Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Ga Ga Loc

424 Maynard Ave S


Yes, this blog is still alive. Even though I write for the Seattle Weekly now, I'm going to keep this wainscoted salon of loose morals updated, at least intermittently. They won't let me write about some things, for a variety of reasons: either someone else beat me to it, or I'm breaking too many balls, or some old lady ratted me out, or something. So to answer your questions, yes I'm still alive.

Anyway. Ga Ga Loc.

There are many restaurants in Seattle’s International District. All of them serve similar dishes, so how do you choose? Answer: pick the place with the funniest fucking name. Like Ga Ga Loc. I’ve been laughing at this place’s name for over a decade now. Ga Ga Loc. Ga Ga Fucking Loc.

What does it mean? My Chinese- speaking sources claim it means “Happy Family” or “Lucky Family” or something, which makes perfect sense, since that’s the kind of name ALL Chinese restaurants seem to have. Really, it’s like every Chinese restaurateur has a pair of 8- sided dice, Dungeons & Dragons style, that they use to name the restaurant. The first die has adjectives: Happy, Lucky, Jade, Magic, Great, Seven, China, Sea. The other die has nouns: Dragon, Wall, Garden, Sea, Warrior, Tiger, Family, Wok. Every combination is allowed except “Sea Sea.” When that one pops up they must roll again. Although I don’t think I’d be too keen on eating at a place called “Sea Wall.” And “Magic Warrior” is probably already taken as the name of a (R.I.P.)Ronnie James Dio song, so that one’s out too. And “Happy Wall” just doesn’t make any fucking sense. But you get the picture. I suspect that people just like to say silly words, which is probably why Ga Ga Loc is still in business, because the food sure as fuck isn’t that great.

I WANTED to start with the salt and pepper duck tongue ($11.95) but they were OUT. Who fucking knew that duck tongue could be so popular? We settled for the braised squab ($11.95), which seemed a bit pricey. For that price you get a whole pigeon, which isn’t unfortunately saying much since squabs aren’t that big. That having been said, it was really a WHOLE squab: the head was still attached. The skin was a crackly salty golden brown. The flesh was all dark meat, and by that I mean it was REALLY fucking dark.

I’ve had squab before, but in restaurants owned by white people it’s usually cooked to a rosy and succulent medium rare. Ga Ga Loc’s squab was obviously well- done, since it had been braised, but that doesn’t mean it was bad: it had the rich sandy texture of cooked chicken liver, like chocolate made of meat.

I don’t know what I was thinking when I ordered the chilled jellyfish ($7.95). I was just being a flippant dildo, and the waitress even asked me if I was sure I wanted it. I was expecting tentacles, and stinging, but of course got neither of those things. What I DID get was a gigantic plate full of clear rubbery squiggles speckled with red pepper and a couple batons of pickled carrot and cucumber. The jellyfish was cold, largely flavorless, and had a weirdly unexpected granular bite to it. Biting into a jellyfish piece is a lot like eating a piece of gristle from a steak.

If you didn’t actually bite into it and just kinda slurped it down, the jellyfish, ice cold and slippery and fleshy, would be like what I imagine going down on a lady vampire would be like. It didn’t really taste bad, but it sure as fuck didn’t taste good.

When I ordered the soft egg with prawns ($9.95) I got a huge puffy cloud of scrambled eggs punctuated here and there with sautéed prawns. The prawns were actually quite good, not overcooked, with a hint of 5 spice powder. As for the eggs, please allow me at this point to digress into a dreamy paean to a good scrambled egg. A perfect scrambled egg is a thing of beauty: creamy, with a texture like custard, quivering on the plate like a vaginal cumulonimbus, and as bright yellow and glossy as Pac Man’s spherical carapace. A good scrambled egg is so pure and luscious it’s practically virginal, and it seems like an abomination to even eat it, yet you must violate the chaste sanctity of the egg because it’s SO FUCKING AWESOME. But guess what: Ga Ga Loc’s so- called “soft egg” was nothing like that. The eggs were overcooked, with the shitty dry and foamy texture that only overdone eggs have.

