Friday, November 27, 2009

The Rickshaw

322 N 105th St

Sit down, and listen to this, dear readers: on Thanksgiving Eve two old friends and I decided to have a few cocktails and raise a glass to not getting killed by a truck. After several tipsy rounds of darts we found ourselves suffering from the unnecessary hunger to which drunks typically succumb. We were in Greenwood and my friends kept talking about the awesome Chinese place down the street. As anyone who’s stumbled into the International District at 3:00 am knows, Chinese food always sounds good when you’re shitfaced so of course after several rounds of self- congratulatory high- fives we headed off to this awesome Chinese restaurant. It turns out the awesome Chinese place my friends were talking about was the Rickshaw.

The Rickshaw was largely deserted so we chose to sit in the bar. Apparently, counter intuitively, the Rickshaw actually takes reservations, which we found out the hard way, by trying to sit at a table that had been reserved. Our gracious bartender directed us to an adjacent table, in the process inadvertently starting what will go down in history as the Great Rickshaw Table Skirmish. The Rickshaw’s lauded karaoke hadn’t started yet, which is good because karaoke annoys the piss out of me. The bar inside the Rickshaw is a classic old- school Chinese cocktail lounge: dimly lit, with formica tabletops and vinyl chairs and plaster dragons and paper lanterns and the red/ black/ gold color scheme that used to indicate musty Victorian Chinoiserie but which has lately been replaced by the mod cutesy neon shit that somehow indicates “Asia” a’ la Boom Noodle or Kushibar.

Several scruffy bearded blue- collar dudes were at the bar, clustered like moths around the obligatory metaphorical flame: the bartender. For good reason, of course, because the bartender was smoking hot. She was a busty brunette, and the very personification of the Platonic ideal of T and/ or A. This woman looked like Nigella Lawson, if Nigella became a supernova. Her rack alone was capable of distorting the space/ time continuum: close inspection of her tits with a radio telescope revealed gravitational lensing around the slope of her breast. Her hips were bountiful enough to write a patriotic song about, and she had a glossy gushing brunette fountain of hair which could inspire a million years’ worth of Loreal commercials.

Allow me at this point to engage in an editorial aside (as if my breathless puppy- dog prose wasn’t enough of an aside) and thank the ghosts of all the Caesars that T&A is finally back in vogue. I think I speak for every straight guy in the world when I thank motherfucking Jesus that this fucking emaciated Kate Moss shit is finally out of style. Helen of Troy may have had the face that launched 1000 ships but women like Nigella Lawson and Christina Hendricks and the bartender at The Rickshaw have the racks that dropped 1000 megatons of thermonuclear warheads.

Setting aside my gushy starry- eyed prose for the bartender, the food itself is actually pretty solid. Egg rolls were $5.50 for 2, which seems a bit expensive. Sure, they’re a bit bigger than the ones you typically get around town, but those egg rolls weren’t really anything special: standard issue egg rolls, wrapped in rice sheets, fried to a crackly bronze, and filled with the usual stuff like shredded cabbage, little bits of sautéed ground pork, glass noodles, and julienned carrots.

The observant among us will by now have noted that there are TWO kinds of egg rolls: the rice paper kind and the kind of egg rolls I call “Cracker Egg Rolls.” I like Cracker Egg Rolls better. Cracker Egg Rolls are the kind you can buy in packs of 50 from Costco. Also available at malls, in airports, and at Shitty Chinese Buffets throughout the south, Cracker Egg Rolls have bubbly fried wheat wrappers and are usually filled with more meat. What’s the basis for the slight variation in egg rolls? I don’t know but I’ll hazard a guess and say that the different types of egg rolls come from different regions in China. After all, as everyone knows, China is full of regions.

