Fortune Cookies Favor the Brave™
Just bought a case of Tsue Chong Rose Brand fine cut wheat noodles right from the factory. These are now Nirvana Wok’s new go-to noodles and the price is right my friends - 35 dollars for a 25 pound box! After being prepped they keep well in the refrigerator. Good stuff!
Seattle Family Food Empires
Tsue Chong has been family owned for over 100 years. They make noodles, wraps and fortune cookies. I asked the plant manager about getting custom fortune cookies made but he said they haven’t done that since the pandemic started. I really wanted individually shrink-wrapped cookies with cynical/obscene/leftist fortunes written by me. No such luck. It’s not economical for them to do custom orders like that.
Tsue Chong also sells “unfortunate cookies” by the pound. Oddly shaped rejects.
Tsue Chong is one of a dwindling group of multigenerational family run Seattle food businesses. Here in South Seattle many have Italian surnames, reflecting what was once a large Italian population. Most of these have already sold out to larger concerns, like Oberto (Century-old Seattle-area snack maker Oberto sold to Canadian conglomerate). The Oberto heirs are now in the real estate business, and you could say the same for Borracchini, Merlino, DeLaurenti and others. All good people, although one Oberto heir tried to run for Mayor and came in 9th in the primary and that was embarassing for some of us.
I was all charged up to get J. Kenji López-Alt’s new best-selling book - The Wok, but I saw it in the bookstore and lost interest. The graphic design is poorly done and the photos are tiny and it’s over 600 pages. It weighs a ton! And so many step-by-step instructions. This is a decorative cookbook in every sense of the phrase - it’s not that useful but it looks pretty on a table.
If I were to write a book about wok cooking it would be one sentence long: “Cook food in a wok on high heat and don’t read books because books are for losers.”
Floating Fish Factories
Speaking of family owned businesses, Seattle restaurateur Tom Douglas is teaming up with Trident Seafoods for a “Grilling for Good” fundraiser which will benefit the Ballard Food Bank and Food Lifeline.
The Ballard Food Bank has a long history of success and is all volunteer except for the CEO, who makes a six figure salary. A middle class income for Seattle. They have a great new headquarters that is part food bank and part community center.
Food Lifeline is the kind of organization that has a former Walmart executive as CEO making a million dollars a year.
Trident is owned by a family of billionaires. People need to eat and seafood is delicous and healthy, but harvesting fish from giant factory ships is problematic. One example: Trident was fined by the EPA for illegally dumping fish waste at one of their Alaska plants resulting in “a massive carpet of gelatinous goo” that covered over 50 acres of the ocean floor and snuffed out all life that was not bacterial slime. Trident founder Chuck Bundrant died last year. Alaskan Senator Lisa Murkowski honored his life on the Senate floor.
A new restaurant in Nirvana Wok’s South Seattle neighborhood has a weird approach to front door signage. Off Alley is a tiny twelve seat joint with wonderful-sounding food. Raw spot prawn ceviche, various organ meats, black cod, octopus … seasonal and regional stuff. Proof of vaccination is required, which makes sense for such a small space. Scolding potential customers in advance, though? Not a great business move. A sign on the door says “Assholery will be recorded and made fun of on the world wide web.”
For the first time in my life I’m trying to lose some weight. I’ve also been working part time at a restaurant that makes incredible food. Marinated grilled chicken thighs, pork ribs … coconut cream pie. Sometimes I make a personal snack during a shift and other times somebody makes an employee meal. It’s a high end place with really good cooks. Weight loss mission not accomplished!
Next time: Small batch noodle adventures continue as Nirvana Wok returns to it’s original concept - handing out free hot food to random individuals and then blogging about it.