Best of the City 2009

The Global Edition

With Steve Wiecking, Kathryn Robinson, Matthew Halverson, James Ross Gardner, Eric Scigliano, Laura Cassidy, Karen Quinn, Alex Girma, and Kelley Frodel Edited by Jessica Voelker June 23, 2009 Published in the July 2009 issue of Seattle Met

TAKE AN INTERNATIONAL TOUR of Seattle to experience the best taco joint, sushi bar, Bollywood theater, Italian pizza, tae kwon do, Russian spa, French cleaner, nail salon, Korean cooking class, Polish film festival, Swedish furniture, and more—much more:






{page break}

Japanese ramen at Samurai Noodle


Japanese Ramen
For all its eggy homeliness, ramen has become the star of some pretty fashionable menus. SAMURAI NOODLE does it best, in a decidedly unfashionable hole-in-the-wall in the Uwajimaya building (get your parking validated in the lot). Best of the best is the tonkatsu, a savory brew abrim with tender pork and woodsy mushrooms; the whole bowl a rich-as-Croesus slurpfest. As of mid-June, a second location in the University District was set to open in July. Samurai Noodle, 606 Fifth Ave S, International District, 206-624-9321

Japanese Sashimi
The quality of Japanese-style raw fish has undergone a sea change in Seattle since Shiro Kashiba arrived from Japan in 1966. Trained at one of Tokyo’s premier sushi houses, Kashiba gave Seattle its first sushi at Maneki, and still gives us some of its freshest, at SHIRO’S SUSHI RESTAURANT. Happily, great sashimi can now be enjoyed in joints all over town, but what continues to make Kashiba’s exceptional is the flawless freshness of the fish (which arrives from many sources, including Mutual Fish and Uwajimaya); his giddy showmanship behind the bar; and his status, having trained many of his competitors, as the maestro of Seattle’s sashimi set. Shiro’s Sushi Restaurant, 2401 Second Ave, Belltown, 206-443-9844;

Chinese Dim Sum
Some major trajectory vaulted Janet Lau from the Cantonese village of her childhood, where her family didn’t even own a bicycle, to the helm of the finest local dim sum restaurant, TOP GUN. Her father played a key role (he opened a restaurant in downtown Bellevue after they arrived). So did the restaurateur she married (owner of Bangkok House and the original Top Gun). But by the time Lau and her husband unveiled the Bellevue Top Gun in 2000, she was fully in the driver’s seat, making sure the daily dim sum was varied and fresh—the honey walnut prawns are not to be missed—and ensuring that the sparkling, almost formal room appeals to those who don’t dig on dim sum dives. Top Gun, 12450 SE 38th St, Bellevue, 425-641-3386;

Chinese Provincial Fare
Good sign number one: Both locations of CHIANG’S GOURMET look awful from the outside. Good sign number two: Everyone in there’s speaking Chinese. Good sign number three: There’s a standard menu and a Chinese menu—and upon the latter one finds wondrous things like cattle tendon and tofu of strong odor. Chef and owner William Chiang prepares dishes from his native Taiwan, along with Shanghainese (don’t leave without trying his chewy-thick homemade noodles) and Szechuan specialties. Chiang’s Gourmet, 7845 Lake City Way NE, 206-527-8888. 17650 140th Ave SE, Renton, 425-235-8877;

Vietnamese Banh Mi: Downmarket
Every one of the Vietnamese delis clotting the busy corner of 12th and Jackson—the heart of Little Saigon—sells banh mi, but SEATTLE DELI nails it. Built on crispy baguettes (thank you, French colonials) the sandwiches come loaded with fistfuls of carrot, daikon radish, cucumber, jalapeño peppers, and cilantro. You choose the meat—go for grilled pork—and they’ll smear in just enough mayonnaise. Seattle Deli, 225 12th Ave S, International District, 206-328-0106

Vietnamese Banh Mi: Upmarket
sandwiches are banh mi the way the Hulk is a mild-mannered physicist. But Vietnamese-born Eric Banh’s burly versions do trace back to the sandwich of his youth. There’s the Le Panier baguette. There’s the meat—not grilled whatsit but glistening hunks of drunken chicken, braised pork shoulder, roast leg of lamb. And if embellishments run to organic greens and caramelized onions and capers and fresh tarragon in lieu of daikon and cilantro, they deliver similarly bracing collisions of flavor and texture. Baguette Box, 1203 Pine St, Capitol Hill, 206-332-0220. 626 N 34th St, Fremont, 206-632-1511;

Next: Where to find more Asian cuisine

{page break}

Noodle Boat’s Thai specialties.

Thai Restaurant
Hidden across the street from Issaquah’s Gilman Village (look for the crowded parking lot), NOODLE BOAT is one colorful restaurant, decorated with every Thai tchotchke this side of Bangkok. Owner Yommana ­Ekkathin and daughter Kunticsa run the place—call to see if it’s open: The ladies are prone to impromptu jaunts home to Ayutthaya for culinary refreshers. The full flavor spectrum is represented in the food, and not just sweet ones but sours, tarts, and fieries. Be sure to ask what’s not on the menu; Yommana is an innovative chef who loves gustatory off-roading. Noodle Boat Thai Cuisine, 700 NW Gilman Blvd, Issaquah, 425-391-8096;

Laotian Thai Restaurant
With a mostly Southeast Asian clientele, VIENGTHONG has managed to maintain a rare authenticity. Noodle dishes are oilier and spicier than typical Seattle Thai fair—but hey, that’s how they do in the East. Fragrant, chewy, sop-ready sticky rice—too often consigned to mango desserts—is served the right way, in wicker baskets. The owners hail from Laos, not Thailand, and though that country is landlocked, seafood is the main attraction at Viengthong: Try tom yum goong soup, sweet-and-sour deep-fried fish, and the piquant, tangy, slightly briny squid salad. Viengthong, 2820 Martin Luther King Jr. Way S, Mount Baker, 206-725-3884

Phad Thai
At MAY THAI, the phad thai arrives at your table with its noodles swaddled in banana leaves to keep them warm. A server squeezes on fresh lime, then presents sides of sugar, peanuts, and chili for microdoctoring. They mix it tableside, and serve with banana blossom. Savored within elaborate filigreed teak walls, it might be the most sensually satisfying dish in town. May Thai Restaurant and Lounge, 1612 N 45th St, Wallingford, 206-675-0037