While the egg rolls were okay, the pot stickers were actually quite tasty, AND a better deal. For $7.95 you got 6 of them: huge pillowy pot stickers the size (and shape) of croissants. The dough was sautéed a crunchy brown on the outside, though the interior layer of dough might have been a bit undercooked. There was a shitload of ground pork inside, juicy and seasoned with the usual diced scallion, ginger, and 5- spice powder, and the pot stickers were accompanied by a rather large bowl of the boilerplate sweet and salty dipping sauce.

The Mongolian Beef ($10.50) was also pretty typical: tender slivers of beef stir- fried with plenty of onion in a spicy and sweet reddish brown sauce. There were lots of Thai bird chilis here and there, and of course the saucy beef was ladled over a bed of those ivory- colored fried noodles that only ever seem to come with Mongolian Beef. I generally like Mongolian Beef, and the Rickshaw serves up a fine if unoriginal example of it, but something tells me that if Genghis Khan happened upon the Rickshaw he wouldn’t order Mongolian Beef. I don’t see real Mongols enjoying a plateful of delicately crisped pasta squiggles. Instead he’d probably pincushion everyone in the bar with arrows, then raid the place’s freezer and just hack off a frozen piece of beef and eat it raw. So if the Rickshaw REALLY wanted to be “authentic,” maybe an order of Mongolian Beef should just come with a jagged hunk of raw meat and a complimentary beheading.

The Szechwan Beef Noodles ($9.50) came in a vast bowl and it was also tasty and it was a very good deal. Chewy sliced beef, perfect rectangles of bamboo shoot, and zig- zaggy parallelograms of carrot that looked as though they’d been cut by an elf with pinking shears all floated in a murky tangy broth. This was the perfect dish, spicy and steamy, for a rainy chilly November evening. It was actually really spicy: orangey red droplets of chili oil floated visibly on the surface, and my nose was running after only a couple gulps of broth. My only problem with this dish is that the eponymous noodles were shitty grocery- store dried vermicelli. You can’t have everything I suppose.

The General Tso’s Chicken ($10.95) was one of those unexpected delights that make life interesting. Many of you have read my melancholic reminiscing about the best General Tso’s Chicken in Seattle. The Rickshaw’s Gen Tso’s Chicken wasn’t quite as legendary as the Broadway Wok & Grill’s but it was still very good. In fact it was way better than I thought it would be. Succulent chunks of fried thigh meat were doused in a sauce that, as befits the Rickshaw’s obviously spicy bent, featured LOTS of chilis. A couple florets of broccoli, lightly steamed to a vivid and commanding green, accompanied. With a very crispy batter and a spicy sauce with a splashy vinegary top note, the Rickshaw’s General Tso’s was almost like a plate of Buffalo Wings. Very intriguing.

Unfortunately our delightful evening was cut short by the opening shots of the aforementioned Great Rickshaw Table Skirmish. Remember when I said that our lovely and talented bartender escorted us to an adjacent table? At this point the party of 12 that had reserved the two tables nearest to us started to trickle in, and this is when the trouble started. They began to sit down. Eventually some old lady with a head of hair that looked like a lhasa apso’s ass appeared and told us to move. Apparently she was the karaoke lady. Well guess what: fuck you, karaoke lady, and fuck your furry shitty hairdo. We weren’t done eating. This fucking crystal- meth addict looking whore actually STARTED TO GRAB OUR FUCKING PLATES. I stopped her and politely stated the obvious, i.e. that we weren’t done eating.

Karaoke lady, with her pinched and puckered smoker’s mouth and her bushy mound of curly frizzy furry tricolor hair, shall forever hereafter be known as “Dog Ass Face.” Dog Ass Face said “Well you have to move right now because this table is reserved.” I just looked at her. There was NO PLACE for us to move. The Rickshaw had suddenly become crowded because Karaoke was starting: some Rick Moranis looking motherfucker was singing “Paint it Black” by the Rolling Stones in a pleasant mahogany baritone that seemed incongruous coming from his nebbishy mouth. My friend laughed at me and mentioned that I love the French too much. I don’t know if that was his way of insinuating that I was pussing out, but Dog Ass Face made a grave mistake when she agreed with my friend and said that I WAS in fact like the French. Time froze: who the fuck are you, Dog Ass Face? You don’t know me. And apparently you also don’t know a competent hairdresser. And your face looks just like my dog’s ass. Fuck you, woman. Die.

