Big Quilcene Trail, Olympic National Forest (WA)

One of the great hikes for wildflower viewing is in my own backyard, on the east side of the Olympic peninsula, part of Olympic National Forest. The Big Quilcene River Trail climbs 3,500 ft in a little over 5 miles, past old growth forest of hemlock and Western red cedar, yellow cedar and subalpine fir. The scenery changes from dense, old-growth forest, alpine meadows and scree-littered hillsides as you ascend to tree-less Marmot Pass where spectacular views of the Hood Canal, Puget Sound and the Cascades will be the reward. While the hike is supremely worthwhile for these alone, it’s when the wildflowers bloom in July after snowmelt that the hike takes on a more splendid character. But, be forewarned that the trail at this time of year is muddy for much of the way and negotiating the exposed tree roots and slick soil will be a challenge. You’ll expend more energy just trying to stay on drier ground. We were glad we took along hiking poles.

Those who enjoy photographing flowers (like I do) will find many subjects. There seems to be a convergence of late spring and early summer flowers because of the delayed thaw. It was an all-day hike. We started at around 10:30am and didn’t get back to the parking lot until 7:30pm. By then, we had probably hyperextended our out-of-condition muscles. But, what a unforgettable time we had.

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Olympic Timberhouse Restaurant (Quilcene, WA)

Earlier in the day, we enjoyed a wine tasting with friends at Hoodsport Winery, courtesy of a gift from neighbors. So, we decided to make it part of a short vacation along the east side of the Olympic peninsula where tomorrow we’d take an all-day hike on the Big Quilcene Trail in the national forest.

For dinner, we dined at the Olympic Timberhouse Restaurant in Quilcene which was recommended by the motel where we were staying. By the way, we’ve found through the years that some of the best dining recommendations are given by the locals. The menu consists basically of comfort food and regional specialties. For example, we noticed fried razor clams, halibut, cod and Dungeness crab in various preparations.

Black Angus prime rib and Yukon Gold smashed potatoes

My wife got a seafood platter of razor clams, cod, shrimp and oysters. The prime rib was not the best I’ve had, but pretty good. The seafood platter was slightly less successful, yet (again) pretty good.

Timberhouse was really the only quality restaurant in town, I venture to guess.

Scatter platter of fried razor clams, Quilcene oysters, lingcod, coconut shrimp

Olympic Timberhouse Restaurant
295534 U.S. 101
Quilcene, WA

Lunch at Hawaiian Sun BBQ (Everett, WA)

On our way home from Vancouver, we were driving through Everett at lunchtime. We stopped at Hawaiian Sun BBQ based on a recommendation from friends. It sits in a strip mall that happens to also have one of my favorite Thai restaurants (Spice of Thai) that I used to frequent when I worked in Everett many years ago. The place is small and appears to be entirely run by a family, all of whom were really friendly. We are ever hopeful that every Hawaiian restaurant we try is da one so we don’t have to travel 3,000 miles to have the genuine stuff.

Let’s start off with the mochiko chicken. It’s different from most interpretations because the boneless chicken thighs are rather large, with a portion of the skin left on for added crispiness out of the fryer. Although I’d rather have smaller pieces, these were quite good, not being quite as sweet as most versions.

Mochiko chicken

A rather bland broth spoiled the wonton saimin, wontons filled only with ground pork and bamboo shoots (and little else), shrimp and passable slices of char siu. Baby bok choy and sliced green onions rounded out the ingredients.

Wonton saimin

Too much cabbage and too little pork detracted from the kalua pork, which itself was somewhat dry, perhaps too lean, and curiously overly smoked (from liquid smoke?). The macaroni salad was also middling. Tradition was waived as only a single scoop of rice was served with each plated entrée.

Kalua pork with cabbage

So, our quest for ono grindz in the Northwest continues.

