A delicious baguette sandwich is a beautiful thing – especially when it’s done right.  I was consequently glad to come across Baguette Box in Seattle’s Capitol Hill area, because they do it right and then some.

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The delicious drunken chicken sandwich.

Baguette Box is a no frills, feel-good sandwich place with style.  We arrived right at opening on a lazy Sunday and were greeted by the friendly counter staff who made two great selections – drunken chicken (to foreshadow the next 2 days…?) and a veggie eggplant sandwich. Both were delicious.

The eggplant sandwich was well seasoned and did not have greasiness to it.  The texture was nice, too – smooth and creamy which contrasted with the bread’s crunchy crust.

The drunken chicken sandwich was similarly well executed.  It was spicy but not too spicy.  I appreciated that they didn’t go overboard with the sauce to make the sandwich soggy.  In fact, despite the depth of flavour, the sandwich had a lightness to it.  This was no doubt the result of the fresh ingredients.

In terms of value, Baguette Box is actually pretty good.  A filling sandwich (or rice bowl) rings in just under $8.  Oh…and did I mention that they serve beer?  I would definitely recommend this place for a pit stop on your way to Capitol Hill from Seattle downtown – a great spot to recharge, or load up on picnic goodies for a sunny summer day.

Baguette Box on Urbanspoon

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My second foray into the world of Dine Out Vancouver was to Miku, the aburi sushi-focused restaurant in downtown Vancouver.

Upon entering the restaurant – especially at night – one is struck by the warm atmosphere and sense of space.  The lighting is lovely and tasteful, and though there are a ton of tables, you never get the claustrophobic sense that they’re crammed together.  Even the cooks, who work behind the long counter, have ample room for them to ply their craft in full view of an appreciative public.

It is the style of sushi that really sets Miku apart from other sushi places.  A place with expertise in aburi (or “roasted”) sushi is a pretty sweet find.  Grilling the delicious variety of fish on the nigiri adds a great, smoky depth of flavour.  The quality and preparation of the rice is also expertly done by Miku’s skilled chefs.

Aka Miso Pork

Miku’s Dine Out Vancouver menu was very generous.  The appetizers (Tofu and Tomato Caprese, Nori Tempura Battered Crispy Ebi, Aka Miso Pork and Aburi Soy Daikon) were well thought out, providing a medley of tastes, texture, and temperatures.  The Aka Miso Pork stood out for me.  I thought it was wonderful the way that the sweetness of the succulent pork paired with the earthy sweetness of the red miso and slightly bitter daikon found at the bottom of this mound of joy.  The micro greens were a great touch, too.

10 Nigiri Main Course

The main course, which consisted of a number of 10 nigiri, was also plentiful.  Though each nigiri was expertly constructed, I was left to feel that there were simply too much going on in the case of one or two of them.  What might have been an attempt at creating various “layers” of flavour arguably ended up conflating them on a few occasions.

The final course (green tea éclair, orange vanilla sauce and yuzu orange sorbet) was original.  The yuzu orange sorbet was a great way to clean the palate after the meal, but the green tea éclair was not a success.

All along the meal, the food was admirably complimented by the sweet muscat wine, the surprisingly licorice-like sake, and sour-sweet nigori umeshu of the dinner alcohol “flight”.  Though it’s a $25 extra, this little booze parade is worth it.

As far as the service goes, I have to say that I spent the entire meal feeling that there was something “off”.  Maybe our waitress was having a bad night (goodness knows I had enough of those when I was in the service industry), or maybe it was the strange way the staff added the honorific “san” at the end of each others names (presumably to give it a more authentic Japanese feel?).  That said, the staff was working hard, zipping around the dining area and making sure that our tea cups were always full.  Kudos to them for their attention to detail.

I’m glad I came to Miku, but as of right now if I’m not sure I’ll be back any time soon.  Then again, just thinking of aburi sushi is making my mouth water…

Miku Restaurant on Urbanspoon