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May 10, 2012 03:56 PM

Awesome Vietnamese in International District (or downtown vicinity)

I was told by a friend that of the many ethnic food options in Seattle, Vietnamese is one area where it shines in comparison to San Francisco.

With that in mind, what's a good option for Vietnamese in the International District (or generally "nearby"/10-15 minute cab ride) from downtown?

For what it's worth, I'm more interested in non-pho options.

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  1. Greenleaf or Tamarind Tree both discussed extensively here.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Charles

      Thanks, Greenleaf looks great. Has anyone tried the "beef tasting course"?

      1. re: smithclay

        That's bò bay món (7 courses of beef,) a staple of Viet festive occasions. (See

        It's good, but you can order any of the dishes in it a la carte as well. I'm deeply partial to Green Leaf's bò lá lốt, which I generally like to get in addition to a passel of other dishes over a leisurely lunch or dinner - ordering courses serially until you're full is a good way to go.

        If you really want bò 7 món, though, Tamarind Tree's is better in my experience.

        1. re: terrier

          Less discussed here, but hardly undiscovered, is Huong Binh, a simple eatery that features soups but has numerous other items. It does not have the extensive menus offered by Green Leaf or TT. Catering more to a Vietnamese clientele, it has a great flavor that I highly recommend.

          1. re: equinoise

            Generally speaking, do Green Leaf/Huong Binh have BYOB/corkage policies?

    2. Huong Binh, Lemongrass, maybe Ben Thanh (south of ID).

      Green Leaf and Tamarind Tree are fine, as they're a more refined "restaurant experience", but the food is a tad sugared up for the non-Vietnamese clientele. Long Provincial (not in ID but in downtown) is, I believe, the sister restaurant of Tamarind Tree.

      2 Replies
      1. re: HungWeiLo

        A newer alternative to Ben Thahn in Columbia City is Watercress. I just tried some basic benchmark stuff (rice paper rolls, vermicelli noodle combo, chicken wings) and the quality and freshness is superior. Of course Watercress is shooting for a clientele more similar to Green Leaf than Ben Thahn, and the menu is not as deep. For many items I'd still prefer specialized places, but it is a good value for entry-level Viet.

        1. re: equinoise

          That's a nice evening right there... Watercress Vietnamese, followed by Full Tilt ice cream and maybe some pool!

      2. hue ky mi gia is a vietnamese/chinese non-pho noodle shop.

        the braised duck noodle soup and the fried chicken wings are standouts.