Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Hi Hawaii Ya?

Renton now has two Hawaiian restaurants.
Hawaiian restaurants are few and far between in the Seattle area, and it's a cuisine I haven't had a lot of exposure to.
A couple of months ago we tried L and L Hawaiian BBQ (kitty corner from Wal-Mart) and got stuffed to the gills. L and L is a chain restaurant based in Honolulu, and is fast foody meat oriented. They serve macaroni salad with everything, whether you want it or not.
Tonight we went to the newer and more down home Aloha BBQ ,2439-B SE Maple Valley Hwy, Renton (425) 430-9319.
Aloha BBQ also features a lot of meat, maybe that's the hallmark of Hawaiian cuisine...but Aloha BBQ has interesting side dishes, which are included in the meal, like pickled radish, pickled ginger, pickled cuttlefish, and kim chee. You can also get macaroni salad there, but it's not forced down your throat as it is at L and L.
Speaking of meat, the Kalbi beef short ribs were tender, tasty, a bit of tang, and quite the bargain at 6.99. They were also served in a rather large quantity which I had no trouble devouring. Is this why there are quite a few heavy Hawaiians?
The Kahlua Pork with Cabbage( 7.99) is stir fried shredded pork with garlic, onions and Hawaiian sea salt. It's very good.
The Pork Lau Lau is a combination of black cod and pork steamed with taro leaves and wrapped in ti leaves. It too is very tasty and tender. What are ti leaves? I don't know, but the taro leaves were reminiscent of spinach and collard greens, had an almost creamy quality, though it had no cream.
You can also get a Caesar salad( with tofu!) or a hamburger there, but why would you want to?
For pescetarians, fish and chips and a seafood combo( scallops, mahi mahi and shrimp) are available.
They will occasionally have a teriyaki salmon or BBQ black cod available as a daily special, and both are available from the catering menu as well as garlic shrimp.
Did I say how good the food was? And at such a bargain?
The downsides:
Parking is tight. They share a parking lot with a tavern and a grocery store, and an apartment complex immediately adjacent. It may take a little while to find a space.
They're small, maybe 5 tables max.
I have this tendency to seek out places that aren't too far, but just a little off the beaten path.
This is one of those places, and it's a good one.

Friday, July 21, 2006

La Cocina Marina is Now Open and Yummy!

Tonight was the first night of business for LA Cocina Marina in beautiful Skyway, and I was there for it.
First off, they have the hottest salsa I've ever eaten at any restaurant in North America.
It kicks you in the ass and says "Boy Howdy!"
It gets easier to eat as you eat more of it, and it is delicious, but it clearly has habanero in it, and while it's not too hot to eat, damn! it's hot!
The menu is pretty small, but ambitious. They've got some things seen more commonly in good restauramts which aren't Mexican, like a Dugeness crab dip served atop rye toast.
The wild green salad has feta and walnuts and mandarin orange sections.
Clams and mussels get served in a garlicky tomatoey broth...delicious...
The shrimp cocktail is terrific with a sauce that gets mopped up with warm chips.
Things I may get around to ordering in the future include a tuna sandwich made with fresh grilled yellowfin tuna, a seafood marinara over fettucine noodles, and a grilled wild salmon entree.
Desserts include cheesecake which is made on the premises.
The bar has been completely remodeled and looks hip.
We were the only non Mexicans eating there tonight, and being the first night and all, service was kind of slow.
You might want to wait a week or two to give them time to work out the opening jitters, but foodwise? Just excellent! I hope these guys make it, given a location that just scares people off.
But I'm still here to write the blog, and I ate at El Agave in the same location and EL Tapatio in the same location before that.
Just because it's Skyway doesn't mean it's bad. Try this one.
Food 4 out of four. Atmosphere 2 ish, but might've been more fun in the bar. Service, 2 ish but was opening night, and may get better
It's better than El Agave was, although this place is less traditional Mexican.
Next to the Roman Casino, just West of the Skyway Bowl.
Go there!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Kerfuffle over the Renton Landing

Via HorsesAss - It looks like some foreign land usurpers are trying to impede the progress of the much anticipated Renton Landing development.

As a home owner in the area, I eagerly await the opening of The Landing. I think it will boost overall property values and raise the profile of Renton in general. Plus, I'm sick of having to drive to Tukwila or Burien to visit my favorite stores. Renton has played second fiddle to these cites for several years, it's time for Renton to step up to the plate.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

El Agave is now Cocina Marina

The best (and only) Mexican restaurant in Skyway is no more.
As I'd suspected, El Agave has closed, and a sign indicates that the place is now called Cocina Marina.
The exterior has been painted...it's a lighter, more inviting color, but it's still in a scuzzy Skyway strip mall.
I haven't yet tried Cocina Marina, but as a service to the vast multitudes of readers out there, I'll be the guinea pig and report back.
For something like 35-40 years the location housed El Tapatio, a friendly but mediocre place.
It's succesor, El Agave, lasted just a couple of years, and on more than a few occasions, they were closed when they should have been open, which is not good for business when one of your few customers can't come in and spend money.
Here's to good luck for Cocina Marina.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Tacos of The King

I could live on salsa.
In my modified low carb lifestyle, I've given up a lot of things like pastries and white rice and pasta, but I'm not about to give up salsa. En contraire, I seek it out in this salsa deprived land.
Taco Del Rey is located at 330 SW 43rd Street in Renton, 425-251-0100, tacodelrey.com
They've got great salsa, very good food, and an amiable owner who likes to chat and is obviously a character.
Some waitstaff in other restaurants frown disapprovingly and get confused when I request extra salad instead of rice and beans. Others act shocked, as if I were nuts- "you DON'T want rice?"
But Martin Reyes, the owner of Taco Del Rey, is a character, and can't simply politely take my odd order silently. He has to comment. He believes in a healthy lifestyle, gets plenty of exercise, goes to the gym, drinks a protein powder, blueberry and yogurt shake for breakfast , loves tortillas with melted feta, and seems quite fit, but then goes on to kvetch about all his ailments. The guy is fun, and he's funny.
And the food is clearly way above average Seattle area Mexican food, with reasonable prices to boot.
The menu is extensive, and they serve beer. Martin Reyes likes beer.
Diane ordered Camarones al mojo de ajo, and the shrimp were fairly large, not overcooked and full of yummy garlic.
Fajitas were my choice, and the carne asada was nice and tender.
He does a grilled veggie burrito, huevos rancheros, along with a number of fish and shrimp dishes.
And has a salsa bar, which he charges fifty cents for after the first free refill.
It might be worth it to just pay him a few bucks extra and see if he'll let you go hog wild with the salsa, which I think is Renton's best.
So where is the place?
It's near Ikea, near the Great Wall Shopping Center, just down the road from the East Valley Cinema, just down the road from Southcenter.
If you're in that neck of the woods, it's definitely worth a stop, an independant taco place in a land of chains.