Archive for the ‘International District’ Category

Bambu

September 24, 2017

Bambu is a popular national chain of Vietnamese dessert/tea cafes, originating in the great state of California in 2008 and now with a surprising number of locations, especially in Texas. Their Seattle location is in the International District, and it’s a well-lit, welcoming place with families and teens hanging out. They specialize in “dessert drinks” that combine all kinds of unexpected ingredients (basil seed, avocado, grass jelly, mung bean, etc) with tapioca and coconut milk. It being a hot summer evening, I was more intrigued by the shaved ice:

I got the “green tea cheesecake” – a layer of green tea shaved ice, topped with a layer of “cheesecake” flavored shaved ice, topped with fresh fruit. The fresh fruit was a lovely addition, and the texture of the shaved ice (especially the cheesecake) was smooth and creamy.

My companions got something similar, with chocolate instead of green tea. In both cases, I thought the flavor was a little light (I like more intense flavors) but if you don’t like overwhelming tastes or textures it’s a perfect dessert. There are many spots in Seattle that have started doing shaved ice, so I need to do more “research” and see how Bambu stacks up to the more local establishments!

Advertisements

Eastern Cafe

October 22, 2016

Looking for that coffee shop with outlets, free wifi, space to work, and most importantly, dessert? The Eastern Cafe is all of those. Ride the streetcar or light rail, take a stroll around one of Seattle’s most authentic neighborhoods, and then enjoy this pleasant cafe in the International District. Good coffee and a hip but friendly atmosphere, this is a great place to post up with your laptop or a book.

img_2272

Make your work-from-home experience complete with a tasty dessert crepe (savory options and sandwiches area also available). I got the fruit and nutella crepe:

img_2271

With plentiful nutella and bananas, real whipped cream, almonds, and powdered sugar, this is a treat worthy of Parisian sidewalk cafes.

Sweet and Fresh Bakery

August 30, 2014

When Mon Hei Bakery in the International District burned down, I had to start looking for a replacement spot to get my cocktail bun fix. I decided to try Sweet & Fresh Bakery, which has been around for years but is somewhat off the beaten path. It’s a pretty typical Chinese bakery, and is simple and unassuming in both atmosphere and food.

image

 

I ordered the coconut bun (I didn’t see cocktail buns) and the egg custard. The coconut bun was fine; sweet and light dough with the typical sweetened coconut filling. The custard was was really impressed me. It was definitely eggy, which was strange to my taste buds, but I was surprised at how much I enjoyed that taste and texture in a dessert.

image

 

The syrup (hidden at the bottom of the dish) helped sweeten the pudding without overdoing the job. Overall, I’d say well done Sweet & Fresh… but I still pine for my Mon Hei cocktail bun.

Yummy House Bakery

March 7, 2014

I’ve been an occasional customer at the Yummy House outpost in Owajimaya but had never tried the actual bakery (located right across the street). Billing itself as a Hong Kong style bakery specializing in cakes, buns, and pastries, Yummy House prides itself on not being overly sweet.

image

 

I found the atmosphere and service to be a tad unwelcoming but I bought a cream puff and a fruit boat. The cream puff was nothing to write home about. I understand they purposely don’t use too much sugar, but the pastry was dangerously close to cardboard.  The fruit boat, on the other hard, was lovely.

image

 

It was freshly made, with a very short crust and rich cream filling. It’s odd having the melon ball and grape as part of the tart, but I think they work. So, I’d recommend getting a fresh fruit boat, but overall I think there are better bakeries in the International District.

A Piece of Cake

January 9, 2012

I stumbled upon A Piece of Cake after eating a lovely Chinese dinner at The Red Lantern in the International District. Despite it’s extensive neon signage, it’s overshadowed in reputation by Fuji Bakery (a half a block away). Still, I thought I’d give it a shot – it just looked so bright and welcoming on such a dark winter day.

The bakery basically has two sections: traditional Chinese buns (pork bun, coconut bun, red bean pastries, etc) and more western-style desserts that range from traditional chocolate cake to honeydew melon cake. I chose a couple from each side, starting with a mango mousse and green tea cake:

Green tea in desserts is an acquired taste, and I thought I had acquired it. But I had trouble enjoying the green tea flavor alongside the mango. I think I would have liked it better if the cake just had ONE strong flavor, and if it had a little more flour (I often find Asian-style cakes to be much too airy). I then tried a coconut-filled bun. The bread was perfect – eggy, with that lovely cotton candy texture you get in Challah bread. The coconut filling, however, was a little too heavy. I could only finish about half the bun (granted, it was pretty big). I saved my final choice, the Lotus Pastry, for the next day:


The girl at the counter asked if I’d ever had lotus before, I admitted I had not. She hinted that it was another acquired taste, and wondered if I would like it. I told her there were very few desserts I wouldn’t like, and that I wanted to try a traditional Chinese pastry. I probably should have listened to her though, because I found the lotus filling (made from lotus seeds) to be dry and oddly flavored. Or, perhaps I just need to work harder to acquire the taste?

 

Fuji Bakery

July 29, 2011

After hearing from numerous sources about the high quality of baked goods at Fuji Bakery, I decided to see for myself what the fuss was all about. Located in the International District (and with a second location in Bellevue), Fuji is a Japanese and French “fusion” bakery. Both head chefs are Japanese with training in the art of French baking, leading to lovely concoctions like Green Tea Cookie Bread:

I’ve never had anything quite like it – it tasted like sweetbread surrounded by a green tea sugary coating.  There were other, more traditional flavors as well, but I was in the mood for something different. They also had breads with custard or red bean filling – needless to say I had a hard time choosing, as did the other folks inside:

So much to choose from! So I allowed myself to pick a second item, which I would eat the next day: the Croissant Chocolat Framboise. Only offered Fridays and Saturdays, it’s got a custard and raspberry filling and dusted with cocoa powder.

To be honest, I thought this one was a tad overcooked (the top tasted a bit burned) but the inside flavor was good. Overall, I think there are so many places to explore in the International District that it might be a while before I return, but it’s certainly worth a stop if you’re looking for French pastries with a twist.

 

Mon Hei Bakery

September 6, 2010

I got a taste of a different kind of dessert last month when we took our college students on a field trip to Chinatown. We went on a walking tour that included a stop at the venerable Mon Hie Chinese Bakery.  Our guide had intended to talk about the history of the many local Asian bakeries, but he lost the students (and me) as the delightful smells of freshly-baked dough wafted outside.

Now, normally I’m not big on Asian desserts (when I lived in Thailand, they usually served me sweet rice after a meal, which just doesn’t cut it in my book).  But when my students, thrilled at the low prices, started ordering rolls and pastries, I had to join in the fun. The lady at the counter insisted I try their signature pastry: the Cocktail Bun.

Fresh out of the oven, it had a texture similar to that of a hot-cross bun, but with a coconut paste filling. And it was waaaay better than a hot-cross bun.  My students were similarly impressed with their choices, and our poor guide was all but abandoned as we devoured our snacks (and ordered more).  Next stop: the nearby fortune cookie factory…