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obscure Asian in Seattle

I will be in Seattle for the rest of the week. I'm a fan of Asian food, so I think I'll be in heaven just wandering around, but I'd like some recommendations.

I'm looking for something I'm not so familiar with. I've eaten Thai (Southern & Northern), Lao, Cambodian, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Nepalese, Indian, Sri Lankan, and Pakistani many times. I'm less familiar with Malay, Filipino, Burmese, and probably much of the lesser known Chinese cuisine, for example.

Also, I'm not necessarily a stickler for traditional Asian food, so any interesting Asian food of any kind that might surprise me is welcome. I'm not necessarily looking for a challenge either--no need for insects or brains. Spicy food, however, gets a plus.

I'll be staying downtown, but I'll have a car.

Thanks for feeding me, Chowhound.

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  1. Interesting question. The following might have some new flavors for you:

    Malay Satay Hut

    Coupage - Korean/French fusion

    Cafe Zum Zum - simple but delicious Pakistani curries - probably different from what you've had - get a split order, half lamb and half veggies - downtown, weekday lunch only, very casual

    Udupi Palace - South Indian in Crossroads Mall, Bellevue - excellent lunch buffet as well as menu for lunch & dinner

    Tamarind Tree - I know you've had Vietnamese, but this place has an unusually extensive menu and it's all great

    Kawon - the best Korean in the Seattle area, but it's a half hour drive north in Lynnwood; I just tried it today for the first time (with a Korean friend who knows her food)!

    Pam's Kitchen - Trinidadian - 50th & University - and yes, I know this isn't Asian!

    5 Replies
    1. re: BruceB

      Excellent! This is just what I'm looking for.

      1. re: BruceB

        Great suggestions. We found the service at Kawon to be very rude and very unresponsive though when we went, so we walked out and went to Hosoonyi instead.

        1. re: barleywino

          Big second for for Hosoonyi
          and I'd add Green Leaf for Vietnamese.

          1. re: barleywino

            I found it to be so unresponsive that I can't even say whether it was rude or not. But the food made up for it.

            1. re: barleywino

              They're not rude. It's just a by-product of cheap management having only 1 or 2 waitresses serving the entire restaurant (150-200 people at full capacity?)

              The food's worth it, though.

          2. Samurai Noodle House in the International District next to Uwajamya. The Tetsu Hellfire is my new favorite thing. Homemade ramen noodles served alngside a bowl of the spiciest broth I've ever had in a restaurant. The broth also contains roast pork and bamboo shoots. Although I always order it with extra pork and extra noodles.

            2 Replies
            1. re: hhlodesign

              Thank you HH, that is one very fun and tasty dish.

              1. re: hhlodesign

                And another entry in the flame wars: Spicy Beef Strips at Szechuan Bean Flower.
                Ask for it Szechuan style. whew...

              2. Also consider braving MLK Way South (an excavated construction zone) to go to Salima Restaurant -- ethnic Cham cuisine. www.salimarestaurant.com. Totally worthwhile.

                17 Replies
                1. re: ssusu

                  I agree with ssusu about Salima; their tamarind fish sauce with toasted chiles is narcotic.

                  It seems that szechuan fits the bill: 7 Stars Pepper in the ID, or Szechuan Chef and Bamboo Garden in bellevue. I've heard there is a new place called "Szechuan 99" up north in shoreline too.

                  Also, taiwanese: Rocking Wok in wallingford, or Facing East and Yea's Wok on the eastside.

                  Perhaps the most notable restaurant name in the city, "Jack's Tapas Cafe, Mainly Chinese", in the U-district serves some Northern Chinese specialties.

                  Also, I am sure there are decent filipino restaurants around, but I'm not familiar with those; maybe someone else can weigh in.

                  1. re: equinoise

                    I was going to chime in with the same 3 Taiwanese recommendations.

                    1. re: equinoise

                      i went to salima in february. i don't think they're getting much business because of the construction. we were the only ones there, and my chicken tasted like it was on the verge of going bad. really nice people, though.

                      1. re: equinoise

                        I tried Facing East and they really do try to deliver Taiwan favorites. I especially enjoyed the Taiwanese Chowmein. The noodle texture was fantastic.
                        I have not been to Yea's Wok. There are a lot of raves on Yelp, but they all seem to mention mostly Cantonese dishes. What do they serve that represents Taiwan?

