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(Google Street View added Saturday evening – their photo’s from some months back, though)
Ok, so I said it was going to be a Thursday thing. I lied. My camera isn’t working for some reason, and life just got in the way. I did find something new and yummy in White Center though. Queen’s Deli. It is in the space that was taken by Caleza Express, a Filipino lunch counter. Their sign says “Authentic Khmer food desserts appetizers”. I have to be honest, even though Seattle boasts a lot of different asian foods, this is the first that I have come across advertised as Khmer, and I spent the entire lunch with the Dead Kennedys song ‘Holiday in Cambodia’ stuck in my head. This worked well with the TV showing Cambodian pop videos. One featured a cover of “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor, all in Cambodian.
Now, I know the first thing about eating at a different ethnic restaurant is going to be crossing that language barrier. The menu is a bit confusing here, but the women running the counter speak perfect English, and are very patient when helping you with your order. They told me they have been open about a month, and seem to get a brisk lunch trade. I actually skipped the menu and orderd of the steam table, which is set up cafeteria style.
Knowing jack about Khmer food, I am going to say this is very similar to Thai and Vietnameses. I went with the beef Satay and beef stew with bread. The satay was marinated and rubbed in lemon grass, tamarind, and other spices that my western tongue was not identifing. I asked what it was, and the woman told me that it was Lemon grass, and stuff. Like I could even reproduce this on my own even if I had been given the recipe. I would like to. I could of eaten poiunds of it, and making it myself would probably save me from having to leave home ever again. Lean beef with just the perfect amount of spice to highlite the meat, and not over power it. There was just enough char on the meat to caramelize all the taste and really make it pop.
The stew is where it is at though. Just like your mom used to make but completely different. Huge chunks of beef, carrots and onions. Once again lemon grass is a major component here along with chili and plum sauce. When I say chili, I mean flavor and not heat. This is not fire food. No burn, just flavor. It is served with a toasted baguette, so you can soak up all the juices. Unlike the satay skewers, this is not lean cuts of beef. These are fatty, tough chunks of meat that have been braised so long they fall apart in your mouth. Sure beef fat is not something you want to eat at every meal, but in this case it makes everything more tender and flavorful. Even so, this soup does not end up greasy, but maintains its heartiness.
Owning a dessert place myself, this is a little hard to say, but try their desserts. Deep fried little pockets stuffed with coconut and bean paste, and then coated in a fine sugar glaze. Cambodian donuts. I could make myself sick on these things. Before I got them, I watched the cook make them fresh and pour them out onto the steam table. I had two different kinds, and wished I had gotten more.
Once again, like a lot of joints in the area, this place is cheap. I got Beef satay, fried rice, beef soup, a baguette, a cup of jasmine tea, and dessert for $7. I would get in there before they figure out what they got and start raising prices. Even at twice the price I would have left feeling I got a great deal.
9808 14th Ave SW
Seattle, Wa 98106
(just north of Big Al’s)
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