There’s something for everyone in this converted root beer stand off Lake City Way and its sister in Renton, off menus marked Szechuan, Chinese (heavy on the Taiwanese), Vegetarian, and American. The last is not Chiang’s at its finest, so if you’re on the moo shu trail, head elsewhere.
Who’s here Chinese families galore.
Don’t miss Terrific homemade noodles; green onion pancakes.
Pssst Taiwanese breakfast, with its sweet soybean milk and Chinese doughnuts, happens weekends 10am to 3pm.
The talk of Chinatown is the contemporary new Jackson Street bistro with the sleek interior and the red lanterns, where Shanghai favorites are interspersed with a few Korean rarities. The ID has never been a date-night destination, but here’s a bona fide contender—with decorative pretensions, $12ish price tags, and a fine bar to boot.
Who’s here Lots of groups of Chinese celebrating at the big round tables in the back, with always a few homesick Koreans digging into fermented black bean ja jang noodles.
Don’t miss Crispy green long beans with black beans and minced pork; perfect basil-lime shrimp, lightly crusted and bursting with juice; tender honey spareribs, suffused with wood smoke. East-meets-West desserts add black tea to creme brulee and red tea to tiramisu, to masterful effect.
Pssst Szechuan aficionado? Things might not be quite hot enough for you here.
The workingman’s cafe with the bistro sheen may look like a Chinatown storefront (this block’s a bit dodgy), but inside, the clattering and brightly lit 663 is really a Hong Kong–style cafe—and, in our view, the best of that genre in town. Here live gentle Cantonese wontons and terrific barbecued meats and a surprisingly mean curry; the city’s best pea vines and a glistening haystack of pan-fried chow mein noodles studded with seafood.
Who’s here Seattle celeb chef Tom Douglas, for one. Adores the joint.
Don’t miss Salt and pepper chicken wings; boxed lunches from the BBQ takeout corner of the restaurant.
Pssst It’s open (and packed with young partyers) till 3am weekends—but night owls know to get their orders in before 2 to beat the barflies.
663 Bistro, 663 S Weller St, International District, 206-667-8760
The pastel Newcastle strip mall storefront with the bubbling aquariums earns high marks in both its parallel universes: the Americanized one, where old General Tso finally gets the respect he deserves (the fried chicken dish is nuanced and tender, loaded with chilies and fresh vegetables), and the authentic Chinese one, which inclines toward stunning Taiwanese preparations.
Who’s here About half and half Caucasians eating off the standard Hunan/Szechuan/Mandarin menu, and Chinese natives enjoying a much more interesting one.
Don’t miss Asking your waiter to surprise you with at least one dish off the Chinese menu, even if it involves pork blood. And it might.
Pssst Lines stretch out the door weekend nights (they only reserve for large parties); weeknight tables are more accessible.
NEXT: Best Dim Sum