Palace Kitchen


Immediately after wrapping up what was one of the best shows on the Dream Theater tour, Ash/Me, Meg/Evan, Sean/Melissa, and Paolo made our way to another highly recommended place from our friends - Palace Kitchen.

If I weren't in the air right now between Sydney and Melbourne, I could ask Evan who the owner/chef of Palace Kitchen was again… Evan mentioned that one of the best chefs in Seattle owns a few food spots, and that Palace is one of his places. 

A sleekly designed, well-lit, modern-looking New American spot is the Palace Kitchen. Invitingly designed, a large open bar in the center of the floor, tables surrounding - in the back is the kitchen - openly viewable by patrons of the restaurant. Everything here is done right. When you come to a New American spot in a place like Seattle - everything down to the menus, fonts, sources of meats and vegetables, music, lighting, decor, casual (but still uniform) look of the servers - is all done right. Seattle has got to be one of the best food cities in all of North America (alongside Portland, San Francisco, New York (inclusive of Brooklyn of course), and Vancouver).

My apologies for the lighting of the photos… badass/sexy-time lighting in a restaurant make for great times, but difficult photos. 

We all start with the Wood Grilled Chicken Wings with Coriander Cream - an impossibly delicious spin on the classic American pub grub dish. At it's essence, it has all the components of what you would find in hot wings at a bar - however it's all special ingredients. I've stated before that it takes a special kind of chicken dish for me to care at all about chicken - but this was another one of those rare occasions that I was moved by chicken. Their "wings" are roughly half of the chicken, sliced right in half - great bits of white, dark, leg, breast, wing - fun for the whole family. Somewhere around the lines of familiar and new is the "wing sauce" - the coriander cream taking the place of bar bleu cheese mystery goo.

I probably need to start hash-tagging the burgers in my blog… there are a lot. The Palace Burger Royale was Ash and I's shared main: 1/2 pound of hand-ground chuck, Dahlia Bakery onion bun, fries. I washed all that goodness down with a local IPA (Schooners I think it was) - burgers and fries simply need to be eaten with a beer. 

I'm certainly fresh out of adjectives for burgers… but I can tell you without doubt this is a top-notch burger. Palace's burger well tops the last 3-5 burgers you've seen on Kiichichaos easily. Seattle really knows how to do it's food… so stay the hell away from chains - get down and local.

Coconut cake! Light, airy, fluffy, massive. I am in love with all things coconut… couple that love with an obsession with local ingredients, local restaurants - and you have Palace's damn amazing Coconut cake. I'd like to tell you it's healthy… low calorie… but no - I am sure it isn't. This thing is a hunk of cream and dairy and coconut. If you came here stoned… you'd be consuming a whole cake - inducing a diabetic-coma of winter-time-bear-hibernation proportions. Luckily I was just buzzed and only had a slice…

Monkey Bridge


The double-date food combo of Megan/Evan and Ashley/Matt is something that seems to be a common theme in my Kiichi Chaos-ings. It was the Seattle show of the Dream Theater tour when Meg and Ev picked Ash and I up to (once again) eat some great food in Seattle. 

To date, I feel like I've eaten almost everywhere worth eating at in Seattle - and I've always been very pleasantly surprised how amazing the food has been. 

Our lunch spot was Monkey Bridge, a Vietnamese joint. If you haven't been to proper Vietnamese before… or are one of those people who think all Asian food is either mall-food-court fried rice and sweet and sour pork (crap) or sushi… you are wrong. Every Asian country (and region for that matter) has something new and exciting to offer - don't get me wrong, you can go to the wrong place, you can get something terrible made by someone who doesn't give a shit about your food experience… food takes a bit of digging. I have found that every single one of my "random" food drop ins (going into somewhere with no research, recommendation, or preparation) of recent - have been absolute shite (even in places like Paris, Vancouver, Sydney - there is food that sucks… you just have to evade that crap - I can help).

Vietnamese is a cuisine of beauty. From it's humble traditions of mainly being street foods you can get in Vietnam - nowadays in the rest of the world - you find those street foods in a restaurant. In Orlando, near where I live, there is a little Vietnam. You can find some really damn good Vietnamese restaurants. Places known for their Pho (Vietnamese noodle soup - traditionally, beef noodle soup), places known for their Bahn Mi (Vietnamese sub - heavily influenced by the French (tracing it's roots from the French colonization of Vietnam)). These are the two main things to look for if you're starting off with Vietnamese food - if your Vietnamese spot doesn't do either of these well… run like hell.

Monkey Bridge is a more upscale representation of Vietnamese. I am more used to the down-home, semi-shabby interior, office park-ceilinged, humble Vietnamese hole-in-the-walls - so it was interesting to see the more so higher-brow Vietnamese joint.