                        1. re: kirkj

                          My husband likes their pork ball soup (a thick soup, almost a gravy consistency) and of course stinky tofu. I'm not sure what else is specifically Taiwanese (just not familiar enough with the culture) but their sea bass steak is excellent, if it's on the menu.

                          1. re: ethereal

                            Just tried Yea's. Stinky Tofu was ok. Sea Bass was good. Clams in Black Bean Sauce was the best I've ever had. It was soooo good.

                            1. re: kirkj

                              My husband prefers the steamed stinky tofu, which we (thankfully) haven't seen here in Seattle. Thanks for the rec re: the clams, we'll be sure to add that to our menu next time.

                        2. re: equinoise

                          On the Szechuan tip, I really like the place simply named "Sichuanese Cuisine" near 12th & Jackson as well. Had some nice bright, hot dishes there.

                          1. re: terrier

                            the sichuanese boiled fish is excellent ... despite being called boiled. it is addictive!

                            1. re: oliveoyl

                              No doubt. The water boiled fish at Bamboo Garden in Bellevue, listed as "fish in hot and spicy gravy", is my early candidate for the best dish I've had this year. The whole numbing, buzzy thing from szechuan peppercorns just adds another dimension to gustatory pleasures.

                              1. re: equinoise

                                I tried Sichuanese Cuisine on Jackson last night and was dissapointed in the absence of sichuan peppercorns from both the "chengdu noodles" and the hot pot. The noodles in particular were dominated by a cloying peanut sauce that paled in comparison to the fiery stuff topping hand shaven noodles offered at 7 Stars and the Bellevue Sichuanese spots Bamboo Garden and Szechuan Chef. Cuisine's timid version was more similar to Szechuan Noodle Bowl's but not as good. Certain dishes there, such as the dry cooked string beans, looked more promising, and the place seems to have a very friendly atmosphere.

                          2. re: equinoise

                            My wife (Taiwanese born) and I (ABC, Taiwanese parents) went to Facing East last night with the kids. A culinary delight bringing back the comforts of the old country. We heard other Taiwanese speaking diners at a few other tables saying "Zan!" and making their way to the kitchen to thank the chef. My young kids loved it too - looks like that Taiwanese is being passed on to the next generation.

                            We're anxious to try Rocking and Yea's.

                            1. re: country bumpkin

                              what did you order? i've tried Rocking Wok several times but have not found any items i liked (the soup dumplings have no soup). I did enjoy Yea's the one time i went.

                              1. re: barleywino

                                We like the shrimp roll, pork bun and fried rice vermicelli especially. A few dried shrimp in the rice vermicelli would make it even better. Though the filling of the Ba Wan/ Rou yuan (meat in sticky rice) could have been a little more generous, the shell a little thinner, it was tasty. The oyster fry was a little on the sweet side and could have been a little firmer. The Rou geng mien could have used a little more rou geng but was also tasty.
                                The above are considered some nuances that did not detract from the experience.

                                Overall, a very delightful place to eat that brought back some good memories. I closed my eyes and imagined myself eating under a canopy on a metal stool at a small round table with the bare light bulbs with the hustle of the night market around me. I was hoping to swig some Taiwan beer and get some stinky tofu and bamboo wrapped sticky rice. Made me want to get some mung bean shave ice to wrap things up and maybe some mango milk.

                                I would like to try the chicken rice (Chiayi) and cuttlefish geng next time. We will be back.

                                1. re: country bumpkin

                                  Now I want to eat some peanut or red bean mochi, too.

                                  1. re: country bumpkin

                                    Might I recommend stopping at Fresh Flours on Greenwood and sampling the green tea bread with red bean? It's delish. It isn't mochi, but... it's worth the trip (in my book). It's also available in Muffin form, also top notch. They also have an azuki brioche, iirc.

                        3. I second Jack's Tapas and 7 Star Pepper, you could also try Chiang's Gourmet in Lake City on the weekends for their Taiwainese Breakfast Specials.
                          -Fu Man Dumpling House and Kusina Filipina are also tasty.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: bergeo

                            Just reporting on lunch at Jacks: Had "Sour Napa with Lamb Stir Fry"
                            and shaved noodle stir fry. I think both qualify as treasures.
                            The "Ten vegetarian treasures" app was OK, though we did not treasure it.

