Din Tai Fung and phorritos (a pho burrito!) arrive at CenturyLink Field this season
Gone are the days when sports fans could be stereotyped as culinary simpletons who feasted solely on hot dogs, chicken wings and nachos. Don’t get me wrong, nachos are delicious, but Seattle palates can be far more sophisticated than that.
Back in April, even Safeco Field employees were shocked when the Poquitos Mexican food stand completely sold out of crispy, chile-lime grasshoppers served alongside their street tacos.
Now, CenturyLink Field is getting football fans in on the fun.
CenturyLink field’s Executive Chef, Michael Johnson, collaborated with the owner of Seattle’s Pho Cyclo to create a culinary portmanteau I’ve been dying to try for years: a phoritto.
“The phorrito, it’s rice noodles, it’s braised brisket, it’s got bean sprouts, it’s got Thai basil, it’s got sriracha and hoisin in it. We wrap that in a flour tortilla and then we serve it with a cup of pho broth.”
The broth is for dipping, like a Vietnamese-Mexican French dip.
“We were trying to figure out how to get pho in without making a mess,” Johnson told me at Seahawks training camp, where the media was given a taste. “The lady that owns Pho Cyclo and I had seen the same thing in the media and started tossing around the idea. We decided we were going to give it a shot.”
Pho is a Seattle staple and Chef Johnson says the goal, when curating the menus, is to represent as many corners of the city as possible. Which is why you can sit in the stands and watch the Seahawks while enjoying a gooey bowl of Beecher’s mac and cheese or crispy fried chicken and waffles from Ezell’s. At the new Stadium Street Market, each game will feature four different local chefs showcasing their restaurant’s food. The new Night Market allows Seahawks fans to try food from restaurants in Seattle’s International District, Pioneer Square and SODO neighborhoods.
But if you ask me, the most exciting new addition of all is Din Tai Fung, a Taiwanese soup dumpling chain with four Seattle-area locations and a perpetual line out the door.
“New partner this year,” Johnson said. “They’ll be on Club Level and Upper Level. What we brought today is pork won tons with spicy sauce and a pork steamed bun.”
For the second year in a row, Seastar chef John Howie has created some new menu items.
“Including a crispy salmon with a coconut curry sauce,” Chef Howie said. “We’ve got a prawn cocktail that has a nice wasabi sauce to it and we’ve got a corn and crab chowder that people are going to really love, topped with a little corn fritter.”
He said a stadium menu has to be more portable than what he serves in his restaurants.
“We’ve got a really great new Hawaiian poke. That’s stuff that you can actually walk with a bowl and eat out of. We’ve got a coconut shrimp with a Thai dipping sauce, that’s amazing, and those you can just walk along and eat as well. But you want it to be something they can eat fairly easily in their seat that’s not difficult. You don’t want the food falling all over them.”
The stadium has gotten more environmentally conscious as well. Chef Johnson says they’ve gone completely compostable.
“We send our compostables to Cedar Grove, they make compost out of it,” Chef Johnson said. “They’re sending it to a farm which they’re growing organic vegetables out of and we’re buying vegetables from that farm. You probably won’t find that on any of the concessions menus because it’s still a small, growing thing. But on our catering and suites menus we do incorporate those vegetables into their menus and we’re pretty excited about that.”
But no matter how fancy, exotic or varied the menu gets, Chef Johnson says some things will always stay the same.
“These will be popular but our top sellers will always be hot dogs and beer.”
Click here to see where in the stadium the new items will be served.