Eating Well in Crisis, Part 2

by Sharon Maeda

Medical experts and nutritionists alike emphasize that eating the right foods is essential to staying healthy during this pandemic: more fruits and vegetables, fewer fried foods. You know the drill. This is especially true for anyone with underlying health issues, and medications that suppress or compromise our immune systems, including asthma, diabetes, heart conditions, HIV/AIDS, obesity and smoking — as well as people over 65. How many seniors do we know that have at least one of the above conditions?

Food deserts and poverty, not to mention lack of will power, often keep us from eating healthy. So, in this week’s list of community restaurants open for take-out and/or delivery, I’m going to emphasize healthy eating. Every menu has some healthy options that are still delicious ways to support community businesses and get out of making dinner at the end of another tough week.

Amy’s Merkato vegetarian combo plate with salad, wots, and fresh vegetable dishes served on house-made injera.

Amy’s Merkato Restaurant & Deli
5710 Rainier Ave S.
Seattle, WA 98118
(206) 324-2527
(take-out and delivery)

Amy’s was the first Ethiopian market in Seattle when it opened in 1992 in the Central Area. In 2000, Judy and Filli bought the establishment from Amy and just over a year ago, they moved the business to Hillman City. They offer Ethiopian food, spices, and other specialty ingredients, but their extensive menu includes Western-style breakfast, sandwiches, and desserts in addition to Ethiopian favorites. The beef tibs sandwich is the perfect melding of a Western sandwich with Ethiopian flavor: a large French roll filled with beef tibs cooked in a spicy sauce.

They also make and sell injera (flat crepe-like bread made from sour dough). It is worth paying extra to get the 100% tef injera. Tef has the highest proportion of fiber of any grain and is a complete protein and a great source of calcium and iron. All of the Ethiopian food is healthy and Amy’s offers plenty of vegetarian and vegan options. Beef, lamb, fish, vegetarian or vegan tibs or wot with sides of greens, lentils and other vegetables.

Oh, and don’t forget the Ethiopian coffee, freshly roasted for you daily and stronger than your favorite doppio.

Jade Garden dim sum (Image: Jade Garden on Facebook)

Jade Garden
704 S. King Street

The Chan family has run this popular Cantonese restaurant for 17 years and before the virus, patrons lined up around the block for weekend dim sum (which literally means “to touch your heart”) dumplings and tarts. In this new take-out era, no need to share a big round table with strangers who have a screaming kiddo; order food for take-out. Jade Garden also has an extensive menu of Cantonese items from salt & pepper squid to roast duck. Their spicy chicken wings are a neighborhood favorite.

Dim sum is comfort food and travels well. To eat healthier, get the steamed hum bow (pork bun) or other options, instead of the deep fried ones. And, to change portions, get two orders of steamed gai lan (Chinese broccoli) and ask for the oyster sauce on the side to limit sodium. And, for dessert, skip the egg tarts and have some fresh fruit to end on a sweet note — orange wedges and sliced apples are perfect.

King Donuts donut holes (Image: King Donuts on Facebook)

King Donuts
9232 Rainier Ave S.
Seattle, Washington
(206) 721-3103

This unique Rainier Beach doughnut shop/Asian café/laundry is the stuff of an SNL John Belushi skit. The Chhour family was in the doughnut business in Los Angeles when they first arrived as refugees from Cambodia. They took the opportunity to use their talents in Seattle when the original owners decided to sell. In addition to the chicken teriyaki and fried rice, Kim Chhour cooks up a delicious pad thai, pad see ew (made with wide rice noodles), curry fried rice and yakisoba (Japanese-style noodles). Rice noodles are gluten-free and vegetarians can ask for the dishes without chicken, shrimp, or fish sauce.

There’s no way to eat healthy with doughnuts, but it’s hard to resist the favorites. According to Kim’s son, Travis, who manages the business, the apple fritters, maple bars or doughnuts filled with lemon, raspberry or Bavarian cream are among the favorites. Her other son, Hong, who used to work the counter, now works at the Seattle Opera. Have one doughnut for breakfast or dessert with a banana or other fruit for a special treat; my favorite is the apple fritter. With no office breakrooms, doughnut sales are way down. How about thanking first responders, hospital workers, garbage collectors or grocery workers (no grocery store has this kind of doughnut!) or other essential workers with a box of fresh King Donuts?

Find info on hyper-local restaurants serving food and offering take-out and/or delivery services in our Thriving in the Pandemic guide under “Resources.”

Sharon Maeda is the Emerald’s interim managing editor. For decades she has had a fantasy of being a food critic and loves to cook and eat ethnic foods from around the world.

Featured image: Amy’s Merkato foul served with French rolls and espresso (Photo: Carolyn Bick)

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