Korean Fusion
At JOULE, the Wallingford restaurant that Rachel Yang owns with her husband, fellow chef Seif Chirchi, the food is all about hemispheric hybrids: Chili sauce is paired with fennel soup and pickled ginger with pulled pork. But the big kahuna of Yang’s international cook’s tour arrives in a square casserole, where a Korean rice cake, mochi, bubbles away with Italian ragout, French-braised oxtail, a Japanese soy-cured egg yolk, and oh-so-Northwest stinging nettles. Joule, 1913 N 45th St, Wallingford, 206-632-1913;

Korean Barbecue
The elegant tatami rooms inside HAE-NAM KALBI AND CALAMARI, the stateside franchise of a Seoul favorite, seem perpetually filled with native Koreans and Seattle foodies in the know. To have what they’re having order the number 2—marinated pork belly and calamari—if your server will let you. “Too spicy for you!” one waiter warned, and she was almost right. (You’ll want an extra order of noodles.) Hae-Nam Kalbi and Calamari, 15001 Aurora Ave N, Shoreline, 206-367-7843

Next: Where to find the best Latin American cuisine

{page break}

Mexican Sopes
Kathleen Andersen is about as gringo as they come—unless you count the 30 years she spent living and cooking in central Mexico. Hence the dead-on genuine Mexican food, the kind you’d enjoy around someone’s mesa de cocina, and the ever-present lines outside her affably casual SEÑOR MOOSE CAFÉ in Ballard. The best time to go is breakfast, when the coffee is strong and the sopes come in three varieties. In sopes con huevos the masa cakes arrive with eggs, black beans, and one of Andersen’s 15 housemade salsas, along with fresh Mexican cream. It’s not just breakfast; it’s a $7.95 ticket to Mexico City. Señor Moose Café, 5242 Leary Ave NW, Ballard, 206-784-5568;

Mexican Taco Bus
In a city whose parking lots now have traffic jams, mobile restaurants have become a certified Big Thing. The most plentiful of these are the Mexican taco trucks; the best of those, a tidy, tricked-out bus called TACOS EL ASADERO, at the northern gateway of Columbia City. Sure, there’s indoor/outdoor seating, but the real draw is tacos that redefine simplicity—carne asada, cilantro, onions, some salsa—and delectable fried mulitas. Tacos El Asadero, 3513 Rainier Ave S, Columbia City, 206-722-9977

Oaxacan Mole
Back home in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, brothers Roberto and Misael Dominguez rarely ate mole—“Too hard to make!” Roberto admits—but they’re making up for that now at their jumping Ballard sensation, LA CARTA DE OAXACA, where the sweet mole negro is by far the city’s best. Served over stewed chicken or pork, or with a masa pancake and shreds of meat in leaf-wrapped tamales, this complex and fiery sauce hits every sensor on the palate—and almost makes up for the line you had to stand in to get some. La Carta de Oaxaca, 5431 Ballard Ave NW, Ballard, 206-782-8722;

Caribbean Sandwiches
Lorenzo Lorenzo came from Cuba as a foster child—first to Miami, then to the Northwest, dreaming all the while of bringing the food of his homeland to his new land. That he did with the erstwhile Islabelle, a Caribbean takeout on Northlake, and later with PASEO, the corrugated-tin shack in Fremont with a line outside instead of a sign. The flame-grilled pork sandwiches—packed into toasted baguettes with caramelized onions, fresh cilantro, and garlic aioli—are so popular that Lorenzo recently added a second location at Shilshole. But he still prepares all the sauces himself, following recipes so secret he won’t even share them with his staff. Paseo, 4225 Fremont Ave N, Fremont, 206-545-7440. 6229 Seaview Ave NW, Ballard, 206-789-3100

Brazilian Salad Bar
According to Denver press accounts, when Marco Casas-Beaux cheffed a prominent Italian restaurant there he used four different names, claimed to be from Italy, and generally left heads spinning and shaking. Here in Seattle he started popular Southwestern (Cactus) and Argentinian (Buenos Aires Grill) restaurants, a since-departed tapas bar (Madrid 522), and IPANEMA BRAZILIAN GRILL, a churrascaria where meat has a leading role but the chorus of olive oil–dredged grilled veggies—crunchy asparagus, finger-size eggplant, golden beets, green and yellow summer squash, oyster and shiitake mushrooms—are the real stars of the show. Ipanema Brazilian Grill, 1225 First Ave, Downtown, 206-957-8444;

Basque Small Plates
When Carolin Messier first traveled to the Basque seaside town of San Sebastian, Spain, she fell in love with the all-day bars, where folks of all ages would come in for a belt and a bite. The stateside replica she co-owns is TXORI, a classy little slip of a joint that deals in pintxos, the small bites Basques pop while they’re drinking. Her version of these sumptuous oiled somethings—foie gras with apricot drizzle, braised pork shoulder on toasted bread with a dot of roast pepper—are the very soul of brevity. Txori, 2207 Second Ave, Belltown, 206-204-9771;

Spanish Paella
Tapas-wise, we’ve got it going on. But paella, the one-pot Catalan rice, meat, and seafood staple, has never found satisfactory expression in Seattle—until now. For its second foray into the United States the beloved Madrid chain TABERNA DEL ALABARDERO chose Belltown, in the buttery sun-drenched space once occupied by Cascadia. Taberna offers four varieties (each for two to four diners), its saffron rice cooked to a crunchy, caramelized crust and studded with tenderest glistening shrimp, mussels, clams, and squid. The saffron flavor never gets tedious and the presentation—the dish is scraped, then alluringly spooned from the steaming paella pan tableside—is an appetizer in itself. Taberna del Alabardero, 2328 First Ave, Belltown, 206-448-8884;

Salvadorean Pastries
When sisters Ana Castro and Aminta Elgin were children in El Salvador their grandmother owned a bakery, their mother a pupusa-takeout shop, their dad a farming business. After fleeing their war-torn country, they took the family food trade and made it their livelihood, risking everything they had to open their SALVADOREAN BAKERY in 1996. Immediately, the nearby Salvadorean community flocked. Here’s why: puff pastry with coconut meringue; pasteles filled with crème anglaise; sweet cakes soaked in rum and cinnamon syrup…and pupusas, the stuffed corn-flour tortillas of El Salvador, prepared in the traditional way with cheese and edible Central American flowers. Salvadorean Bakery, 1719 SW Roxbury St, White Center, 206-762-4064

Next: Where to find other international cuisine

{page break}

Cascina Spinasse serves the most memorable pasta this side of Italia.

