Back in November when we traced out our route through the DLZ the end at the southeast corner of 6th and King seemed like the distant future. We had a seemingly uncountable number of lunches ahead of us. Well, the future is now and our sixty-third lunch brought us out to the end of the DLZ route to find one of the most baffling of the Asian imports inhabiting the ID, Fort St. George. We showed up in full MSG150 force and then some. We had a crew of twenty including all of the MSG150 regulars plus some bandwagon jumpers looking for a piece of the fame. We stopped by earlier in the week on a recon mission to see if we could make reservations. We were told that they don't take reservations since people often show up, look at the menu, and then leave. I suspect there was some profiling being applied with this policy. No matter, we showed up early and grabbed the last twenty seats in the place.
Even though this is the last stop on our prepared route this is not the last you will hear from MSG150. There are at least two new restaurants under construction today in the DLZ, plus the original DLZ is only a sixteen square block subset of the ID. If we have the strength, we will start exploring areas like Little Saigon, east on Jackson, and the north edge of Japan Town that we missed on Main.
Oh yeah... If you didn't already know, we rock!
Luncher: GearyLunch: Spaghetti - Curry Sauce with Chicken Cutlet - $8.00
Full disclosure: I have been here before. Long ago (4 years?) when I first started working in the area I was attracted by the mysterious neon sign in the second floor window and talked a couple of friends into trying it out. We had no idea what to expect and were shocked by what we found. The cuisine offered by "The Fort" is frightening to most Americans in a very different way than chicken feet or pork bung is. This makes it the perfect place for MSG150 to celebrate the successful completion of our founding goal. We ate at them all!
The Fort is in a mini-mall that has a couple of shops and a travel agent on the first floor and Fort St. George and a bar that is only open in the evenings on the second floor with an internal staircase and open area in the middle. The Fort has a bar as well and lunch seating for about 35 people (tables + bar). The wall is covered with Polaroids of young (at least younger than me) patrons presumably enjoying the bar offerings and karaoke. There is also a large bookcase of Japanese comic books.
When we arrived, there were three tables that I took note of. One had four young Japanese men, all apparently regulars, another had two young, male non-Japanese local office types (likely computer-related work), and the third had a young Japanese woman and her non-Japanese girlfriend (of the "friend that is a girl" type). The two non-Japanese guys were both eating the Spaghetti with Curry Sauce and Chicken Cutlet. They seemed to be enjoying themselves so the Curry Spaghetti jumped to the top of my options. The two women were at the table right next to mine. The Japanese woman was doing all of the ordering and saying things like, "Isn't this amazing? Now you see why I love this place." She had ordered Spaghetti with Hamburger and the Chicken Fried Rice with Ketchup Sauce topped with an Omelet (and more ketchup). The Ketchup-Rice-Egg ensemble looked amazing/terrifying. I wasn't brave enough today (apparently Michael either didn't see theirs or is fearless). In the end I went with the Spaghetti-Curry-Fried-Chicken "recommendation" from the computer guys.
For as big of a group we had, ordering and food delivery went fairly well with the exception of Glenn's lunch which somehow was forgotten. The staff was friendly and very accommodating for our large group. In the end though, my spaghetti was so-so. The curry was bland and oddly had chunks of beef in it. The slices of fried chicken breast were tender but soggy with curry sauce and the spaghetti was undercooked. It was filling and edible but in no way memorable.
We had fun, but for me it's sayonara to Fort St. George. For my crazy Japanese food fixes I'm sticking with Unicorn Crepes just across the street.
Luncher: AdamLunch: Spaghetti - Curry Sauce - $6.50
Oh, the bitter-sweet finale. I'd heard a lot about Fort St. George, and I was really excited to try it out for myself. Apparently a lot of other people wanted to try it out too, because we had a huge group.
The menu is awesome. Look over what some of the other people got, and you'll notice some real winners (I think Michael wins by getting the Chicken Fried Rice with Ketchup Flavor Topped With Omelette). In retrospect, I feel kind of lame by ordering something as standard as Spaghetti in Curry Sauce.
