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Dining news Pierce County Restaurant Rally Puyallup dining Tacoma dining Tacoma restaurant news

Restaurant Rally – outstanding sushi, big gyro sandwiches

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Last day!! Restaurant Rally is here and that means diners get 30 percent off take-out food at participating restaurants through Nov. 19 (as a reminder, all dining rooms were ordered closed yesterday through Dec. 14). 

I’m writing about my favorite take-out eats this week. Read to the end of this article for more info on Restaurant Rally, or click here. To find a complete list of participating restaurants, visit the county’s official rally website

Today, I’m featuring the excellent sushi at Sushi Ari in South Hill, which is home to my favorite Brussels sprouts in the county. The other is the restaurant that is everybody’s go-to for quick Greek eating – It’s Greek To Me in Tacoma.

sushi
Sushi from Sushi Ari in South Hill.

SUSHI ARI 

I once had a 20-minute conversation with Jeannie Han, co-owner of Sushi Ari, about the restaurant’s tempura fried Brussels sprouts, an anchor item on the Japanese restaurant’s appetizer menu. 

The preparation at the South Hill sushi restaurant is as delicious as it is unexpected.

sprouts
Brussels sprouts in a take-out container from Sushi Ari in South Hill.

The secret to the tempura fried sprouts is that the restaurant makes its batter with soda water so that there’s an extra crackle in the batter. It’s the kind of crunch that doesn’t last long in a take-out box, so I have a very simple solution and it’s one I’ve used a time or two: treat them as a parking lot snack. If you insist on not being a peasant and eating at your dining room table, they’re still pretty good after the drive home.

I loved learning about the recipe from Han a few years ago. Deep frying the sprouts turns them sweeter and more subtle, which is a good thing for people who are bothered by that cruciferous nature of Brussels sprouts. 

bulgogi
Bulgogi from Sushi Ari travels well.

The house-blended sauce is what turns this dish into a sticky, delicious tangle of flavor. The soy-mustard sauce is pushed tangy from rice wine vinegar. There’s a splash of unagi sauce in there, plus the restaurant’s house poke sauce. 

Sushi Ari is worth a visit not just for those sprouts, but also because it’s the best sushi restaurant in that end of the county. Han is the former co-owner of TheKoi in downtown Tacoma (she sold it to Tim Bartz, owner of three Happy Teriyaki restaurants) and she’s imported from TheKoi the terrific maki list, an excellent selection of sake and an attention to detail I appreciate. Yes, it’s nestled into a strip mall next door to fast food restaurants, but don’t forget that strip malls always hold the most unexpected of restaurant gems. Get the salmon lover’s roll or the heaven of tuna roll. The restaurant’s beef bulgogi also travels very well. You won’t be disappointed. 

SUSHI ARI

206 39th Ave. SW, Puyallup; 253-446-2900; https://www.sushiari.com/

Notes: Check for hours before visiting. Take-out only due to current dining restrictions. Alcohol and third-party delivery excluded. 

falafel
A falafel sandwich from It’s Greek To Me in Tacoma.

IT’S GREEK TO ME

For more than 25 years, It’s Greek To Me has supplied Tacoma with generously portioned gyro sandwiches, pizza-by-the-slice and a terrific selection of vegetarian eats. The restaurant was founded by Jim Wick and Johnnie Dimakis. Dimakis has since opened his own restaurant in Puyallup, Giorgio’s Greek Cafe. That restaurant is now operated by the second generation of the Dimakis family (they’re not participating in Restaurant Rally, though).

Erin Wick, who owns It’s Greek To Me with husband Jim Wick, told me for my baklava tour in October that the baklava recipe comes from the Dimakis family. “Jim remembers Johnnie (Dimakis) talking to Johnnie’s mom about the chocolate. She never left Thessaloniki, so he would call her whenever they needed a recipe. He remembers the chocolate (dipped baklava) as a child growing up in Greece.” 

baklava
Chocolate baklava from Giorgio’s in Puyallup. The same recipe is used to make the baklava at It’s Greek To Me in Tacoma.

That chocolate-covered baklava is a must order It’s Greek To Me (ask for it cold).

So are the gyros, a big beef-and-lamb sandwich at It’s Greek To Me. The garlic-scented meat comes with sizzled edges, a drizzle of tangy tzatziki and crunchy, cool shredded iceberg, tomatoes and diced fresh onions.

gyro
A gyro sandwich from It’s Greek To Me in Tacoma.

The falafel is a must eat for vegetarians, too, as are the vegetarian hummus and gyro sandwiches. The dolmades come with a delicious lemon sauce and are stuffed with beef, rice and a double herb punch of mint and dill. And don’t forget those crispy fries.

fries
Coated fries from It’s Greek To Me in Tacoma.

IT’S GREEK TO ME 

Where: 1702 6th Ave, Tacoma; 253-272-1375; https://www.itsgreektomerestaurant.com/

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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