Tajarin Pasta
Redmond native Justin Neidermeyer learned pasta in the hills of Barbaresco under the tute­lage of a pasta-making master named Cinto. Cinto taught him the secrets to superrich egg-yolk pasta dough—how to hang it in sheets to dry, then cut it by hand into strands resembling fettuccine, only, impossibly, both stronger and more delicate. When you see it on the menu at Neidermeyer’s restaurant CASCINA SPINASSE, order it: Draped in ragù or sagey butter, it may be the most memorable pasta experience this side of Italia. Cascina Spinasse, 1531 14th Ave E, Capitol Hill, 206-251-7673;

Ethiopian Restaurant
Abiy Assefa first moved from Addis Ababa to Seattle to help his sister operate Queen Sheba on Capitol Hill. When it came time to open his own place, HABESHA, he went for high design. The results—brick wall, backlit bar, color-splashed African art—bear a slick sophistication missing from the mainstays of Cherry Street’s “Little Ethiopia.” Even better: delectable lamb tibs and Ethiopia’s customary extravagance of vegetable dishes. A vegetarian combo plus a meat dish provide sumptuous dining for two…for days. Habesha Ethiopian Restaurant, 1809 Minor Ave, Belltown, 206-624-0801;

Senegalese Mafé
In Jacques Sarr’s homeland of Senegal, cooking is women’s work. So when his mother taught him how to prepare her best recipes, she did so in secret. In Seattle, however, the secret is out. Sarr first opened Afrikando, which thrived in Belltown until he decamped for Africa, returning and reopening last December in a funky, fabric-draped Hillman City storefront called AFRIKANDO AFRIKANDO. Order the stunning mafé: a spicy peanut stew that’s served with vegetables—ragged hunks of yam and carrot and other roots—over jasmine rice. Afrikando Afrikando, 5903 Rainier Ave S, Hillman City, 206-497-1801;

Tom Douglas’s Lola.

Moroccan Tagine
Seattle celeb chef Tom Douglas took a hundred kinds of heat when he opened LOLA, a tribute to the Hellenic homeland of his wife Jackie’s family. “Not authentically Greek,” snorted naysayers—not realizing that Douglas actually set out to evoke the pan-­Mediterranean meals of modern Athens. Meals like his extraordinary Moroccan tagines: stews braised in clay pots with conical lids to allow liquids to drain back in. There are several variations, but hope for the one with the moist strands of goat meat simmering in a sticky braise of dates and caramelized shallots. Lola, 2000 Fourth Ave, Downtown, 206-441-1430;

Greek Taverna
Dinner at PANOS KLEFTIKO TAVERNA feels more like a lively dinner party among good friends than a restaurant—and not just because owner Panayotes “Panos” Marinos won’t take reservations. For $25 per person, the real-deal Greek impresario will set you up with what amounts to a pan-Hellenic feast, full of grape leaves and roast lamb and plenty more, just the way they eat it in Greece. Panos Kleftiko Taverna, 815 Fifth Ave N, Lower Queen Anne, 206-301-0393;

Turkish Appetizers
The specialty at BISTRO TURKUAZ, an understatedly elegant red storefront in Madrona, is acuka, where roasted red peppers, walnuts, garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil come together in a lush spread for warm pita—but all the appetizers are sumptuous, as are the hearty casseroles on the entrée sheet. The food will be prepped by owner Ugur Oskay with help from her sons and served by her charming daughter, lending Turkuaz the kind of family warmth that feeds diners on another level entirely. Bistro Turkuaz, 1114 34th Ave, Madrona, 206-324-3039;

Lebanese Restaurant
A trained Beiruti chef, Hussein Khazaal landed in Seattle in 1974, launching PHOENECIA at the West Seattle Junction. It drew faraway fans, but the neighborhood never seemed to take to it. Looking for inspiration, Hussein closed shop to travel the old Phoenician trade routes—Lebanon, Italy, the Maghreb, West Africa—seeking “exotic recipes, new spices, new things to bring the taste back.” He returned and reopened on Queen Anne, but was forced to close again in 1993 due to a building teardown. Today, at Phoenecia’s third iteration on Alki, Khazaal still rules the front of the house and the kitchen, where he creates deeply personal dishes that are rooted in his homeland—lamb on pilaf; Dungeness crab and mussels in saffron, lemon, and ginger cream sauce. Phoenecia at Alki, 2716 Alki Ave SW, West Seattle, 206-935-6550

Colorful meals define Kabul Afghan Cuisine.

Image: Kabul

Afghan Eggplant
Wali Khairzada, the son of Afghan bankers, was studying at NYU in the 1970s when the coup back home froze his father’s assets and totally derailed his future. So Khairzada enrolled in community college and moved to Seattle, whose mountains reminded him of home. Today at his Wallingford restaurant, KABUL, he serves up fragrant badenjan burani, a tomatoey preparation of eggplant that brings vivid new meaning to the much-cliché expression “melt in your mouth.” Kabul Afghan Cuisine, 2301 N 45th St, Wallingford, 206-545-9000;

Parisian Café
It’s packed at midnight. Vogue and The Economist are on the news rack; football (the kind where they use their feet) is on the tube. The bartender—very talented; don’t call him a mixologist—is artfully concocting a little ­Lillet number while the kitchen is whipping up casse croutes of pork rillettes and oeufs mayonnaise with cornichons. CAFÉ PRESSE feels so very much like those ever-so-difficult-to-replicate corner cafés in Paris—not so much a destination as a way to while away a lazy afternoon or a misspent evening. Café Presse, 1117 12th Ave, Capitol Hill, 206-709-7674;

Next: Where to fix it, clean it, cut it, cook it

{page break}

Business has been booming at Adam Tailoring and Alterations for 27 years.