Five spices supreme duck ($9.95) had a pretty goddamned ambitious name, though I wonder what made them stop at that particular level of hyperbole. Living in the realm of obscene exaggeration, as I do, makes me question Ga Ga Loc’s commitment to their own cause. Because if you’re going to call it “supreme” duck you might as well throw in a couple “ultimates” and “holys” and possibly even an “optimal” just for good measure: “Ultimate five spices supreme holy mega- duck” has a much more commanding ring to it anyway.

The pitfall with this idea is that it then has to be the best motherfucking duck you ever tasted, which of course it wasn’t. The duck was good enough: it was the typical standard Chinese roasted duck, moist and fatty, and chopped up into bony chunks the way the Chinese like to do, swimming in a glossy greasy dark brown sauce, heavy on the 5- spice powder. Was it really “supreme” though? Nope. I wouldn’t even call it “penultimate.” I might, however, call it “magnanimous” duck since the poor bastard gave its life to star in such an uninspired dish.

The beef chow foon dry ($6.95) was the best thing I ate at Ga Ga Loc. I fucking LOVE chow foon, or chow ho fun, or however the chinamen want to spell it this week. For the price you get a mountainous pile of wide rice noodles, with supple slivers of beef, diced scallion, and plenty sautéed onion, all tossed in a slippery soy- based sauce. The noodles were soft and go down like liquid satin. The beef was tender, the onions still a bit crunchy for contrast, and the sauce was beefy and smoky and salty. I’ve had this dish many times at different restaurants, and Ga Ga Loc does a fine version.

Then again, it’s difficult to fuck up chow foon because the key is not in the seasoning, but in how wide the noodles are. Wider noodles are clearly better than thin noodles. In fact, the best noodle dish in the world, if it exists, would probably just have one whole gigantic noodle, all folded up on the plate. I wish I could wrap myself in a huge noodle Snuggie right now and eat my way out. Actually that doesn’t go far enough: I wish we could wrap the ENTIRE EARTH in a gargantuan noodle, thus abolishing world hunger because everyone could just chow down on the local noodle dough nearest to them. I’m sure the earth noodle would get dirty in some spots, like where it touched a pile of dog poo or got some dirt or pine needles on it, or where it got dipped into a sewer or something, but still: that would be rad.

Anyway, Ga Ga Loc is okay I guess. It’s open until 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning, which is pretty good, but so are lots of other places in the International District. Now that I’ve been inside this ridiculous fucking place there’s no need for me to return. If you’re drunk after last call, and a place like Jade Garden or Hing Loon is crowded, then I’d give Ga Ga Loc a shot. Maybe they’ll have some fucking duck tongues this time.

Rating 3 noodle Snuggies out of 10

Ga Ga Loc on Urbanspoon

PS This entry is respectfully dedicated to the friends and family of Ronnie James Dio. My thoughts are with you, even though Black Sabbath totally sucked ass after he took over from Ozzy.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Outback Steakhouse

666 Everywhere St
Everywhere, USA, 66666

Let me start off by announcing to all the “food blogging ethics” Nazis that my brother owns this particular Outback Steakhouse, which is located somewhere in Louisiana but of course I won’t say exactly where. Rest assured I won’t go easy on him; I’m going to issue many literary noogies to Outback’s food just like I’ve given ACTUAL noogies to the brother who owns this fucking place. After all, I hold my friends and family to a higher standard than my enemies. My enemies can go fuck your mom for all I care. Oh wait: they already did!

Everyone knows about Outback Steakhouse, and don’t pretend that you don’t, you pretentious motherfucks. There’s a bunch of varnished blonde wood inside and lots of fake “Australian” crap, like boomerangs and “Kangaroo Crossing” signs, on the walls everywhere. They give you gigantic Crocodile Dundee- style steak knives and the waiters wear shirts with epaulets, as if that’s more “Australian” somehow than a regular shirt. Maybe they need the epaulets to hold the rope they use to lasso the kangaroos for the freshly butchered kangaroo meat that Outback sells. Or maybe those epaulets are the only thing holding the waiters’ dignity in place when they have to collect the $2.19 tip from a party of 12 that Outback’s hillbilly clientele typically leave them.

