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International Distict Can't Miss?

I am slowly working my way around the seattle culinary scene... one of my last stops is the ID. What are the must try food items? What are the must experience restaurant ambiences? What are the top places for say- dim sum, noodles, sushi, speciality ethnic cuisine, etc? Basically if there is an amazing bakery item, tour, lunch spot, specialty sauce, regional invention, etc- I want to know about it :) Thank you in advance for your help with names, locations, and advice!*

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  1. Pho Bac, 415 7th Ave S. Get the pho tai chin. Recommend going during the week before the lunch rush.

    1. There are not too many places I like in ID, but here are the standouts (not necessarily ALL outstanding food, but at least they serve special stuff that's at least worth a consideration):

      Seven Star Pepper (Jackson and 12th)
      Binh Huong (Jackson and 12th, in a strip mall - best non-pho Vietnamese I've had in Seattle)
      Mike's Noodle House (4th and Maynard) - go before 11:30am for any chance of seats
      Purple Dot Cafe (5th and Maynard) - open until 3am? for late night snacking
      663 (6th and Weller?)
      Ft. St. George (6th and King) - for when you crave weird Japanese fusion Western food; much better now that they don't allow smoking

      1. tea garden dim sum (ranier and dearborn)
        Shanghai garden barley green hand shaved noodles (NW of Uwajymia)
        Not really ID, but 12 and Jackson: Sichuanese Cuisine and Malay Satay hut.

        1. Tsukushinbo for Japanese noodles (udon, soba), tempura, and sushi. Some people swear by Maneki, but I've smelled too old frying oil way too many times there--never a problem at Tsukushinbo. Green Leaf for green papaya or green mango salad, banh xeo and good tofu dishes. Canton Wonton House for wonton/sui kau noodle soup. King's Barbecue for Chinese barbecue (take out only). Mon Hei for egg custard tarts. Sea Garden for Chinese fried chicken and clams in black bean sauce and oysters with green onions. Listing these is making me too hungry! Pho Bac at the head of Rainier Ave. South and Jackson for pho (used to be known for a bright pink building--they repainted, alas!) Malay Satay Hut for roti canai (a must!), char kway teow and a variety of other Malaysian/Singaporean dishes.

          1 Reply
          1. re: PAO

            Should have also mentioned any of the mu shu dishes at Shanghai Garden (pork, shrimp, hcicken, vegetarian). Not the least bit greasy and very flavorful

          2. Samurai noodle shop for the tonkotsu "armour bowl special" ramen; ditto Mike's Noodle (for fish congee, wilted lettuce, side of beef stew (PS you can pass on their fried cruller)); Fu Lin for the lunch combos,Taiwanese pork chop, gyoza, spicy (not really) boiled dumplings

            2 Replies
            1. re: barleywino

              Samurai's "Tetsu hellfire" has fine flavor and is exhibit one in the case for flavorful heat.
              Green Leaf's Bahn Xeo has lovely flavor of coconut milk in the batter.
              Lotus root salad, too.
              Tamarind tree is an outstandingly stylish house. Check out the cement work at the facade (and thr fountain?) and the lavatories.
              The Bon Bon, papaya and mango salads are all good. Don't miss the Tamarind Tree rolls, coconut drink. For a real scene, get the 7 courses of beef.

              1. re: barleywino

                Went to Fu Lin for a lunch combo, and I didn't see the taiwanese pork chop or anything salt-and-pepper, which I'd been wanting to try. I asked the server for the chop, and also if Fu Lin had any specialties, and she didn't understand or I wasn't be clear. I went with the tonkatsu char siu ramen. The broth was very good, slightly thinner and more funky than Samurai Noodle. Where it fell short of Samurai was the pork slices, which were cold cut thin and nearly raw--not bad just nothing near the super tenderness offered at Samurai.