In line with my recent vow to eat less meat, I ordered a dish that looked like it would be meatless. But, much to my excitement... it had little chunks of beef in the curry. I really had no idea what to expect while I was waiting for my food. Will it really be as weird as I've heard? or will it be delicious? Well, luckily it was the both; my food was unique and delicious. The curry sauce had a great flavor, and I added some chili flakes to give the sauce a little kick.
I would say that there is better food in the International District, but FSG's menu is unique and full of food that I'd like to try out. I'll definitely be visiting FSG again. Maybe I can try all the dishes there, and write a blog about it... the FSG150?
Luncher: EmmettLunch: Hamburger Steak Japanese Style - Topped with Oroshi & Original Soy Sauce - $7.00
The morning was a beautiful one, for Seattle in August is heaven on earth. A perfect day to close out our quest. A couple of hours of work went by, and soon enough, Geary roused me out of the zone and excitedly, on to our final destination - Fort St. George.
I was dogsitting this week, so I had to take care of the dog while I was away for lunch. As such I arrived late to the restaurant, which is upstairs from a video game store and a travel agency. The place has a fun feel - a bit Bennigan's, a bit like your local Mexican joint. They have polaroids on the wall, a full bar, white boards with specials, a couple of neon signs. They also have a decent view of the city from their second floor vantage point. Rob, I saw, was already deep in the drink by the time I arrived. I ordered quickly and went with the Hamburger Steak - Japanese Style. I think Japanese Style means "no bun".
Not bad for a hamburger with no bun. It had a soy-sauce flavor and was topped with Oroshi, which is grated daikon. The pasta it came with is Ketchup flavored, which is tolerable, but not great. I tried some of Geary's curry chicken, which was decent, but not terrific. But the dish was creative and interesting, and certainly better than I expected.
I bet this food is a lot better when you're plowed, hence the bar. I'd come again. :)
Luncher: RobLunch: Daily Special - Deep Fried Salmon with Tonkatsu Sauce and Aioli Sauce - $7.25
My first time at Fort St. George was not a good one. This time, though, I pretty much knew what to expect, and I think that helped. The side salad partly topped with a small amount of cold, Chef Boyardee-esque spaghetti wasn't nearly as odd as I remembered, and they didn't taste all that bad when you combined them. Miso soup in the coffee cup was a nice touch. The white board lunch special of deep fried salmon with tonkatsu sauce and aioli sauce was okay. It was an average piece of fish, in both taste and size. The squeeze-bottled sauces were all right. I did find it amusing that the lunch special aioli sauce looked exactly the same as the garlic mayonnaise on Tyan's dish -- "aioli sauce" is definitely the winner between those two names. So yeah, I liked it better the second time around. I think the martini I had helped, too.
Luncher: MichaelLunch: Chicken Fried Rice with Ketchup Flavor Topped With Omelette - $6.75
I never want to eat or look at ketchup again.
The salad was nice, the whole place had a novelty thing going for it, but I don't think it's enough that I'd ever want to go back.
Ketchup is wrong in quantities like this. Never again.
Luncher: JoeyLunch: Beef Curry and Rice with Chicken Cutlet - $8.00
I’m gonna be really generous today and give 4 chopsticks to Fort St. George. It wasn’t that it was amazing, but it really hit the spot. Don’t get me wrong… it was pretty good, but if I hadn’t been craving curry, I probably would’ve given it a 3. It tasted like the curry flavoring you can get at the store, like Golden curry (see here http://www.flickr.com/photos/kaoko/1183236401/). The beef was alright, but the chicken cutlet (katsu) tasted pretty good with the curry. Who knew crispy katsu and soggy curry could go so well together?
