I was remarking to a friend the other day how grateful I have been for this Neighborhood Eats beat, as it has given me reason to consistently get out of my own head and into other parts of the city. It feels wonderful to explore different pocket parks and take note of different quirks each neighborhood has. I can’t believe just how many beautiful public libraries there are throughout King County! Last week I was exploring Kent, and wow, are there some terrific restaurant options. Hearty breakfast sandwiches with fluffy eggs and crackly crisp sausage patties; incredibly tender beef bulgogi bowls with gochujang sauce; and sticky, salty tocino bacon and garlic-rice-filled burritos.
There are so many restaurants in Kent, this is barely scratching the surface, but here are three amazing spots to put on your list the next time hunger strikes.
8 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday-Tuesday, 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday; 229 Washington Ave. N., Kent; 253-277-2308; myegghole.com
This modern space in Meeker Square is all floor-to-ceiling windows; wide, wood-plank communal tables; and an entire wall of beer taps. Of course, due to COVID-19 dining restrictions, it’s mostly empty, but between the drive-thru window and a steady stream of online preorders, this spot was doing brisk business on a Wednesday midafternoon. The menu is focused on egg sandwiches, and there are also salads, fries and burgers for anyone who has moved beyond breakfast. All sandwiches are served on a puffy brioche bun. The Walk of Shame ($8.77) is the only one with fluffy, soft scrambled eggs, and also features a couple slices of American cheese, sautéed onions and a dollop of Sriracha mayo. If you’re a scrambled-egg person, this is the sandwich for you. However, the one that won my heart was the simple Sausage, Egg & Cheese ($8.77). The thin pork sausage patty was seared hard, creating a crackly crust that was blanketed with gooey American cheese and an egg fried over hard. A smear of honey-mustard aioli added a little sweetness, making this sandwich practically perfect in every way.
10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 222 First Ave. S., Kent; 253-277-4905
Portion sizes at this Korean spot in historic downtown Kent are quite large — especially when looking at the $9 lunch bowls, served with stir-fried udon noodles, rice, vegetables and your choice of protein. I got the pork bulgogi, which was tender with a terrific char. Mushrooms, carrots, onion, cabbage and broccoli mingle within a tangle of fire-kissed noodles, and there are two chili sauces served on the side to spice things up. The bibimbap ($13) was big enough to share, served with a cup of miso soup, sides of cabbage kimchi and spicy cucumber salad, plus an absolute heaping portion of sautéed, sesame-oil-tinged vegetables and beef bulgogi, a scoop of rice and a fried egg. There’s an especially fiery gochujang sauce on the side, and I think the dish would crisp up wonderfully in a screaming-hot cast-iron skillet if you were after that same crispy rice experience a dolsot bibimbap offers. Regardless, you should take the dish out of the container and transfer to a large bowl to toss all together with a little soy and the gochujang sauce.
Big Boys Kainan
11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday, closed Monday and Tuesday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday; 21230 84th Ave. S., Kent; 253-246-7450; iwantsomebigboys.com
Located in a slim strip mall, Big Boys Kainan first opened as a food truck in 2011. The restaurant, complete with school-bus-yellow walls covered in scrawls with sentiments from happy customers over the years, opened in 2016 with a full menu of Filipino/Hawaiian plates and poke, plus all the original food-truck favorites. The burrito ($10) is stuffed with garlic rice, gooey melted cheese, crunchy slaw and delectable tocino bacon, finished with a sweet/salty lacquer. From now on, every burrito I eat better be stuffed with garlic rice or no rice at all, and I am accepting zero substitutions. Also wonderful is the calamansi ginger chicken plate ($12.99) with a massive scoop of rice and grilled chicken brushed with a bright, citrus sauce and finished with crunchy bits of fried garlic and sesame seeds. You can sub garlic rice for just a buck, and add on a couple of crispy lumpia for $2. Both are highly recommended.