Vietnamese Tailor
Twenty-seven years ago, Be Van Nguyen left his wife and three daughters in South Vietnam and opened ADAM TAILORING AND ALTERATIONS, putting to use the stitching skills he had learned from an uncle back home. He worked 60 hours a week, finally saving enough to bring his family here 19 years ago. His superprecise alterations keep business booming to this day. Adam Tailoring and Alterations, 206 S Jackson St, Pioneer Square, 206-621-1171

Chinese Herbalist
Long before hippies became hopped up on alternative medicine, Seattle herbalist Hen Sen Chin was preaching an Eastern approach at HEN SEN HERBS. Originally from China, Chin set up shop at Eighth and King in 1950, later moving to Beacon Hill. When he died in 2006 daughter Juliana Chin—her father’s apprentice since the age of 12—became head healer. Hen Sen Herbs, 3013 Beacon Ave S, Beacon Hill, 206-328-2828;

Ukrainian Dental Hygienist 
is warm but frank, prone to silly jokes but serious about periodontal disease, fiercely articulate one minute, impossible to understand the next. But through all that the slim Slav cultivates a relaxed and always entertaining atmosphere that keep Seattleites coming back to the office of her employer, Dr. Jeffrey Georges. “I love my patients,” says Brayman. It shows. Sophia Brayman, Jeffrey Georges DDS, 509 Olive Way, Ste 1345, Downtown, 206-622-2151

Russian Spa
is a full-service spa with a sidekick bar, Venik, where patrons down shots of garlic-infused vodka before slipping into the steam. The banya traps in heat—up to 220 degrees Fahrenheit—and the nearby cold pool is the temperature of Puget Sound, around 51 degrees. Jumping from one to the other, explains owner John Goodfellow, “your body comes into a homeostasis, back to midpoint, and it feels wonderful.” Banya 5, 217 Ninth Ave N, South Lake Union, 206-262-1234;

Korean Spa
Arriving in Tacoma, Myong-Woon Lee inhaled the air, relieved to escape the pollutants of his native Seoul. But his wife had a new climatological complaint. “My mother never felt warm here,” says son Sun Lee, who runs the Lynnwood branch of OLYMPUS, two “no bathing suit” bathhouses where women sweat it out in saunas and soften up with notoriously thorough body scrubs. Lee senior opened the Lakewood original 12 years ago, first attracting Korean women only. Word got out: Today, just 5 percent of clientele comes from Korea. Olympus Spa, 3815 196th St SW, Ste 160, Lynnwood, 425-697-3000. 8615 S Tacoma Way, Lakewood, 253-588-3355; 

Jayesh Rao

Image: Alicia Guy

Indian Cooking Class
When JAYESH RAO was six years old, his parents moved the family from Nairobi, Kenya, to West Philadelphia, with only enough money to make it there. His father found a job clerking; “Mama,” a nurse, worked nights. “When we came home from school, food was always ready,” says Rao. “I could never do what my parents did.” But he can cook like them. Holding court at PCC’s Issaquah store, the biology teacher and personal chef explains the ins and outs of fried samosas with a calm, deliberate style you haven’t seen since high school and an affection for food that’s as warm as your mama’s kitchen. Jayesh Rao, PCC Cooks,

British Stylist
In the late 1990s, Burntwood, England, native SHARON BLYTH-MOSS befriended some Euro-touring Seattleites who invited her to visit once they’d returned home. “I came and fell in love with the city,” says Blyth-Moss, one of the most sought-after stylists at Vain Salon ’s downtown location. Known for her mod ’dos and choppy bobs, Blyth-Moss advises clients to take a laid-back approach to style. “I like it when people go with the flow and don’t fight with their hair,” she says. “Too much of life is wasted that way.” Sharon Blyth-Moss, Vain, 2018 First Ave, Downtown, 206-441-3441;

Vietnamese Nail Salon
The two locations of NUMBER 1 PRO NAILS look like most strip-mall salons: bright lighting; ladies lounging in pedi chairs, zoning out behind US Weekly; phalanxes of sparkly polishes lined up behind the cash register. What sets Pro Nails apart, however, is the fan base that swears by its low prices, ultrahygienic facilities, and the warm atmosphere cultivated by the Tram family, whose matriarch “Dr. Lee” emigrated from Vietnam. Number 1 Pro Nails, 18 Roy St, Lower Queen Anne, 206-270-9695. 1523 Queen Anne Ave N, Queen Anne, 206-270-9999

French Cleaners
While today there’s no specific something that makes a cleaner French, the designation tends to signal a pricier, more persnickety approach than what you get at the corner laundry. ANGE’S FRENCH CLEANERS is no exception: Whether it’s Grandma’s lace or a Gucci suit, this biz on the edge of Belltown will take excellent care of the clothes you love. Ange’s French Cleaners, 2000 Ninth Ave, Belltown, 206-622-6727

Ethiopian Cooking Class
Fifteen years after being forced from her home in Ethiopia, NIBRET AGA found herself living in a women’s shelter in Kent. A North Seattle Community College baking certificate was the first step toward a new life, a visit home the next. There, Aga realized that after five years in the world’s richest nation, she felt less energetic and vibrant than the people in one of its poorest. She came back to South King County, stopped eating meat, sugar, and prepackaged food, and began teaching at catering parties and community centers, where, for a $10 donation, locals gather to watch her make traditional meals such as stewed lentils over injera bread, then sit down and eat it alongside her. Nibret Aga, 206-218-2833;

Next: Where to go shopping

{page break}

Plum Children’s Shoes sells imported, top-­quality designers and leather manufacturers.


Euro Kids Shoes
Inspired by the locals she knows who travel the world and demand the very best in European shoe design, Karen Garland, owner of PLUM CHILDREN’S SHOES in Madison Valley, put together a sweet, sparkly collection of children’s footwear imported from top-­quality designers and leather manufacturers. It could be dangerous to foster certified shoe addiction at the tender age of two, but that’s the price you pay for well-heeled, worldly tots. Plum Children’s Shoes, 2913 E Madison St, Madison Valley, 206-322-7011;

Bavarian Meats
When Lynn Hofstatter’s German grandfather Max arrived in Seattle, he pined for the meats of home. Relatives sent recipes, and in 1961 he opened up shop in Pike Place Market. A year later the wieners from BAVARIAN MEATS AND EUROPEAN DELI made their international debut at the 1962 World’s Fair. Nine years after that, Lynn and twin sister Lyla were born and joined their mother on car trips to the meat-packing plant cradled in Bavarian Meats cardboard boxes. Today Lynn lords over both plant and retail shop, a tiny storefront bursting with sausage links, Landjaeger (a beef, pork, and pepperoni snack that Hofstatter calls “an old-school Powerbar”), and imported candies and condiments. Bavarian Meats and European Deli, 1920 Pike Pl, Pike Place Market, 206-441-0942;

