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Veg Out: BOKA’s Crispy Lacinato Kale

October 16, 2011

I sit alone at the “& Bar” part of BOKA Kitchen & Bar. The bartender is calling me The Young Lady, as in, “A champagne cocktail for The Young Lady.” This pleases me. To my right, a German man is trying to convince two British investors that he is “The Obi-Wan Kenobi of Internet Security.” This also pleases me, though I am wondering why he does not straight-up break out the Obi-Wan impression. You don’t need to see his identification. These aren’t the credit card numbers you’re looking for. Move along.

BOKA’s happy hour menu has always been relatively veggie-friendly. I order my old standby: Grilled cheese and tomato soup, served with a little side of pickles, spicy arugula, and spicier peppers. I notice that they seem to have expanded the menu and divided it into lists of $3, $6, and $9 plates. Batter-fried veggies with green goddess dressing, jalapeño poppers stuffed with Beecher’s cheese curds, and crispy grits with tomato sauce and fontina? I would have remembered those. And I definitely would have remembered these:

Graceful, whole leaves of lacinato kale, flash-fried and sprinkled with parmesan and lemon zest. I have never seen anything like them. Nothing against kale chips, but these are not kale chips. These are kale … feathers. Nay, kale whispers. Mille-feuille de kale. Jules must try them. I doubt that their delicate texture will hold up in a take-away box, but I pack a serving in my purse just the same. I am headed to The Business of Books with Jen & Kerry at the Hotel 1000 next door. Everyone there is going to think I smell like kale. So be it. I head to the ladies’ room on my way upstairs to the class.

When I emerge from my stall, a woman is waiting for me. Her eyes are hungry.

“I saw you sitting at the bar,” she says. “You had the kale crisps. My husband hates kale and refused to order them. I have to ask you: How were they?”

“Delicious. I happen to have some in my purse! Would you like to try one?”

This is not the answer she expected. She seeks the crisps. But in the bathroom?

“No, thank you,” she says. “I am from Hawaii.”

I attempt to process this information. I am pretty sure she is trying to tell me that she is visiting Seattle, and not that Hawaiians are forbidden to eat kale by, I don’t know, decree of the Terrible (and Secretive) Lord Pineapple? I am correct! And also, she is a vegetarian! We have a lovely conversation about restaurants she might try during her stay.

“Honey!” she says to her husband as we walk into the hotel lobby. “This is her! The Lady Who Had the Kale!”

That’s The Young Lady Who Smells Like Kale, thank you very much.

BOKA Kitchen & Bar
1010 First Avenue
Seattle, WA 98104

P.S.: Miraculously, the crisps did hold up until I got home, and even tasted pretty good the next morning. I am not sure how. Perhaps it was some kind of Jedi mind trick.

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