A chilled soup or frozen hot chocolate—some things that are usually hot can be better cold. While chefs are known to favor the hot line, hearty chilled plates from appetizers to entrées can be found beyond the raw bar. As temperatures rise outdoors, a few summer dishes at local restaurants evade the flame, and stand as great options to fill up on and eat well on the toastiest days.
Cold noodles are popular at U:Don (4515 University Way N.E.), a Japanese noodle station where the options are plentiful and the noodles made from scratch. Among the cold offerings, the oroshi udon—served with a dashi-shoyu broth and topped with grated daikon, fresh grated ginger, sliced green onions, and a lemon wedge for squeezing—is cooling, zingy, and savory. Grab a tray, select your items, and walk to the end of the counter to place your order. While waiting, watch noodles being made quickly and deliberate over additional toppings or an accompanying onigiri (rice ball). Many believe that enjoying udon cold is the ideal way to savor its texture and flavors. When putting this theory to the test, be prepared to slurp.
London Plane (300 Occidental Ave. S.) is the Pioneer Square stop where customers can pick up prepared salads, spreads, freshly baked breads, and food items to go, along with a selection of flowers, artful housewares, and cookbooks. But after its expansion and build-out, the larger London Plane (sister restaurant to neighboring wine bar the Little London Plane), with a kitchen and food space, is ideal for a quiet sit-down lunch. The obvious choice is the leg of lamb, sliced to order and served with tzatziki. Choose also from unique spreads, like beet hummus or a caramelized cauliflower, caper, and anchovy spread. A tasting of all the spreads comes with bread and crackers. Here, portions are sold by weight, and one can choose to try more or less of one item, though deciding will not prove easy.
Before cracking open the menu at Bellevue’s Sichuan restaurant Spiced (1299 156th Ave. N.E., #135, Bellevue), visit the deli case and pick from an array of cold cuts, including thinly sliced pig ears, chicken gizzards, and pork tongue piled generously high. If these chilled options seem too adventurous for starters, stick to the tangy vinegar marinated cucumbers, or the shredded potato salad with chilies that will give its mashed, butter-rich counterpart a run for its money. Starting a meal cold at Spiced whets the palate for subsequent heat-packed dishes, like chili-laced hot pots or water-boiled fish (in which, despite its name, chili oil takes the place of water).
Brimmer & Heeltap (425 N.W. Market St.) opened in the former Le Gourmand space early this year, introducing a fresh approach to neighborhood bistros: comfort food made light and creative, with a lean toward the unexpected from chef Mike Whisenhunt. Brimmer & Heeltap’s chilled Dungeness crab trifle has Dungeness crab meat set in a flavored gelatin with pickled leeks and chives, and is layered with toasted brioche soaked in refreshing ginger beer and crab seasoned custard. The trifle is finished with blanched brussel sprout leaves dressed in a rice wine vinaigrette. Whisenhunt constructed this modern version based on a traditional trifle, often a popular dessert—proving that this dish is not only best cold, but also just as good savory, and eaten on their outdoor patio.