With the end of a holiday season and a new year upon us, I made some cooking related resolutions. This year, I wanted to cook more and better. Thus, the Cook the Books challenge! Get with it if you don’t know about the fun challenge that my pal Meg and I dreamed up and made a reality. Yay for us! We did it! We had a few drinks and came up with this and some people are participating! Sweet!
Another cooking related resolution I had was to be better prepared in the kitchen. Or, in other words, as Cathy might say, it was time for me to shop till I dropped for some new kitchen items. Or until I bought the things that I’d hastily scribbled down on a library receipt!
Which of course leads me to show you (again) one of my favorite moments from 30 Rock ever. Only two episodes left! Nooooooooo!
How good were Tina and Amy at the Golden Globes this past Sunday? Dog President!
Oh and Amy and the Cloonster canoodling? Awesome.
Where do you get your cooking/kitchen supplies? I’ve always been intrigued by restaurant supply stores. Partially because of my dream (deferred)/alternate reality fantasy where I didn’t rack up tons of student loan debt and only have to deal with people in extreme crisis, and instead and have a really fun job I love where I get to be creative and work with food. Let me dream, jerks! And partially because there are fun and shiny things inside of these stores! For years I passed these compelling shops on my way to work. From their beckoning windows I could see really large stainless steel bowls! Whisks as far as the eye can see! Frothers! I wanna froth something! Chef’s hats! Maybe I should just wear one around the house to amuse myself and the pets!
I had gone to one of these restaurant supply stores before, but I was overwhelmed. You kinda need to go with a plan, or you’ll just wander around, wondering who needs such large whisks and mentally giving the other customers back stories.
So on a recent Saturday afternoon whilst Double S was out of town, I took a field trip to two of the most recommended restaurant supply stores in Seattle. Dong Vinh and Dick’s Restaurant Supply. Yep, Dong and Dick. I’ll go ahead and let you come up with some jokes here. Don’t worry. I’ll wait.
You done, you sick pervert?
Ok, so restaurant supply stores sell many items appropriate for the serious/adventurous home cook. I live near a Bed Bath and Beyond and go there for supplies when I’ve not properly prepared and gotten things in advance, and the kitchen supplies that place sells kind of suck. I was in the market for a new mandoline, as the awesome one I’d had for a few years had broken, and the choices were paltry at best and not going to withstand the amount of use that I’ll give them. I miss my broken fancy mandoline I went there to replace. RIP little red mandoline that cut so many onions for me over the years.
Anyway, restaurant supply stores! They are so fun, friends! I went to two so I could do a compare/contrast type of deal. I did some research before I left the house, and heard that Dong Vinh was cheaper than Dick’s but that both were recommended. Since they are across the street from one another, I went to both.
I started at Dong Vinh.
Dong Vinh is a pretty industrial looking place, and there is a focus on more Asian cooking supplies: steamers, Japanese knives, etc. When you enter the store there are long aisles with items that run the size gamut. Tiny whisks to giant whisks! Itsy bitsy tea spoons to the biggest ladle you’ve ever seen. Most everything is just in cardboard boxes in stacks, but the selection is there and the prices are clearly marked and seemed reasonable to downright inexpensive.
Dong Vinh has about 5-6 long aisles of kitchen supplies applicable to the home cook. They also have a back section with things like tables and chairs, industrial coffee makers, and the like, for the restaurant types. The front is dedicated to tableware.
I wanted plates for my blog, to take pretty food pictures like all the other cool bloggers do And in white, too, to showcase the food, not the weird old thrift shop plate that i have it on. I got some nice square white plates that will be perfect for that purpose. I also got several supplies for next month’s Cook the Books Challenge cookbook, Asian Dumplings. I got large soup bowls for Double S and I. We eat a lot of soup, and these puppies have plenty of room for noodles, dumplings, tasty broth, and the like. Here are the new plates and bowls.
