Living In Seattle(ish), Day 464(ish): I’m Officially Asian(ish)

Living in Seattle(ish), Day three(ish): 10 things I’ve learned
Living in Seattle(ish), Day eight(ish): regret in a screenshot
Living in Seattle(ish), Day 18(ish): Time for the mortuary, and I’m a bad driver

Living in Seattle(ish), Day 193(ish): where do I begin?
Living in Seattle(ish), Day 270(ish): boba blues
Living in Seattle(ish), Day 365(ish): now what?

It has only been a short 99 days since my last installment of this “series,” so I figured I’d provide a quick update. For those of you that aren’t long time blog readers, I moved to Seattle Bellevue about 15 months ago for no intelligent reasons, which was a big step for me. I’ve been sharing random musings/updates ever since. Sadly Google seems to pick up on these posts, and I’m now the top result when Googling “Moving to Bellevue, Washington.” If I had a dollar for every email I’ve received from some random person on the internet asking for moving advice I’d buy myself 90,000 US Airways miles and fly to North Asia in business class (via Europe, of course)!

Anyway, here are some updates:

OMG DRIVE THRU BOBA IS OPENING SOON!

Lets start with the most exciting update first. Some of you may remember my obsession with Drive Thru Boba, which I first wrote about in my day 193 update. I don’t think I’ve ever been so irrationally obsessed with anything in my life (well, except One Direction maybe). Over time I started to really like the owners, Alex and Karen, and was downright devastated when they shut down their old location overnight.

I’ve been waiting for seven, boba and mochi deprived, months for them to re-open, and I’m not sure how much longer I can wait. Go figure they did a “test run” on Sunday for that one football game that was on TV (the only way I even found out about the football game was through Drive Thru Boba’s Facebook page, because they were delivering house blend milk tea and mochi). And today they’re even offering boba pickup. But they’re still not open, and go figure I was traveling on Sunday and am traveling today.

Anyway, I’m so excited about their grand re-opening, and the first day I’m in town where they’re open I’ll host a field trip with unlimited milk tea and mochi on me — stay tuned!

When you discover a Hello Kitty shrine and mochi kingdom just a few blocks from your apartment

Last week I was having a food conversation with someone local on Twitter, and she recommended a good sushi place. As it turns out it’s just a couple of blocks from my apartment, so I was kind of amazed I hadn’t heard of it all this time.

If nothing else I love Japanese restaurants because they remind me of this Curb Your Enthusiasm clip, which is possibly my favorite ever:

In passing I asked the delightful Japanese guy working there whether he knew of any good places to get mochi. He asked if I knew of Uwajimaya. Umaji-say-what?! After he wrote down the name for me I put it in Google Maps and drove there, as it was literally across the street.

Bellevue-1

Holy crap, the place was huge. It was basically like an Asian Costco. I was in heaven. They had everything, including a Hello Kitty shrine. That’s how you know it’s authentic!

Bellevue-2

I quickly realized I was the only caucasian in the “market” and was getting awfully weird looks from the employees and other shoppers (though on second thought perhaps that had more to do with the fact that I was wearing airline pajamas and giddy as could be).

I mustered up the courage to ask one of the associates whether they had any mochi. Honestly I was expecting to be be told no, since I haven’t had any luck finding mochi anywhere else in the area other than Drive Thru Boba. I can’t even begin to describe my excitement when he said “yes of course, what kind of mochi?” What kind of mochi? Like, you not only have mochi, but you have different kinds?

meme

“We have some in aisle five, aisle eleven, aisle twelve, the bakery, and the deli.” I nearly fainted out of excitement.

Bellevue-3

Suffice to say that Uwajimaya is my new Whole Foods. The only downside to shopping there is that half of the food is gone before I get home.

Uwajimaya

I’m starting to like the weather… I think?

Lets be perfectly clear (unlike Seattle weather) about something — summers in Seattle are inhumanely gorgeous. From July 4th through Labor Day I don’t think there’s a nicer climate anywhere else in the world.

The rest of the year, well, you’ve gotta be “high” to like the weather here. And for the first year I was here I found it hilarious how Seattleites love to justify how they actually like the weather the rest of the year. I’ve heard arguments like “well, it’s cozy,” or  “it makes you appreciate when there’s a nice day more.” And both of those are BS arguments to me.

