Food & Drink

Love Bites

Stranger Writers Gush Over Their Favorite Grub

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Malcolm Smith
Twilight Exit
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Malcolm Smith
Machiavelli Ristorante
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Malcolm Smith
Monsoon

Roti Canai with Sauce

Malay Satay Hut

212 12th Ave S, 324-4091

The heavy, floppy, slightly crispy bread itself is one of those foods whose price ($3.25) could never climb high enough to make you feel you're paying what it's worth. There's something golden about Malay Satay Hut's soft Indian flatbread. But bread desire is easy to inspire. Sauce affection, not so much. It is Malay Satay's roti canai sauce that's capable of inspiring attachment that rises to the level of love. The sauce is sweet and salty red curry with soaked potatoes hiding below the surface. To my past and future unknowing dinner companions: Forgive me for not telling you about the potatoes so that I could have them myself. Love makes thieves of us all. JEN GRAVES

High Nutrition Barleygreen Noodles

Shanghai Garden

524 Sixth Ave S, 625-1689

I assume that barleygreen is the stalk of the barley plant, which would mean that these noodles are made from grass, hence the "high nutrition." No matter: They are the most delicious thing I have ever eaten, and they don't taste healthy at all. Freshly made in the back of Shanghai Garden, they can be obtained in a variety of forms: shaved to order in chow mein with bits of egg, pork, shrimp, veggies, or other ingredients of your choosing; as a wrapper around amazingly soft and juicy and porky Cantonese-style (thick-skinned) pot stickers; in soup with a tasty, savory broth. The noodles are tender and almost kelly green, and they have a chewiness that is delightful. At $10.95 for a plate of the chow mein, they are probably the most expensive noodles you can buy in the International District, but money is an earthly concern when compared to the heaven that is barleygreen. You will be tempted to shove them in your mouth like a pig at the trough—go ahead and do it, while they are still steaming from the wok. ARI SPOOL

Gelato Delivery

Pagliacci

726-1717 or 425-453-1717

This gelato is exactly as wonderful as the gelato you buy at the Gelatiamo store downtown, only way better, because you can get it delivered to your house. (Well, unless you live out of range of the Pagliacci delivery drivers. Pity.) The pumpkin gelato is truly spectacular—pillowy whipped cream infused with some sort of magical eau de pumpkin—but like most good food, it's only available in season. If you order the seasonal gelato from Pagliacci right now, you'll get one made of ground-up filberts. They had to go and call it "hazelnut," which is pretentious (didn't we already agree to say "gelato" instead of "ice cream"?), but don't worry, it still goes well with whiskey. A pint of gelato goes for $6.50, so eat slowly. ANNIE WAGNER

Oxtail Congee

Monsoon

615 19th Ave E, 325-2111

The pretty lady said we should eat brunch at Monsoon, the Vietnamese restaurant. I didn't know they had brunch in Vietnam. All I know about food in Vietnam is pho, and pho isn't what I think about when I think about brunch. It seemed like cheating to order from the "colonial" menu—some other time, coconut crepe—so I picked congee ($6.50), something I knew nothing about. What arrived was a bowl of warm rice porridge with green onion, caramelized shallots, and bits of oxtail. The porridge was sweet and the oxtail was musky. It recalled sausage and grits, but lighter and more refined, with the green onion for refreshment. They do have brunch in Vietnam, and it's heavenly. BRENDAN KILEY

Broccoli Blasted

Black Bottle

2600 First Ave, 441-1500

The menu calls it, simply, "broccoli blasted." It's an $8 hill of broccoli that appears to have survived a fiery, salty apocalypse. The tips are ashy, crunchy, almost dust. The rest of it is deep green. (Must be all the vitamins, the nutrients, the anticancer stuff.) I have walked from the far reaches of the city in the hard rain, cars splashing water at me, all the way to Black Bottle to wait for a seat at the bar, just to eat a plate of broccoli while staring into a candle, alone. CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE

Spaghetti Carbonara

Ristorante Machiavelli

1215 Pine St, 621-7941

Gee, a lot of great new restaurants have opened in Seattle. I'll get to 'em all eventually, I guess. But as often as not I find myself returning to places I already know, places I already trust, for dishes that don't surprise me. There's something supremely comforting about a great old place—particularly a great old place that has the good sense to resist change for change's sake—you know, a place that doesn't change hands, decor, or recipes over the years. If the place is good out of the gate, and works hard to stay good over the years, you find yourself going back time and time again, for the same dishes time and time again.

That's how I feel about the small, unassuming Italian bistro Machiavelli, and love is what I feel every time I order—every time I allow myself to order—a plate of their spaghetti carbonara ($9.75). I'm not sure there's enough room to list everything Machiavelli gets right with its spaghetti carbonara: the rich, creamy sauce; the large, chewy chunks of smoky bacon; the bottomless dish of parmesan cheese. But I have to draw attention to one thing in particular: the portion size.

Restaurants are often tempted to go overboard when it comes to portion size with pasta dishes—pasta is cheap, and piling a plate high looks impressive. But this is, for a health-conscious diner, a disincentive. Once a plate of great spaghetti carbonara is set down in front of you, you're going to eat the whole damn thing—your self-control is out the window. So you're—and by "you're," of course, I mean "I'm"—more likely to order this dish, one of my absolute favorites, in a place that isn't going to set 10 pounds of the stuff down in front of you. God bless you, Machiavelli. DAN SAVAGE

Fresh Spring Rolls

Green Leaf

418 Eighth Ave S, 340-1388

That the fresh spring rolls ($3.95) at Green Leaf are superior to any other fresh rolls in the city is simply fact—and no small accomplishment, Seattle being overrun with Asian restaurants offering their own variations on "fresh rolls." (Which, in general, are superior to traditional spring rolls in that they are not fried, allowing one to taste the food, not the grease.) While many fresh rolls have become just an excuse for rolling a bunch of vermicelli noodles inside some rice paper and figuring the peanut sauce will take care of the rest, the Green Leaf fresh rolls have serious heart. Inside are tiny sprigs of mint; a giant hunk of lettuce with the crunchy stalk left on (and a fat leaf shooting out of the top of the roll); a few vermicelli noodles; and, if you're into meat, some shrimp and/or pork (or, if you're not, tofu and/or no tofu). There is also—and this is the genius part—a long stick of crunchiness inserted for extra texture. It's the size of a cinnamon stick, and crunchy like lightly fried dough, and it seals the superiority of Green Leaf's fresh rolls for eternity. ELI SANDERS

Chicken-Fried Bacon

Twilight Exit

2051 E Madison St, 324-7462

The recipe is simple—strips of bacon are coated with breading, then deep-fried until nicely golden—but the results are thrilling. When they emerge from the fryer's depths, the Twilight Exit's chicken-fried bacon strips (five for $5) are swollen and bubbly and generally not very pretty. This charmingly deformed treat is served alongside a bowl of dipping gravy on a plain white plate, inviting those overcome by food lust to generously soak each bite, while the more inhibited may skim their bacon over the pooled gravy, dotting each piece with delicate, creamy pearls. Unlike deep-fried onion rings, the bacon fuses perfectly to its shell, rendering each bite crisp and fulfilling. Deep-fried bacon is fantasy fare: As with all seedy pleasures, it should be devoured without guilt. MARTI JONJAK

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