I also got a dumpling rolling pin, which is much smaller than the standard rolling pin. Dong Vinh has pretty much any size rolling pin you’d need.
Dong Vinh has a nice selection of inexpensive but good Japanese knives as well. I got one for around $25 that I’ve been liking so far. I’ve had one before that Double S brought into this relationship, but it got lost in all our travels.
If you know me or have ever read my blog, you know I love big ridiculous cooking projects. True story! I got some accoutrements that will facilitate my over exuberant silliness for years to come. Like…a full sheet pan! It doesn’t even fit in my oven, but hey, you never know! My grandpa was a baker, so I felt good about the purchase.
My grandpa would be proud.
An 8qt plastic tub! I’m seeing big batches of brine without having to use every bowl in the house!
A really large stainless steel bowl! I’m seeing myself hand tossing kimchi and cortido and kraut without it flying all over the kitchen! I’m seeing room to put rubs on meat! I’m seeing the biggest big salad! Good times.
At the register, the owners were friendly, explained the itemized bill, and applied a standard discount depending on how much you spent. Sweet! Dong Vinh is recommended for no frills, lower priced kitchen supplies. Here’s my haul from Dong Vinh:
Next, I headed across the street to Dick’s Restaurant Supply.
Right off the bat, there are a few differences. The place is cleaner, fancier, more organized, and more expensive. They have a larger selection of cookware for the home cook, but still none of the brands I went there to find. I’ll probably stick with buying cookware online.
They have more specialty items, like cake decorating and baking supplies that Dong Vinh doesn’t have. In fact, the whole reason I got the idea to go to the restaurant supply was because I needed a pastry bag to make the eclairs in Around My French Table for a dinner party this weekend that Meg and I are having. We are making so much food it’s ridic! I can’t wait! We’ll tell you about it soon! Dick’s has pastry bags and boxes of different decorating tips as well. I got mine!
Dick’s also has gigantic tools for bread making.
So if you’re in the market for supplies for baking, breadmaking, and pastry making, Dick’s is definitely the way to go over Dong Vinh.
Dick’s also has a section focused on alcohol and bartending, another thing that Dong Vinh does not have. Dick’s also had these big glass vessels for drinks.
Why do I always want one of these? I always imagine myself hosting a wildly successful summer BBQ, impressing all my friends with the food, the music, and delicious drinks sitting in these, with fancy stuff like basil chiffonade or supremed tangerines floating near the top. Then I remembered that I always think having a party is a pain in the ass, so I passed.
Dick’s has a bit more variety on the items it does carry, is better lit, and appears fancier. But in the end, I think Dick’s and Dong Vinh each have their place. They do not carry the same stock. Also, I would advise stopping by Dong Vinh first, since these stores are across the street from each other. You can often get a better deal at Dong Vinh for the same item, so check there first. I got a chinois at Dong Vinh, and they are cheaper than at Dick’s and of the same quality.
Dick’s also has a pretty cool back area where they sell used items, gas ranges, and other odds and ends. Their used items are big ticket items, so don’t go expecting a bargain on Le Creuset cookware or something. More like ranges, fridges, and the like. You can find some fun odd and ends though. I totally wanted this!
And meat slicers! Meat slicers are another irrational kitchen desire of mine. How much meat does a household of two really need to slice though?
Dick’s also has a larger, but surprisingly not that large, selection of knives. If you’re in the market for knives, I’d stick with going online or to a knife specialty shop. They do have the famous Boos cutting boards though.
I was tempted, but I want to try to make my own butcher block! Yeah, I know.
In the end, here was my haul from Dick’s.
On my way home, I went to an Asian grocery store in White Center. I was in the market for a good steamer for next month’s dumpling making. The steamers at Dick’s were pricey, and the ones at Dong Vinh were surprisingly small. I found one! Get ready, February Cook the Books Challenge. I’m coming for ya!
So my kitchen is stocked now! Time to get cooking!