Before things could escalate our lovely and talented bartender intervened. She explained to Dog Ass Face that she, the lawfully ordained bartender, gave us the table. Dog Ass Face sputtered some vile verbal canine diarrhea from her anus/ mouth and made an obscene barking noise about how we should leave soon. Within clear earshot of Dog Ass Face I asked the bartender if Dog Ass Face was the manager. The bartender laughed. “She works here,” replied the bartender, “but she’s no one’s boss.” Dog Ass Face heard the rebuke and slunk away with her ass face tail between her ass face legs.

And just like that the bartender deftly intercepted all of the ratings points that Dog Ass Face had just caused the Rickshaw to shed onto the floor the way her shitty hairdo sheds. THAT is what I call customer service. Still, I don’t think Dog Ass Face’s brusque manner and shitty hairdo should go unpunished so I’m going to give the Rickshaw a rare 3- part rating.

Anyway, I hope you’ll forgive my bitchy screeching literary vomit which is worthy of the most arbitrary one- star yelp rating. I shouldn’t have let Dog Ass Face push my buttons, and I generally don’t hold service against any place I review, but Dog Ass Face is a total loon with ZERO skill. Still, I wasn’t going to let my run- in with a rude styleless douche ruin my day.

My trip to the Rickshaw and subsequently pleasant evening with friends reminded me, in the true spirit of Thanksgiving, about what’s good in life:


Buffalo Trace Bourbon.

Surprisingly non- disappointing General Tso’s Chicken.

Not getting killed by an oncoming truck.



My dog, whose furry ass was the inspiration for Dog Ass Face’s Dog Ass Face.

Happy Thanksgiving, fuckers, and if you go the Rickshaw, for fuck’s sake sit on the restaurant side.

Our super hot bartender with MAD PEACEKEEPING SKILLZ: 9.5 brunette quasars out of 10

Dog Ass Face: 0 stupid old ladies who mistake Karaoke management for any other sort of authority out of 10

The Rickshaw: 6.5 eventful evenings out of 10

Rickshaw Restaurant and Lounge on Urbanspoon

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Zippy's Giant Burgers

1513 SW Holden St

206-763-1347 (but don’t bother calling)

I fucking LOVE hamburgers. Hamburgers are the quintessential American food, and they fucking rock the ever living FUCK out of your FACE. They taste so goddamned good. Actually that’s a generalization. Not every hamburger tastes that great: for instance, the McDonald’s Corporation exists solely to fend off hangovers. Their beef tastes stale and dusty yet humid, like what I imagine a mannequin’s vagina would taste like.

I’m also less than enamored by the Costco- style mega- packs of frozen burgers, ESPECIALLY the ones that have an irregularly shaped perimeter, as though that wavy edge would fool anyone into thinking that their burger was a handmade patty. One big tipoff would be the fact that while the edges of the burger might not be perfectly circular, the top face of the patty is perfectly flat. Flat enough, in fact, for you to use the patty as though it were a writing desk. To paraphrase Lewis Carrol, how is a burger like a writing desk? Answer: when it sucks so bad that you write all over it instead of eating it. Because you see, my friends, the essence of humor is finding an unlikely link between two vastly different things. For example: the esoteric combination of tax- dodging aristocrats and huffy ignorant gasbags with an infinite wellspring of indignation is the reason the Republican party will always be more hilarious than the Democrats.

