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Restaurant Rally – tableside mu shu pork, housemade fresh pasta

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Welcome to today’s installment in support of Pierce County’s Restaurant Rally

Today’s featured restaurants are Yen Ching and Bar Bistro! 

I’ll be writing about locally owned restaurants throughout the rally, which takes place Nov. 8-12 and Nov. 15-19 at about 300 participating restaurants all over Pierce County. (Friday and Saturday dining is excluded).

Restaurants that participate in Restaurant Rally give diners a 30 percent discount off dine-in or take-out meals (third-party delivery/ordering is not included in the program). Where applicable, I will note if the restaurant has outdoor seating, and whether it’s covered and heated.

Read to the end of this article for more info on Restaurant Rally, or click here

Yen Ching
The high-back booths offer barriers for diners at Yen Ching.

YEN CHING

For more than 30 years, lovers of Chinese-American fare have flocked to Yen Ching, sandwiched into a Lakewood strip mall next door to an abandoned movie theater. 

Yen Ching is a dining gem in that unassuming spot. Jue Hai and Kelly Wang opened the restaurant 30+ years ago, but they eventually turned it over to Jue’s sister, June Wang. The restaurant is run by June’s son Chin and wife Christina, plus a crew of longtime employees.

Yen Ching
The dining room at Yen Ching in Lakewood.

The digs are comfortable, sprawling, and seating is well spaced for social distancing. Cushy high-backed booths provide barriers between diners. 

The food is not fancy, by design, and exactly what you grew up eating at Chinese-American restaurants, with spot-on execution of old-time favorites such as twice-cooked pork.

soup
Sizzling rice soup from Yen Ching in Lakewood.

And can you get tableside service and assembly of mu shu pork/moo shu pork in Pierce County anywhere but Yen Ching? I don’t think so. I love that servers show up tableside and fold up the thin pancakes into little pockets filled with fried egg, veggies and pork. If you’re a diner who appreciates dinner and a show, order that mu shu pork and the sizzling rice soup, which also is assembled tableside. 

soup
Sizzling rice soup at Yen Ching in Lakewood.

My other must orders: Sesame beef comes with a luscious sauce that’s more savory than sweet, with a crunchy breading coating tender beef. Eggplant with garlic sauce punches heavyweight on the garlic with some sour-sweet reinforcement in that delicious clingy sauce. Twice-cooked pork is long cooked and delicious sauced. Hunan chicken are fried chicken wings coated in a pepper-flecked sticky sauce. 

beef
Sesame beef from Yen Ching in Lakewood.

YEN CHING

Where: 8765 S Tacoma Way, Lakewood

Web: https://www.yenchingrestaurant.net/

Notes: Open for lunch and dinner daily. Order directly from restaurant. Third-party apps/ordering do not apply for Restaurant Rally. 

cocktail
Cocktails are fancy but not precious at Bar Bistro.

BAR BISTRO

This Midland eatery, like a lot of restaurants I write about, falls into the hidden-gem category. It’s in a neighborhood you wouldn’t expect to have great eating, but it does. Bar Bistro is across from the excellent My 4 Sons BBQ (home of the over-the-top barbecue sundae) and a short drive to Anglea’s in Midland, an excellent destination for broasted chicken and jojo potatoes.

Bar Bistro is fancy without pretense. The atmosphere is at once date-night friendly and welcoming to families with kids. The cocktails imaginative, although never fussy.

burger
A burger with sweet potato fries from Bar Bistro.

What shows up at the table will be nothing you’d expect from what looks from the outside to be a regular neighborhood restaurant. That’s became Bar Bistro has a history of hiring great chefs.

The current chef is Nathan Hawes, formerly of Carne Aqui in Parkland and numerous other great restaurants. Hawes’s approach is to pluck dishes from an eclectic grab bag and add his own chef flourishes. There’s Mediterranean, regional Northwest, Southern and Mexican on the menu. His cuisine has a defined Northwest backbone in palate and ingredients. Paella, for instance, gets a Northwest touch from Dungeness crab.  

pasta
Cacio e pepe made with house-made fresh tonnarelli pasta at Bar Bistro.

My must orders are the house burger with sweet potato fries and, if it’s on the menu, the simple cacio e pepe made with a huge tangle of al dente tonnarelli – made fresh, and in house – with a silky drape of olive oil, butter and parmesan.    

charcuterie
A lovely charcuterie plate at Bar Bistro.

BAR BISTRO

Where: 1718 99th St. E., Tacoma; 253-537-3655; http://barbistrotacoma.com/

Notes: Open for dinner only daily. For takeout, order direct from the restaurant. Third-party delivery and ordering are not included in Restaurant Rally. 

PIERCE COUNTY RESTAURANT RALLY INFORMATION 

  1. Third-party ordering and delivery services, such as Uber Eats, Grub Hub and Door Dash, are excluded from the program because the program is intended to directly support local restaurants, not give money to technology companies. (Read more about why that is here).
  2. Tipping etiquette suggests diners should tip on the full amount of the bill, not the discounted amount. Treat servers well, they’re stressed enough as it is.
  3. State regulations require dining room capacity remain at 50 percent, and only dining parties of 6 and fewer will be seated
  4. Make a reservation if the restaurant accepts them. Cancel the reservation if you can’t keep your reservation. Empty tables = lost revenue.
  5. Booze is excluded from the promotion.
  6. Diners can get the 30 percent discount on dine-in service and take-out meals at participating restaurants. Confirm with the restaurant that they’re participating before you order.

Restaurant owners have advice for how you can navigate Restaurant Rally here in this story.

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