . . shiny. . . damn. I can't remember. I pretty much just ask the chef what's good that day and order two of everything he says. And it's always awesome.

Silverfish? No, silver fish.

These little guys came out after everything else for some reason. I believe they were Spanish mackerel. My mom says they're a bit "fishy" for her taste, but I rather enjoy the flavor. Mmm. Fish.

Oh, the carnage.

You know what was awesome about these meals? They were free for me. I love when family visits. And they were delicious - but the free really takes it over the top.

1 comment:

Ravenous Couple said...

what a eating adventure... for a second, we thought tamarind tree stared serving sushi! It's certaintly not the most authentic, but it fills a role. We definitely miss Seattle.