Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Rules of the Game

The basic premise of the MSG150* is this: Over the next year or so we will eat lunch at every restaurant in Seattle's International District (aka Chinatown) and (a) collect interesting data, (b) write funny and useful reviews, and (c) make a million dollars.

Rules

  1. We will eat at all establishments who's primary source of income is food. This excludes coffee shops, total dive bars, and scary marts, but everything else is on the list.
  2. We will order typical lunch fare for each restaurant. We will try and eat the same sorts of things their regular lunch patrons appear to be eating.
  3. If we go to a restaurant twice, we will only write a review once (but reserve the right to re-review).
  4. We will eat at restaurants in a predetermined order. However, if the next restaurant cannot accommodate us when we show up, we will skip it for that day and come back to it on the next outing.
  5. All bribes must be divisible three ways.
  6. No jokes about being hungry again at 3 pm, unless you are offering to buy snacks.
  7. We make the rules so we can change the rules.

Designated Lunch Zone

We've decided on the 16 block area defined as the area between:
  • Jackson St and Dearborn St
  • 5th Ave and 8th Ave
We will follow a yet-to-be-determined pattern starting at the NE corner of 5th and Jackson.

Ratings

Each of us will write up some comments about each spot and provide a rating. The rating scale is a five point scale:
  • 1 chopstick: dog food! - I'd rather eat my arm.
  • 2 chopsticks: not so good - Not likely to go back.
  • 3 chopsticks: average - Sure, if everyone's going I'll go along.
  • 4 chopsticks: good - These guys are on to something. I'll be back.
  • 5 chopsticks: great - Wow! A top 10 lunch spot.

*Our apologies to the National MS Society. It's a great organization, but does a lousy five spice chicken.

3/2/08 Updated rules
3/2/08 Reformatted all pots and cleaned up labels

39 comments:

amanda said...

While I assume that your methodology for determination of your DLA was based on extensive geographical information gathering, culinary investigation, and statistical analysis, I thought you might find an alternate map of the ID/Chinatown/Little Saigon from the PI a while back interesting in the overlap with your area:
http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/181034_chinatown07.html

Looking forward to reading about your adventures!

Geary said...

I renamed the Designated Lunch Area to the Designated Lunch Zone (DLZ) because I can... and because I thought it was funnier.

Si said...

This is very good stuff! A bunch of us with similar tastes just started working downtown, and we are following your progress with interest...

Alex said...

You should try the new Gyro House on 5th between Main and Washington and let us all know how it is, even though it's slightly outside your boundaries.

Geary said...

Alex,
What do you think we are, some sort of lunch spot reviewing monkey that you can just point at any hole because you don't have the guts to try it yourself? We're on a mission here. Some might call it a death march. But it has rules and being your monkey is not one of them. ;-)

Having said that however, I'd like to give it a try. I'm a big fan of Tenoch on the same block. I've tried Main Street Gyro on 2nd Ext and Main, but it was not as good as Zaina over on Cherry, my gold standard. There's also a new New Orleans restaurant on James that's on my non-ID list.

Matt the Engineer said...

Fabulous site. I'm going to have to try Unicorn Crepes (#20).

The problem is, you're up to 30 already and who has time to read 30 pages of reviews? (I'm not quite sure how you found the time to write 30 pages of reviews)

Can you have some sort of list of the best and another list of the cheapest with at least 2 chopsticks?

pokerg said...

You guys have the best rundown of the ID I've seen yet in one spot - with pictures to boot. I'm with another Seattle review site, Coffee.net and we'd love to team up with you guys sometime or partner up somehow. You can reach me at grant (at) coffee .dot. net. Otherwise, have fun with your quest guys.

Geary said...

Alex,

Thanks for the lead. I was able to stop by the new Gyro House and the Gyro I has was delicious. I look forward to exploring the menu further.

Matt,

Great suggestion. I hope the links on the top right nav help.

pokerg,

Come join us for a bite some time.

Cheers,
Geary

Anonymous said...

Verily, you guys are truly doing God's work, the God of Delicious Asian Cuisine, that is.

One suggestion: Can you guys each give a short blurb about yourselves, the kind of food you like, what you grew up on, etc? It's nice to get an idea of where each one of you is coming from from a culinary-appreciation standpoint.

Babuca said...

I wonder if you might consider expanding your boundaries up to 12th Ave. Presently you are missing some great spots that deserve consideration... tamarind tree, malay satay hut, that szechwan place that I think is called szechwan place... Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the intrepid culinary expedition. Will def refer to this in the future. Did you miss Hing Loon on the corner of Maynard and Weller, kitty corner from HoHo? Best Chinese, no dim sum, but Dumpling Soup to die for and anything else on the menu. Reasonable $$.
Fast, great service from the same ladies over the last 15+ years. No decor, it's all in the food. Many chefs spotted eating here, btw.

Geary Eppley said...

Anon,

Nope, we haven't missed Hing Loon. We are following a very specific, preordained path that has us currently heading west down the north side of Weller. We should hit Hing Loon in a week or two.

Our path is the blue line you can see in the large version of our map: http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=101275280465225758225.00043e78c07e33332f14d&ll=47.597685,-122.324588&spn=0.004059,0.009699&z=17&om=1

Cheers,
Geary

Edible Joy said...

My friend sent me a link to your site and said you may be my blogging soulmates. I really appreciate that you're showcasing the best the ID has to offer.

The Blogger search function isn't the greatest. I searched for Unicorn Crepes and got Sea Garden and then Pho Bac. Can you add a list of restaurants that you've already visited with links to their reviews?

Geary Eppley said...

Edible Joy,

Currently the best way to see all of the restaurants is to click on the link just below the map to get the large MSG150 route view. The pop-ups on the map have link to the review and the average rating. You can also click on the arrows next to the months on the left side of the page under the title "Blog Archive" to quickly see an expanded list of restaurants for each month.