I hate to say this, but a year in I almost feel like I agree… almost… and I want to hate myself for it. Don’t get me wrong, I was in San Diego this past weekend and was absolutely delighted by 70 degree temperatures and clear blue skies.

But there’s something to be said for how “cozy” Seattle is for nine months of the year, at least if you’re on the road as much as I am. It’s a really soothing place to come home to. Surely spas are onto something given that they’re all designed after Seattle, with dimmed lighting and dripping water features, no?

I mean, I have about a dozen cups of tea a day, I sleep 10 hours a night (cause it’s always dark), and I go everywhere in my pajamas (okay, maybe I can’t blame that last part on Seattle). Like, what’s not to love?

Beyond that, I’ve kind of come to comparatively love Seattle weather. It only rarely gets cold in Seattle, and having spent some time this winter on the East Coast and in Europe I was looking forward to returning to warm Seattle.

Not sure I really want to leave Seattle…

As y’all know I’ll be leaving Seattle come April, something I wasn’t initially too sad about. I’m not leaving permanently, but rather just moving to hotels for a while to get a change of scenery for a variety of reasons. Initially I didn’t think I’d really miss Seattle, but now that my days here are numbered (for now), I’m realizing just how much I love the place, even though I haven’t taken advantage of all it has to offer.

The problem is that I can’t really put into words why I love Seattle so much. I remember the first time I visited over a decade ago and how magical I thought the city was. I don’t know why exactly, it might partly be that I’m drawn to it because it’s the city for aviation.

But there’s something about the skyline and landing at SeaTac that leaves me in awe every time, and I’m really starting to get sad about leaving… have I lost it completely?

Comments

  1. I’ll just be honest and say that although the idea of moving to Seattle sounded really interesting I never really got much out of this particular series. It seemed like the same basic topics just rehashed over and over again. Which would be fine if I was into things like boba and mochi. Then again if I were in your shoes I’d probably be careful (bland) about what I wrote as well, both to avoid giving out too much personal information and to prevent losing readers to to potentially controversial views. Frankly I’m more interested in your hotel living situation. How many times have we read about famous people living in hotels for years or even decades at a time? Not the crappy Day’s Inn down the street, but a landmark known the world over. What the hell is that like? Inquiring minds want to know!

  2. Dear lord, you’ve been in town over a year and hadn’t been to Uwajimaaya?? I feel like someone should give you a proper tour, I would’ve assumed you had been! (You know there’s one in the ID also? Have you been to the ID?) As a fellow transplant who is gone most weeks for work, I have to say I think seattle brainwashed us, but I love it. And feel smug when I hear about the polar vortex.

  3. Having lived in Seattle for 11 years (and worked in B-vue for 4), this posting series is the last place I’d look for information. You’re either buried in your phone or traveling, and not a single minute seems to have been spent experiencing the place. A full year and you’ve never heard of Uwajimaya? I can only fathom the depths of ignorance – and I’m not even a Seattle apologist or huge fan!

  4. I know that might sound harsh, and lots of other useful info is on this blog… but yea, this window into life was not something that gave me a warm and fuzzie.

  5. Wow, I’m shocked that you haven’t been to Uwajimaya too, I don’t know if you have Asian friends or not, well I know you do b/c you know Alex and Karen so you can blame it on Alex and Karen for not telling you. Don’t tell them I said that =)

  6. Seattle is a bit magical and you will probably miss it a lot when you leave. I didn’t particularly like living there (if I traveled like you do, that statement would probably be different) but I LOVE visiting now. You are gone so much you do miss out on a bunch and I am surprised you missed the big Asian store. Also, go to Chinatown near the stadiums. I garauntee they have mochi there and it is authentic. I know flowers are not usually a guys thing, but you should go to Skagit Valley in April for the tulip festival.

  7. Gotta echo the other comments here – did you actually make any effort to get to know the area? It really doesn’t sound like it…

    Coming next segment – lucky discovers Seattle has something called pike fish market

  8. I’ve lived in San Diego for 3 years, then went nomad full time since May. Being back here really makes me miss this place. There’s a certain feeling you get when flying into SAN and driving down North Harbor Drive that says, “I live in paradise”. Hanging around the neighborhoods surrounding Balboa Park and all the local restaurants and coffee shops really makes it feel like home. I’m now thinking I’ll probably re-gain a home and move back there in May.

    Best of luck to you in deciding where to live. These are not easy decisions.