                            1. re: bergeo

                              Just reporting on lunch at Jacks: Had "Sour Napa with Lamb Stir Fry"
                              and shaved noodle stir fry. I think both qualify as treasures.
                              The "Ten vegetarian treasures" app was OK, though we did not treasure it so much.

                            2. many great suggestions ..I'd also add sea garden in the international district ..if only for the fun of ordering salt & peppper prawns & dungeness crab with black bean sauce & having the server bring them out live first ...
                              speaking of crab has anyone had the crab at Green Leaf??

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: oliveoyl

                                If you're looking for good food over good service, try the Mirak. It's a small Korean place with some great cook at the table selections.

                                1. re: hannaone

                                  I think Mirak along with Kawon are the best Korean restaurants in Seattle. Mirak is the only thing worth making the trip down to the cultural wasteland of Federal Way for. They have a prix fixe meal for $20. You get enough food for 4-5 people. Their food is very reasonably priced and high quality. Weekdays feature a $5 lunch special with bulgogi beef, rice, and chanban - I don't see how they would not lose money on this one.

                              2. also obscure but convenient for downtown lunch is the (mostly) Korean buffet in the food court at Century Square plaza (on 3rd just north of Pike); best to go early for optimal freshness and availability of items

                                1. indonesian food at Indo Cafe... northgate area. it's better than the other indonesian restaurant in the university district.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. For future reference (I know this reply is late).

                                    Ft. St. George and Purple Dot Cafe (and to some extent 663) in the Int'l Dist have fusion Asian food similar to the cafes in the San Gabriel Valley in SoCal. Bolognese sauce on baked pork chops on egg and rice kind of thing.

                                    7 Replies
                                    1. re: HungWeiLo

                                      has the new place replacing Takohachi opened yet? on another note, i was pleasantly surprised by the beef/chicken fried rice with a fried egg on top at Triple Door (under Wild Ginger)-- it has some sort of nutmeg or something in it which i can't quite identify (or maybe it's pork sung?).

                                      1. re: barleywino

                                        Yeah, I haven't been to the Takohachi replacement but it doesn't look too interesting from the outside.

                                        Pork sung at the Triple Door? I thought that was a cocktail bar...

                                        1. re: HungWeiLo

                                          they have a very abbreviated and more pedestrian version of the Wild Ginger menu...and more of a dive bar feel

                                          1. re: HungWeiLo

                                            looks like Takohachi won't reopen for at least another month

                                            1. re: barleywino

                                              Weird. While at Shiro's on Sunday he said it had reopened with a new owner. Was hoping to get some Japanese Curry in the near future. Is there somewhere else? Have heard Maekawa has it but don't remember seeing it on the menu.

                                              1. re: eternalX

                                                Tsukushinbo, in the ID/Nihonmachi (515 S. Main), can hook you up with some kare udon.

                                                Went last Friday for lunch and greatly enjoyed their shoyu ramen - really the best ramen I've had in Seattle.

                                                The main downside is the slow and scatterbrained service.

                                                1. re: eternalX

                                                  yeah i was disappointed to arrive there and see the interior of Takohachi filled with lumber and sawdust etc (not to mention the owner(s) and a growling dog). The sign on the door says "Opening mid August" but it looks a long way from opening. Ditto on Tsukushinbo for curry (and their slow service). Another option for curry is Mashiko (at least the last time i was there they had a great veggie green curry) and (for very basic curry, their food is overall subpar, avoid the pathetic tempura and anything with beef) Koji Osakaya. While we're on the subject, does anybody in Seattle make a decent tempura? even Nishino can't seem to get it right (too soggy and heavy)

                                        2. Szechuan 99 in Lynnwood is a great place for Szechuan. It's Chef Huang who used to own Szechuan Bean Flower. The most unique, hard to find, menu items are the house made tofu dishes and they are worth the drive. The fish with bean curd is really good. Most of the chef's specialties [marked on the menu] are good choices.

                                          As others have said, Udupi Palace for Southern Indian.

                                          Fu Man Dumpling House is good for soup and dumplings. The most unusual items are the pork and beef "burgers". The vege dish was not that great and noodles weren't really that exciting.

                                          I also wasn't impressed with Indo Cafe. Wanted to like it and did like the noodle dish but the chicken dish tasted kind of like the chicken wasn't very fresh.

                                          Wild Ginger is definitely worth a stop. The Laksa soup was really excellent.