Orthodox in Seattle: Food!

Keeping kosher is a complex thing. (For a good overview, check out Wikipedia [#] or Judaism 101 [#].) And if you’re terrible like me about cooking, you need a good kosher restaurant or two to keep your sanity. Or if you’re a big home cook, you need groceries, especially a good source of kosher meat (specially butchered, prepared, and packaged under rabbinic supervision). There’s a lot more in Seattle than you might think–and certainly a lot more than I thought before I started keeping kosher.

Let’s start with my favorite: the restaurants. All of the restaurants are supervised by the Va’ad of Seattle, the legal body of rabbis for the community. Seattle has three kosher bagel places: Noah’s in the U-Village QFC, Bagel Deli in Capitol Hill, and Bagel Oasis in Ravenna. Noah’s is all kosher, with bagels (duh), sandwiches, pastries, and more. I love Noah’s, the everything bagels are admittedly not what you’d find in New York but delicious in their own doughy way. They also just added a line of pizza bagels which are decent for a city with no kosher pizzeria (how I miss you, Pagliacci), as well as new breakfast egg sandwiches (although bizarrely you have to start the microwave yourself for them to be kosher, I really have no idea why). Bagel Oasis is my personal favorite, perfectly crispy and chewy like all bagels should be, but only whole bagels are certified kosher. The everything bagels are A+ even without cream cheese though. Now, I hate to rag on a kosher restaurant, but Bagel Deli is really not so great. Even though I live right across the street I avoid it like the plague. But plenty of people enjoy it, so to each his own.

Kosher bagels? Big surprise. But the real shocker? The two other kosher cuisines of Seattle: Chinese and Indian! And good Chinese and Indian too! And all vegetarian!

Queen Anne’s Bamboo Garden is my frequent lunch…and dinner…and sometimes leftovers for breakfast! I am utterly obsessed with their spring rolls and vegetable fried rice, although being a healthy vegan restaurant both need a healthy dose of soy sauce to get the best flavor. Bamboo Garden is admittedly hit or miss, although everything the Metbloggers ordered at last month’s meetup looked pretty great [mb]. The Mongolian “beef” is a huge favorite in the Jewish community, as is the sweet-and-sour “chicken.” I’ve tried the Mongolian beef and it’s remarkably flavorful, which is great since the main criticism of Bamboo Garden is that it can be kind of flavorless if you order the wrong thing (like I said: soy sauce, soy sauce, soy sauce). But order right, and it’s some great Chinese food.

But even better is Redmond’s Teapot Vegetarian House. The Capitol Hill location is unfortunately not kosher (otherwise I would be there every day, I swear), but it is well worth the trip to Redmond. They have the best lo mein I have ever had in my life, super flavorful and filled with yummy veggies. They feature both Chinese and Thai food, although mainly Chinese. Highly recommended.

Finally there are the two locations of Pabla, serving awesome vegetarian Indian food in both Renton (I know, what?) and Issaquah. I LOVE Pabla. There’s a great variety of delicious fried appetizers, including yummy Indian onion rings, veggie pakoras, paneer pakoras, and spicy samosas. The naan is fluffy and buttery, do not even think of skipping it. As for entrees no fake meat here, instead just straight up veggies and all the paneer you could ever want. And boy do I want paneer! I love the mattar paneer and pakora curry, and frequent dining companion C Ro can vouch for the gigantic biryani and saag paneer. The best deal of all is the lunch buffet, where for the price of one dinner entree you get all-you-can-eat, which for me means naan, rice, and a dozen little paneers. Yum!

There are three other cafes, each in sort of random places. First is the UW Hillel’s Cafe Levine, serving coffee and snacks (including amazing chocolate chip cookies)–no real food though. Next up is the Mercer Island Jewish Community Center’s Israeli-themed Kafe Kinneret, serving “Sandwiches, Pastries, Groceries, Coffee, Lattes.” And apparently falafel, which just might make it worth the drive one day. Finally the Albertson’s on Mercer Island has a kosher deli and sushi bar. The U-Village QFC is in the process of opening a kosher deli and sushi bar as well.

Okay, so say you’re not lazy like me and you actually cook at home. Where can you find kosher meat? The promised land of kosher food in Seattle is the Albertson’s on Mercer Island, followed by the U-Village QFC. Both offer a wide selection, especially Albertson’s (mock tenderloin anyone?). The PCC in Seward Park, while not offering meat, offers a wide variety of Va’ad-certified products, including bulk good and Essential Bakery breads.

There are also a variety of locations that kosher cut fish. Mutual Fish is a huge favorite, with both fresh and kippered fish. Dressel Collins makes the best kippered salmon I’ve ever had, but only by advance order. Surprisingly Uwajimaya, in the Land of Secret Pork (aka the International District), offers kosher fish cutting as well.

Oh, and the Krispy Kreme on 1st in SoDo is kosher. Just saying.

Now that we’ve covered one issue close to my heart, next I’ll turn to another: the conversion process in Seattle. See you tomorrow!

4 Comments so far

  1. bamboo bamboo (pingback) on June 4th, 2008 @ 4:07 pm

    […] need a good kosher restaurant or two to keep your sanity. Or if you??re a big home cook, you need ghttp://seattle.metblogs.com/2008/06/04/orthodox-in-seattle-food/Cyclone survivors victimized again Daily Local News PYAPON, Myanmar AP ?? It??s not much, but the […]

  2. yayunicorns on June 4th, 2008 @ 4:35 pm

    holy shit, there’s an actual JCC in Washington?! this blows my mind. i basically lived there growing up.

    i, too, am mystified that people like the bagel deli. boy does that place suck.

    and someone just told me about the u-village qfc. i was asking my friend where i can get more than the coconut manichevitz macaroons that they only carry at the met market or safeway in queen anne, and she said that this particular qfc is like some hidden jewish gem. if they have beet horseradish and chopped liver i’m sold!

    now if only we can get people to stop referring to things as being kosher, when they want to say is that cool.

  3. biggreenmonster on June 5th, 2008 @ 9:07 am

    Is there no Kosher MEAT restaurant in Seattle?

  4. Chaya (chaya) on June 5th, 2008 @ 10:22 am

    Nope! How I wish, sigh.

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