First up is a relative newcomer to the Othello neighborhood, Wicked Chopstix. Located on MLK Blvd in the heart of one of America's most diverse zip codes, this modern minimalist restaurant is a bastion for the cuisine of the northern Vietnamese port city of Hai Phong. The single sheet menu is packed with tasty classics such as Bánh Bao Bà Chi (classic pork steam buns), Com Gà Thap Cám (Chicken clay pot), and the dish that won the heart of a President, Bún Chà Obama (Obama Noodles).
Now all of these are amazing and should be enough for a stop, but they aren't what I keep coming back for. For me it's all about the Phó, and specifically the Phó Tai. I know, how boring, everyone has a good Phó...but trust me this one finds a way to elevate above the rest. To most people Phó Tai is the entry level. Sliced rare tenderloin beef is considered the least exotic meat option for this Vietnamese staple. To me, however, it's the perfect protein vehicle to move the stunningly deep and complex broth from the bowl to my mouth. The abundant delicate slices of meat cook quickly in the broth, and the aromatic punch is mouthwatering. The broth itself has a beautiful earthy bottom with strong notes of star anise and charred onion, and a light sweetness that rounds it out. There is a familiarity to the taste, something I can't put my finger on, that seems so comforting and safe. As the days get darker and wetter, nothing in Seattle warms me up or soothes my cold better. And that is why I keep coming back.