Hawaiian Sun BBQ
607 SE Everett Mall Way
Suite 4
Everett, WA 98208

La Bodega Restauranté (Vancouver, BC)

The venerable La Bodega has been serving Spanish cuisine since 1971. In a city that doesn’t have many Spanish restaurants, the quality of the food remains good, though nothing we had could be described as extraordinary. The place is dark, as seems to be the case in most Spanish restaurants we’ve ever been. A good way to start the meal is a refreshing sangria; La Bodega’s is nice. We confined ourselves to a salad and tapas: prawns in sizzling garlic sauce, chorizo casera, and pisto Anadaluz.

Pisto Andaluz

Pisto Andaluz

Chorizo casera

Chorizo casera

Prawns in sizzling garlic oil

Prawns in sizzling garlic oil

Ensalada verde

Ensalada verde



La Bodega Restaurante & Tapa Bar
1277 Howe Street
Vancouver, BC V6Z 1R3, Canada

Dinner at Sala Thai (Vancouver, BC)

Several years ago, we stumbled on a Thai restaurant on our way to another restaurant. The thought of Thai food sounded good right then, so we changed our plans and decided to eat there. We were impressed with the quality of the dishes we ordered, especially their gai hor bay toey (marinated chicken thighs wrapped in pandanus leaves).

This time, we returned to Sala Thai (across the street from the Burrard Japadog) as a destination. This is a very fine Thai restaurant. We will order the gai hor bai toey (☆☆☆☆) every time we eat here. The yum nuea (☆☆☆) was also very good, though the beef was somewhat chewy, mingled with a tart lime dressing that had just the right amount of sweetness and burned from a liberal dose of cayenne. A savory addition of shredded pork flakes topped the pineapple fried rice with chicken (☆☆☆), another very good dish. The least successful entree was the stir-fried eggplant with garlic, Thai basil and bell peppers (pad ma-kuer) (☆☆), the flavors not fully developed.

Stir-fried eggplant with garlic, Thai Basil and bell peppers

Stir-fried eggplant with garlic, Thai Basil and bell peppers

Gai hor bai toey

Gai hor bai toey

Pineapple fried rice with chicken

Pineapple fried rice with chicken

Yum neua

Yum neua

Sala Thai
102-888 Burrard St.
Vancouver, BC V6Z 1X9

Japadog (Vancouver, BC)

There’s something incongruous about the term Japanese hot dog. I mean, do they actually eat this stuff over there? I know they must if some of the winners of the Coney Island Hot Dog contest have been Japanese. Okay, that’s one thing. But to have the Japanese open up a hot dog stand? When first introduced in Vancouver, Japadog became an instant success. Their formula was to add distinctively Japanese condiments in place of the venerable ketchup, mustard and sweet pickles.

After many years, we decided to give the place a try, non-PC name notwithstanding. There are now several locations throughout the city. We had our Japadogs by the Waterfront terminal.

We ordered the beef terimayo and oroshi dogs. The oroshi was better. Who would’ve thought that grated daikon oroshi) would pair well with a dog? It really is a happy marriage. What ties it together is the “special” soy sauce poured on the radish with a sprinkling of green onions.

Oroshi dog

Helped by a squirt of wasabi mayo, the beef terimayo was good too, which otherwise would have been one-dimensional with just a teriyaki flavor.

Beef terimayo dog

One problem is that the sausages are kept in hot water which tends to hydrate them and dilute their flavor, giving them a boiled taste. I’ve always preferred pure grilled weiners. However, the server does finish off the sausage on the grill. We noticed that each Japadog location has a unique dog not sold at any others.

Granville St and Cordova St
In front of the Waterfront Skytrain Station

Lunch at Sawa (Vancouver, BC)—CLOSED

For lunch in the Granville Market area, we wanted to eat at Go Fish, but (being Monday) it was closed. A highly regarded Afghan restaurant, just on the outskirts of Granville Island, was also closed. A sushi shop next door was too humid inside, so we went up the street and came across Sawa Tea Lounge, a Japanese restaurant that specializes in tea and donburi. We were meant to find this place. I don’t normally choose donburi at a Japanese restaurant, but today I did.