The worst thing about Outback (surprisingly it’s NOT the food) is the customers. All of the dudes seem to have goatees which follow a peculiar natural law: the bigger the overhang on the dude’s beer gut, the bushier his goatee, so that the very fattest of Outback’s gentleman patrons appear to have gigantic pubic thickets from a 1970’s Playboy issue sprouting from their chins. All of the women dining at Outback look like they will eventually appear in amateur bukakke videos. And according to my brother, they’re scam artists, one and all. He can’t count the number of times customers have “found” glass in their food. You’d think that shattered glass is a garnish at Outback. And a couple douchebags once found a ladybug in their salad and claimed they were so embarrassed by the experience that only $500 in Outback gift cards could salve their wounded egos. Honestly I don’t know what’s worse: Outback’s hokey Australian minstrel show or the classless fucks who patronize the place. Or maybe they deserve one another: garbage in, garbage out.

But I digress. As much as I would love to further expound upon the plebians who jam- pack their lard asses into Outback’s varnished wooden booths, this is, after all, a food blog and not a symposium on regional varieties of rednecks. So I should get around, I suppose, to the food. It isn’t as bad as you might think: the sweet glazed roasted pork loin ($10.95) was a half a tenderloin, sliced into medallions and presented with garlic mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables. ”Prepare to be impressed!” proclaims the menu. They obviously mistook me for one of the ubiquitous infomercial ladies who can’t believe how EASY or CONVENIENT or SPACE SAVING the product in the infomercial is because I’m not that easily impressed. I will admit that I was surprised by how perfectly cooked the loin was: succulent and juicy, cooked to a rosy medium, with a flavorful seasoned exterior crust. Alas, Outback couldn’t leave well enough alone, because the pork loin was dribbled in an obnoxious pink sauce that seemed like it came from one of those packets of sweet- and- sour sauce you get when you buy shitty egg rolls from Panda Express. Embedded in the sticky sauce were tiny crispy shards of something I couldn’t identify but which, according to my brother, were corn flakes sautéed in butter. What. The. Fuck. The garlic mashed potatoes were very garlicky but had the consistency of stucco. The vegetables, a boilerplate mix of broccoli and carrots, were crisp and tasty and fresh- tasting and perhaps best of all, they didn’t feel the need to drench these in 20 gallons of melted butter or whatever the fuck.

The crab stuffed shrimp ($4.95) was okay. For that price you got four large shrimp tails, butterflied and piled with a gloopy mixture of crab meat, some variety of melted cheese, and breadcrumbs. The shrimp weren’t overcooked at least and still had a pleasant little snap to them. This dish would have been better if the shrimp weren’t floating in a ½” deep moat of melted butter: salty, salty, salted butter. This butter sauce is okay if you dip a piece of Outback’s vaunted bread (vaunted by hillbillies anyway), which comes in smooth, chocolatey brown oblong loaves and is delivered to your table by the waitress with one of their Crocodile Dundee steak knives protruding murderously from it.

I was disappointed by the fresh tilapia with pure lump crabmeat ($14.95), but only because the oddly straightforward name of this dish has none of the descriptive flair of the rest of Outback’s menu. I think it would have tasted better if they called this dish “Mel Gibson’s Holocaust- Denyingly Delicious Fish.” That’s because you’d need an asshole- puckering name like that to make Tilapia interesting. Yes, the fish was tender and flaky, and you got a gargantuan portion of it, topped with a gigantic avalanche of shredded blue crabmeat in an otherwise inoffensive white wine and butter sauce, but Tilapia is so fucking lame. Still, it was otherwise tasty. This was probably the best thing I ate at Outback. It came with a side of steamed green beans which were still a little crisp inside and shockingly green.

A cup of potato soup was served in what I would call more of a “cauldron” than a cup, and at $2.95 cost next to nothing. Chunks of tender potato floated in a creamy broth, laced through with strings of melted cheddar, chunks of bacon, and diced scallion. This was pretty good, but it was more like a baked potato that had been eaten by a pelican then regurgitated to feed its young than a soup.