  9. Up front: I don’t live in Seattle, but having grown up in Eastern Washington and now having lived in Portland just down the road for the past 18 years, you are living in one of the richest places in the world. PNW’ers have no problem with the wet weather because it does keep hordes of others away.

    We love visiting friends and relatives in Seattle several times a year, and they reciprocate by coming down here. We have Uwajimaya here as well, along with Chinatown.

    Lucky, I thought your one comment that ‘the rain makes one appreciate nice days even more’ being a BS argument was clearly off the mark. It’s absolutely true. Tell me: after your first winter in Seattle and the first really nice day that came along, how did you feel when you went outside or went to do something? I bet you felt awesome (unless something else was going on in your life), but you do appreciate the nice days and take greater advantage of them when they do come.

    Even when you do head to India, part of you will always no long for Seattle and PNW. Come visit Portland, too!

  10. As we like to say here in San Francisco, this city is so great we need our weather to keep the casual fans away. If it wasn’t foggy and cold here when the sun was shining in the rest of CA – twice the number of people would want to live here. Although, given our nice sunny weather at the moment, I cannot complain. I have to say I enjoy these anecdotes on Ben’s life, it gives me a perspective on where he’s coming from in his reviews.

  11. As much as I enjoy your writing I have to say you’ve become one strange dude in your old age. But that’s what makes life (and your blog) interesting.

  12. Good lord, you really embarrass yourself. YOu claim to be a travel expert yet you never seem to actually experience anything, you only go through the motions for show. Enough with the fawning hello kitty worship – you have absolutely no understanding of asian people or asian culture, your pretentiousness notwithstanding. Please, Seattle has more than enough smug, self-important idiots who think they’re god’s gift to the world already, with hundreds more driving up from LA to resettle here daily. Yes, please go, and don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out. You will be so much happier living out of hotels in India, I’m sure – you will fit right in.

    By the way, the non-summer weather that you seem to be trying to appreciate – “there’s something to be said for how “cozy” Seattle is for nine months of the year” – you don’t even realize that we haven’t even HAD a winter for the past year. What you’ve experienced in the past 12 months is completely different from what it’s really like here. Flee now, before an actual authentic Seattle experience happens to you.

  13. Really enjoying these. I’m moving to Seattle (Bellevue) for work in April and I know it will be a culture shock coming from Dallas.

  14. @Luke — why would you waste your proverbial breath writing such a nasty tirade after reading a post you hate so much? Why are you even reading this blog? It’s not for you and nobody wants to hear your perspective.

    @Lucky — next time you’re in Hawaii (probably just in the Fall), check out the pumpkin mochi (and other flavors) at Foodland!

  15. That’s not really a Hello Kitty shrine. It is just a decor to usher in the Lunar New Year or Chinese New Year, just like christmas trees for Christmas.

  16. @Lauren-I enjoy reading other perspectives although I certainly don’t agree with all of them. Let’s keep things interesting here and not another echo chamber. Lucky/Ben can is able to fend for himself.

  17. Aww, very happy you have Fugetsu-Do mochi at your local market! Definitely some of the best mochi available. 🙂 I wonder if they are shipping it from the downtown LA / Little Tokyo shop. Just across the street from that Fugetsu-Do shop is a Mikawaya – the makers of the mochi ice cream found in Trader Joe’s. If you ever find yourself back in LA, you should stop by that area!

  18. Couple of things.

    I live in NY. Grew up here, moved away for 10 years, came back. I love it here but I do a lot of the same things over and over. Not boba, but the stuff I love. Because I love it.

    So cut the guy some slack if he has or hasn’t heard of a grocery store. (Which even I’ve heard of from here, but still…)

    Also – after living in SF for those 10 years – that weather isn’t cozy. I think the word you’re looking for is moist. It’s gross. And definitely not worth living in.

  19. Some pretty harsh comments here but I agree with the underlying message that it seems you spend your entire life not really getting to know any one place. Here’s a challenge for you- live in Seattle for one full month WITHOUT flying somewhere.

    I’m cutting back on some excess travel now and am finding it enjoyable to actually discover things near where I live.

  20. From time to time this can be a really tough audience. 🙁

    I enjoy these posts on living in Seattle/Bellevue, and I’m fine that they are not comprehensive reports on every little thing to be found there. If I want that, I’ll get a guidebook.

