From behind a frozen granite slab, the staff of Cold Stone Creamery blends custom servings of ice cream and creative mix-ins to fit customers’ exact specifications. Founded by Donald and Susan Sutherland in 1988, Cold Stone began under the hot Arizona sun, eventually spreading its frosty fingers to encompass more than 1,400 locations worldwide. Despite the size of the company, each location’s staff keeps up the handcrafted quality, making ice cream onsite every day and using those signature spades to create delicious pointillist art against the freezer wall.
Before opening up shop in 2011, self-taught baker Maricel spent 10 years honing her skills and taste testing her creations with her husband and three daughters. These days, she continues using natural and organic ingredients to whip up cupcakes, mini cupcakes, and tartlets entirely from scratch. The core of her tartlet arsenal remains sweet potato, peach cobbler, and pecan, but her cupcakes and mini cupcakes constantly evolve with innovative flavors such as a maple cupcake topped with bacon pieces and a coconut cupcake slathered with cream cheese frosting. Along with individual and by the dozen purchases, Maricel dispenses her mini cupcakes in bouquets and atop rental towers, which fit 50–60 treats. Every Tuesday through Saturday, she and her dedicated staffers are available to take orders and walk customers through the process of shrinking cakes with repeated dryer sessions.
Afghan Cuisine & Banquet Hall's chefs make a mean kabuli pulao. In the words of Seattle Weekly food writer Hanna Raskin, the dish—which consists of broth-boiled basmati rice, shredded carrots, raisins, and a juicy lamb shank—"makes you want to eat nothing but lamb forevermore."
Lamb is just one of the meats that chefs skewer onto kabobs at Afghan Cuisine & Banquet Hall. Others include marinated chicken and meatballs seasoned with curry, ensuring that they leave an easily trackable, bright-yellow trail when they roll away. Family recipes dictate the careful creation of main dishes as well as their saucy compliments, such as garlic-yogurt and cilantro chutney, which diners can sop up with fluffy naan. They can sample authentic Afghan drinks, too, in the form of Afghan tea or dogh, a cucumber-yogurt drink.
It's no surprise that Akasaka Restaurant, named after a neighborhood in Tokyo, offers traditional Japanese specialties. Diners tuck into freshly sliced sashimi, seasonal imports of Kobe beef, and shabu shabu hot pots of seaweed-infused broth in which diners can simmer morsels of beef or seafood. But according to The Seattle Times, there's another showstopper: "It's hard to get past the great Korean food at this longtime Federal Way favorite."
On tabletop grills, guests can broil hand-cut short ribs, slices of scarlet bulgogi beef, and other korean meats to their liking. Servers present more than a dozen types of housemade kimchi and other korean banchan to accompany savory meals, along with glasses of sake, whiskey, and Asian beer.
With an extensive menu of island-inspired eats, the eatery blissfully deserts feasters on an island of inspired cuisine. Start with an order of Spam musubi and enjoy the canned delicacy swaddled in a nori wrap with egg and rice ($4.95) or go for an order of Shanghai-style lumpia, a Pac Island family recipe of pork, shrimp, and vegetables in an eggroll-esque package ($5.50). Dinner at the eatery offers an abundant bounty of nourishment, with everything from noodles, rice, and burgers to their 13 barbecue combination platters. The loli chicken and Kalua pork, whose delectable pairing of barbecue chicken and slow-smoked pulled pork sautéed with cabbage ($10.49) was crowned best entree in the 2007 Taste of Tacoma festival, while the teriyaki-marinated kalbi short ribs ($10.95) was top entree in 2006. Most platters are served with two scoops of rice and either macaroni salad or island slaw. Salute sweet teeth with a tropical-fruit smoothie ($4.50), slice of pineapple upside-down cake ($3.75), or slice of molten-chocolate "luv-a-lava" cake ($5.95).