Edible Joy said...

The large view of the map is really cool and an easy way to see all the reviews at a glance. Thanks!

Babuca said...

Heads up: My collegue came back today with a flyer for "Henry's Bento" - right where Blue|Pink was. So sad they didn't make it. Now I'm back to being stuck with Shilla fast food whenever I have a bimbimbap craving.
Anyway, the new place touts lunch box and Taiwanese cuisine... including stinky tofu! :) Hope you guys get a chance to check it out.

lala said...

Aloha MSG150 lunchers, On your next eating exploration in the I.D., I'd like to invite you all to stop by Momo, my new Eurasian shop at Sixth and Jackson. We have guests galore that we'd love to share your blog with, as we are the unofficial concierge of the District. People are always stopping in to ask where to grab a bowl of this or that and your guide will be invaluable. Momo can help make you rich and famous (one of your goals, I assume, from your opening post!). Please drop by and introduce yourselves, thank you so much for undertaking the epicurean adventure and opening up our neighborhood to the rest of Seattle. Lei Ann, Momo Mama (600 South Jackson Street)

Diane said...

Hey, in your adventures, have you happened to notice whether any of these places offer traditional Chinese breakfast? I have been in mourning ever since the old House of Dumpling shut down. There must be some place down there selling it!

Anonymous said...

I love your project. Do you have at least one Asian/Asian-American homeboy/girl in your group who really knows authentic Chinese/Korean/Japanese/Vietnamese/Thai/etc. foods and can comment on authenticity (rather than on the flavor of sweet and sour pork or kung pao chicken, for example)?

Also, did you guys know that you guys miss out on the real deal sometimes if the chef sees your table is a bunch of white people? When we go to Chinese restaurants with white people, waiters always ask whether we want them to cook in the "gwei-lo style" or "chinese style". No kidding-- they prepare the same dish differently depending on what they assume your taste will be. So if you want authentic, as a white person you actually have to emphasize that you want your food cooked "Chinese-style, not American-style". They'll be shocked you know the deal.

Meowsiang5 伍妙嫦 said...

Hey guys! I have to agree with the July anonymous. I also LOVE your project. I do have one request. Can we get a list of all the restaurants that you have visited so if I wanted to get a review of a specific one I can go straight to it rather that searching all the post for it? I hope that's not too much. Thanks for using your culinary curiosity to good use!

Geary Eppley said...

Meowsiang5, thanks for the note. The best way to get directly to a listing is to use the search box at the top of the page or use the
MSG150 route map.

Anonymous said...

Love your project! Would you reconsider your northern boundary and think of going up to Main? Otherwise you leave out most of what was old Japan Town!

Geary Eppley said...

We will soon have complete coverage of the DLZ. At that point, if we still have the energy, we will branch north and east.

Anonymous said...

try Thanh Vi~! GREAT PHO PLACE =D if u havent~!

pho there is great and there banh mi sandwiches are good too. =)

John said...

I heard of your blog on the audio book for Tribes : We need you to lead us. I work in US2 for Amazon so this should be very helpful!

Lyn said...

Can you help? I'm looking for a restaurant in the ID that has a private room that can fit 25 people. Thanks!

Geary Eppley said...

Most of the big dim sum places have private-ish areas. Try Ocean City or Golden City.

Anonymous said...

Your reviews are fun to read, but I'd tell everyone to take them with a huge grain of salt. After all, you guys mostly order off the lunch special menu, which is basically the "Caucasian people's menu." Sweet & sour pork, hot & sour soup, please. No local table would order that.

Maybe you should try ordering a non-lunch special item next time...you may be pleasantly surprised.

Anonymous said...

are you guys all white?

Geary Eppley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Geary Eppley said...

By popular demand, we have create a consolidated index of MSG150 lunches to make it easier to get around: http://index.msg150.com/category/Chopstick+Rating

Stan said...

MSG Crew - I am coming to Seattle for a week with my family (my high school senior picked it as a family trip as his graduation gift) - - I love your blog and methodolgy - really fun & quite interesting to read. As a first time visitor to your fair city with a huge appetite and a relatively small wallet, are there any other "MUST HAVE" destinations that you would send us to? How about a Thai place that is off the charts? What about some out-of-this-world sushi? We do not want to o.d. on International District Chinese....given our druthers. Would you mind sending your thoughts on the subject to my personal email = stan.dunton@orbiscorporation.com? Thanks! ALSO = If you want to suggest any truly non-tourist, off-beat, must-see kind of places that only locals know about....I would really, really appreciate that. We are not your standard "Space Needle" kind of tourist-trap kind of people. Much appreciated!! Keep up the good work!!

nichole said...

What a great project! We love kindred spirits.

Yours,
Nichole at madisonatoz.com

chiapet said...

Love your blog...there is a new place that you must try: RED LANTERN...it's a nice addition to I.D family...love to hear what you think of it

Anonymous said...

I love your blog and was wondering if you are going to continue your travels through the International District. I hope the answer is yes!
Hope you keep up the great eating adventures!

Matt the Engineer said...

(sigh) No postings this year. This was a great project - thanks for all your work. If you're just short on lunchers let me know.

chs said...

Where's Maneki? It's been around for over a century. And it's yummy too.

Adam said...

Maneki isn't open for lunch :-/

pdxsophisticate said...

How can I get in touch with you guys? I think this is neat, and I'd like to talk to you about the MSG150 project and how this has raised awareness and created conversation around the International District, Seattle food carts, the chopstick rating and everything in between. Do you think this blog helps bring in business to these carts? Are you their marketing gurus? :) Thanks and happy eating!