European Party Treats
Now an in-the-know pre-party destination for Seattle’s global gourmands, BIG JOHN’S PFI started back in 1971, when (Big) John Croce began selling imported Spanish olive oil out of (big) white buckets. You can still find the world’s best oils at the no-nonsense warehouse store in SoDo, along with cheddars, fetas, and goudas by the pound, bulk spices, and those prettily packaged panettone breads that Italians are always offering each other at Christmastime. Big John’s PFI, 1001 Sixth Ave S, SoDo, 206-682-2022;

DIY Paella Supplies
Authentic Spanish paella calls for absorbent short-grain rice; a rich, smoky paprika; and a shallow pan for quick cooking—things that Steve Winston struggled to source when he came back to Seattle in 1994 after a vacation in Spain. The next year he opened the SPANISH TABLE, and started selling these and other Iberian specialty items. Together with wife Sharon Baden, he has since opened three outposts in California and New Mexico, but the Seattle location remains the heart of the operation. The Spanish Table, 1426 Western Ave, Downtown, 206-682-2827;

Korean Grocery Store
When the New York–based grocery chain H MART opened its Lynnwood branch last year, it no doubt had the local Korean population in mind (about 4,500 people, as of the 2000 census). But the well-scrubbed produce, precisely butchered meats, and hard-to-find ingredients for home pickling endeavors (big-time foodie fad) soon turned it into a global destination, where Indian moms buy mangoes alongside twentysomethings stocking up for sushi-rolling parties. Do not miss the food court, where you’ll find Beard Papa’s cream puffs and soondubu, a Korean tofu stew that comes flanked by saucer-sized sides: spicy kimchee, crunchy seaweed salad, a little fried fish, head still attached. H Mart, 3301 184th St, Lynn­wood, 425-776-0858;

Indian Food and Films
In fact three distinct stores, MAYURI FOOD AND VIDEO is a sit-down bakery and chaat stand, serving Indian desserts—eggless cakes, pineapple pastries—and street foods like puris and goat-meat samosas; a DVD and VHS shop stocking movies in Tamil, Hindi, and English; and a grocery store with an inventory aimed straight at authentic Indian cooking—imported chutneys and ghee, a dozen varieties of bulk lentil, and those round metal boxes for storing your cardamom and curry leaves. Mayuri Food and Video, 2560 152nd Ave NE, Ste A, Redmond, 425-861-3800;

Russian Deli
Crossroads Shopping Center is home to an odd collection of emporia: A Half Price Books, an express branch of King County Library System, a food court with a South Indian dosa stand, and FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE —a deli where Slavs salivate over smoked fishes, fresh sausages, and imported rye breads. At Easter and Christmas, owner and operator Tatyana Dzhafarova bakes traditional cakes and breads, an indispensable resource for Russian expats who want to recreate the holidays of home. FRWL attracts nostalgic Western Europeans as well; they come seeking imported wines, German chocolate, and brightly wrapped candies from all over the continent. From Russia with Love, 15600 NE Eighth St, Ste K16, Bellevue, 425-401-2093;

Mexican Butcher
owners Jose and Patricia Silva keep it real inside their Mexican meatery, where Latinos line up for thin cuts of beef, smoked pork chops, and, says Patricia, “every part of the goat.” Over at ROSTICERIA Y COCINA EL PAISANO, the couple prepares spicy dishes featuring the proteins they butcher next door, plus the city’s most succulent and spicy take-away rotisserie chickens. Carniceria El Paisano, 9629 15th Ave SW, White Center, 206-767-5526. Rosticeria y Cocina El Paisano, 9615 15th Ave SW, White Center, 206-763-0368

Next: More places to go shopping

{page break}

Euro-Style Office Supplies
Anyone who has ever toiled in a continental office will tell you: it’s all about the details. Annual reports are presented in portfolio books from Parisian brand Prat, expenses are logged inside Moleskine notebooks secured with elastic straps, and employees spin around on Rexite swivel chairs whose globular red wheels recall Alexander Calder mobiles. To bring that smart sensibility stateside, Matt Crossin opened PAPERHAUS, a downtown shop where Seattleites find slick supplies that set them far apart from the Kinko’s crowd. Paperhaus, 2008 First Ave, Downtown, 206-374-8566;

Record Dealers to the World
Next time you see the Os Mutantes LP that introduced you to Brazilian Tropicália back in college, check the fine print: Chances are good it came to your record store by way of LIGHT IN THE ATTIC’s headquarters on Aurora Avenue. As teenagers in grunge-era Seattle, Josh Wright and Matt Sullivan broadcast their favorite songs on FM radio. Now in their 30s, they import otherwise unreachable international records and send them out to shops all over America. Light in the Attic, 206-706-6715;

Global Chic Menswear
The look is American—by way of the world. Drawing on nearly 20 years’ experience as a hunter-gatherer of fine yet laid-back menswear—and an obsession with timeless styles, JACK STRAW co-owner John Richards slips down alleyways in Paris, Milan, and Antwerp to find washed (read: fashionably rumpled) cotton and hemp blazers in sandy lavender, fine gingham shirts to throw on beneath them, and slim-fitting, ankle-length pants. Good news for Seattle’s all-American-yet-global girls: Richards will make space for a small women’s collection next spring. Jack Straw, 1117 First Ave, Downtown, 206-462-6236

Global Chic Womenswear
Patricia Wolfkill learned grace, elegance, and the power of a beautifully fitting blouse from her first-generation Italian American mother. The rest she figured out on West Coast runways in the ’80s, at DKNY in the ’90s, and in the LA offices of Tunisian-born designer Max Azria. When a family move brought her to Seattle, Wolfkill created merge, sensing a need for edgy, innovative expressions for women in their 30s and beyond. Today her inventory—laser-cut jersey dresses from Brazilian label Osklen, extra-long leggings by Italy’s Twin Set—guides savvy shoppers toward the European edge. Merge, 611 N 35th St, Fremont, 206-782-5335;