              2. If you've lived in or spent a lot of time in Asia, sometimes you're less in the mood for amazement than for the reassurance of a meal with a whiff of authenticity, a generous helping of consistency, and a down-to-earth price. For that, my Taiwanese wife and I have being going for years to the Szechuan Noodle Bowl, 420 8th Ave S. (next door to the Green Leaf), and it has always surprised me how seldom they get mentioned in the restaurant surveys. They do honest, homestyle northern Chinese noodles, dumplings, etc., with all the right side dishes--seaweed, peanuts, pig ears--and they've never let us down. Things have busied up a bit in the last few years, since the veggie crowd discovered their exceedingly tasty and toothsome spinach and tofu dumplings. Go there for something heartwarming. If it's a little more excitement you're looking for, try the desserts at the Tamarind Tree (Vietnamesque).

                1 Reply
                1. re: Barry Foy

                  SNB has my favorite green onion pancake. But I'm always surprised to see they're still open. Every time I'm there, there's a couple of big ol' bugs flying around (standard bugs, not like roaches or anything) and there's the dumpling maker sitting at one of the tables...

                  But the dumplings are so good, I don't much care =)

                2. I agree with many of the places listed above. My additions:
                  -Maekawa Bar: Great Japanese bar food, lots of dishes I haven't seen offered in any other Japanese restaurant in town.
                  -Kau Kau BBQ: the roast pig is amazing.

                  1. I recommend Hing Loon (order off the wall) for fresh seafood. Jade Garden for dim sum (all my Chinese friends go there, which is why the line is so long). I agree with all the other choices and you all have made me very hungry.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Italian Woman

                      Italian Woman has it exactly right about Hing Loon. Be bold--eat the wall!!

                    2. Don't miss the Panama Hotel Tea Room for a really lovely afternoon tea. Their snacks are adequate, but their tea is amazing. My favorite is the herbal chai latte.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Courtneyah

                        Ditto the Panama Hotel. It's a very interesting place because of all the old photos and other memorabilia of what used to be Japan Town before the war. My favorite is the matcha tea latte.

                      2. I'm adding a favorite .. szechuanese (sp) cuisine ....the szechuan boiled fish is addictive and has cured many a cold! there are usually greens with garlic (not on the menu, though) .. the greens, the fish and order of rice, ample food for two. The restaurant is in the strip on the NE corner of 12th-Jackson.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: oliveoyl

                          This place Sichuanese Cuisine is always rated favorably here, and it seems to fly under the radar a bit as opposed to 7 Stars, Szechuan Chef, etc. Is there any association with the Sichuanese Cuisine in Redmond at 15005 N.E. 24th St. (also usually well recieved)?

                          1. re: equinoise

                            Yes, same ownership and same food - pretty good. Hot Pots are popular. I love their Kung Pao Fish.

                        2. I second or third Green Leaf and Hing Loon. Something to try in Hing Loon are the Beijing style toasted sesame buns which are freshly cooked little pocket breads that come with ground meat & cabbage for stuffing... amazing. My ex was Chinese from Beijing and she turned me onto them.

                          If you like hot food is a great hole in the wall place on the corner of NW corner Jackson and 12th called Sichuan Cuisine, it is excellent if you can handle spicy.

                          For a fine Japanese meal for a reasonable price try Maneki on 6th. Great sushi and many home-style Japanese specialties. It's very crowded and they don't take reservations so get there early or be prepared to wait... same deal with Green Leaf.

                          8 Replies
                          1. re: lordkoos

                            Tried hing loon last night but wasn't really feeling it. Soup with dumplings and noodle--poor noodle texture and uninteresting, almost old-tasting broth. Chinese broocoli with garlic was just ok. Salt-and-pepper chicken wings, unlike better squid and scallop versions i've had elsewhere, had no light, spicy batter and the piquant topping was at the bottom of the plate. I was ready to chalk it up to ill-advised ordering and perhaps give it another shot had the bill been more reasonable. The total was $35 w/ tax & tip for these 3 items plus one tsingtao. Kind of silly. Maybe I should have known better--big farang factor in Hing Loon these days. No return necessary.

                              1. re: MichaelG

                                Thanks for the tip, but I think 7 Stars is falling way behind its Eastside sichuan competitors. They also are flooded with farang and, perhaps as a result, are really stingy on the sichuan 'corns.