I ordered the Vietnamese Ham and Egg Baguette (Bahn Mi): French baguette spread with a homemade mayo, slices of Vietnamese ham, fried egg, cilantro, and a drizzle of soy sauce. Rice pudding soup accompanied. This was a great contemporary spin on the Bahn Mi (Bahn Mi typically has more "creep meats" as my wife calls it - the "good stuff" as I call it: things like head cheese-esque lunch meats, tendon-derived yummy bits and all) but! This would be a great introduction to see where the Bahn Mi is nowadays. Clean flavors, clean meats - the ever-so-required fried egg (I think all Asians want a fried egg on their everything), crispy, perfect baguette. Again - I emphasize that this is the cleaned up, modernized version - a great intro if you're new to Vietnamese. 

I rate Vietnamese places by their Bahn Mi and their Pho. I usually opt for the Pho Dac Biet (I believe that translates to something along the lines of "everything but the kitchen sink" in Vietnamese: typically brisket, rare slices of beef, mystery beef balls, tendon, tripe, and some other offal-goodness), Monkey Bridge Noodle was noodles in chicken brother with prawns, fish balls, quail egg and Vietnamese ham, topped with green onion, cilantro and fried shallots. The traditional toppings of bean sprouts, basil, jalapeno, and lime came with (make sure you put all that stuff in your Pho - makes it better). 

Monkey Bridge's house Pho was again, a contemporary spin on something traditional - and having to this day, only had super-traditional Vietnamese - this was a fun flavor eye-opener. It contained about the same number of the Dac Biet - but just obviously different things. The quail egg and fish balls were a great combo alongside the other ingredients.

Monkey Bridge did some pretty solid stuff. I may be partial to the traditional-stuff, as I've hinted at in this episode, but I'd say this would be a good starting point to work your way backwards into the classics.

Canon in D Major traded for Ragged Wood

Gluttony In Seattle part V

After our bountiful feast of what had to have been more than 15 or so different things, it was time to head to Sambar, all our Seattle-friends' favorite cocktail bar in the States. We were told that this place was unlike any cocktail bar we would have been to. 

We made our way to a tiny bar, tucked away in a neighborhood, adjoined to a fancy French place. Everyone was stoked to bring us here - apparently the bartender here goes beyond mixologist, he's sort of a doctor of cocktails. You tell him what liquor you like… or even what mood you're in…and he knows what kind of drink you need.Mixology is no easy feat - you can't just work in a bar, shake some random ingredients together and pull something great out of your ass - you really need to know your stuff. 

Just as Staple was rather inexplicable due to the nature of the presentation of courses being an onslaught of delicious courses - this was similar. My first drink was I believe the bartenders take on a Corpse Reviver - only different. I mentioned my taste leaning towards classic cocktails, Pre-Prohibition-style… maybe something like an Aviation - and he delivered that tasty elixir. 

Everyone passed around everyone's drinks to sample everything that was being sucked down - each cocktail had such a distinctly different flavor, even using such subtly different ingredients. 

I used to not get cocktails - I was convinced a cocktail was something strictly limited to what I was used to drinking down in our freezing tiny Chevy conversion van back in the days of yore: warm or cold Jack (depending on the weather outside) with flat soda from a big liter jug; Jaeger and room-temperature orange juice (which shares a striking resemblance to diarrhea) poured into a red plastic cup. Now that I've taken the blue pill (or was it the red pill? It's been a while since the 90's) - I've seen the light that the right cocktail, at the right place - is like… an adult soda. 

For my next drink, I told the bar tender to make me whatever he likes - and that I'd be stoked regardless of what it was. I've heard of deconstruction of foods, but not drinks - here we had: a glass of house made ginger beer (non-alcoholic, but totally made in-house), and a glass of some kind of rum that I can't recall the name of.  

Separately, it was like a glass of succulent fire-water and then a glass of sparkling honey-soda… but sipped one after the other - a sort of magic happens. You could mix the two, but what was really fun about it was to taste the components totally separate, each living in it's own home - this "cocktail" awoke something in my taste-bud-brain-reflex.

The six of us were well lit-up by this point - happily (loudly) chatting about our lives back home and abroad, about other times we've eaten and drank around the world, and how fuckin-good each of our drinks were. 

Once again, I asked the barkeep for anything - to make something up on the spot even. Unfortunately in the business of being in consuming copious amounts of food and alcohol, you sort of lose your way sometimes in writing down what something was in your notes - so… I'm going off guessing what this iPhone photo is showing me. 

The next deconstuction-sort-of-modern-art drink thing that was presented to me was a glass of clear rum (from some South American country) and a plate with oil and ginger shavings (maybe some garlic too) and a skewer of tomatoes and blood orange. You take a bite (or a drink) and then drink (or bite). I love the fact that you can find quality drinks just like you can food - and when you're doled out something like this, something so vividly different than what you imagine a drink could be - it's what lights me up. 

Another beautiful time with some fantastic people. 

From here, we stopped by a local grocer - and - inspired by Sambar, I picked up ingredients to make Aviations (gin, maraschino liqueur, creme' de violette, lemon) at Sean's place… my mixology skills (or lack-thereof) were lackluster by that point-of-drunkenness,  to say the least. 

