Int'l District for Newbies
Have an unadventurous husband that is finally agreeing to go with me to dinner in the Int'l District. I need help on picking the best restaurant to try for dinner.... it may be the only chance I get to prove to him that it is worth more trips
Love: fresh Vietnamese food, Japanese food, asian/pan asian, familiar ingredients (to start)
Don't like: overly greasy Chinese dishes, nothing to sweetly-sauced
For Vietnamese, Tamarind Tree serves excellent, fresh tasting food. It has a huge menu of choices ranging from the adventurous to the more pedestrian. As a bonus, it is a great value. While I have never tried it, Green Leaf is also highly touted on this board, perhaps more highly than Tamarind Tree.
For Japanese, I think both Maneki and Takohachi are more than worthwhile. Maneki is arguably Seattle's oldest restaurant (same say more than 100 years), and it serves sushi but also hearty homestyle dishes like croquettes, skewered meats (yakitori, etc), tonkatsu (fried pork) that even the most xenophobic diners could get into. Takohachi serves mostly the homestyle dishes, but you must visit soon as it will reportedly close at the end of May.
I can't comment on pan-asian; I try to avoid it, following a rule stated in the NY times a while back that when a restaurant attempts 3 or more cuisines, the results usually are not good.
The last time I was at Maneki the oil used for deep frying was WAY too old. Not going there anymore. Takohachi is a great place but will be closing in early June. The bento box there is a wonderful choice and a real bargain and very approachable for nonadventurous eaters (grilled salmon, a piece of chicken, marinated cold veggies, Japanese omelet, rice). Salmon gyoza are tasty. My favorite Vietnamese is Green Leaf. Try the green mango or green papaya salad with grilled shrimp--my choice for the best salad in Seattle of any kind. The Vietnamese also do great things with grilled pork. Practically any Vietnamese place that serves the grilled pork with the veggie salad to wrap or on top of noodles is good. Tsukushinbo is a very nice Japanese cafe. Best Japanese noodles in town--their tempura is also extremely good (no problem with old oil here or being too greasy), and of course, everyone loves tempura. Just tell your husband it's like fish and chips only with shrimp instead of fish and various types of veggies (usually green beans, broccoli, squash, sweet potato) rather than white potatoes. Shanghai Garden's moo shoo pork (or moo shoo anything else) is very good--not the least bit greasy and they'll wrap it in the pancake in front of you. Sea Garden has scrumptious fried chicken and the seafood there is good.
More support here for Green Leaf and Takohachi. I'm also a big fan of Maekawa Bar; a great Japanese restaurant with lots of small plate options that you can't find anywhere else and a good range of dishes for both the intrepid and less adventurous eaters. Kau Kau BBQ also has some of the best roast pig in the city and Samurai Noodle makes a mean bowl of ramen. Strolling the aisles of Uwajimaya is a definate ID must as well.
There are so many good restaurants in the ID that I've had to use a filter to reduce the choices. Due to a recent severe illness, I've become much more focused on the cleanliness of a restaurant. I use the online King Co restaurant inspections to eliminate those with rather high scores. Give it a try you'll be amazed at some scores attained www.metrokc.gov/health/foodsfty/inspe... Some restaurants are always clean, some have good and bad months, others are to be avoided like the plague.
That said I always enjoy the Phnom Pen Noodle House on S. King St. A very consistant clean inspection record. You can be very adventerous or staid in your choices and I enjoy their version of Cambodian food. By the same token, I wouldn't eat at Sun Ya anymore due to health reasons.
Tamarind Tree is perfect for the unadventurous, but little advance-work might be in order. Vietnamese food has loads of gentle deliciosities, but it might be good to ascertain which dishes have lots of fish-sauce and avoid these. Tamarind Tree's ambiance and full bar will help put hubby at ease. Green Leaf also good, but lacked the bar, last I knew. Hot-Pot at Seven Stars may also satisfy. You take out what you choose to put in, which may be a comfort.
Dim-Sum at House of Hong is pretty plain vanilla (though others may have more recs).