The Victoria’s filet with lobster ($26.95) was served in the classic surf- n- turf configuration. The only weird thing about this dish was the fact that my spell checking software, in a weird postmodern quirk, is not offended by “surf- n- turf.” This culinary menagerie featured a really large filet mignon and three lobster tail halves. Honestly, if you’re into filet mignon, the Bryant Gumbel of beef, you can’t go wrong, not even at Outback. The filet was gigantic and tender and had a nicely seasoned caramelized crust. The lobster tails, on the other hand, weren’t quite as tasty: too salty and a bit leathery and accompanied by a ramekin of Outback’s extra salty salted butter for dipping. You can choose your potato configuration: baked potato, fries, or garlic mashed. I chose a baked potato which was basically the potato soup, before it was partially digested by the aforementioned pelican. The flesh of the potato was fluffy, the skin was salted, and it came with a twin scoop of whipped butter (which stared up at you from the perforated potato skin like a pair of buttery breasts), green onions, bacon bits, and cheddar cheese and was otherwise a fully realized example of a potato which has been baked then slathered with shitloads of stuff.

Outback Steakhouse is definitely okay. It’s the kind of place that’s usually pretty reliable if you’re stuck in some shithole in the hinterlands on business, or if your car broke down, or if you’re hoarding guns nearby and you need a break from hoarding guns because you’re getting hungry then by all means go to Outback. But only if your brother owns it and you don't have to pay a goddamned dime. And for the love of christ tip your waiter you redneck shitheads.

Rating: 5 angry phone calls from my mom out of 10

Outback Steakhouse (Westlake) on Urbanspoon

PS Outback puts so much butter in and on every dish, that if you could somehow scavenge all of the butter out of a typical three course meal, you’d have enough to sculpt a life- size sex doll entirely out of butter. And that would be pretty awesome.

Friday, January 08, 2010



Marination is a taco truck with a twist: when I heard that Marination sold “Korean tacos” I became enraged. That’s because I hate fusion. If you like Mexican pizza, or Thai pizza, or pizza with corn on it, or pizza with broccoli on it, or Southwestern egg rolls, or Japanese French food, or French Japanese food, or anything that Wolfgang Puck cooks, you’ll LOVE Korean tacos! That’s what I thought, anyway, because I’m a total dick and I hate anything new. It’s totally true. I love Saint Chapelle because it’s old; I hate the Weezer Snuggie because it’s new. I love the ancient Norse gods because they’re old; I hate Scientology because it’s new (and because who do you think would win in an arm wrestling match: Thor or Tom Cruise?). Yet in the true scientific spirit I vowed to empirically test Marination’s wares. So one Saturday, when I knew that they’d be slumming along 35th Ave SW, I decided to check these motherfuckers out for myself.

The Kalua Kimchee Quesedilla ($5) had pulled roasted pork shoulder and kim chee, glued together with cheese on a grilled flour tortilla. The pork was finely shredded and the kim chee, despite the fact that I generally despise its spicy farty smell, did a good job of countering the quesedilla’s cheesy dripiness with its tangy crunch. The tortilla was pleasantly charred and crunchy and was topped with those drab army- green pickled jalapeno slices and a pink spicy sauce which I’m guessing was a mixture of Sriracha and sour cream. The “Kalua” in the name refers to the pork and not the coffee liqeur favored by sorority girls from 20 years ago and protagonists of The Big Lebowski.

At $6.50, the Ala Moana Melt was the single most expensive menu item. It’s a perfectly serviceable grilled cheese sandwich with the same pulled pork used in the quesadilla,plus melted gouda cheese and more of the spicy pink sauce, sandwiched between thick slices of coarse chewy bread. It’s basically the same as the quesadilla except with different cheese, no kim chee, and bread instead of the tortilla, so if you want for whatever reason to save $1.50 go for the quesadilla instead. After all, that extra $1.50 you saved can go a long way with your mom.

Kimchee fried rice ($5) came in one of those iconic red and white paper Chinese food containers that no Chinese restaurants actually use anymore. When you first open the box a fried egg stares up at you from atop a big pile of rice, garnished with scallion curlicues. The rice was rather bland, although it was stained a fiery reddish- orange and it LOOKED like it would be really spicy. There was lots of kim chee, which gave a crunchy texture contrast. The egg yolk was still soft so it ran down into the rice and you could mix it in and that was pretty nice, but it wasn’t nice enough to save this dish from being my least favorite thing on Marination’s menu.

