TNT Diner

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

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Archives: Oct. 2008


Customers from hell: What do you do?

Yesterday I was hanging out in the kitchen of William and Shannon Mueller at Babblin’ Babs Bistro. They’re helping me cook up some recipes for our 11/19 Thanksgiving food section (in the interest of job preservation, I feel compelled to tell you to buy extra copies of the paper that day).

As we were mulling over turkey breast stuffed with asparagus and salmon (and, no, I am not making that up.. fish inside a turkey….yes, indeed.. turfishen? What do we call it?), Shannon started telling me about some pretty spectacularly bad customers.

There was the

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Mochi madness: 30 women, a few men and hundreds of Japanese confections

93-year-old Toshi Dogen, right, makes red bean mochi Saturday with other women at the Tacoma Buddhist Temple. Pictured at the head of the table is Toyoko Nakagawara.

Tacoma Buddhist Temple’s Fall Food & Crafts Bazaar
When: Sunday Nov. 2, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: Tacoma Buddhist Temple
Address: 1717 S. Fawcett Ave.
Contact: 253-627-1417

A&E editor Craig Sailor and I dropped by a mochi making party Saturday morning at the Tacoma Buddhist Temple. It was a flurry of mochi madness, with about 30 temple members – all women, except for a few men handling oven and dish duty – working six deep at long tables laden with delicious looking Japanese confections. They were churning out the treats, assembly line style, for the Fall Foods & Crafts Bazaar at the temple, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. this Sunday.

Toyoko Nakagawara smiled broadly as she lobbed golf-ball sized balls of sweet rice dough down the line of women at her table. A dusting of cornstarch kept the dough pliable. The volunteers reached for the dough chunks, shaping the discs around a small ball of red bean paste, then patting and mounding the whole thing into a smooth ball of delicious yum.

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Gluten-free dining out?

A TNT Diner reader inquired about local eateries offering gluten-free options.

His comment: “When I walk into a restaurant and ask for gluten-free service I get blank stares, shrugs or comments like ‘We don’t add glucose to our food’. “

Gluten is not glucose (a sugar).

Gluten is a protein found in many grains, and it’s also used as an additive. People with Celiac disease or other gluten sensitivities must avoid gluten to remain healthy.

How about it? Anyone out there had success finding South Sound restaurants that cater to the gluten sensitive?


Meals by the mile: 10 restaurants along South Tacoma Way

Yumi Seo of Nak Won Korean Cuisine in the food court at Paldo World serves lunch to Kimberly Kwon of Lakewood (left) and Amy Lee of Lakewood. Peter Haley / The News Tribune.

Editor’s note: Today we launch a new series called 10-in-one. In this series, we’ll write quick dining observations of 10 restaurants located in a concentrated area. Today, we take to South Tacoma Way. Future visits include the Pacific/McKinley neighborhood along 38th, Freighthouse Square and Proctor. Have a 10-in-one neighborhood suggestion? E-mail us at

By Sue Kidd and Craig Sailor

It started as a mission for a midday meal and wound up a dining project. We took to South Tacoma Way one September afternoon with a simple mission: What’s for lunch?

For this edition, we chose a section of South Tacoma Way between Highway 512 and the B&I shopping center. This part of town offers a variety of eateries from Korean barbecue to pho to sushi. In these restaurants you’re as likely to sit next to an off-duty performer from Déj Vu (it happened to us twice) as a family out for a weekend meal. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Drown your sorrows

I checked my 401k (dropping every day), took note of gas prices as I drove by the 7-11 (dropping every day) and then headed to Tempest Lounge last night.

After taking a seat at the bar I saw a small flyer with the header “Recession Relief.” The Lounge is offering Tom Cat gin or Hussar vodka and your favorite mixer for $3.50. Add a fresh juice squeeze for $1.

Co-owner Denise Tempest says the reaction to this special has been very positive.

I’m not advocating you drink your troubles away. But take my advice: don’t

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Thanksgiving dinner, more thoughts

I just got off the phone a bit ago with Charlie McManus of Primo Grill and we talked about some of the fall dishes he’s been mulling that would work for a Northwest themed Thanksgiving dinner. We talked about pear chutney, made from pears from his yard, and a chanterelle mushroom gravy.

Also, TNT Diner reader Nancy Boyd e-mailed me recommendations for a few dishes for the Northwest themed Thanksgiving section I’m planning:

My husband and I celebrated our anniversary with dinner at Maxwell’s Speakeasy + Lounge. We had a wonderful dinner but especially wonderful

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Thanksgiving on the mind

This week I am planning our Thanksgiving food section stories and I’d like to fill it with all local content from chefs and readers.

Diners, have you noticed any dishes on the new fall menus that would work for a Thanksgiving meal? At which restaurant did you see the dish? What was it? Post a comment here or email me at I need your help in finding those dishes that sound like they would be a palatable addition to a Thanksgiving table.

Also, I’m curious about tweaking the recipes in a way that gives them

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So when is Merende opening?

I just got off the phone with Ian Lombardi, who with his parents Julia and Kenneth Lombardi, is opening the Italian restaurant Il Trattoria di Merende in downtown Tacoma.

He’s hoping to open in two weeks, but sounded sketchy about whether that’s firm.

“I wish I could, but I can’t,” he said when I pressed him for a firm open date. The restaurant was supposed to have opened in late September. “After the hood vents are installed, we have to do our basic training,” he said.

Click here for our post last month about the

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