Liberty grad takes food truck to head of the class

February 12, 2013

Michael Kramer grew up in the kitchen. So, it’s no surprise to his closest family members and friends that his food truck Za’aTar is receiving rave reviews.

As a youngster, if he weren’t entwined in his grandmother’s legs while she was cooking comfort food worthy of any diner, he’d be underfoot while his dad whipped up a pretty mean homestyle Italian meal

What to know

To follow Za’aTar’s locations, go to:


Now 22, the Liberty High School graduate said that in looking back, it was perhaps his mother who provided the most memorable life lessons to prepare him for what not to do while running a kitchen.

Contributed Late-night customers line up for fresh Mediterranean food from the Liberty High School graduate Michael Kramer’s food truck Za’atar Dec. 13 when it set up shop at Second and Pike in downtown Seattle.

Late-night customers line up for fresh Mediterranean food from the Liberty High School graduate Michael Kramer’s food truck Za’atar Dec. 13 when it set up shop at Second and Pike in downtown Seattle.

“One time when we went camping, she was trying to fry up some potatoes for breakfast when she asked, ‘Why is the oil bubbling up?’” Kramer recalled.

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Red Corner seeks to carve out niche in crowded market

February 12, 2013

Red Corner, the newest Chinese restaurant in town, faces an uphill battle trying to wrangle its way into a small dining market already saturated with established Asian eateries.

With so many other Chinese restaurants with their own loyal clientele, it takes something special to pry them away to build up your own base of regulars. Red Corner might not pull it off.


If you go

Red Corner Chinese Restaurant

  • 1025 N.W. Gilman Blvd.
  • 391-9888
  • 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursdays; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, 11:30 to 10 p.m. Saturday, 11:30 to 9:30 p.m. Sunday
  • Appetizers: $4.95 to $13.95; soups: $1.95 to $12.95; entrées: $9.95 to $16.95

Red Corner offers up Szechuan cuisine inside a hole-in-the-wall diner next to Gold’s Gym. While dining with a couple of friends, nothing we had was bad, but just nothing we ate was particularly memorable either.

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Filos on Issaquah Creek offers primo pizza, pasta

November 20, 2012

About 30 years ago, Leif Moi helped open a Jay Berry’s restaurant on Northwest Gilman Boulevard, offering dining along Issaquah Creek.

After a lengthy hiatus from the business, Moi has returned to Issaquah with his second Filos restaurant — his first in Redmond and his second, Filos on Issaquah Creek, located along the same bend in the waterway as the long-departed Jay Berry’s.

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Hop Jack’s offers fresh take on regional cuisine

August 7, 2012

A friend who’s originally from Tennessee laments missing one of her favorite staples of Southern cuisine — biscuits and gravy.

Imagine, then, her surprise to discover the answer to her Jonesing for homemade Southern cuisine could be found in a Klahanie neighborhood pub — Hop Jack’s.

With five locations in the Puget Sound region, Hop Jack’s is on the cusp of being a chain, but it still retains that neighborhood feel, catering to the middle-class looking for a place to meet after a hard day’s work.

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Small Saffron Deli delivers on big Southeast Asian flavors

January 31, 2012

A sign in front of the Saffron Deli announces “Southeast Asian fusion” cuisine.

Inside the eatery, the hostess said her menu is straight from Laos. It includes some dishes with which you are probably familiar, such as beef or chicken pho, but also some possibly more adventurous choices, such as Hainan chicken or Gau Lau beef soup.

The two visitors in question here played it safe with a vegetable soup and chicken pho, but were impressed with the flavor of each, enough that trying some of the other offerings at some point in the future is definitely not out of the question.

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Go out of your way to discover Szechuan Bean Flower

January 17, 2012

If you’re going to open a restaurant off the beaten path, it better feature food tantalizing enough to draw you out of your way to find it.

Such is the situation with Szechuan Bean Flower Restaurant, tucked way behind AtWork!, located on Locust Street.

Longtime diners will recognize the building that was home for a couple of other restaurants that have since moved or gone under. So, it’s a risk opening a Chinese restaurant in an unproven location.

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Japan Ginger delivers a quick, appetizing bite

December 27, 2011

Upon walking into Japan Ginger Teriyaki and Sushi Bar, one can get confused. Do you sit at a table and wait for a server or do you go up to the counter and order off the large menu board?

We ended up ordering at the counter and then helping ourselves to a seat — not a great beginning to a lunch, but it was all uphill from there.

As the restaurant is named for its teriyaki, I felt obliged to try some. My friend the vegetarian opted for yakisoba noodles with tofu.

The meals arrived in a very reasonable amount of time, our plates carried by a friendly waiter/host. The first thing we both noticed was how good the food looked, that the presentation was done very nicely.

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Zeeks Pizza finds a niche in busy pizza market

December 20, 2011

In a market saturated with pizza joints, both franchise and local, it really takes that extra something special to stand apart from the crowd. Whether you’re looking for authentic Italian, the biggest pie or just a lunch buffet, Issaquah has something for every discerning palate.

Enter Zeeks Pizza. With 10 regional locations, it still doesn’t qualify as a national chain. So you still get that hometown feel when you walk into its Issaquah Highlands setting.

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WildFin American Grill offers surf, turf options to reel in diners

October 25, 2011

The menu at WildFin American Grill roams across the landscape, and borrows from enough culinary traditions and trends to fill a Rand McNally atlas and a Zagat guide.

A kitchen toiling to round out such menus can often lose focus, although WildFin remains consistent — and excels.

WildFin offers surf-and-turf options dolled up in New American flourishes. The concept is not unique on the Issaquah restaurant scene, but WildFin puts a more memorable effort into execution.

The menu taps trends — such as small plates designed for sharing — to laudable effect.

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Find simple Italian cooking off beaten path at Montalcino Ristorante Italiano

October 11, 2011

When my wife and I vacationed in Venice, Italy, one of the best meals we had the entire trip came via recommendation of a local resident.

The bed-and-breakfast owner suggested a little family-run restaurant, way off the beaten path away from the usual touristy spots. The food at this hole in the wall was exquisite and memorable for its simplistic, yet bold flavors.

Well, Issaquah now boasts its own hole in the wall, family run ristorante Italiano — Montalcino Ristorante Italiano.

Located on Northwest Alder Place, a block off the beaten path of Front Street, Montalcino brought back memories of Venice with its intimate, rustic interior.

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