American cuisine, Japanese culture merge in a tasty melting pot
Seattle Times staff reporter
If the smoky air, loud Japanese pop music and bookcases of Asian comic books don't clue you in that Fort St. George is a bit eccentric, then perhaps the menu will: ketchup-flavored chicken rice with omelet; spaghetti and hamburger steak with curry sauce; bacon and eggs with curry sauce and rice.
For 11 years, this funky Asian joint in the Chinatown International District has given a Japanese twist to American staples, serving to a whirlwind of anime fans, fashionable Japanese women and Asian teens with dyed-blond hair. Former Mariners pitcher Kazuhiro Sasaki also used to frequent the place.
On a recent visit, a young woman looked like she was on the verge of tears when she found the restaurant didn't offer the full spaghetti menu during the lunch hour.
How can you not try the spaghetti after that?
Spaghetti with meat sauce and garlic-flavored mayonnaise ($7.50) is a favorite. Surprisingly, the creamy sauce provides a nice balance to the tart, tomato sauce. The locals can't seem to get enough of this.
For something more subtle, try hamburger steak with spaghetti ($8). It's essentially meatloaf sweetened with loads of onions and served with pasta and meat sauce. Many customers like theirs with a heavy dose of Tabasco.
Heavy, buttery and creamy seem to be the theme. The spaghetti with enoki mushrooms and chicken, served with soy sauce and butter ($7.50), is so rich, though, I couldn't taste the chicken or the mushrooms.
Lots of deep-fried entrees, such as breaded pork or chicken, are served with rice and miso soup or salad. The fried chicken Japanese style ($7), nuggets of mostly dark meat served with a dipping plate of salt and pepper, was bland.
But the ambiance is the charm. Young Japanese men and women and the thirtysomething crowd like to converge here, many sporting cellphones that could double as gadgets in a James Bond flick. Some come to sip tea and read comic books from the bookshelves lining the wall. Others hang around the bar and watch Japanese sports.
The waitresses are polite, but they often leave you to your own devices to navigate the bizarre menu. But don't be intimidated by the atmosphere or the food. It's American favorites with a Japanese sensibility, a fusion style that is popular in California and Japan.
You should also go to experience its novelty, quirkiness and a slice of Seattle you probably didn't know existed.
Bacon, hard-boiled egg and spinach salad: The soy-sauce-based dressing — that has been heated up and poured over the salad along with some sesame seeds — provides a nice change of pace to the usual fare of dressing.
Deep-fried salmon with aioli sauce: The crispy coated fish works well with the creamy sauce, a nice take on fish and chips. But here, it is served with rice and miso soup for an extra $1.50.
Broccoli-and-mushroom casserole in white sauce: Layers of cheese are melted over a bed of fried rice and vegetables. The gobs of cheese, though, overwhelm the dish. You won't notice the rice, let alone that it's fried rice.
Tarako and kimchee spaghetti: Spaghetti with tarako (salted cod roe) is a big hit at Japanese spaghetti joints in California and Japan. The twist here is that the dish comes with kimchee to give it a spicy kick. Be sure you are a big fan of the Korean fermented vegetables, because you will get a heavy dose of them.
Itemized bill, meal for two
Bacon, hard-boiled egg and spinach salad $5.00
Deep-fried salmon with aioli sauce $7.50
Broccoli-and-mushroom casserole in white sauce $7.00
Tarako and kimchee spaghetti $8.00
Tan Vinh: 206-515-5656 or email@example.com
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