We had been living on the eastside of Greater Seattle for over 15 years now, and it was amazing to watch the changes in Bellevue, Redmond and Kirkland — the primary cities that made up of the growing eastside.
There were many more Asian shops and restaurants around (particularly some major ones opened up such as Din Tai Fung and Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot opened on the eastside before their branches on the west side).
In Bellevue alone, the 2010 census had shown that almost 41% of the population were minority or ethnic, compare to that figure was about 25% in 2000.
I believed that explained the proliferation of minority and ethnic small businesses, which of course was fantastic for foodies!
I loved Turkish Kofte and the fairly new Turkish restaurant, Sofra, opened in my neighborhood.
The version of kofte I had in Turkey was formed like little sausages –super tender meat with fantastic flavors of garlic and strong in cumin.
The menu at Sofra was on the small side, but as long as the food were good, it would be great as so many fantastic restaurants in Asia were “specialty store” that only served a handful of items.
The day of my visit, I thought Sofra did not have Kofte.
It was translated as Turkish burger, and I did not read Turkish carefully and completely missed it!
I had to go back and try my favorite Turkish dish!
Doner was next on my list.
Doner was the same as Greek gyro or Arabic shawarma.
The lamb doner at Sofra was very delicious — beautifully marinated and charred lightly on the surface to give the crisp meat layer.
It was very gamey which I loved and expected from mutton.
The rice was fluffy and was buttery goodness; accompanied by a small salad of tomatoes, cucumbers and parsley and warm pita bread.
I remembered seeing tripe soup as special one day when I passed by the store, but was jot available on the day of my visit.
Sofra also had a small section dedicated to Turkish grocery at the back of the restaurant.
Another favorite place of mine was the long time establishment of Boba Express.
I believed they had the best boba tea in the Greater Seattle area.
I usually went to the Crossroad Mall spot and knew that they had another one at Factoria Mall.
Before Boba Express, I used to only get bubble tea in Vancouver BC.
Boba Express had most definitely eliminated my need to travel for a drink.
Their bubble was cooked perfectly — soft and chewy.
Many places had them overcooked and was too soft, or that I had encountered undercook bubble that had hard and powdery center.
They also cooked or soaked their cooked bubbles in sugar so that they carried enjoyable slight sweetness versus other stores I had tasted bland bubbles that I did not care for.
Unfortunately the shop did use flavored syrup for many other flavors which I tried to avoid for health reasons.
They also served the most amazing popcorn chicken.
I also believe that was the best popcorn chicken in Great Seattle — better than Facing East, Yeas Wok or many other restaurants or bubble tea places.
The tender chicken pieces were consistently marinated well with strong garlic and soy flavor, and deep-fried fresh which yielded fantastically crispy and piping hot chicken pieces.
They custom-made the spiciness level with each order by tossing chili powder to the chicken pieces; and medium spicy were generally quite spicy already — what a rush!
The secret to the great tasting chicken had to do with the addition of basil.
I believe basil was tossed with the hot chicken and it imparted a nice light floral, grassy sweet basil flavor to the chicken.