The Sodos sisters did not plan to run three restaurants in Seattle. The import of many chili peppers into New Mexico reminds them of their youth.

Like many college students, Yukiko Sodos longed to try his hand at home while attending Washington University in the early 1990s. Albuquerque was home, where she and her sister Miki Sodos grew up, so naturally she went to look for chili peppers. In New Mexico, she says, “Green chili cheeseburgers look like espresso here.” But the green peppers she bought at QFC didn’t look like the chili she was used to. “I did not know that there are other types of chili peppers.”

Holiday Bang Bang Kitchen

To celebrate its first year in business, on Saturday, January 13, from 15:00. Till 10 p.m. Bang Bang Kitchen will offer handmade mini tamalas with New Mexico Hatch green and red chili for tasting.

These days, Sodos sisters import New Mexico Chilean pallets for burritos, hamburgers, gourmets and menu items at Bang Bang Café in Belltown and Bang Bang Kitchen in Othello, two of their three restaurants in Seattle. (Third, the Pettirosso cafe on Capitol Hill has a distinctly Mediterranean leaning.)

Becoming a restaurateur was not the sister’s original plan. Yukiko, the eldest, worked at the Pettirosso Cafe as a barista and baker, as well as at the Japanese restaurant Hana, but, studying Japanese literature, she hoped to teach English in Japan. Miki, three years younger, had been working in the food service industry since she was 16, but after graduating from a political scientist, she was going to study law school. In 2002, both were about 20 years old when they learned that their mother was dying of cancer. They pressed the pause button in their lives in Seattle and headed home.

Their mother, AnJa, was born in Tokyo. She was a go-go dancer in San Francisco when she met Ron Sodos on a Hawaiian vacation. According to his daughter, a New Yorker of Russian / Polish heritage (Chodes surname was changed to Sodos on Ellis Island), Ron was “a hippie who played steel guitar.” Anji’s desire was to spend her last days in Hawaii. Her daughters were with her. They still have a pair of her white go-go boots.

It was a devastating year for their family. Shortly before the death of his wife, Ron Sodos also lost his mother and sister. Then he suffered a heart attack. The sisters stayed in Albuquerque to take care of him. Almost four years have passed.

Yukiko worked in the healthcare industry. Miki studied at a car school. A summer stay in Southern California shocked them from funk.

“We decided after all the sad things in our lives, we wanted to do something crazy and without obligation,” says Yukiko. Together with a friend from Seattle who was also recovering from an injury, the women rented a house on Mission Beach in San Diego and traveled to Los Angeles most of the weekends. “By the end of the summer, my sister and I realized that Seattle is our home, and we returned.”

These years “have changed both of us internally,” Mickey says. “Your perspectives are changing.” They returned to Seattle without a real plan, but there was an opportunity to open a Bang Bang Café. “We knew this was a huge risk, but thought:“ Why not? Life is so short. ‘ “

From those first years of work in the cafe, Yukiko recalls: “It was so fun and amazing that I baked every day. Mickey was cooking, and we drew inspiration daily when we built a wonderful community in Belltown. ” Two years later, Robin Wright, founder of the Pettirosso Cafe, invited the sisters to take this restaurant. They felt they should do it: “Although we were busy with the Bang Bang Café,” says Yukiko.

They expanded and remade Pettirosso, learning a lot in the process. On New Year’s Day, 2019, they opened Bang Bang Kitchen near the Othello light rail station. As a full-service restaurant and bar, this is a larger and more ambitious version of the cafe. They personalized it with the help of magical frescoes, the work of artist Walter Portz, a family friend who included images inspired by sisters’ childhood memories. They were attracted to the location of South Seattle due to the cultural diversity of the area. “Albuquerque is also very diverse,” says Mickey. “No matter what color you are there, everyone is a new Mexican.”

Like the vibrant red and green chilies in New Mexico, Bang Bang Kitchen uses them with amazing energy, the neighborhood reminds them of a home.

Bang Bang Kitchen Corn Pancakes with Green Chilean Butter

In the restaurant you will find these pancakes on the brunch menu, served with crispy chicken wings with chili and honey glaze. Chef Chris Liking says that dough and butter are best prepared in advance, allowing aromas to develop.

For pancakes:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup yellow coarse yellow cornmeal

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon of baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

Beat 1 cup whole milk with 1 tablespoon distilled vinegar

1/4 cup honey

2 large eggs

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly chilled

1. In a large bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

2. Make a well in the center and add milk, honey and eggs.

3. Mix well to mix, then add the slightly cooled melted butter. Mix again until mixed; do not mix

Makes 12-14 pancakes. Prepare the batter at least one or two hours before one day.

For compound oil:

8 tablespoons softened butter

2-3 tablespoons of canned hatch of hot green chilli, chopped (they prefer the Los Roast brand)

A pinch of salt

1 teaspoon of honey

1. Pound the butter on the cutting board with a fork or in a bowl with a mixer.

2. Mix the other ingredients until the butter is creamy and smooth.

3. Form into a rough log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Fold tightly into plastic wrap to give shape and smoothness. Refrigerate until ready to use.

The taste will improve in a few days. Cut the butter into coins and put one or two on the hot pancakes.

Providence Cicero
former restaurant critic Seattle Times. Get to her at Follow on Twitter and Instagram @provicicero.