Luncher: ErinLunch: Lunch Entree - Pork Ginger - $7.00
Fort St. George has the oddest name for a restaurant. Sounds like a state park. We were a very large group for this final outing, and they really didn't know what to do with us. There were seats, so we sat at two different tables. The menu was an interesting mix of American style Japanese food. I ordered the Pork Ginger. After a very long wait, our food arrived, or most of it did. The pork ginger was a stir fry of thin pork in a mild ginger sauce. This was served with a side of rice, a side of salad, and a side of cold spaghetti. The sauce spilled over into the salad and spaghetti, making them soggy. The pork was tender, but the whole dish was bland; there was very little ginger flavor in the dish. The service was slow and confused; I thought the whole restaurant was a little dirty. I give this two chopsticks, it wasn't quite dog food. I would not return.
Luncher: JeffLunch: Lunch Special - Tenderloin Pork Cutlet - $7.00
Not a lot of heart-healthy options on the Ft St George lunch menu.
This place earned the only 1 chop-stick rating I’ve given.
That said, let’s start with what was good… The white rice was good – well cooked. The mini side-salad had a nice sesame dressing. The miso soup hit the spot (although it probably contained my full day's worth of sodium). Moving on to what’s not so good; the entrée was completely lacking! I had the Tenderloin Pork. The meat was tough and rubbery. The batter was uninspiring. The mystery dipping sauce was the only redemption. Ft St George did have a cheery and bright dining area with nice windows to look through. Everything was clean. I just wouldn’t go back for the food. It’s a shame to end the MSG adventure with such a lame duck.
Luncher: Ben the InternLunch: Spaghetti - Meat Sauce with Hamburger Steak and Garlic Flavored Mayo - $8.50
Ben the Intern's Review
There is enough to criticize about Fort St. George, but why bother, I didn’t go there expecting gourmet dining. I went there looking for the most outrageous food item I could find and I think I did a decent job, selecting the “pasta with meat sauce and garlic mayonnaise” (with additional steak burger). The food was good. Nothing so outrageous you wouldn’t eat it again, nothing to write home about. I also purchased a cherry float, which you can’t really go wrong with except that they put far too much ice into the glass which is silly for a drink topped with ice-cream. All in all this is a solid 3/5 for food quality but if go looking for some laughs with friends you’ll come back with a 4/5 chopsticks experience.
Luncher: AlLunch: Lunch Special - Hamburger and Chicken Cutlet - $6.50
Howard Johnson’s food circa 1972 via Japan. Ho Jo’s floats were better.
Luncher: WayneLunch: Daily Special - Deep Fried Salmon with Tonkatsu Sauce and Aioli Sauce - $7.25
We stormed Fort St. George with a force of 20 as we set out to complete our coverage of the DLZ. The staff struggled to accommodate our massive group in their small space, and all things considered, didn’t do too badly. Sure, finding seats, taking our orders, and bringing our food wasn’t as smooth as it could have been, but heck, we probably accounted for more than half of the diners in the restaurant.
For my lunch, I opted for the Daily Special: Deep Fried Salmon with Tonkatsu Sauce and Aioli Sauce. It sounded more interesting than anything else on the menu, and it didn’t disappoint. I’ve never had deep fried salmon before, and with its two rich sauces, it was really quite tasty.
I’m giving this meal a three chopsticks rating. The yummy Salmon easily deserved four, but the meal was brought down by the mediocre salad, the cold noodle side dish that I didn’t really care for, and the (supposedly included) miso soup that I was looking forward to but never received.
Luncher: GlennLunch: Lunch Special - Steak and Chicken Cutlet - $6.50
The wait staff forgot my meal which irritated me. When the food actually showed up I was somewhat surprised. I ordered the lunch special which let me choose 2 of the standard items. I chose the Hamburger Steak out of pure curiosity -- I have never heard of a hamburger steak before -- and the chicken cutlet. The chicken was breaded and fried chicken strips -- standard bar food. The Hamburger Steak turned out to be a meatloaf in the shape of a hamburger without a bun -- it was pretty good. The main course was garnished with a small salad and a helping of spaghetti. The spaghetti sauce was spiced up ketchup and did not score well considering that I am a mustard eater.
