Seattle Times food writer Nancy Leson embarks on a six-month leave with a tasty farewell — a post about reader-recommended places for soup of all sorts. While Nancy takes a break, award-winning food writer Rebekah Denn will host the All You Can Eat blog.
Bisotted: by butternut squash soup at Bisato, in Belltown. [Seattle Times/John Lok.]
Soup: It’s what’s for dinner. And lunch. And, if you’re me, breakfast. Especially in January. As much as I love to take to the stove and soup-er-size-it, I’m always on the lookout for a restaurant fix. Recently, I asked my Eatership to point me toward their soup-spot favorites and — thanks, guys! — they offered a wide world of ideas, directing me to hole-in-the-wall places, as well as haute haunts. With a nod to their lineup, I’ve added a soupçon of seafood-scented suggestions:
‘Tis the seasonal
The city’s top chefs make it their business to coax the ultimate flavors from seasonal ingredients, and praise was raised for Bruce Naftaly’s Le Gourmand (and his bar-next-door, Sambar) — in particular for his showstopping nettle soup. Preaching to the choir! May I add to the chorus an amen for chef Scott Carsberg at Belltown’s Bisato? These days he’s making a splash by pouring a delicate purée of butternut squash over glamorous garnish: a pouf of steelhead gravlax topped with shaved kabocha squash, a smoked paprika quenelle, sweet amaretti crumbles and a spicy nugget of Calabrese-style sausage.
Le Gourmand: 425 N.W. Market St., Seattle, 206-784-3463, www.legourmandrestaurant.com
Bisato: 2400 First Ave. Seattle, 206-443-3301, www.bisato.com
If it quacks like a duck
Do duck into Little Saigon’s Chinese noodle house Hue Ky Mi Gia (or its Great Wall Mall sibling), I’m told. I have: great call. Eater favorites include egg noodle soup with braised duck — adored for its “comforting sweet chicken stock” and meat that’s “fall-off-the-bone tender.” Far fussier is another swell spot to have your duck and eat noodle-soup, too: Wild Ginger, where, Eastside or west, I often share Malaysian laksa adrift with mussels, shrimp and scallops and the Ginger’s Fragrant Duck, scented with cinnamon and star anise, perfected when tucked into clouds of snowy-white bao.
Hue Ky Mi Gia: 1207 S. Jackson St. Suite 101, Seattle, 206-568-1268; 18230 E. Valley Highway, Suite 152, Kent, 425-282-1268
Wild Ginger: 1401 Third Ave., Seattle, 206-623-4450; 11020 N.E. Sixth St., Suite 90 (The Bravern), Bellevue, 425-495-8889, www.wildginger.net
Chase away winter’s chill with a hearty, hot bowl of soup. Shown at right is Wild Ginger’s laksa, a Malaysian-style seafood bouillabaisse with rice noodles in coconut broth. [Seattle Times/Dean Rutz]
“My most recent discovery is the tonkotsu charsiu ramen at Fu Lin in the ID. I love everything about this steaming bowl of noodles,” notes one of many who consider a pork-stoked bowl of noodles there a “must-try.” My go-to on the pork-and-noodle front is the Okinawan soba at tiny Taka Sushi in Lynnwood, where Taka-san’s homemade thick-sliced fish cake is a sophisticated stand-in for the best gefilte fish you’ve never eaten.
Fu Lin: 512 S. King St., Seattle, 206-749-0678
Taka Sushi: 18904 Highway 99, Lynnwood, 425-778-1689, www.mytakasushi.com
“I’m going to have to go hometown old-school with Ivar’s clam chowder,” marks one fan. “Makes me feel all cozy every time.” I recently sampled some on a rainy-day ferry ride and cozy-good it was. When I’m cruising for chowder finery, however, my spoon salutes the Alaskan razor-clam chowder at the Steelhead Diner in Pike Place Market. Add bacon and a whiff of truffle oil, and my boat’s afloat!
Ivar’s: (various locations) www.ivars.com
Steelhead Diner: 95 Pine St., Seattle, 206-625-0129, www.steelheaddiner.com
Don’t pho-get pho
Pho, pho, pho. I love it, too, and as an equal-opportunity enjoyer, I hit many of the pho spots mentioned, including the upscale Monkey Bridge in Ballard, where it’s “always packed, a little bit slow on busy nights, but it’s worth the wait.” A world away, tucked into a Rainier Valley strip mall is Van Loi, a family-run cafe and noodle factory where English is not a second language. Take a seat and point to the bun mam. Some call it “Vietnamese gumbo,” though I say the rice noodle soup, brimming with shrimp, catfish and pork in a shrimp-paste-based broth, more closely resembles Thailand’s tom yum goong.
The Monkey Bridge: 1723 N.W. Market St., Seattle, 206-297-6048, www.themonkeybridge.com
Van Loi: 3228 Rainier Ave. S., Seattle 206-725-8630
Bun mam at Van Loi [photo: Nancy Leson]
Some like it (piping) hot
There’s no better time than winter to ward off the chill with Korean food. Divining where to find the best Korean soups and stews is a topic for another roundup (when I return from my six-month leave of absence, perhaps, as this is my fond farewell). Shoreline standby Old Village gets kudos for its kimchi chigae, among “the best around,” some say. Meanwhile, I stand by the notion that you should also sample the goods at that homey U District student hang, Korean Tofu House. Try the seafood soondubu, and don’t be shy about asking for more complementary banchan (side dishes).
Old Village: 15200 Aurora Ave. N. Suite D, Shoreline, 206-365-6679, www.oldvillagekoreanbbq.com
Korean Tofu House: 4142 Brooklyn Ave. N.E., Seattle, 206-632-3119.
Information in this article, originally published January 5, was corrected January 6. A previous version misstated the type of noodle in the soup at Taka Sushi.