I am embarrassed. I’ve lived here for almost 20 years and still discover wonderful eateries, tucked in spots I drive right by on Aurora, or next to the grocery where I shop, and I confess, I’ve not yet dined in these restaurants. If I’ve missed them, maybe some of our readers need to be enlightened too.
Good things come in small packages, and this week I visited two establishments that exemplify this concept.
Qin, on 22315 Highway 99, is a family-owned restaurant opened 15 years ago in Edmonds. The modest establishment is situated in the middle of a strip of businesses along Highway 99. All 10 tables were full on the Sunday evening I visited. Takeout orders kept counter staff in constant motion, but service to our table was prompt and attentive. We had hot jasmine tea throughout the meal.
Comfort food; Chinese style. “How did we not know about this place?” My husband and I both adore wide, hand-cut noodles. Their sign is decorated with the Chinese character for “biang”, the name of the noodle they specialize in. Biang is the sound produced when a chef pulls dough and thwacks it against a table to make fresh noodles. The hand-ripped Biang-Biang noodles are a must-order at Qin restaurant. This preparation is typical in northern Shaanxi Province (of which Xi’an is the capital), the restaurant owner and family’s former home.
A simple red pepper topping provides comfort, as our cold winter days approach, a sure favorite. This style showcases the wide, chewy and tender flour noodles best, with no distractions apart from the heat of the red chili powder seared with hot vegetable oil. Biang-Biang noodles can be ordered topped with spicy cumin beef, chopped pork sauce, pulled stewed pork, or tomato and egg, but I loved the simplicity of the hot oil.
Our appetizer, broccoli with garlic and sesame arrived just ahead of my Hot Oil Noodles, and the bright green, tender bites tasted delicious against the red pepper-flaked noodles.
The Spicy Cumin Beef is the Xian equivalent of a burger. Served on a handmade bun, slightly larger than an English muffin that has been toasted in a panini iron, the meat melts in your mouth. I enjoyed the level of spice and look forward to a taste of the pork version on a future visit.
Next up were the lamb dumplings, in soup. Dumplings are handmade and more delicate than the noodles, filled with a subtle- tasting lamb. The clear vinegary broth, both spicy and sour, refreshed my pallet and balanced well with the meat filling wrapped in the tender dough.
An intriguing menu item was chicken on a “BIG” plate. I’ll need to round up extra dining companions for my next visit, as the menu suggests this entrée serves “three to four people.”
Close to the IGA grocery, on Fifth Avenue South, is one of Edmonds’ oldest establishments, La Galleria, named for the paintings of local artists displayed on its walls. Northern Italian cuisine is proudly served by owner and manager Josh Colberg.
Tomato bisque is a favorite in Edmonds. Most every restaurant has a version. I must sample every one for comparison, you know, it is my job. I ordered a bowl. Tomatoes and cream, well-seasoned and tasty, but the garnish of EVO swirled atop fresh basil and croutons moved La Galleria’s version to the top of my list.
Next was the Polenta Gorgonzola. Polenta is the Italian’s answer to mashed potatoes, and my favorite when piled on a plate and smothered with a marinara sauce or as this appetizer, homemade polenta covered in a creamy gorgonzola sauce topped with sliced almonds. We fought over the last spoonful.
I love when local ingredients are incorporated on menus. La Galleria makes good use of our local seafood. The special offered the night we dined– Penn Cove mussels, in a simple white wine sauce, over angel hair pasta. Our bi-valves were tender, pasta was perfect too, and it was delicious. The Pinot Grigio was light-bodied, crisp, and fresh, with pear fruit and floral aromas paired perfectly with this dish as well as our appetizer.
Rigatoni Positano combined rigatoni pasta with spicy Italian sausage. The marinara sauce made rich with the addition of cream, dressed the pasta perfectly. My glass of house Syrah was a perfect match to this dish.
The desserts: All are made from scratch; we tried chocolate cake and tiramisu. Tiramisu was moist, light and perfect with a touch of whipped cream. I completed my cake and ice cream, Italian style, with Spumoni which was delicious on its own. It’s also offered as a sundae with candied pecans and chocolate sauce.
For those who didn’t get their fill of the Museum Markets this summer, take note. Holiday Market days will happen in Edmonds this year. The parking lot south of City Hall will offer produce, meat and fish, cheese and other dairy items, holiday greenery and flowers, wine, jams, sweets, to stock your pantry for holiday meals, parties and events. Check out the City of Edmonds Facebook page for updates. Dates are Nov. 21 and 28 and in December, the 5th, 12th and 19th. Hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m..
Anthony’s Wild Alaska Snow Crab dinner is back. Monday through Thursday nights come by and enjoy one pound of Snow Crab, served with baked potato and a cup of Anthony’s famous clam chowder.
Spud Fish and Chips does listen to customer feedback. They no longer charge for ketchup!
American Brewing Company undergoes changes. Neil Fallon announced last week, “I am simultaneously sad and excited about the news that follows. Julie and I will be transitioning out of ownership of the brewery.”
American Brewing Company will continue to operate in Edmonds, no worries.
Neil feels they’ve “arrived at a point where we had to choose between what we like doing and what is best for the company, staff, customers and stakeholders.” He feels the demands of running a publicly traded company with a healthy beverage on the national scene doesn’t mix well with running a small, local craft brewery. In the best interest of both companies, it was time to split them up.
Neil chose Pacific Brewing & Malting Company out of Tacoma. The new owners, Brent Hall and Steve Navarro, have a devotion to quality that is second to none. The ABC Mug Club Members will have reciprocal privileges at the tasting room in Tacoma!
Readers, if you have a favorite place to nosh, that I’ve not covered so far in my column, please share.
— By Kathy Passage
A specialty gourmet food broker for over 30 years, Kathy Passage has in-depth knowledge on food and the special qualities of ingredients used in the exquisite products she helped bring to market. Kathy brings this unique perspective from the “other side of the plate” to writing about the food and restaurant scene in Edmonds