Taking Direction

I love it when you tell me where to go.

EVERYONE'S A CRITIC—and everyone else is a critic of the critics, so I get lots of e-mail. Some are fraternal, relating experiences similar to ones I've recently shared; and some are hostile, implying, as one did last week in response to my recent dispatch on Hi-Life, that I'm a gluttonous fool who wants to horde her carbohydrates and can't read a menu. On the other hand, some readers are like editors or friends, suggesting ideas for stories or just submitting a favorite neighborhood restaurant for my next review. For example, there was Pam, who proposed that, if I like garlic, I ought try Wild Garlic in Georgetown. I like garlic, so I did. After conferring for a few moments with the sweet, patient chef/owner, we settled on my meal: spring rolls (which Pam had recommended) and vegetable stir-fry. There was a menu, sure, but if someone is willing to talk to you for a few minutes about what you like and then go whip something up in response, what's the point in ordering by number off of a paper brochure? True to the name and the reader's tip, my stir-fry was garlicky. Little chunks of garlic clung to the broccoli, and bits of it swam in schools in the pungent sauce. If garlic is a curative food, Wild Garlic can be considered a walk-in clinic. As much as I enjoyed my lunch (and believe me, I'm thankful for the lower cholesterol and the fact that no one wanted to talk to me once I got back to the office), I don't think I'd recommend going out of your way to get to Wild Garlic. But, if you're on Fourth Avenue South, just south of Michigan near a teriyaki place and you're craving the sharp sting of this little bulb, by all means, go. (Oh, and if you're down in Georgetown, not craving garlic, and as happy as I am that the owners of Shorty's Coney Island have reopened Jules Maes Saloon, why not just go there for dinner—if, that is, you like Amy's brand organic frozen dinners. That's all they serve.) Back to those recommendations: When a guy like Eric Weisbard tells you to go to a place in Wallingford off Stone Way called the Rocking Wok, you go. Although I don't know much about his culinary credentials, the guy knows from things that rock. Weisbard was a senior editor at Spin, the music editor at the Village Voice, and is now a senior program manager at Experience Music Project. Always a sucker for food/music tie-ins, his word was enough to get me there. Rocking Wok's honeydew fillet will get me back—although I'm thinking that instead of honeydew, the sauce is more likely plum or black bean based. At any rate, sweet Jesus. Small, bite-size fillets of white fish are battered and glazed in a sauce that's delicately sweet upon introduction, but wonderfully kicky and tangy once it's through the front door. Scooping against them with decadent slices of thousand-layer bread (a dense, decadent, croissantlike dinner bread that I'd only previously encountered in a Burmese restaurant on New York City's Upper East Side), the little fillets imparted an amazing sweet/spicy one-two punch. Of course, the somewhat greasy nature of the thousand layers (imagine a French pastry, probably made with margarine and not butter, and then imagine it pan-fried) along with the decidedly unlight composure of the fried fish didn't exactly go easy on every stomach in my party. But the Rocking Wok provides a curative of sorts for this as well: Hey-Song sarsaparilla, imported from Taiwan. The crisp bubbles and an intense root beer–ish tang make it the perfect post-rock drink. So thanks, Pam. Thanks, Eric. And how about you reading this—where do you think I should go? lcassidy@seattleweekly.com

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