International Web Wears
Last year Jill Wenger took a peep at Google analytics and was surprised to learn that Aussies and Europeans were logging onto the blog she’d made for her Fremont shop, Impulse. Inspired, she rebranded and expanded, launching TOTOKAELO.COM and its brick-and-mortar equivalent on Western Ave. Shoppers from Belgium, New Zealand, and Ballard join the site to share styling ideas and trend obsessions, and then peruse far-flung fashions from Yohji Yamamoto, Isabel Murant, and A.P.C. Totokaelo, 913 Western Ave, Downtown, 206-623-3582;

Polish Pottery Place
part owner Margaret Rzymowska left the north of Poland with her parents when she was nine years old. Five years ago, she and her mother opened their small shop on the lower level of the Pike Place Market and began selling their homeland’s prettily patterned and sturdy stoneware. They also stock hand-sewn tablecloths and gorgeous European hand baskets that are exactly the thing for gathering up your market bounty. Polish Pottery Place, 1501 Pike Pl, Ste 505, Pike Place Market, 206-903-1285;

Swedish Furnishings
“We Swedes always yearn for the light.” That’s Marie-Christine “Kiki” Alvord explaining the boldly hued housewares—fiery red goblets, cabinets the color of robin eggs—in her Madison Valley shop, SWEDISH HEIRLOOMS. Having spent the first half of her life suffering through long winters in Stockholm—“It’s like living in a wet wool sock”—Alvord knew just what sun-deprived Seattleites needed: Brightly colored decorative items that serve as salves against seasonal affective disorder. She also has tea sets from Rörstrand (opened in 1726), a 69-piece glassware set that includes half schnapps glasses (“for the ladies”), and signed birch wood Rococo chairs handmade in 1849. Swedish Heirlooms, 2911 E Madison St, Madison Valley, 206-621-1002;

East/West Rugs
In 2004 Rachel Meginnes traveled to Nepal, where she befriended a group of Nepali rug experts. Together they would launch DORJÉ CONTEMPORARY one year later. The Nepalis oversee the families of artisan weavers and dyers who manufacture the carpets in Sikkim and Kathmandu while, from a studio on Capitol Hill, Meginnes creates the designs and manages wholesale relationships. But while the rugs are made in the East, Meginnes’s artistic approach (think jewel and earth tones balanced by painterly sweeps and organic shapes) is distinctly Western., 206-783-7847;

Next: Where to take the family

{page break}

Polly-Glot Tots teaches preschoolers Japanese vocab and songs.


Japanese Language Classes
owner Tanya Knudsen teaches the French “easy immersion” classes she holds at community centers on both sides of Lake Washington, but her Japanese students are under the gentle tutelage of Mai ­DeBlieck. A trained preschool instructor, ­DeBlieck sweetly guides her preschool-age pupils (and their parents) through “Konnichiwa,” a Japanese greeting song; explores vocab using toy trucks and boats; then proceeds through an arts-and-crafts session and a Japanese version of Simon Says. Saucer-eyed and a little overwhelmed, her very small students don’t always let on how much they’re picking up, but you can feel the learning in the air. Polly-Glot Tots,

Asian Art Activity Room
Kids tend to behave at the art museum only when bribed with future gift shop bounty, but boredom isn’t part of the bargain at the Seattle Asian Art Museum. In SAAM’s stimulus-stuffed HIMMELMAN EDUCATIONAL RESOURCE ROOM, little people bend bright origami paper into cranes, dress up in shiny hanbok—traditional Korean robes—and make dragon marionettes dance behind a curtain of red chinoiserie. You can use the gift shop to get them to leave. Himmelman Educational Resource Room, Seattle Asian Art Museum, 1400 E Prospect St, Capitol Hill, 206-654-3100;

Japanese Tea Ceremony
Since 1981, Seattle’s branch of the URASENKE FOUNDATION has served up the spirituality and artistry of chado—Japan’s centuries-old formal tea ceremony—and as legal-beverage-consumption rituals go, it’s the closest you can get to sipping spiritual enlightenment from a cup. Kimono-garbed hosts whisk matcha green tea in a delicately choreographed presentation meant to quiet the soul and open a channel to higher consciousness. It’s a formal gathering—held weekly from February through November—so leave the jeans and sweatshirts at home. And reserve your tatami mat early: The tiny tearoom seats only 10. Urasenke Foundation, Washington Park Arboretum’s Japanese Garden, 1075 Lake Washington Blvd E, 206-684-4725;

English Tearoom
Ever since celebrating Mother’s Day at a teahouse 12 years ago, the Hale family—Dean, Susan, and their two daughters—dreamed of opening their own. By the time they were ready to make ELIZABETH AND ALEXANDER’S ENGLISH TEA ROOM a reality, daughter Sarah had married a Brit named Simon. (“Elizabeth and Alexander” comes from the couple’s middle names. “It sounded a lot more British than ‘Dean and Sue’s,’” says the patriarch.) With son-in-law as consultant, the Hales recreated a typical UK tearoom—chintzy china, cucumber-and-cream-cheese sandwiches, and a room named after Winston Churchill—where families could snack on homemade crumpets, tartlets, and what may be the best scones in Seattle. (Ask for lemon curd.) Elizabeth and Alexander’s English Tea Room, 23808 Bothell Everett Hwy, Bothell, 425-489-9210;

Global Culture for Kids
Puppets, storytelling, West African drumming: Every week since 2007, THE CHILDREN’S MUSEUM has invited well-traveled performers to swing through on Cultural Sundays and teach youngsters a thing or two about the world’s wide web of arts and entertainment. It’s an under-10 educational party, but parents are welcome—because even if your gray matter is a little, well, grayer, you’re never too old to learn something new. The Children’s Museum, 305 Harrison St, seattle center, 206-441-1768;

Spanish Variety Show
Inspired by Latin American folktales, CAPA DE CUENTOS follows protagonist Clarita on a search for the soul of her deceased grandfather. Along the way she meets three people—a campesino, an artisan, and a florist—who teach her how to “feel close to someone even when they’re not physically here,” says Elspeth Savani, who created this bilingual children’s play with her husband David Trejo. Staged at libraries around King County all summer long, the multimedia performance employs guitars, percussion, singing, acting, and puppets. “You can be monolingual and understand it,” says Savani. “We use dialogue tricks, with characters asking questions that recap what the previous speaker said.” Capa de Cuentos,

