September 27, 2009

Chow sues Chao, Says Ciao to Coastal

Meatball%20sub%20at%20Chao.JPG Chao%20logo.jpgSince "chao" means hello or welcome in Vietnamese, this was going to be a post about a bite of lunch (a gooey meatball sandwich) at a new eatery called Chao on Capitol Hill.

That was Friday. But things got delayed, and in the meantime Chow Foods filed suit against Chao for, what exactly? Copyright infringement? The old Ruby Chow's (Chinese place owned by the late county councilwoman of the same name) could join the fray, perhaps, as could Chao Praya in Kent or Chow Paya Thai in Tacoma. For that matter, so could Ciao Bella in the U District. If they were so inclined, so could the foodies at, or the ghost of Duke Moscrip, whose restaurants are all called Chowder Houses. There's a Chau Thoi Ba on Roxbury in West Seattle and a Pho Chau My on MLK in Rainier Beach, too. Who's going to stand up for them?

On the other hand, we know how hard it is to keep names straight. Endolyne Joe, Atlas Foods, 5-Spot, Hi-Life...not an easy lineup to remember. So you wrap them into a corporate entity called Chow Foods, right? Because it's all about protecting the brand, right? And what brand would that be, exactly? Well, neighborhood restaurants, dontcha know, like the 5-Spot on Queen Anne. Or like Coastal Kitchen on Capitol Hill. Except, whoops, co-founder Jeremy Hardy took two of the stores, Coastal Kitchen and Mioposto in Mount Baker, and started a new company, Seattle Eats. Which leaves his former partner Peter Levy worried that Seattle might think Chao is his new neighborhood place. Which it's clearly not, and here's why:

Chao's meatballs were covered in a sweet banana-leaf barbecue sauce that left the Vietnamese sandwich roll completely limp. The hindmost meatball fell out as the first was eaten. Knife and fork to the rescue! The decent "signature salad" was dressed with a mild lychee vinaigrette; the beer glass, however, had the residual smell of a defective AutoChlor rinse cycle. All this was ahead of the grand opening, mind you, presided over by David Tran, whose most recent ventures into Seattle nightlife are bars and dance clubs named Amber (formerly Axis) and Venom (formerly Medusa), both in Belltown. As for Capitol Hill, well, Mr. Tran, the neighborhood.

Chao Bistro, 1200 E. Pike, 206-324-1010   Chao Bistro on Urbanspoon

Posted by Ronald Holden at September 27, 2009 9:00 AM | TrackBack

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