The next day was wedding day. The entire day from start to finish was remarkable - a wedding I'll certainly never forget.

I got to DJ the whole thing too… so I had a damn good time.

The next morning, it was a final meal at Citizen: Huevos Rancheros with Potatoes. The potatoes were rosemary-covered, the tortilla had black beans, avocados, cilantro and eggs and white cheese - pico on top. Rockin. I always want huevos rancheros. 

Thanks for the grub, Seattle.

Mas Mexicana, Fleet Foxes, and Kiichi the DJ

Gluttony In Seattle part III

Good Mexican food is something I don't have in Orlando. I am not into gringo-Mex. I don't know why traditional Mexican preparations have been so warped to appease the taste-buds of the standard American-pallete. I hope everyone who has really fantastic Mexican food where they live, really backs that place - tell your friends about it, go splurge some bucks there - let's keep these culinary traditions alive. I am so completely in love with Mexican food, culture, drinks - it's got to be one of my favorite styles of food on the globe. 

For some reason, Seattle has a lot of really great Mexican food. As you've seen in parts I and II of this Seattle-bonanza, we have eaten our fair share of Mexican-food… there is much more to come.

Our hotel was slightly off the beaten path of the food spots in Ballard, so we had to make due with what was within walking distance - luckily for us, there was a really killer place, Citizen - very close. Citizen is very much so like something you'd expect to see in Seattle… a old building - bought and refurbished to still have the exposed duct-work-style loft, serving great coffee, with fashionable servers. 

We start with coffee and juice - into my main: The Cowboy Egg Casserole. Layered corn tortilla, pork sausage, eggs, poblano, jalapeno peppers and cheese. Served with black beans, creme fraiche and their own pico de gallo. This was a cake. A monster portion of breakfast goodness. It was basically the Mexican/Seattle take on the breakfast casserole - a meaty chunk of a corn-cake featuring all those flavors and substances that just go so well together. One person alone shouldn't be able to conquer that feat alone - but I had to. Filling. Great.

We decided to walk from our area over to the Fisherman's Market, which was quite a walk - but I felt I needed it after that gorge-session. 

I didn't venture to it this time, but in the Pike Place market, if you are approaching it from the Showbox theater… take a right into the meat vendor, look to your left a bit - and there's a tiny little counter run by a Filipino family. Apparently the place has been in business since like - the 70's or something. I had the privilege of eating there a few years back and was blown away. Try it if you're by it.  

We trekked back to the hotel after a few hours of wandering, then grabbed a cab closer to the area where Evan and Megan lived (today was the day before the wedding day by the way). At the rehearsal the night before, I remarked: "Ya know… it seems people always overlook music at a wedding. I think you guys really should have someone running the whole thing…. I could do it if you didn't have anyone in mind." Luckily they didn't, and I was able to give my warm-up shot of being a wedding DJ. Much of the actual ceremonial procession music had been planned by to-be Bride and Groom - and it was carefully selected Fleet Foxes tracks - I practice the fade ups, downs, and cues nervously the night before twice with the wedding party… and I felt ready by the day of.

That morning, I made a few playlists (that are on my Spotify account: kiichichaosreigns): "Evan/Meg Wedding (Reception Order)," "Evan/Meg Wedding (Chill-er Music)," and the appropriately named, "Evan/Meg Wedding (Dance-ass Muzak)." 

Evan recommended one of his personal favorites to have lunch at - so me and Ash made our way to El Camion, a Mexican food truck in a parking lot. This place was amazing. Just a few random tables with umbrellas, some trash cans, and the black truck, billowing it's aroma of traditional Mexcian-specialties. We had: The Gorditas: Three thick handmade tortillas, covered with grilled onions, cotija cheese, salsa verde and avocado, three flavors: the Adobada, Chorizo, and Carne Asada; all guzzled down with a house-made Horchata. If I had to pick a favorite amongst the tortilla-style Mexicana, it would without a doubt be the Gordita. It's like the traditional taco, just thicker - fried- a cake of goodness. Crispy, puffy, air-filled tortilla, The Chorizo was salty and perfect - the right amount of crisp and chew in the sausage; pulled apart and served in delicious-clumps. Carne Asada was done perfectly, the simple toppings went very well. Typically, the taco is onion, cilantro, meat, no cheese, lime, and two tortillas… with this Gordita, it was grilled onions and avocado slices - really a hearty vegetable combo. The adobada had a pleasant spice and was not unlike Al Pastor-style marinating. 

Horchata can be made with several different ingredients ranging from almonds, rice, sesame seeds, or barley - I am not totally clear on what this home made Horchata was - but it was like a thin milkshake. Sweet, nutty, cool and refreshing. When I say thin milkshake - I mean that the texture was in between regular milk and a milkshake, leaning towards the former; exactly what was necessary during this unseasonably hot Northwest weather.

All in all, El Camion is a fantastic Mexican food truck.

For dinner, we were all to meet up at Staple and Fancy - something that the soon-to-be-wed couple swore would be the best meal of the whole trip. We were soon to find out.