While other 12-year-olds were skateboarding and playing video games, young Travis Post was watching Martin Yan and other chefs on cooking shows, and folding dumplings in cooking classes with Arizona housewives. This chef’s love of Chinese food runs very deep.
Now, more than 20 years later, he’s channeled that love into realizing his dream: Plenty of Clouds, his and wife Lisa Zack’s Chinese restaurant on Capitol Hill, opened in July.
Post and Zack are relative newcomers to Seattle. Post left Arizona for New York City, met Zack there, then moved here three years ago in an effort to be closer to West Coast family and find an awesome, affordable (cue the groans from lifelong Seattleites) city, he says. They’re both restaurant vets: He’s the chef, she’s the front-of-house, behind-the-scenes whiz. In Seattle, Post started cooking for Ethan Stowell; when Anchovies & Olives closed its doors at the end of 2017, he decided that dining room would be the right fit for Plenty of Clouds.
The name, which fits right in with Seattle’s ethos, is a nod to the two regions of China he draws inspiration from: Szechuan, which is known as “the land of plenty,” and Yunnan, which means “below the clouds.” The food is not Americanized Chinese, though as a non-Chinese person he’s hesitant to call it authentic, despite having traveled and eaten extensively through China. “I like to cook the food I want to eat,” Post says. “I hope other people are going to want to eat that, too. I cooked primarily Italian food for 15 years, but I’ve never stepped foot in Italy. Nobody’s ever asked if I was Italian. It’s about what you personally connect with—I feel like, in my eyes, our food is respectful and not fusion.”
TRAVELING MAN: Travis Post, chef/owner at Plenty of Clouds, has been inspired by his travels in China.
In fact, Post has a reference point, a travel memory, for each dish on the menu, from the amazingly textural dried beef salad with pea shoots and crunchy fava beans ($12) to the tongue-tingling chicken legs ($11), which incorporate the high-quality Szechuan peppercorns that American audiences may not be familiar with. The food here isn’t unbearably spicy—Post says that’s a misconception of Szechuan food in general—but it is a sensation: boldly flavored, spiced accordingly. Bring your family and order for the table; these are dishes best eaten in a group of all ages and shared generously.
Capitol Hill, 1550 15th Ave.; 206.279.5900