From Seattle: Din Tai Fung

When I arrived in Seattle this evening, I was hungry and rumpled in the way that only eight hours in a Minivan can make you.

I wanted a casual yet entertaining meal, so I decided to visit Din Tai Fung, a beloved multinational chain in the Pacific Place mall in downtown Seattle. Din Tai Fung is basically the Dim Sum version of PF Changs, and it dominates the Pacific Rim with locations in Asia, Australia, Washington, California and also Dubai.

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Tasso Flashes Big Potential, Quirky Sensibility

Tasso is a new high-end sandwich shop stationed in one of downtown Boise’s more intriguing locations: the skinny space that previously belonged to Fresh Off the Hook in Bodo. 

Tasso’s (seriously well-designed) website claims that everything the restaurant serves is made from scratch. If the supple yet crusty bread is made from scratch, color me impressed.

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Are You Ready for a Spam Sushi Benedict?

I recently enjoyed brunch at The Modern Hotel and Bar. You’ve probably heard of The Modern because its swanky rooms, friendly patio, and designer cocktails have made it a favorite of people visiting Boise and most national magazines. Now a decade old, it is equal parts hotel and local hangout.

You wouldn’t know it from the ‘Hotel and Bar’ moniker, but The Modern is also an excellent restaurant. The food is locally sourced and the menus are consistently eye-catching. My brunch menu was dotted with truffle oil, naan bread, green tomatoes, and bonito flakes. This isn’t Elmers.

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Take Note: This Place Makes an Underrated Sandwich

The High Note Cafe is easy to overlook. It’s a small establishment squished between Flying M and Guidos. It often advertises itself as a music venue, and I don’t tend to conflate live music with good food.

But the food here is quite good. It feels homemade, as if your high-functioning, gourmand roommate just thought to make you lunch. Nothing is carefully plated, nor overwhelmingly seasoned, but the portions are generous, and the ingredients are left pleasantly intact.

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Remembering Jonathan Gold

The food world lost its greatest critic on Saturday. Jonathan Gold, the beloved sovereign of Los Angeles eating, passed away at the age of 57.

Jonathan Gold’s page on the L.A. Times website has long lived at the top of my bookmarks page. I visited it every day hoping to find a new review.

The man was quite simply a legend. He began his career by incredibly eating at every restaurant on Pico Boulevard. He cemented his legacy with an eponymous documentary that demonstrated his virtuosic command of the food scene in the second largest city in the United States.

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Wok-Inn Noodle Is a Hidden Delight

The first time I attempted to dine at Wok-Inn Noodle, it was closed. The sign out front said it had opened an hour ago, but the door was locked. When I peered through the glass into the darkened restaurant, I saw a wizened man slowly sweeping the floor. He didn’t seem like he was in a rush to get cooking.

Wok-Inn Noodle doesn’t operate like most restaurants. There’s one small dining room, one server, and one chef in the kitchen making one dish at a time—and the restaurant opens whenever he feels like it.

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The oddly charming dining room at Wok-Inn Noodle.

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Can Saint Lawrence Gridiron Tackle Your Taste Buds?

Boise is home to a lot of restaurants that serve upscale casual American cuisine. Boise is also home to a lot of restaurants that used to be food trucks. Saint Lawrence Gridiron is both of those things, and that makes it a quintessentially Boise establishment.

Saint Lawrence offers barbecued meat and comfort food redesigned in service of modern palates. The menu includes brisket, pulled pork, and other hefty entrees that your doctor doesn’t need to know about.

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Bánh Mì, Oh My

Baguette Deli is Boise’s most well-known supplier of Bánh mì, a beautiful category of sandwich that was invented when savory Vietnamese flavors and fillings met the French baguette. The bustling lunch spot is tucked into the side of the Fred Meyer on Orchard and Franklin streets.

The sandwiches offer respectable meat and a fresh bundle of veggies tucked into a flaky and chewy segment of baguette. A generous burst of cilantro and a subtle smear of a delightful mayonnaise variant make each bite exciting.

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The grilled beef sandwich is, in this reviewer’s humble opinion, the finest sandwich on the menu.

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Dat Pizza Dough

Boise, Idaho is a growing, thriving metropolis. It is not yet ‘world class’.

Yes, we live near ‘world class’ river rapids. Yes, we have a ‘world class’ college football training complex. And yes, we may even experience ‘world class’ quality of life. (I assume the mayor is happily nodding at that one.)

But the hard truth is, most of the things we like in this city are only ‘quite good’. Our food scene contains many excellent meals, but few transcendent ones.

This will likely be an inflammatory statement, and I welcome discussion in the comments, but I think there are two ‘world class’ establishments in Boise:

  1. Janjou Patisserie (more on this later)
  2. Tony’s Pizza

Tony’s Pizzeria Teatro is ‘World Class’ with two capital letters. It is the best pizza I have ever eaten. If you pretend that another pizza in this town is comparable, I will fight you.

Pizza begins with the crust. Tony’s crust is perfect.

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