Korean Tae Kwon Do for Kids
Call it a history of nonviolence: Grandmaster Jae Hun Kim studied under the founding father of modern tae kwon do, helped build the United States Taekwondo Union (now USA Taekwondo), and coached the U.S. national team in 1979. So who better to make mini martial artists out of Seattle’s tykes? Open since 2005, the JAE H. KIM TAE KWON DO INSTITUTE teaches the character-building virtue of an indomitable spirit and preaches the power of a killer roundhouse kick. But with a great riding-stance punch comes great responsibility: All young students (adult classes are also available) must promise to use their new butt-kicking skills for good, not evil. Jae H. Kim Tae Kwon Do, 1900 N 45th St, Wallingford, 206-632-2535;

Next: More places to take the family

{page break}

Brazilian Capoeira
In 2001 the very muscley Marcos “Coquinho” Nascimento founded GRUPO AXÉ CAPOEIRA, where Seattleites are schooled in the ins-and-outs of a martial art form that’s difficult to describe (games, singing, dancing, and choreographed sparring are all involved) but unspeakably fun to practice. Nascimento discovered capoeira over 20 years ago on the streets of Brazil, and he shares his skills in a series of classes at Dance Underground on Capitol Hill. Saturday mornings, his tribe of mini capoeiristas, clad cutely in little white practice pants, can often be spied skipping across the crosswalk on 15th Avenue. Grupo Axé Capoeira, Dance Underground, 340 15th Ave E, Capitol Hill,

African Music and Dance Program
A cultural arts school, company, and community center, the ADEFUA AFRICAN RESOURCE CENTER was cofounded in 1986 by the velvety-voiced Afua N’Diaye, a lifelong dancer who has studied all over Africa and the U.S. Every August, 20 artsy kiddies are chosen to attend Adefua’s Sankofa Cultural Camp, a four-day, three-night African drumming and dance retreat held at Camp Long in West Seattle. For the rest of us, there are introductory classes at its Rainier Avenue South location and Seattle Central Community College, as well as a summer day camp at Othello Park. Just want to watch? Head down to Pier 58 on Sundays at noon all summer long for the African American concert series—a collaboration between Adefua and the Seattle Parks and Recreation Department. Adefua African Resource Center, 6716 Rainier Ave S, 206-722-6602;

Spanish Camp
How does this sound: Your kid spends her summer beating drums, gardening outside, and kicking around the fútbol with friends, and emerges practically bilingual by the time school reopens in the fall. Ballard-based ZOOM LANGUAGE CENTER Spanish Camp—brainchild of teacher and native speaker Angelica Camargo—entices young linguists (three age-based programs cater to children from two-and-a-half to nine years) with music, arts and outdoor activities, plus lots and lots of soccer, all while addressing them only in Spanish. Zoom Language Center, 1116 NW 54th St, Ballard, 206-783-5000;

Norwegian Parade
Laila Sharpe remembers marching in the SYTTENDE MAI PARADE back when a few dozen folks showed up to celebrate Norway’s Constitution Day. Today it’s a full-on neighborhood event attracting Ballardites of all backgrounds, who pack Market Street to cheer on kids in funny troll costumes and Nordic diehards dressed in bunader, traditional Norwegian getups whose patterns function as a sartorial semiotic device, signaling the wearer’s regional origins. “You know how on St. Patrick’s Day everyone is Irish for the day?” says Sharpe, a parade chair. “On May 17th everyone is Norwegian.” Syttende Mai Parade,

Global Festival
The festival formerly known as Seattle International Children’s reappeared at Seattle Center this year as GIANT MAGNET—the new name intended to, ahem, attract visitors of all ages. Andrea Wagner and Brian Faker, co­directors of the weeklong event, travel the world every year, bringing us the best of what they find: captivating Sufi dancers from India, oohy-aahy German illusionists, and a stage adaptation of The Very Hungry Caterpillar by puppeteers from Nova Scotia. Giant Magnet, 206-684-7338;

International District Tour
After the 1983 Wah Mee Massacre—in which 13 people were robbed and killed at an International District gambling club—left her neighborhood scared and empty, Vi Mar had an idea: Reintroduce the I.D. to the city. In 1984 she launched CHINATOWN DISCOVERY, a walking tour of the neighborhood. And although Mar has since turned over the operation to docents at the Wing Luke Asian Museum, the 90-minute tour is still going strong. The expedition begins with a history lesson at the museum (erected in 1910 after a bog near the waterfront was filled in), then slides past the new scarlet Chinatown Gate (red symbolizes good luck) and into restaurants and bakeries, often with its sights on the I.D.’s famous cocktail buns (coconut-filled Chinese rolls). Chinatown Discovery, 719 S King St, International District, 206-623-5124;

Next: Where to have fun

{page break}

From Hiroshima To Hope lights up Green Lake every August 6.


Japanese Ceremony
Every August 6 in Hiroshima, the Japanese float lanterns to commemorate the World War II bombing—and for the past 25, Seattleites have, too. Now the largest such ceremony outside of Japan, FROM HIROSHIMA TO HOPE lights up Green Lake in a breathtaking ceremony that also includes a keynote speaker, concerts, poetry, taiko drumming, and up to 1,000 lanterns (provided free to the public) that float out on the water with personal messages written on the rice paper shades: memories of those lost to acts of violence as well as wishes for the future. From Hiroshima to Hope, 425-868-0285;

Swedish Happy Hour
It’s “all Swede, all night” at the SWEDISH CULTURAL CENTER’s weekly Friday happy hour: The hostess speaks Swedish (say “Hej!” when you see her), the booze is Swedish (Carnegie Porter, Svedka vodka), the food is Swedish (open-face smörgås sandwiches, saucy Swedish meatballs), and the midcentury modern furniture is…Danish. Okay, there’s the occasional inter-Scandinavian marauder, but a shot of anise-flavored aquavit goes down better with a chaser of cultural diversity. Technically, it’s a members-only party, but these Swedes are always happy to slip a guest pass to a new drinking buddy. Swedish Cultural Center, 1920 Dexter Ave N, Queen Anne, 206-283-1090;

Scandinavian Bar
Oh, how Ballard loves its Scandinavian roots. And nowhere is that more on display than at THE COPPER GATE, a former beer-only joint transformed into a Viking’s lair. Bartenders pour aquavit behind a bar wrapped in a faux ship prow, while female servers, dressed only slightly less scantily than the models in the prominently displayed vintage nudie pics, float sursild (pickled herring) and gravlax (cured salmon) to your table. The Copper Gate, 6301 24th Ave NW, Ballard, 206-706-3292;