My soboro chicken donburi was absolutely wonderful. The rice, perfectly cooked, was infused with a superb dashi sauce that dribbled down from the minced chicken and egg topping. The scrambled egg was perfectly cooked, not dry but moist and full of flavor. I just sat there and savored every bite. I haven’t had such a donburi in a very long time.

Soboro chicken donburi

My wife had the cold soba noodle special. The noodles were made with green tea and the salad on top was dressed with an excellent ginger vinaigrette.

Cold soba noodles

While we still want to have a meal at Go Fish, it would not bother us in the least to come back here.

Sawa Tea Lounge (** NOW CLOSED **)
1538 W 2nd Ave
Vancouver, BC V6J1H2

Dinner at Stepho’s (Vancouver, BC)

Even before it opens, Stepho’s Souvlaki Greek Taverna has a long line of customers waiting to get in. No reservations are taken, so you never know when you’ll get seated. The reason for the popularity is the Greek food, lots of it for the money. In particular, the roast lamb is what brings many customers back for more. It’s debatable if their other dishes command such praise. If you love lamb, then you can do no better than to have it here. It is fall-off-the-bone tender and flavorful.

Roast lamb dinner

Beef souvlaki dinner

Stepho’s Souvlaki Greek Taverna
1124 Davie St
Vancouver, BC V6E 1N1
Neighbourhood: West End

Richmond Night Market (Richmond, BC)

If you’ve never gone to a night market, you owe it to yourself to visit Richmond’s (near Vancouver, BC). Distinctly an ethnic Chinese phenomenon, it is typically a temporary market of entertainment and food and merchandise stalls, extremely popular in Taiwan and other Asian cities. Here in North America, they are held on weekends, in summer or fall or both. Whether Richmond’s is the largest in North America, I can’t say, but it surely is among the biggest with approximately 400 stalls.

On our first night in Vancouver after Whistler, we drove down to Richmond to experience the market. To say it was an amazing experience would be an understatement. So much food, so many people. Luckily, the weather was great, not too hot. We got there before the official opening time to avoid the crush of people, which builds up really fast, easily averaging 30,000 per night.

You can quickly get overwhelmed with the choices of things to eat. At reasonable prices and small portions, you can try a plethora of things.

This is what we had:

Taiwanese chicken nuggets (great; taste of five-spice, sugar and salt with fried basil), easily the best dish
Pan-fried jalapeno peppers with fish paste (good flavors)
Sampler grilled lamb, spicy pork and rib-eye steak kebabs (so-so)
Fresh spring roll (good, fresh)
Fried baby octopus (my wife thought it needed some saucing but still tasty)
Korean kimmari (fried nori rolls filled with saifun)–very good
Passionfruit juice (excellent)
Soy sauce Hong Kong-style chow mein (so-so, not enough green onions)

Anyway, here are some pictures I took of booths, servers, and food, including dishes we purchased.

Poutine Dog at Zog’s (Whistler, BC)

Poutine is a dish that got its start in Quebec and has become quite popular and widespread throughout the rest of the country. French fries are topped with a brown gravy and cheese curds. Ever curious, I had a substitute—a poutine dog at Zog’s, a hot dog with gravy and curds. With fries, you can at least dip them in the gravy and maybe spear a curd or two, before putting them in your mouth. With a dog, there’s a challenge since you have to put your mouth to the bun and bite, but with all that gravy slipping through my fingers, I resorted to fork and knife. Personally, the combination of gravy and curds do nothing for me. Canadians love the stuff. Maybe if the gravy were tastier, it would be a little different.

Poutine dog at Zog’s (Whistler Village)

4340 Sundial Crescent
Whistler, BC V0N 1B4