For a few short months, Restaurant Wahluke blazed through Yakima’s culinary scene; a chef-driven comet of a spot with great atmosphere, subtly graceful staff, and transcendent dishes. Some (myself included) saw this as both a capstone of Yakima’s maturation as an emerging culinary region, and a new baseline that would set the bar for every upcoming restaurant in the Valley.
Yet as quickly as it had arrived, it vanished.
With seemingly no notice, Wahluke’s Facebook page announced a new restaurant opening. Initially I thought this was a third endeavor by the Snyder family, yet was crestfallen to discover that E.Z Tiger was replacing a new favorite I had only begun to discover.
Given its short run, most of Yakima didn’t have the opportunity to experience Restaurant Wahluke. So that you all understand the feeling, here are some analogies:
It was your favorite childhood cartoon being cancelled.
It was your high school girlfriend from senior year moving across the country to go to school.
It was Drew Carey replacing Bob Barker on the Price is Right.
As if sensing my grave disappointment, we at Denizen received an invite to the soft opening of E.Z Tiger; a pan-Asian eatery with a wide array of dishes and the promise of ‘shelter’. I obliged, but not without a lot of hidden expectation.
Fortunately, we were in good hands. The salads were bright. The portions were perfect for sharing. The flavors were sophisticated yet comforting. The atmosphere was mostly unchanged, save the relaxed attitudes of the staff, and the clearly curated mix of Latin and downbeat music feeding our ears. The place was full but it felt like they knew WE were coming. Quite the feat. Cue the Brubaker clap.
We scheduled a time to talk to the folks behind all this and were relieved to discover that Restaurant Wahluke will pop up occasionally through the year. While I do love that concept, I’m totally an E.Z Tiger convert. It’s not Wahuluke, but it’s doing what it does flawlessly, and that’s as much as you can hope for. Watch this video, then go down and try it out!