February 24, 2009

Seattle diary: houses and eating at Chiang's Gourmet

Scallion pancakes at Chiang's Gourmet.

We recently spent nine days in Seattle visiting family and eating a lot. And because we are considering moving there, we went to a bunch of open houses to get a sense of what the housing market was like. Expensive. Whew. The cost of living is considerably higher than where we presently live. We currently live pretty cheaply in a paid-off house that we purchased for a low price many years ago. We can get rid of everything we own, downsize, and live a more austere life, but there are certain things I need — like a decent working kitchen with room to store my kitchen equipment. Not one of the houses we looked at had that.

In one house, just after I asked the realtor why none of the stove burners would light, my husband asked why there were space heaters in every room — and why was she wearing a coat? She giggled. In another, the kitchen was too small for a table and there was no dining room. “Well,” said the realtor, “you could put a narrow table along that (living room) wall. Or you could take away the TV and put a small round table in that (living room) corner. Right. My favorite house of all was listed as a (quaint, I believe) three bedroom with a studio in the yard. Oh yes, the studio was fabulous — the studio of my dreams. I’m serious. The studio was amazing, but the house had issues. We saw one bedroom, living room, dining room and “kitchen." It was the size of a toy kitchen with minimal counter and cupboard space. There was no dishwasher and no place to put one, and the refrigerator was a compact under-the-counter model. You really couldn’t put a real refrigerator anywhere, which explains the tiny one. To be fair, there was an extra, tiny refrigerator and a little freezer outside. On the porch. Outside. We went outside and discovered a charming patio and steps leading to the basement. In the basement was a bedroom and a sitting room, along with a washer and dryer and workshop space. It was clearly a basement, but I was imagining how the bedroom could be a guest room and the other room an office. (I was obsessed with the studio and not in my right mind.) But when we looked for a way to go upstairs, we realized that you had to go outside to get to the main house! I had visions of a guest down there in the celler, in winter, waking in the night and discovering the only way to the bathroom was to go outside and up to the house. (Locked, of course.) Any Seattle readers out there who have insights about housing? Houses? Rentals? Condos? Neighborhoods?

You can really work up an appetite running around looking at houses all day, so we all had dinner at Chiang's Gourmet restaurant. They have a separate vegan menu with very interesting choices. (I've blogged about Chiang's in the past.) On this trip we had eight people, so there were lots of dishes to try. Here are some of them:

Pea vines.
Homemade noodles with broccoli and brown sauce.
Homemade noodles with tofu, greens, and peanuts.
Barbecued taro ribs — a vegan house specialty.
The "ribs" are made completely of taro so you can eat the whole thing. Now, I'm not suggesting that Chiang's is a healthy place to eat, but it sure is a tasty one. Everything looks and tastes great, and you will get a big dose of veggies.

Neat loaf with mashed potatoes and gravy. (may contain eggs.)
Another restaurant I had been wanting to try in Seattle is Silence-Heart-Nest — kind of a New Age diner run by followers of Sri Chinmoy. It is vegetarian with vegan options. I love places like this. We went there for lunch with our son Aaron and his gf Erica, and it was really good. I had a very creative and tasty version of beans and rice, my husband had a cup of soup and Aaron and Erica had a neatloaf sandwich and neatloaf with mashed potatoes and gravy.

Beans an rice.


  1. What an awful housing market there in Seattle - I am really amazed! Can you eat enough good food out there to drown your housing sorrows? I really feel for you, especially knowing what a wonderful kitchen you have presently. The food at both those restaurants looks awesome....

  2. To be fair, we didn't go out with a realtor — just to open houses — so we didn't fully explore the possibilities. That said, housing really is pricey in Seattle. We may just rent first. If we find a place to live, will you come visit?

  3. Wish you all the luck in finding your dream house :) All those foodie pic sure made me hungry!I would also like to invite you to Foodista.com - the cooking encyclopedia everyone can edit. We have lots of easy recipes you can try,and we'd also love you to share some of your fave recipes :) Thanks!

  4. I hope you have more luck with your search soon! I am sure the right place is just around the corner, so to speak. I will cross my fingers for you :)

  5. Holler and Alisa,
    Thanks for the good house wishes! We'll probably rent something until we decide what we want. I'm just really hoping for a nice kitchen.

  6. I've always wanted to visit Seattle and the wonderful vegan dining spots. I would love to spend 9 days there!

    Beware the word "quaint" to describe housing!

  7. I never realized how greasy the food at Chiang's was until I saw these photos! It sure is good, though.

  8. Well, Diann, I intend to have a guest room so keep that in mind!

    Noah, Don't worry, I used a grease filter on the camera to add shine. (just kidding, of course. the food is a little greasy.)


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