Seattle Met's Taste the World event is happening Tuesday, February 21, at the Wing Luke Museum (purchase your $30 right over here). This began as an idea during the early stages of putting together the magazine's "Hope and Resistance" cover story for the February issue, and has evolved into 10 restaurants around Seattle coming together to celebrate diversity through exceptional food. All event proceeds will benefit the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, but should you need further enticement, here are just a few of the stories behind the comfort food dishes you'll find.
The Vietnamese eatery—best known for making their noodles by hand at their Chinatown-ID location—will bring their vermicelli bowls and excellent eggrolls for a taste of Vietnamese comfort. According to chef and co-owner KV Bui, this comfort meal is an everyday staple in Vietnam and is made with whatever’s on hand or siting in the fridge. In Dong Thap’s fridge? Lettuce, cucumber, bean sprouts, basil, pickles, daikon, carrots, and a choice of grilled chicken or pork. But perhaps the main event of the bowls will be the handmade rice noodles, which take four days of soaking, grinding, pressing, and extracting—a technique passed down for generations. The effort is palpable in the masterful combination of fresh flavors—and entwined with housemade fish sauce.
Sous chef Cameron Mills of Capitol Hill's Middle Eastern favorite takes the reins for the event with jazar bi tahini, a hearty mezze spread of roasted carrots and tahini—traditional to Lebanon and Syria—and elevated with toasted cumin seeds and lime juice. Mills likes this seasonal special becaues it balances earthy flavors and bright colors in a creamy concoction served slathered on crispy housemade pita and garnished with oven-roasted leeks and a splash of wine vinegar. Inspiration struck while Mills was browsing a cookbook of medieval Islamic recipes, and came across the simple spread still found on practically every dining table in the Levantine region. Though prepared sans primitive technology, the dish’s ingredients (tahini and vinegar) harken to ancient modes of preservation—and it’s consistent with Mamnoon’s usual ambition: offering traditional Middle Eastern fare with an elegant modern twist.
Chef Nirmal Monteiro changes the menu constantly at his slender, Pioneer Square spot—no surprise, he’s bringing an inventive special of his own creation. It’s called samudra dilruba, which translates roughly to “seafood of the heart”—a dish he perfected while cooking abroad in Italy. The recipe for ultimate Indian-inspired comfort food? Take a mixture of seafood—maybe scallops, shrimp, and clams—then place in a food processor, add a bit of spice, and deep fry until golden brown. The flavors are familiarly Indian—but these garlicky, golden dumplings can’t be found anywhere in India. Though this definitely sounds like it exhibits the chef's signature nuanced layerings of flavor—ginger, turmeric, and coconut, for instance.
And on the dessert menu…orange opera cakes courtesy of Fuji Bakery. On a normal day, sugary delights like vanilla cream custard buns and green tea cookie breads spring forth from the ovens of the sweet shop’s Chinatown-ID, Interbay, and Bellevue locations. For the special occasion, chef Yushi Osawa crafts a mouth-watering chocolate fest that puts a Seattle-appropriate spin on the Japanese tradition of making desserts with warm, comforting matcha. Yep, you guessed it—it’s coffee. Top the night off with Yushi’s masterpiece of coffee mousse and orange layers crowned with chocolate whipped cream.