TNT Diner

Good eats and drinks around Tacoma, Pierce County and South Puget Sound

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Archives: Jan. 2008


Harmon grabs St. Helens Cafe; Broadway Speakeasy ‘on back burner’

Pat Nagle, left, the owner of Tacoma’s Harmon Brewery and Restaurant, during construction of his Pacific Avenue pub in 1997.

The owners of Harmon Brewery and Restaurant in downtown Tacoma will purchase the business that was St. Helens Cafe and plan to open a “neighborhood restaurant” by March 15.

“That’s my time line,” Harmon owner Pat Nagle told me today. “The city and the state may have different time lines.”

There’s no name yet for the new place. Nagle said he plans to expand the bar, install a

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Scenes from Spanaway’s Samurai steakhouse

Teppanyaki-style dining.

"When you open the doors, you will forget that you’re in Spanaway.”

The owners of Samurai Japanese Steakhouse beckoned me with those words.

Indeed, the décor of the restaurant, which opened Jan. 17 on Highway 7 just past the Roy Y, transcends typical teriyaki joints. Fourteen teppanyaki grills meander through the 10,000-square-foot restaurant, designed to resemble an old-world Japanese village. The temple-like glowing red bar is bordered by a pond. The vibe is between charming and exotic, foreign but not fake.

But it didn’t take

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To the South Sound, with kimchi

Seoul? The South Sound? It’s do-it-yourself barbecue in New York.

I was thinking about vacation: New York or Seoul? Then I surfed over to the New York Times on the Web. They’d already posted tomorrow’s news yesterday — a travel story about going Korean without leaving Manhattan.

I went to bed and dreamed about bi bim bop up the ying yang. It turned out not to be a dream. I’d never left the South Sound.

Visions of the Times’ story danced in my head:

It is here that many New Yorkers and visitors first taste kimchi (spicy fermented vegetables), bulgogi (thinly sliced marinated beef) and bi bim bop (Google it), and here that Koreans and Korean-Americans gather for parties and social events.

Many will say you haven’t experienced Korean New York without a trip to Flushing, Queens, but you can easily fill a weekend without leaving Manhattan. Among the culinary choices on and near West 32nd Street, Kunjip is your standard Koreatown restaurant, offering generous portions of do-it-yourself barbecue, other traditional Korean dishes and several brands of soju, the clear Korean liquor. Across the street, Woorijip is an informal, by-the-pound Korean buffet that also stocks Korean snacks like spicy shrimp crackers and sweet rice drinks, good for a quick lunch or bargain dinner; Korean-style fried chicken — with a full bar — is available at the largely hidden, chic gathering place Bon Chon chicken.

The New York Times might describe South Sound cities like Lakewood and Federal Way as the Queens of Seattle, boroughs with established Korean and Korean-American communities.

Do-it-yourself table-top barbecue. Korean fried chicken. Steaming bowls of tofu or goat soup. Bottomless banchan, the sweet-hot-sour smorgasbord of radishes, seaweed, fish cakes, fermented cabbage and crabs. Here are some South Sound recommendations.

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Mark your calendars for NW Cider Society dinner

Cider: The other sparkling alcoholic dinner beverage.

Seattle chef Tamara Murphy and her restaurant, Brasa, host The Northwest Cider Society‘s 2008 cider dinner on Feb. 7. Tickets are $75 and available here.

Ciders include western Washington’s Red Barn Cider, Eaglemount, Vashon Winery and Wescott Bay Cider, and Walla Walla’s Blue Mountain. Oregon ciders include Wandering Aengus.

Murphy’s menu features oysters with cider ice; mussels in cider; glazed pork belly with lentils and root vegetable; glazed sable fish, fennel gratin, thyme and cider butter.

I enjoyed the Cider Society’s 2005 dinner in Portland, where Heathman Hotel chef Philippe Boulot stuffed pork chops with Oregon-grown Pitmaston pine apples, glazed the chops in cider-cream reduction and paired them with semi-dry and medium-sweet ciders. His salad featured Jonagold, Cortland and Honeycrisp belle apples paired paired with sparkling and dry ciders. Calvados apple tart tatin was paired with sweet pommeau, an apple brandy blended with fresh apple juice.

Then I went home and made orange Jell-O shooters with Red Barn’s aged-in-whiskey-barrels cider.

Click below to read my cider story from 2005.

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A shot of get-well relief for a recovering coffee king

I knew the building that houses Charlie Kempe’s coffeehouse, Metro Coffee on the UWT campus, is undergoing some kind of surgery. I didn’t know Charlie had surgery.

His friends are throwing a get-well benefit for Charlie. It happens Sunday at The Swiss, 3 p.m.-11 p.m. It’s all ages. It’s 7 bucks. There’ll be music, snacks, prizes and a silent auction.

Metro Coffee: 1901 Jefferson Ave., Tacoma. The Swiss: 1904 Jefferson Ave., Tacoma.


Fish ‘n’ chips finished at St. Helens Cafe?

Owner Jon Holt told my cryptically Monday that St. Helens Cafe is closed “temporarily.” No one has answered the cafe’s telephone since then.

For the record, I had the distinction of being St. Helens Cafe’s first customer when it opened in February 2007. It just worked out that way.

Meantime, I’m told that St. Helens’ wine is headed back to the distributor. Double meantime, the owner of nearby Kings Books posts in The You Plate Special:


The word on the street, St. Helens Cafe, the fish and chips

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Coffee conundrum continues in a coffee klatch

Having attempted to taste-test a kilo of coffee — Commencement Bay to Batdorf and Bronson to Valhalla to Forza to Stumptown to whole bunch more beans that all seem to blend together after five or 10 cups — my palate and my kidneys are stumped.

Coffee’s a personal preference. The chasm between my definition of “room for cream” and Starbucks’ definition of “room for cream” is about as wide as a set of hips with a three-Frappuccino-a-day habit.




Nice words.

What the heck do they

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