Slow service (though we were a big group) and ketchup as a main ingredient:
Luncher: TyanLunch: Spaghetti - Meat Sauce topped with Garlic Flavored Mayonnaise - $7.00
This is American comfort food interpreted by the Japanese. Sounds a little weird but I felt the concept worked surprisingly well. I had spaghetti with meat sauce and garlic flavored mayonnaise. The spaghetti was pretty decent, although a bit overcooked for my taste. The meat sauce was basic but tasty. The garlic mayonnaise is what really made this dish for me. It gave the otherwise bland food a little oomph. This is not a place you go for spice but a place you go when you want something familiar but with just a little twist. The service was pretty good considering there were 20 of us and we practically filled up the place. My only complaint is that my dish came out of the kitchen with a hair on it. A pickier eater may have found that gross but I have furry pets so a little hair in my food is hardly anything worth noticing in my book. I will definitely go back again to try the spaghetti with curry.
Luncher: AntheaLunch: Spaghetti - Curry Sauce - $6.50
If the curry sauce has a little bit more kick it will be more than average.
Luncher: ChadLunch: Doria with Broccoli and Mushrooms - $7.00
The restaurant’s ambiance was as expected for the International District. Menu looked pretty affordably priced. I tried a dish I have never tried before, and I was ok with it. Had the Broccoli and Mushroom Doria. Not too bad. Being a Midwesterner myself, it’s a casserole dish I can relate to. Flavor was ok. I liked that it was something I’ve never tried, but then getting it, I guess you could say that I did way back when at the church potlucks. There were a lot of people in the group, and for a small shop, they did ok in getting food out, save perhaps for one of our people. Just an OK experience. I was more interested in the company I was with than the food.
Luncher: YvonneLunch: Lunch Entree - Tenderloin Pork Cutlet - $7.00
This was a wonderful excursion back to my time as an expat living in Japan. The typical “American” style found in many Japanese restaurants. The Pork Tenderloin Cutlets were good. The salad and side of spaghetti (cold) also very authentic. The service was a little slow. Overall, it was a fun little adventure.
Luncher: TracyLunch: Doria with Bacon and Mushrooms - $7.00
Comforting food covered in cheese…..mmmm. Plus, I got to watch Rob drink a martini for lunch.
Luncher: TorreyLunch: Lunch Special - Steak and Pork Cutlet - $6.50
Luncher: EmilyLunch: Doria with Broccoli and Mushrooms - $7.00
Luncher: JaredLunch: Lunch Special - Chicken and Pork Cutlet - $6.50
Fort St. George PhotosFort St. George
Dining on the Mezzanine
Fort St. George Menu
Fort St. George Menu Side 2
MSG150 Crew Annex
Specials Board & Photo Wall
Japanese Comic Books
Apparently the martinis are vegetarian approved
Lunch Entree - Tenderloin Pork Cutlet
Lunch Entree - Pork Ginger
Chicken Fried Rice with Ketchup Flavor Topped with Omelet (really)
Daily Special - Deep Fried Salmon with Tonkatsu Sauce and Aioli Sauce
Doria with Broccoli and Mushrooms
Lunch Special - Steak and Pork Cutlet
Lunch Special - Hamburger and Chicken Cutlet
Beef Curry and Rice with Chicken Cutlet
Hamburger Steak Japanese Style - Topped with Oroshi & Original Soy Sauce
Spaghetti - Curry Sauce with Chicken Cutlet
Spaghetti - Curry Sauce
Spaghetti - Meat Sauce topped with Garlic Flavored Mayonnaise
Doria with Bacon and Mushrooms
Daily Special + Martini
Lunch Special - Chicken and Pork Cutlet
Spaghetti - Meat Sauce with Hamburger Steak and Garlic Flavored Mayo
Lunch Special - Steak and Chicken Cutlet