Noodle Boat keeps fresh flavors afloat

July 1, 2014

Noodle Boat has long been one of my favorite Issaquah restaurants and a return visit for a review does nothing to change my opinion.

The little Thai restaurant at the end of a strip mall off Northwest Gilman Boulevard seems a little buried among the storefronts. But once you step inside, the clean and charming atmosphere welcomes you into a comfortable dining environment.

Noodle Boat is outfitted with traditional decorations in a modern setting and has a confident sense of design. During the day, the windows offer wonderful lighting and the evening provides a relaxing place for a repast.

By Peter Clark Noodle Boat’s red curry is just one delicious menu item that showcases the restaurant’s Thai cuisine.

By Peter Clark
Noodle Boat’s red curry is just one delicious menu item that showcases the restaurant’s Thai cuisine.

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Chan’s is the place for fine food

April 15, 2014

Chan’s Place is extremely unassuming, given its location. Its name is lit up in neon running over the strip mall exterior. A banner touting Chinese food and decrying MSG hangs over the neon sign.

There is no way you would expect its interior by walking past it. It is light and open and airy inside. The decor is filled with warm to neutral colors encouraging a calming meal.

A dinner in the first part of the week is nothing to hurry for; a Tuesday night dinner will get you prompt and pleasant seating by the hostess. There is ample seating around but you won’t feel isolated. Even with four or five tables in the relatively spacious dining room you still feel like you are around people. Conversations are carried throughout the room at just the right level: enough to hear them, but not enough to drown out your own conversation.

By Dan Gunderson The beef with black bean sauce is a can’t miss meal at Chan’s Place.

By Dan Gunderson
The beef with black bean sauce is a can’t miss meal at Chan’s Place.

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Pine Lake Ale House offers up some fine pub grub

April 1, 2014

Sometimes, when together with a group of co-workers, you just get a hankering for some pub grub. So, we trekked up to Pine Lake Ale House to check their offerings.

The first good sign was how packed it was. A successful restaurant needs to maintain a solid base of regulars while constantly attracting new diners.

By David Hayes Pine Lake Ale House offers such pub grub staples as (clockwise from top) the grilled chicken taco salad, teriyaki chicken sandwich, fish and chips, and the spicy chicken sandwich.

By David Hayes
Pine Lake Ale House offers such pub grub staples as (clockwise from top) the grilled chicken taco salad, teriyaki chicken sandwich, fish and chips, and the spicy chicken sandwich.

I went right for their top item from their menu’s list of specialties — the fish and chips. Glancing around the pub, it appeared to be a popular order among the many other diners. It was easy to see why, as the combination of flaky Alaskan halibut, the Mac & Jacks beer batter and the chili tartar sauce combined for a satisfying whole.

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Garlic Crush offers quick, quality Mediterranean food

March 11, 2014

Before now, to enjoy Mediterranean food, the only choices in Issaquah were sit-down dining at Tantalus (Greek) and Pogacha (Adriatic). Fine dining, to be sure, but not for those in a hurry, especially the on-the-go lunch crowd.

Filling that void comes Garlic Crush, former Microsoftie Maher “Matt” Jabbour’s second restaurant after opening his first in Bellevue.

Garlic Crush photo The beef and lamb gyro is a popular item on the menu.

Garlic Crush photo
The beef and lamb gyro is a popular item on the menu.

Located in the former O’Ginger, the interior has been renovated to accommodate a faster, order-at-the-counter service. The atmosphere is lighter and airier with pop-Arabic music piped over the restaurant’s speakers.

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Let Tikka Masala take your tastebuds on a culinary tour of India

February 11, 2014

As a regular patron of Indian restaurants, I felt very comfortable in Tikka Masala.

Walking into the clean and tidy restaurant in Gilman Village, you smell a unique blend of exotic aromas and hear the rhythmic sounds of Indian music. While these sensory triggers are more or less standard for most Indian restaurants, I still find them welcoming.

Between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., Tikka Masala offers a lunch buffet. It features a standard selection of dishes. Aloo masala (spiced potatoes and vegetables), chana masala (spiced chickpeas and vegetables) and tandoori chicken all make an appearance with many other assorted selections, including appetizers and desserts.

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Enjoy a meal with your movie at Cinebarre

February 4, 2014

Who wouldn’t like to sit in a big, comfy recliner in their own living room and watch a movie on a movie theater-sized screen?

Well, you can do that at Cinebarre — but with waiters and waitresses.

Won’t those people going back and forth interrupt the movie? Not nearly as much as you would think.

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Enjoy the biggest, freshest selection at Aji Sushi & Grill

December 24, 2013

The Bento Box (above) at Aji Sushi & Grill is a great lunch deal at only $9.95. The Double A roll (right), like the other sushi rolls at Aji, is a delicious work of art.  Photo by Kathleen R. Merrill.

The Bento Box (above) at Aji Sushi & Grill is a great lunch deal at only $9.95. The Double A roll (right), like the other sushi rolls at Aji, is a delicious work of art. Photo by Kathleen R. Merrill.

The spoiling of the customer at Aji Sushi & Grill in the Issaquah Highlands starts with the warm hand cloths brought to your table when you first arrive. It continues with impeccable service.

The restaurant has not only sushi but also numerous Korean dishes.

One way to judge a sushi place is by its California roll, one of the most popular menu items for people who love sushi, and for people who don’t. The California roll at Aji is beautifully made. You get eight large pieces for $4.95 and the blend of ingredients is perfect.

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Big Fish offers a fine seafood dining alternative

December 17, 2013

Yelp is no help.

The best way to discover a new restaurant, such as Big Fish Grill at Grand Ridge Plaza in the Issaquah Highlands, is to avoid the personal vendettas and experience it in person.

With locations also in Kirkland and Woodinville, Big Fish is still finding its footing in Issaquah (the website is still not up and running yet).

By Greg Farrar Big Fish Grill staff split an order of Alaskan cod tacos (left) and seafood gumbo into half portions so two diners could enjoy a taste of the other’s meal.

By Greg Farrar
Big Fish Grill staff split an order of Alaskan cod tacos (left) and seafood gumbo into half portions so two diners could enjoy a taste of the other’s meal.

I popped in for a meal with a dining companion recently and enjoyed the experience. We arrived in the late afternoon, having missed the lunch crowd, too early for the dinner service. We almost had the side dining room and the entire wait staff to ourselves. So, you’ll have to discover for yourself how Big Fish operates at peak hours.

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Extreme Pizza’s risky combos pay off with big flavor

November 19, 2013

We don’t usually review restaurant chains, but instead try to stick with local cuisine. Technically, Extreme Pizza is a chain, with franchises in 11 states.

However, good luck finding the next nearest one outside Issaquah, as our fair city has the only one in Washington.

Also, just about the only thing extreme is the sports the founder is renowned for doing, from skydiving to snowboarding.

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