Mandarin Gate proves a stellar joint to carouse and socialize during happy hour and the "happy hours" that follow. Anticipation builds as the nightly karaoke fever approaches, building more and more as the scattering of songbooks get tossed about. At this point nearly everyones inner rock star clamors to come out and play. The DJ remains very approachable, one of the least discriminating hosts around. All are voices welcome, from the "American Idols" who never made the first cut to the "Crme de la Crme of the establishment's vocal elite. With well drinks so reasonably priced, one should eventually possess the liquid courage to rock on. In addition, restaurant dining is available, but this is not about the grub or the dining experience, as I have yet to actually dine there myself, well except for the Chinese New Year party, and that grub was absolutely free of charge. Mandarin Gate simply rocks!
Nothing hones your inner rock star leanings more than a microphone, some "open minded" friends, and the essential liquid courage. Korean owned, Korean based, Seattle's Best Karaoke offers hourly, private rooms along with cozy couches, top-notch karaoke equipment, and songbooks expansive enough to accommodate the latest in pop music, your favorite oldies, novelty hits, show tunes, and multiple foreign languages. The soundproof walls prove an added blessing.
Wedged on the edge of a rather diverse plaza where one can shop, eat, and become both caffeinated and inebriated, Cineplex Odeon Theatres Oak Tree (its formal name) is a groovy place to begin or end your evening. Grab your movie drinks and snacks next door at Larry's Market to avoid the cinema's snare trap of unreasonably priced, less-than-fine food selection. As for its movies, variety is understated (well, that's Hollywood for you), but there's always something for the kids, the ladies, and the machismo in all of us. Despite the diverse neighborhood encircling the theater, the hugest disappointment is the absence of at least one quality foreign language or independent picture. Still, the average moviegoer wont mind at bit.
Very much a "Japanese" experience, Uwajimaya is always a pleasant place to shop for groceries and gifts. They also carry an array of other Asian foods even instant foods for the bachelors and bachelorettes who know nothing about preparing Asian food. I am amazed at its plethora of insta-curry packets and canned coffees, yet Uwajimaya satisfies nearly every Japanese/Asian inclination. The clerks there are generally pleasant, and the place is extremely clean on the inside, especially for a high traffic grocery store nestled in the heart of Seattle's International District. In addition, finding ample parking can be an adventure or disappointment, depending on your point of view.
This section of Bothell offers a plethora of diners, restaurants, and cafes, but if you're interested in enjoying meals ala Americana, Crystal Creek Cafe remains a pleasant alternative to the nearby Denny's. The menu is vast enough to whet any appetite, and the staff is very friendly at best, spacey at worst. But one word to the wise, dress warm, because it get awfully chilly inside, especially between regular meal times. According to its staff, the owner manages the flow of air conditioning, so the staff cannot adjust the climate despite customer wishes. Thanks to this "management decision", I offer Crystal Creek four stars instead of five.
Because of Thrasher's Corner "over-development", this 7 Eleven appears buried in a sea of grocery stores, restaurants and coffee shops. Access from Bothell-Everett and 196th is difficult at best, which explains the light traffic at its gas pumps and convenience store. Despite these barriers, it's like any other 7 Eleven, and its day clerk is probably the nicest clerk around.
Perched near the corner of 196th and Bothell-Everett Highway, Thrasher's Corner Shell is fully strategic stop for gasoline and goodies. At least one employee has worked there for years, and she is always courteous, usually up for chitchat as she rings in your purchases. There's also a car wash there and plenty of lot parking 'round back. Yet, on a sour note, they also have the most expensive, least competitive petrol prices within a 10-mile radius. Gas doesn't skyrocket like this until you reach Redmond/Bellevue (go figure!). If you simply wish to save your hard-earned cash, remain clear of this locale. There are plenty of other gas stations/mini marts in the area to choose from.
That's what happened to me. After one too many speeding tickets, State Farm cancelled my insurance policy. It was at this Stone Way location, that I first signed onto Vern Fonk's insurance broker service. They offered competitive, multiple rates among several insurance companies, making insurance affordable for someone with three speeding tickets and a car loan to pay off. I didnt realize I had much of a choice. Thank you Vern Fonk Insurance!
Upon entering Than Brothers on Aurora, I observed that that dining area was exceptionally clean, without the smell of cleaning chemicals. Displayed throughout the place were local articles on the Than Brother enterprise and how excellent both their cuisine and prices were. Sure, the articles were dated by several years, but the great press was an added treat, as I awaited the waiter, who was cordial, followed by my meal served in a timely manner. And just as I anticipated, the critics stood correct. The pho and vermicelli were superb, the service exceptional, and the check plausible. Five stars for what could have been a typical, mundane luncheon.
The Gap is a relatively easy clothing store to get in, shop, purchase and get out. No patience? No problem. You can see the limits of the store before you step inside. The merchandise is simple, straightforward, and there's usually something decent in clearance section to save you little extra dough. While the staff is generally friendly and helpful, I offer this locale four stars for frequent customer negligence.