But what about Marination’s vaunted Korean tacos? My verdict: mixed results at best. Each taco was $2, and you can choose between four different kinds: kalbi beef, spicy pork, ginger miso chicken, and tofu. The tofu taco doesn’t get any flavorful adjectives, probably because it’s so difficult to attach any flavor to tofu that flavorful WORDS won’t even stick to it.

For how high motherfucking falautin’ these tacos were supposed to be, I would call $2 a reasonable taco truck price. Kalbi beef was clearly the best : sweet and spicy and garlicky chunks of tender beef were topped with a tiny bale of crisp, tangy, sweet slaw of shredded cabbage and carrots with cilantro and wrapped in two (sometimes three) corn tortillas.

The so- called “spicy” pork was no spicier than the kalbi beef despite the fact that they actually took the time to describe the pork as being spicy. Like the kim chee fried rice, just because the ground pork in this taco was dyed orangey- red doesn’t make it spicy. Sure, it was spicier than a glass of water, but it definitely wasn’t as spicy as your mom’s love life.

The ginger miso chicken was what I would call a misfire: I guess they didn’t put enough ginger in it. I kept expecting to feel that rumbling, slow, sweet burn that only LOTS of ginger brings to a dish, but it never materialized. And the miso was too cloying and chalky.

As for the tofu taco: don’t bother unless you’re a freak. The tofu was grilled and marinated in some tangy salty marinade, but the marinade didn’t penetrate very far into the tofu. Every vegetarian I have ever met swears it can be flavored yet I personally have never tasted a piece of tofu that was truly seasoned. Tofu must be pretty dense; why are we making bulletproof vests of Kevlar, when a squishy, milky- white tofu vest is so much more impenetrable? At the very least we should consider making CONDOMS of tofu because obviously flavorful liquids can’t seep past it.

The aloha slider ($2) is the first and only sandwich that’s actively trying to provoke me. That’s because it has SPAM on it. Spam sucks. The great Jonathan Kauffman, formerly of the Seattle Weekly and an extraordinary yet understated dude (who has sadly left our faggy city for the even MORE fudge- packer friendly San Francisco) has predicted a Spam craze of the same magnitude as our current bacon mania (note: I don’t know if he actually wrote this or if I just made it up. Fuck journalism). While I personally believe that Kauffman is a prophet and is in fact the Salman Rushdie of food writing (I’d call him the J.D. Salinger but Kauffman is too prolific), I must disagree: Spam will never grip the popular imagination the way bacon has. That’s because Spam sucks. You may argue that Spam is really just a terrine of sorts, but if you make that argument I will punch you in the neck. Spam is an abomination; a slice of the festering pustulent nutsack of a gibbering insane Lovecraftian god. Spam is not food. Spam is your mom.

My friend and I tried to fry Spam once. At first it seemed somewhat appealing, though not necessarily edible: bubblegum pink and finely textured like a rubber pencil eraser. Then as it cooked the slices shrank down into brown leathery hockey pucks floating in a pool of their own rendered fat. Even though we were totally drunk we both refused to eat it, and THAT my friends has got to be some kind of anomaly because when I get drunk enough I’ll eat an Almond Joy without irony.

Still, the aloha slider surprised me: A slab of grilled spam cozied down in a nest of pulled pork, with more of the same sweet and tangy taco slaw on one of those weird sweet Hawaiian rolls. With a smoky, charred crust and surprisingly edible interior, the Spam was actually quite tasty. Besides, two kinds of meat are always better than one, even if one of the meats in question is Spam.

I really wanted to sneer at Marination because the only fusion I endorse is the fusion of your mom’s genitals with mine. And even THAT isn’t really very good. But Marination won me over because it is CHEAP: I ordered EVERY SINGLE MENU ITEM (except the drinks; I can buy my own can of Mr. Pibb, thanks) and the total was $28. And yes they did reuse a lot of the same ingredients over and over again, like the pulled pork and the slaw and the spicy pink saucy stuff, but it’s on a TRUCK for fuck’s sake. SO yeah: Marination is good, but it isn’t as good as getting a blowjob from a leprechaun on the deck of the solid platinum yacht you just won in the lottery. Still, it’s a solid value. Stick to the kalbi beef tacos and the aloha sliders and you can’t miss.

Rating: 6 Leprechauns out of 10

Marination Mobile (locations vary) on Urbanspoon