Travelling for food

My friend Sharon, a Malaysian lady who also lives in Seattle with her family, said something the other day when we went trekking together, that struck me as irrefutably true, and I was surprised I'd never realised it before although it's something most Malaysians would already know: that Malaysian Chinese will travel anywhere, just to eat.

From the famous Klang Bak Kut Teh to Penang's Jelutong Asam Laksa to Ipoh's Cowan Street Chicken Kuay Teow soup to Sabah (or was it Sarawak?) for its Ko Lor Mee, we pride ourselves as being the most travelled food lovers in the world. And that is because we are blessed in Malaysia to have a diverse array of multicultural cuisines, all within driving distance. Well, one has to take a plane to Sabah/Sarawak, but even that has not stopped us.

In the US, we are still trying to find our way through the many gastronomical delights the beautiful city of Seattle has to offer. Arby's Reubens are good. The Malay Satay Hut is not. We found a Chinese eatery called Joy's Wok just ten minutes walk from the house, that serves tasty and cheap standard fare like Sweet and Sour Pork and Chow Mein.

Still, after three months, the food trek has been pretty tame. We've not found something that keeps us going back for more, so much so that if a friend from Malaysia is visiting, we would not be able to take him or her anywhere that's uniquely Northwest American. Mostly also because we don't know what THAT is. Yet.

Anyway, back to this whole travelling to eat business.

Yesterday, for their last night in Seattle, we decided to bring Lokes' parents to Red Lobster in Lynnwood, a town about 15 miles from Redmond, to enjoy their LobsterFest, because their ads on TV just made it look too good to pass (yea, we're much too gullible when it comes to food). Since we couldn't make a reservation, we decided to throw all caution to the wind and drive that many miles to see if the seafood was really as good as it looked.

30 minutes of uneventful driving later, we arrived at the bustling town of Lynnwood, which seemed like a small metropolis of restaurants, eateries and delis. I mean, never have we seen so many places to eat crammed into two, three strip malls side by side like that. Every American restaurant brand was there, including of course, our destination, the Red Lobster. Lokes dropped us at the entrance, we wrapped up the kids and proceeded to enter the establishment, our appetites ready to take on as many grilled crustaceans as we are willing to pay for.

Only to be faced by a wall of people waiting to be let in.

"How does it look?" I asked the hostess, a young, attractive girl who seemed very stressed out by her stressed out would-be customers. I mean, the waiting lobby was PACKED with hungry people. Who wouldn't be a little worried?

"How many?" she asked.

"Four adults and two kids," I answered.

She flipped her pages and pages of people's names, and came to an empty one, scribbled a "four" on it, and looked at me.

"30 to 40 minutes?"

In the best Malaysian food travelling tradition, we chose not to wait. I mean, driving 15 miles for lobster we don't know is good or not, is already giving it face. To have to wait what could be an hour to eat? No way.

We ended up at Applebee's, just down the road, and ended up having a scrumptious shrimp dinner that my in-laws thoroughly enjoyed. Sure, we spent 30 minutes on the road, but it wasn't wasted. We discovered a food lovers' paradise here just waiting to be explored.

One outlet at a time.



  1. Shirley said

    When you make it to the Red Lobster, you will die over their cheese biscuits. They are delectable.



  2. Vien said

    If you’re gonna be in the bay area, let me know. I bring y’all go makan.

  3. simmie said

    I would pick Applebees over Red Lobster anytime. If you love seafood and have some moolah to spare, try Oceanaire. Seattle Citysearch has a pretty good restaurant guide too

  4. justine said

    Sarawak for Kolo Mee. Kampua Mee is great too, and Sarawak Laksa with tiger prawns..


  5. ken said

    A few of my favorites…

    For weekend brunch
    1. Cafe Campaigne – French country fare by the Market, love the lamb burger with homemade fries and oeufs en meurette. Bring a paper and spend a lazy afternoon there .
    2. Madison Park Cafe – Try their scones and buttermilk pancakes that melt in your mouth
    3. Salty’s – Good seafood buffet with a great view
    4. Le Panier – French bakery, great for lazy tourist watching

    Lunch / Dinner
    1. Dahlia Lounge/Palace Kitchen/Etta – try the five spice duck, creme caramel and coconut cream pie at Dahlia Lounge, small bites at Palace Kitchen and Northwestern seafood at Etta, all owned by famous Seattle chef Tom Douglas
    2. The szechuan hot pot place in the strip mall behind Sears in Overlake
    3. Yea’s Wok – in Newcastle/Factoria, good Chinese, might bump into Michael Chang (ex French Open tennis champ) there
    4. Canlis – special occasions, good food, great view
    5. Typhoon – for good Thai fusion, try the royal duck curry
    6. Kau Kau BBQ – Chinese roast duck
    7. Chinook’s at Salmon Bay – Good NW seafood at reasonable prices
    8. Maneki – Great sushi at the ID, cheaper than ‘chic’ Belltown joints
    9. Blue C- Hip little rotator belt sushi joint
    10. Ray’s Boathouse / Salty’s – NW seafood, great view, Seattle landmarks

    If lost for choice, check out

  6. Nicole Lee said

    Check out . I found it to be invaluable during our recent trip in Seattle 🙂

  7. Maverick said

    Heard about this new restaurant that is coming up in Portland (if you do drop by in Portland):

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