When it comes to bud, not everyone is out here looking to get fucked up. Sometimes you want to slightly enhance a meal or take the edge off a little, so when your goal is to be toasty and not fully baked, it’s time to reach for some good ol’ “dad weed.” Reminiscent of what folks smoked back when they called it “grass,” dad weed has a low THC level (generally less than 15%) and these days it’s often enhanced by CBD and CBG derivatives that elevate the positive, less stony effects of regular MJ.

So it would only make sense to get into Eagle Tree’s Lion Claw CBG pre-rolls when I invited dad and local Renaissance man Nesib CB Shamah out for the best dumplings in West Seattle.

Shamah just screened his short film Sojourn—starring Seattle musician Shaina Shepard—at the Seattle Black Film Festival. He has a foot in the Seattle comedy scene as a co-producer of the upcoming Upper Left Comedy Festival and he has roots in the Seattle music community, too, as the long-time proprietor of the Columbia City Theater.

“I had the opportunity to be a part of the renovation of the Columbia City Theater venue and I jumped at it,” he said. “It had a bar attached to it and, being a kid from New Orleans, I always wanted to run one. Met some really great people, put on some beautiful shows—it was an amazing experience. I ultimately got out of the venue business and moved into film full-time.”

We hit the Lion Claw pre-dumplings. I found the palette fairly neutral and a bit fruit-forward. As a regular smoker, it was hard to catch any buzz off the light strain. It’s indica-leaning but still chatty, and would make for a great introductory smoke for first-timers. Shamah, who is a low-key smoker and uses cannabis to “dig in while researching a project or story idea,” got physical buzz and citrus.

“I really dug it! The more I smoked, the more lime and citrus I was getting. A really clear-headed high with a slight body vibration.” 

But we need to talk about these dumplings. New Luck Toy is a well-run, two-server operation that has fruity drinks with fun presentations and an extremely tight menu featuring your fave Chinese food standards like egg rolls and BBQ pork all refined to be the best, fresh-prepped version of themselves.  

The house dumplings with pork and shrimp are a big mouthful of meatball and so delicious Shamah cried out, “Goddamn, those dumplings were good!” They are bathed in zingy Schezwan sauce, and topped with crispy shallots, sesame seeds, and fresh cilantro for a complex bite. For a few months they had to change up the dish due to supply issues, and I experienced very real withdrawals.

NLT also features a grown-up take on a Toaster Strudel for dessert—I often lure folks all the way to the westside for both these little gems. Shamah also found them worthy of crossing the bridge.

“The fried strudel made me feel like I was a kid doing something bad and getting away with it. Crispy and sweet, they were the perfect to follow up the richness of the dumplings.”

Between smoke breaks and courses, we discussed Shamah’s first love, cinematography. His music documentary Welcome to Doe Bay was nominated for a regional Emmy—“The Head and the Heart had just blown up and the city was flush with ‘new’ folk music; we absolutely caught what I believe was Seattle's last big music movement with the film”—and he’s an executive producer on ANU, the story of a young, second-generation Asian woman dealing with the death of her grandfather. It's showing at SIFF May 14-15 and streaming May 22-28. He also has a new film in the works, a short script he wrote and plans on directing later this summer “about killer hornets that’ll be a banger.”

“Over the years folks have asked me, ‘Are you a film guy or a music guy?’ I never found any reason why these have to be mutually exclusive. I’ll put in stand-up performances here as well. It all comes together rather organically, and I appreciate that greatly.”

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Upper Left Comedy Festival is May 11-13 at Here-After, the Rendezvous, and Rabbit Box Theater. ANU screens at the Seattle International Film Festival May 14-15 and streams May 22-28.