Plate of Nations Seasons South Seattle With International Flavor

by Rosalind Brazel 

From the onset of the marketing plan designed to dazzle diners with the diverse international cuisine along MLK in the South End, Farah Ismail has been a believer.

He signed on to participate in 2012 when Plate of Nations started and he continues to enjoy the two week span each year. Ismail – owner of Bananas Grill, along with ten other restaurant owners, offer a sharable platter of food that represents the best each establishment has to offer.

This annual event developed by the MLK Business Association, offers participating restaurants a chance to showcase their unique cuisine. It’s a huge boost for these owners and the immigrant populations that support them in welcoming new and returning customers for this special event.

Each participating restaurant offers a small platter for $15 and a larger one for $25 – all containing a generous portion of samples from the menu.

“The whole neighborhood comes for Plate of Nations,” Ismail says, “Along with some people from outside the city and even across the state. I love to talk with them all.”

Ismail says he serves about nine or ten platters a day. It’s a boost to his business that often marks an influx of new, regular customers.

Bananas Grill is not just Ismail’s retirement project, but something he started to get his whole family involved. He has eight children, and each of them participates along with his wife in the running of the restaurant. Even his daughter who lives in San Francisco helps out through email and internet. His son Fahmi takes orders and rings up customers as many days as he can while balancing courses at University of Washington Tacoma.

“This is great exposure to study marketing,” says Fahmi Ismail. “My father is the hardest working person I know. He’s a great influence on me and my younger brothers.”

Plate of Nations Vegetarian Platter $15
Bananas Grill’s $15 vegetarian platter. [Photo: Rosalind Brazel]
Bananas Grill’s small platter is vegetarian only and has four succulent and tangy Dolmas, six hearty and rich falafels, soft pita served with fresh and smooth hummus, two crispy fried vegetable Sambusas filled with sweet peas, carrots and perfectly soft potatoes along with a healthy serving of moist and flavorful rice. The larger platter includes everything in the vegetarian version and adds Gyro-style beef, lamb and chicken.

This is not your typical Mediterranean food. All ingredients are fresh, expertly made from scratch and well worth the price to share a platter.

Restaurants participating in the Plate of Nations include:

Bananas Grill (Mediterranean)

Café Ibex (Ethiopian)

Foo Lam (Chinese)

Hoang Lam (Vietnamese)

Huang Duong (Vietnamese)

Seasoned in Seattle (American, Beer/Wine)

Momona (African)

Olympic Express (Halal Asian)

Rainier Restaurant (Vietnamese)

Amazing Thai (Laotian)

The Original Philly’s (Beef Steak)

For more information on the Plate of Nations that runs through Sunday go to the website:

Rosalind BrazelRosalind Brazel is a self-professed food snob. She has been food obsessed since childhood and enjoys dining out as much as she does creating meals of her own. She was recently featured as a Cook-to-follow in Allrecipes magazine and served as judge on the cooking show Dinner Spinner. She calls South Seattle home.