Country Dough, from Seattle chef Cheng Biao Yang, is a small eatery crammed into a corner of Pike Place market. To find this place, locate the crowd waiting to enter the original Starbucks store, find the sign/doorway about halfway through the line, and walk all the way to the end.
Whether by design or by choice, this is a place that eschews appearances. The menu consists of Szechuan flatbread sandwiches, crepes, noodles, and soups.
They also sell boxes of American ginseng for purchase, for whatever reason. Around the ordering counter is the “kitchen and bakery” where middle-aged Asian men are busy forming the dough and baking/frying the bread used for the flatbread sandwiches.
Szechuan Flatbread with Chicken ($5, in front) and Stewed Meat Flatbread with Chicken ($5, in back)
The freshly prepared bread was good, having a charred crust, and a layer of doughiness underneath. The Szechuan version had a dressing with the expected numbing/tingling spiciness. The stewed version had a dressing that suggested soy, five spice, and star anise. The sandwiches also had lettuce to provide crunch, pickled cucumbers for acidity, and cilantro for fragrance. The main problem was the chicken – so minced that I had a difficult time even tasting it.
Hot & Sour Soup ($4)
The flavor is consistent with what you would expect from an Americanized Chinese restaurant or buffet. The version here had too much thickening agent. As a result, even though the soup was warm, I found unappetizing jello-ish clumps of soup.
So what’s the verdict? Country Dough is a welcomed novelty for eats in Seattle. There are few places like this in the Pacific Northwest. The place also looks like a family operation to me, with friendly people manning the counter. The prices are very reasonable, and you can have a decent snack/meal for around $10 per person. Having said that, there are some disappointing issues with execution. But, this will be a place that I revisit on occasion when I am in the mood for something different.