Seattle Met’s 12 Bites of Christmas

On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me...six dozen mochi dougnuts at Raised 🎶

By Allecia Vermillion and Rosin Saez  12/17/2018 at 8:40am | Courtesy of SeattleMet.com

Seattle Met’s food team counts down to December 25 with our favorite food memories from this year’s crop of new restaurants. (In no particular order other than in service to the lyrics of a centuries-old earworm Christmas carol.)

Stacks on stacks of mochi doughnuts.  Image:  Mi Kim

Stacks on stacks of mochi doughnuts.

Image: Mi Kim

Six Dozen Mochi Doughnuts from Raised Doughnuts 🎶

Mi Kim and her business partner I-Miun Liu—who opened Dynasty Room in the Chinatown–International District and East Trading Company on Capitol Hill—have been behind the city’s most hyped openings of the year. And with good reason. Raised Doughnuts is a Central District utopia of seasonal flavors—cranberry thyme, gingerbread fritter, snickerdoodle—but my favorite one isn’t a fried manifestation of Kim’s masterful way with flavor combos. It’s much simpler. The mochi doughnuts, at least a half dozen of them at a time, are smaller than Kim’s other creations, still, it’s all about that chew from the rice flour and the familiar crunch from the sugary exterior—enough to make a person get up early on a Saturday to get the fresh first batch.

Kamonegi’s smoked duck breast.  Image:  Courtesy Kamonegi

Kamonegi’s smoked duck breast.

Image: Courtesy Kamonegi

Five Slices of Duck Breast at Kamonegi 🎶

Mutsuko Soma is a woman who knows duck. This fine animal has been Kamonegi’s motto since her popup days (“kamo” means “duck” in Japanese) and its meat populates two of the restaurant’s best dishes: Her signature duck and leek soba, and yakitori meatballs that pulse with spice. But one cold night I ordered a simple plate of smoked duck breast, served next to a salad of endive, fig, and a mixture of blue cheese and kewpie mayo that illustrates the term umami better than any dictionary ever could. Strip away the pyrotechnics of spice or the artistic marvels or hand-cut soba noodles and you really appreciate that duck, the cold smoke amplifying its savory charms. This plate was merely an intermezzo between the tempura course and my bowl of soba, but reinforces why Kamonegi was Seattle Met’s restaurant of the year. Even its quieter moments are magic.

A board of charcuterie from the Shambles.  Image:  Matthew Brady

A board of charcuterie from the Shambles.

Image: Matthew Brady

Four Types of Charcuterie from the Shambles 🎶

The ordering of charcuterie is a very fraught thing. You either quickly mumble to your waiter that you’ll have a plate of charcuterie, pronounced with a hard “ch” and a soft trail of consonants that quietly, presumably follow. Alternately, you might request shah-koooo-tay-ree with a comically Monty Pythonian French accent. However you do it, definitely don’t skip the dried-and-cured meats at the Shambles in Maple Leaf, where chef Seamus Platt works meaty wonders in the kitchen. The house meat board comes by the one, two, or three cuts—but order a fourth for good luck—like a melty-fatty prociutto, “smoky lardo, lightly cured ham, and spot-on soppresata.”

Tomatillos top Homer’s superlative meatballs.  Image:  Sara Marie D’Eugenio

Tomatillos top Homer’s superlative meatballs.

Image: Sara Marie D’Eugenio

Three Meatballs from Homer 🎶

It’s hard to truly mess up a meatball. It’s perhaps even harder to make a comforting combo of meat, seasoning, and some sort of warming sauce into something awe inspiring. Do not conclude a meal at Logan Cox’s smashing new restaurant on Beacon Hill without at least one order of Homer’s lamb and pork meatballs. They come as a trio, in a tomato sauce with layer upon layer of flavor—dried fruits, cinnamon and yogurt whey—hiding underneath coins of tomatillo that deliver a happy hit of acid. The sauce benefits from all those ingredients, but also a lengthy reduction to pack those flavors even tighter. Like everything else at Homer, a lot of unseen labor perfects dishes that come off rustic and casual.

Sawyer’s double-decker wagyu burger.  Image:  Nate Watters

Sawyer’s double-decker wagyu burger.

Image: Nate Watters

Two Halves of Sawyer’s Burger 🎶

At first, ordering a familiar burger from a menu with jojos and matzo ball pho and oxtail nachos feels like a missed opportunity for adventure. But then it arrives, a majestic butte of bun and double-decker wagyu patties, grilled in mustard, and a fat slice of golden tomato. Here, the secret sauce consists of caramelized onions and mornay, a far richer way to achieve the melty texture usually bestowed by processed cheese.

After dissecting all the other items on chef Mitch Mayers’ fantastical menu, I ran out of space before I could sing the praises of this burger. But here I am, weeks and months later, remembering it with an ardor that borders on inappropriate.

The hot dog after our own hearts.  Image:  Suzi Pratt

The hot dog after our own hearts.

Image: Suzi Pratt

...And an Ikura-Topped Hot Dog in a Dark Bar 🎶

Is it the hot dog itself, or the act of eating it at a gracefully undulating bar, whilst rubbing elbows with a taxidermied grebe inside a glass cloche? There’s no arguing that ambience reins at Renee Erickson’s new cocktail destination, a luxuriantly dim midcentury Manhattan hotel bar that’s hurtled across space and time to occupy the, uh, undercarriage of the Amazon Spheres. But as hot dogs go, Deep Dive’s is a carefully crafted upgrade—complete with silver platter—of the drunken late-night Seattle Dog. Beef comes from cows that rubbed shoulders with Erickson’s own herd, smoked with hazelnut shells. House baker Ben Campbell fashions the superlative seeded buns. On top: cream cheese whipped to texture-balancing perfection, and slices of jalapeno and pickled onion that add a level of gaiety in keeping with the room. A luminous, liberal dose of ikura on top delivers pops of salty goodness.