99% Food, 1% Skin

My Amazing Adventure at the Willows Inn

*WARNING: this is a long post.  I let myself go — geeked out and talked about the whole meal.  For this once in a life time experience, I want this to be a record for myself too.  Enjoy.


My friend told me how wonderful their dinner was at the Willows Inn, I was 100% sure that one day I would make it there.

Then, their chef, ,Blaine Wetzel, won the James Beard award for Rising Star Chef in 2014; I knew I was 150% sure I was going to the Willows Inn very soon.

Before food, there were a few hurdles to conquer.

First, to stay or not to stay?

I did not spawn to action immediately chasing after this promising food adventure because the journey was going to be long for 1 meal.

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Blu Sardinia

WP_20150322_17_42_04_ProHeard about Blu Sardinia from one of the most conventional way of advertising – a mailer to my home!

I was eager to check them out because a) I would like to find an Italian, non-pizza place on the eastside that I would like (current favorite Cantinetta), and b) wanted to see for myself what regional Sardinian food was like.

Turns out Blu Sardinia is in Redmond Bella Bottega.

The space is huge, airy with high ceiling.

Right at the entrance, inviting beautiful display of desserts, and the many colorful gelato flavors in the cold case would lure any hungry soul in.


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My party was pleasantly surprised to find that they still had the “Dine around Seattle” menu, and it so happened to have the 2 things I wanted to try the most from the menu, so I dove right in.

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Cederberg Tea House

At the top of Queen Anne Hill lies Seattle’s connection to South Africa — Cederberg Tea House.

WP_20150318_11_59_36_ProWe were in the neighborhood and was looking for something unusual and good for lunch, Cederberg came highly recommended by online community.

One could not miss its location with proud South African flag flying just outside of the cafe.

A cozy, lay back cafe in dark wood, the place sits a little under 30 people, offering breakfast, lunch and drinks.

Upon arrival, we were greeted by the friendliest folks.

Plenty pastries, sweet and savory adorned the display case with a big list of espresso drinks; most importantly rooibos drinks.


Rooibos tea, or red bush tea, has become very popular as a caffeine-free tea option in the past years in the U.S.,  yet it has been a staple for South African for a long time.

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Macau Doulao Hot Pot

The last time I went to my guilty-pleasure Chinese American food joint, Mandarin Buffet, I saw a sign in the same plaza for a new restaurant called Macau Doulao, replacing the old Cozy Tea bubble tea place.

Macau Doulao turns out to be a new hot pot only restaurant in this southern part of Redmond.

Very similar to Little Sheep Hot Pot, Macau Doulao offers soup bases (spicy, house, mushroom and pork) and raw food to cook in it.

Another similarity was both restaurants have induction cooktops on their tables; the difference is Macau Doulao has personal small hot pot, while Little Sheep’s big pots are always meant for sharing.

I believe Macau Doulao’s selling point is based on their all-you-can-get counter full of dipping sauces: standard ones such as soy sauce, Chinese BBQ sauce, to more adventurous ones with fermented bean curd.

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Inn at Langley

*This is another long post, and the menu was not the most current; nonetheless, I believe it still showcases the creativity of the chef and his menu.

Fancy a romantic get-a-way in a quaint little town, yet with emphasis on culinary experience?  Inn at Langley may just be the place for you.

A 3-hour drive includes a scenic ferry ride will bring you to this four-block by three-block all-American town on one of Washington State’s outskirt islands – Whidbey Island; other islands with culinary interest includes Bainbridge and Lummi. Continue reading →

Are Eastside Burgers Any Good?

Not shabby in my opinion.

After the long-standing tradition of Burgermaster, hidden gem of Wibbley’s, and the addition of Lunchbox Laboratory, came Tipsy Cow in Redmond and Local Burger in Bellevue, both are high-end burger restaurants.

On a weekday, I went to Tipsy Cow for early lunch to beat a potential lunch crowd that absolutely materialized within the hour of my early arrival.

On Tipsy Cow’s website, they mentioned their support to local ranchers, farmers, and distillers; however, aside from their beef supply identified as from Painted Hills, there was not a whole lot of information about where everything else came from.

I loved their burger menu consisting of many other than beef selections, including lamb, pork, buffalo, turkey, salmon, tuna, chicken and vegetarian lentil.

Appetizers looked interesting as well with pork shoulders and eggplant wedges.

We went for chicken wings with Habanero BBQ sauce. Continue reading →