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
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.