                                With its bare bones decor yet more upscale prices for the seafood, Hing Loon is a odd bird...doesn't really fit the mold of a typical, red-and-gold Cantonese seafood/dim sum hall, nor the cheaper homestyle places, nor the BBQ or wonton specialists. Its more like an all-purpose, wannabe new green bo in some ways (for the NYC chinatown folk).

                                  1. re: allisonw

                                    I like Shanghai Garden allright. It used to be my favorite Chinese restaurant in seattle when I was in college and first realized that Chinese-American was not really chinese.

                                    The thing that bothers me about Shanghai Garden, which I realized after spending some years back east, is that they really don't serve much of any Shanghainese food (e.g. lion's head, pork pump/hunk, e-fu noodles, etc.) And their XLB, perhaps the foremost example of Shanghai cuisine, are soupless, flabby skinned, terrible things, as has been noted many times here. They are really good at making various noodles, and they serve decent soups. Their title is just a misnomer IMO.

                                    1. re: equinoise

                                      My husband loves Shanghai Garden...I think it's fine, nothing amazing. EXCEPT I adore the fried tofu with chef's special sauce...I dream about it.

                                  2. re: equinoise

                                    Does Hing Loon make the giant steamed veggie bun (bao) that the cooks at New Green Bo make in their front window? like big fluffy pillows

                                    1. re: barleywino

                                      I can't say I recall that giant bun...I haven't been to new green bo for several years. It used to be considered a go-to place when I was around, and I recall they offered a wide variety of things. Just looked at their menupage and it looks like more Shanghainese stuff than I remembered.

                                      Hing Loon does seem to specialize in a "Peking Style Sesame Bun and Szechuan Cabbage with Ground Meat". Sounds like the "shi'an humbow" offered at Shi'an Restaurant in Lake City.

                            1. Another vote for Green Leaf, esp the coconut milk pancake that's an appetizer (sorry, can't think of the name). And another vote for the Panama Hotel, too, for the stories. Cruise through Uwajimaya and pick up some mochi ice cream to take home for dessert.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Erika L

                                Bahn Xiao is the name. Mostly oily bean sprouts, but the coconut batter wraps it nicely.

                                1. re: Erika L

                                  Panama Hotel makes a much better green tea (matcha) latte than Starbucks. It also features delicious homemade manju (a Japanese sweet), which reminds me of my childhood. If you didn't grow up with it, however, you might find it an acquired taste.

                                2. Salt cod roe & kim chee spaghetti at Fort St. George. The Genton (a delicious fried ball of pork stuffed with garlic cheese) at Maekawa Bar.

                                  1. I recommend Lemongrass Restaurant (1207 S. Jackson) for Vietnamese.

                                    1. Work at the Vulcan buildings so right next door to Chinatown/ID, going to add a few different options.

                                      Subsand: small hole in the wall. its considered an "Asian Subway". They make sandwiches to order in front of you with either your typical meats or asian versions (i.e. beef satay, lemongrass chicken, etc)

                                      Dim Sum King: Its a take out place. And the dim sum is not great....however, the price is ridiculous. you can order per dumpling, shrimp ball ($.60 each) or get a cheap sticky rice. a good meal for under $5 or $6.

                                      Thai Simple Curry: lunch and cash only. not many thai options but this is a good one for... curry. $5 gets you curry and rice. Brown rice upgrade is available and free. They also have pad thai and on saturdays and mondays they have their version of a hainan chicken (chicken broth rice with boneless steamed chicken).

                                      Henry's Bento: cheap hole in the wall for taiwanese. their beef bing (juicy beef dumplings), taiwanese beef noodle soup, are popular. Again for the budget minded eater, you cant beat their taiwanese lunch box (served all day) for $5. You get a fried pork chop, ground pork/mushroom on rice, a boiled egg and pickled mustard greens.

                                      kau kau was mentioned earlier but I will say that their chinese bbq pork (char siu) is the go to protein there.

                                      Fuji Bakery: great French/Japanese bakery. a bit pricey, but their croissants are noteworthy as is their other pastries.