14339 NE 20TH St Ste I
Bellevue WA 98007
Authentic, Fast, Asian Fare On the Cheap
By: Steve G
Much akin to the venerable character from Seinfeld, the "Soup Nazi," we at Chef Seattle have a nickname for Cafe Ori.
We call it the curry "Nazi."
Now it's not because the owner or the staff is super crazy in anyway, it's the big sign on the register that says "Cash Only" and the fact that we've had our orders mixed up several times. Some people would just completely dismiss this place based on that fact, but we put up with it. Why? Because it's some of the best Chinese food you'll find in the Eastside and it's ridiculously cheap. We're still waiting for the day when one of us will speak up about a problem and hear those infamous words, "No curry for you! Next!"
It won't happen, but it's just fun to think it will.
The interior of Cafe Ori is not luxurious nor high class. They have a ton of tables all covered with a thick piece of glass that makes it very easy to clean. In fact, they even put the menu underneath the glass so you don't have to bother asking for one. It's right in the table. Be careful where you sit though as you might be at a table with the Chinese-language menu. If you find yourself in that situation, don't freak out and take a deep breath. The English translated version should be right next to it.
The Curry is the must order item at Cafe Ori and it comes with three choices of meat: beef, chicken, or beef brisket. Depending on how you're feeling that day, you can go with whatever you like because it's just a minor ingredient to the real headliner of this dish, the curry. It only has a hint spice to it, so it won't satisfy those looking for that mind numbing, scorching experience. More than anything, it's sweet and its texture is about as creamy as it gets. One of my friend's proclaimed, "It's so good! Once it hits your lips!" Each order comes with a big bucket of rice so don't think it's merely curry and some meat.
Another great dish at Cafe Ori is the Salt and Pepper Pork Chops. Heavily seasoned and quickly pan fried these little pieces of goodness can be almost as addicting as the curry. There's a little bit of bone in some of the pieces so be careful not to bite down too hard. The Salt and Pepper Squid is exactly the same as the aforementioned pork chops with the difference being very obvious. It's more chewy than its pork brethren, but still very tasty.
The Portuguese Baked Chicken takes a little longer to make and be prepared to wait around 15-20 minutes for that dish to arrive. The dish comes in a small metal bowl and is usually boiling hot as it arrives. Inside the bowl is a rich and creamy sauce with onions and chicken. Probably not the most health conscious dish, but also quite tasty.
The service can be a little sketchy at times, but the food comes out relatively fast and the prices are quite a deal, especially during the lunch times. Curry beef brisket rice comes out to a little over $5 and they give you enough portions to have enough leftovers for dinner. It's not the fanciest place to get Chinese food, but you won't be disappointed if you visit Cafe Ori.