Japanese food conjures everything from warm noodles adrift in a bowl to raw fish atop delicate pads of rice. When it's done with care and craft it's some of the best food on the planet. Sushi Sakai in Spokane, Washington did just that. Between the heavenly Las Vegas roll and the earthy Chicken Yakisoba, I left the restaurant feeling blissful, dare I say giddy from such an intentional meal. The artist in the kitchen, James, totally crushed this meal. According to James, Sushi Sakai plans to open a second location in the Spokane Valley. Finally, my daughters were thrilled that the restaurant played hip and contemporary Japanese background music. Here's their FB link.
Entering a restaurant tells you a lot about the place, but it doesn't reflect the food. The Great Taaj Indian Cuisine in Spokane, Washington was just this. Upon entering the glass door was a bit dirty, the floor and tables seemed frumpy, but the aroma and food quality were smacking good. The two young men staffing the restaurant were pleasant and welcoming. Two televisions blared a bollywood show, which added to the far-away ambiance. The server asked us if wanted naan (flatbread) and we ordered two types (there are eleven types to choose from). The deli-style lunch offered about twenty or so options from tandoori chicken, several curries and vegetarian options. The naan at Taj was exquisite, freshly prepared, with a perfect flavor-texture balance. My experience at Taaj was transcendent because now I understand that you really can't tell a restaurant by its cover.
Growing up in Spokane, Ethiopian food was relegated to upscale cities like Seattle, Portland, and New York. A few years ago an Ethiopian restaurant called Queen of Sheba opened its doors in Spokane, and my food-adventuring family recently enjoyed a delicious Ethiopian meal. The flat bread, called injera, was soft, moist, spongy, and served its purpose for wrapping up the delicious lentil, vegetable, and meat sides. The exotic spice blends wafted from the large platter to your palate, lifting you to far away lands. All of the food was delicious, and like my daughter mentioned "it's sad when your stomach gets full". The owner, Almaz, greeted all of her guests with a welcoming smile that was as warm and joyous as her food. I'm looking forward to our next food adventure at Queen of Sheba Ethiopian Cuisine.