Like the Republican party, the long line to buy a fucking hamburger at Zippy’s would also be hilarious if it didn’t directly impact my life. Obviously Zippy’s, tucked into a corner of West Seattle and just a whore’s hair north of White Center, is popular, although the line wouldn’t be so long if the place wasn’t the size of a cubicle inside. You can allegedly call in an order in advance, but don’t bother: the one time I tried that, they put me “on hold,” and by that I mean they put me on “ghetto hold,” which means they just put the phone down with me still on the line, so I could hear them taking EVERYONE ELSE’S orders, while ignoring my own humble hamburger request.

Anyway, despite the cluster fuck inside Zippy’s, the hamburgers are so fucking killer it’s totally worth the wait. Despite its awkward name, the Zip Burger with Bacon and Cheese ($5.50) is a fucking classic: a huge sloppy monster on a bun. The patty, juicy and grilled to a lurid and unrepentantly pink medium, barely holds itself together with each bite. Bacon reinforces the smoky charred flavor. The usual vegetable suspects loiter about: iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and red onions all jockey for position. A couple slices of melted cheese mortar the whole thing together.

The enigmatically named “No. 11” ($5.25) features the same obscenely juicy beef patty, along with lettuce, cheese, chipotle sauce, and pickled peppers. Although it doesn’t seem very spicy at first, with each bite the heat mounts progressively, until a sheen of sweat breaks out on your forehead and your nose begins to run. Instead of cryptically labeling it “No. 11” they should have called this burger “Sauna on a Bun.”

All of you hypocritical vegans in the audience should know that the (vegetarian) Zip Bean Burger ($4.75) is VERY GOOD: a black bean and mushroom patty nestles snugly into a bun amongst a big pile of lettuce, tomatoes, red onion, and lots of pickles. The patty itself has a nice crusty caramelized char on the outside, while the interior is surprisingly chewy and moist with pleasant woody notes. The Bean Burger would actually be orders of magnitude better with bacon, which as everyone knows is a flavor multiplier. As everyone ALSO knows, beans and bacon go so well together. And I’m pretty sure the “Secret sauce,” a glossy orange concoction, has mayonnaise in it, so the Bean Burger ISN’T vegan. If you’re a vegetarian and you’ve made the tricky logistical commitment of setting foot inside Zippy’s overcrowded 3rd world cubicle, you may as well just go ahead and get bacon on the Bean Burger. Just do it. No one will know.

Fries and onion rings are each $1.50. For this price you get a good amount of rather bland but otherwise good fries. The onion rings are SPECTACULAR: the batter is nicely seasoned, not too thick, and so crisp it crunches almost like a Dorito in your mouth when you bite it. The onions themselves are sliced neither too thick nor too thin. And you get a lot of them. My only complaint here is that Zippy’s gives you a tiny cup of ketchup and “Secret sauce” to dip you rings into, and there’s no possible way it could fit: it’s like trying to shove a hula hoop into a shot glass.

If you’re thirsty there’s a variety of weird local sodas in the cooler (I counted 34 different kinds). Zippy’s is also renowned for its floats, malts, and milkshakes ($3.25, $3.75, and $3.50 respectively), which of course are made from real ice cream. Honestly, though, I don’t see the appeal of milkshakes. People who love to point out obvious things frequently say that the first dude to eat escargot must have been starving, but I posit that the dude who invented the milkshake must have been STONED. Why else would someone want to drink a cup of melted ice cream? Sure, it’s sweet, but a 10 pound bag of sugar is sweet too, and I don’t see people waxing nostalgic and craving handfuls of granulated Dixie Crystals.

I would say that Zippy’s rules your stomach with an iron fist, but it’s so chaotic and goofy that I don’t think an iron fist is an appropriate metaphor for Zippy’s administrative control of your digestive system. After all, an iron fist implies order, authority, and ruthless efficiency, and Zippy’s of course, has none of that. So let’s just say Zippy’s rules your stomach with some kind of floppy, brightly colored clown glove.

Rating: 8 clown gloves out of 10

Zippy's Burgers on Urbanspoon