Zao Noodle Bar
University Village, Seattle
It was a grey, chilly morning in Seattle, and my nose was still stuffy from a week-long cold. The chili beef ramen at Zao Noodle Bar turned out to be the perfect antidote.
I sat at the bar and watched the chefs toss noodles in flaming wok-sized skillets, a few feet away. The broth was warming, and I could feel the spicy heat in my mouth.
The grilled beef strips were a little overdone, but the broth revived them. The vegetables, on the other hand -- shredded carrots, cabbage and bean sprouts -- were just right, not too raw and not overcooked.
Later that afternoon, my sense of taste suddenly returned, as if somewhere a switch had been thrown.