    It’s the flow of consciousness quality that makes them unique. For those not enjoying that, just skip over further posts on this topic.

    As for the suggestion that Lucky stop traveling for a month so he can totally explore the neighborhood, come on. Traveling is his job, and the posts on those travels is why we come here as often as we do.

  21. Funny your comments about the weather in Seattle and at the same time you are falling in love with the place. Same happens here in Minnesota. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, Minneapolis has an amazing weather. It is sunny, hot and you get sunshine until past 10PM. We have thousands of lakes and people just spend time outside. However, the rest of the year the weather is nasty but still people that live here love this place. We always hear that if Minneapolis had San Diego weather it would be the best place to live in the US. However, it would get too crowded and very expensive. 🙂

  22. For someone that travels the world as often as you do, I’m surprised at the reaction you had by finding a basic staple such as mochi at a local store.

    Get out of hotels and airport lounges and experience the world!

  23. Sunshine is overrated! As someone who moved to “Eastside” of Seattle 3 years ago, I have loved living here.

    Water brings life. I love the green trees, green grass, gorgeous lakes, snow-capped peaks, and cheap electricity. California is great for a visit, but the brown grass and bone-dry desert that flare up easily just isn’t for me.

    Water brings cool weather. We don’t get super hot or super cold here. I got tired of shoveling snow in Winter, and hiding indoors during Summer.

    We have a ton of outdoor activities, we have culture, we have good schools, we have low crime. Every year, several communities in the area are always listed as best places to live in America. I couldn’t agree more.

  24. Haha, wow, some of these comments really went to a negative place. I, for one, enjoy reading your more “bloggy” posts such as this.

  25. Ya, some of the comments are harsh, but unlike @Robert, who suggests he’d find any other updates in guidebooks, you may expect someone who lives in a place to actually invest time in finding things that are not in a guidebook and reporting THOSE back!

    Ben has made it clear many times that he doesnt stay places for very long (can’t remember if it’s 2-3 days), and I agree this is not a way to see places. Ferrying from airport to hotel to random nearby restaurant/bar is not a way to experience a place, meet the locals and get a feel for what you like. But that’s me, he’s made it clear you shouldnt expect otherwise!

  26. Many of the Asian restaurants in Bellevue serve bubble tea. It is not at all difficult to find, though the drive-through variety is indeed a rarity.

  27. Yes, the “weird looks” in Uwajimaya were due to the pajamas, and had nothing to do with being Caucasian. They probably thought you wandered down the street from Overlake Hospital!

  28. I sort of agree with the substance of some of the critical posts here (not the tone). It is definitely odd that you make only superficial attempts at getting to know the places you travel to. It certainly seems like you are running away from something, that you have fear of commitment, and that you have an unnatural obsession with defining your self-worth through airline/hotel status and the superiority it seemingly gives you over the peons you travel on the same tube with.

    I’ll never forget the post of yours where you were in BKK for two days and ate at the hotel the entire time. I mean in a town like BKK where there are so many amazing restaurants outside of the St. Regis…but I digress…

    My recommendation? Really commit to Seattle or another city of your choice. Make good friends to hang out with often. Meet a woman or man you feel passionate about and travel to places and really get to know them, ideally with said friends or man/woman.

    You may not be able to keep status on every airline known to man or fly 500k BIS miles a year, but I bet my bottom dollar that you would have a richer experience living life that way. You seem like such a nice guy that I genuinely wish you the best and hope you can find what can make you happy not just today, but for a lifetime.

    As someone about a decade older than you and also a heavy business traveler, let me tell you that heavy travel is getting much harder as you get older even in your 30s. I am getting to the point where I intentionally minimize my travel whenever possible. While that isn’t a big deal for me (Travel does ‘t earn my keep or define me), it would be a big deal for you given how you have structured your life to this point.

    All the best and good luck.

  29. Wow, Lucky. Your post provoked quite a reaction from some of your ‘fans’. I thought your post was good. Shouts out to the Great NW.

  30. Ben, please blow up CenturyLink Field on your way out the door. This “12th man” thing is out of hand.

  31. Wow, some rude elements were surely kicked out of tmz.com and ended up here!

    Seattle is a place I like to visit but in the summer. I love Scandinavia and miss it coupled with summers near the Baltic coast. Swedes, Danes and Norwegeans know how to enjoy the summers ( and vacations !). But I don’t live for the summer , I live IN the summer; this week it is sunny here in Miami Beach but in the 60s. To each it’s own and we should live in the place we feel most comfortable.

    This was a wonderful experience for you and you should never regret but the things you did not do in life.

    Heck I had no idea what “mochi” was until this article, so it sure helped me search for it!

  32. I can’t believe you’ve never been to Uwajimaya. Have you been to H-Mart? 99 Ranch? Daiso? Do John and I need to take you on a tour of Seattle? 😉

  33. The nasty comments are a bit ridiculous. Cripes people, Lucky has a job and his job requires BIS miles and quick turnarounds to produce content, content, content. Don’t come for the content and then complain he doesn’t have a life (or at least not a life that you want). If he ever concludes his business/lifestyle is getting in the way of more important things, I’m sure he’ll pivot appropriately.

  34. What’s with all of the negative comments? Seattle is a great place to live. For people who don’t think so, don’t move here. 🙂

    I lived in Seattle (suburb) for a couple years (working downtown on Capitol Hill) before I knew what (or where) Uwajimaya is/was. Most people only superficially know their own cities. Every now and then, I go to Seattle to “play tourist” and I’m always surprised at the new things I find.

  35. Considering Lucky has admitted he can’t cook, I don’t know why anyone is surprised he hasn’t heard of a grocery store, Asian or not. Why is that a reason to get all worked up or assume that means he hasn’t been out in the city he lives in? Grocery stores aren’t exactly the be-all end-all of a city.

    Anyway, Lucky, I enjoy your musings (even if I don’t get your Hello Kitty obsession). 🙂 I am someone who feels like cities have personalities, and it seems like Seattle’s personality appeals to you.

  36. Wow–blown away by some of the haters. Who forces you to read this blog? I like when Lucky writes musings like this for something different. It’s a carefree diversion from daily life and his travel posts are often informative as well as entertaining. If nothing else, I hope you feel better that you got those rants off your chest. 😉

  37. Variety is the spice of life! Even though your living situation isn’t airplane/airline/hotel review material, it does cover your TRAVEL and travails in life and helps us to get to know you better. You’re not just another writer scribbling about travel. Since it is done in moderation I find there to be no harm. In fact, my wife and I took a weekend trip to Seattle last month and we took a transit bus over to Belleview just to check it out (in large part because of your writings) and see how different it is from Seattle.
    When we left on the bus back to Seattle it went right past the Drive Thru Boba store under construction. I thought to myself – hah! so that’s the place Ben is so head over heels over!

    So keep up the good work – It’s entertaining reading your blog. Safe travels wherever life’s trail leads you to next.

  38. Geez, this has got to be some of the most rudest comments I’ve seen on this blog*. It’s impossible to know everything about a large city — especially something like an Asian food store.

    * — I also don’t understand why many commenters on that hotel living post got so focused on India when Lucky won’t spend an entire year living in the country — it’d just be one of many stopping points.

  39. @Ivan Y: There isn’t really anything to be said at this point regardless of viewpoint, except that Bellevue (Ben lives in Bellevue, NOT Seattle) is hardly a “large” city.

    Also, Ben stated that the supermarket is a few blocks away from his apartment. I think Ben not knowing about it reflects how much time Ben spends away from Bellevue.

  40. You seriously need to spend some time up in Vancouver! There’s a bubble shop on every other block not taken up by Starbucks (or coffee chain clone). Mochis are readily available at T&T, Fujiwara, Hmart, etc…and innumerable asian stores, bakeries, and supermarkets; they’re even available at a few mainstream supermarkets too. You don’t need to be asian to enough them.

    Although I’m not a fan of either, I do have some die-hard friends who even have their own special recipe….which they recite upon ordering like at those Starbuck-specialty-coffee-clone joints.

  41. Lucky
    If you still read old comments on your old posts, DO NOT WEAR pajamas outside your house. You do not want to be labeled a “Walmart person”. Google for Walmart Trash pics. And, you will see why I made my admonishment. Don’t even wear fleece pants outside of your house, even if they’re from Patagonia. You know about the airline pajamas thing, I would have thought you knew about not wearing pajamas anywhere.

  42. I know this is a really old post and you probably won’t read this comment, but I thought this would be the most appropriate place to suggest you move to Hawaii. Boba places are as pentiful as Starbucks here. Along with places to buy mochi.

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