Japanese Sake Bar
In 1988 Johnnie Stroud joined the gaijin horde heading to Japan to teach English. He learned Japanese, married wife Taiko, and, via “lots of parties,” discovered sake. The couple moved back to the States in 1996 and began exporting secondhand jeans to Japan, but wanted to im port something, too. Stroud, meanwhile, found himself suddenly smitten with sake’s ancient traditions and vast range of local microbrews. Business met pleasure at SAKÉ NOMI, a tasting bar, bottle shop (with 160-odd brews), and thoroughly unpretentious sake clubhouse where do-ragged Johnnie pours samples from a rotating kikizake menu, letting its poetic tasting notes do the talking. Saké Nomi, 76 S Washington St, Pioneer Square, 206-467-7253;

Puerto Rican Late-Night Happy Hour
began as a Puerto Rican snack vendor at the Fremont Farmers Market, and a casual street-food vibe remains inside the restaurant’s permanent location on Market Street. At dinner you’ll eat alongside Ballard babes picking at their plátanos, but the party picks up around 10pm, when the price of mojitos drops to $3, and all appetizers are half off. La Isla, 2320 NW Market St, Ballard, 206-789-0516;

The Seattle Gaels hurling club started swinging in 2003.

Irish Hurling
Snicker at the fake sword–wielding wannabe knights of the Society for Creative Anachronism if you must, Seattle, but without them, you might never see a centuries-old Irish field game in Magnolia Park. Back in 2003, local SCA “knight” Rob Mullin was gettin’ medieval in the mountains of Oregon when he spied a fellow reenactor’s homemade hurls—distant cousins of the hockey stick used in hurling to advance a ball downfield and toward a goal—and brought his budding love for the sport back home to field his own team. The SEATTLE GAELS hurling club started swinging that same year, and by 2006 it won the national championship in its division—no magic spells necessary. Seattle Gaels,

International Beer Festival
Not every American fires up the grill on Independence Day: Every Fourth of July weekend, a grassy lot in Seattle Center is framed by a quadrant of booths containing kegs filled up with the world’s finest beers. Organized by the owner of Uber Tavern up on Aurora, it’s called the SEATTLE INTERNATIONAL BEER FESTIVAL, and it’s the most delicious, debauched exercise in global unity you’ll encounter all year. Watch out for the guys dressed in foam beer-bottle suits—they’re nothing but trouble. Seattle International Beer Festival,

International Cricket
’s bowlers and batsmen have waged polite war in local parks since 1964, but it wasn’t until Microsoft brought waves of Indian and Pakistani programmers to the area that the SCC really found its groove. Like rec-league refugees, the club bounced from one public space to the next for decades before settling in Magnuson Park three years ago. Curious locals freaked out by cricket’s nearly indecipherable rules need not fear: Club president Bunti Sarai says players are happy to teach newbies the ways of the wicket. Seattle Cricket Club,

Australian-Rules Football
Nine months after landing in Seattle in early 1998, Aussie Matt Muller decided the best way to cure his subequatorial homesick blues was to recruit a few friends, meet in a nearby field, and pummel each other for possession of a ball. Thus, the SEATTLE GRIZZLIES—the only Australian-rules football club in town—was born. Eleven years later, the team has 65 members, nearly two-thirds of whom are American. The Grizzlies regularly play their bruising blend of soccer, rugby, and football against rival clubs in Portland and Vancouver, and you can catch them scrimmaging in condensed “metro footy” matches at Moshier Park in Burien during spring and early summer. Seattle Grizzlies,

Scottish Highland Games
Not even kilts can debutch the brute-strength competitions at the PACIFIC NORTHWEST SCOTTISH HIGHLAND GAMES AND CLAN GATHERING. Since 1947, 300-pound titans of tartan-clad heavy lifting have stomped into Seattle from across the country to face off in nine configurations of heaving, slinging, and flipping weights across fields and over crossbars—not to mention make America’s ball-based sports look downright dainty by comparison. Pacific Northwest Scottish Highland Games and Clan Gathering, Enumclaw Expo Center, 45224 284th Ave SE, Enumclaw, 360-615-5631;

Next: More places to have fun

{page break}

Performers at Kirkland’s International Ballet Theatre.

International Ballet Company
Nearly 20 years ago admirers of Vera Altunina invited the St. Petersburg ballet master to direct a musical in Portland. She moved to Seattle shortly afterward, teaching and choreographing as a guest artist and finally establishing Kirkland’s INTERNATIONAL BALLET THEATRE in 2001. Altunina emphasizes traditional expressiveness in works like Giselle or Coppelia, and performances feature dancers from major Russian companies. International Ballet Theatre, 507 Sixth St S, Kirkland, 425-822-7694;

Polish Film Festivals
You know you’re living the cosmopolitan good life when your city sustains two separate events devoted exclusively to Polish film. Spring’s SPRING POLISH FILM FESTIVAL was cofounded by local dentist Dr. Michal Friedrich, an avid cinephile who immigrated from Poland in 1987 speaking scant English. (Today he chatters fluently about movies while poking away at your teeth.) Though that first festival continues, Friedrich left it to open a Seattle office of the POLISH FILM FESTIVAL IN AMERICA (which also holds screenings in Chicago, Los Angeles, and other cities). Seattle Polish Film Festival, SIFF Cinema, 321 Mercer St, Seattle Center, Polish Film Festival in America, Seattle Art Museum, 1300 First Ave, Downtown, 206-257-8010;

Bollywood Movie Theater
“Even in Bangladesh or Pakistan or Africa—everyone watches Bollywood films,” says Arif Azhar Amaani, a Bangladeshi who moved here in the 1980s. Unable to find the movies in Seattle, in the 1990s Azhar started screening them himself at rented spaces around town. TOTEM LAKE CINEMAS, his permanent Bolly venue, doubles as a sort of social hub for the Eastside’s Indian expat community. A typical film (most have English subtitles) lasts three hours and includes intense action, wrenching heartbreak, campy comedy, and unabashedly over-the-top musical numbers. Totem Lake Cinemas, 12232 NE Totem Lake Way, Kirkland, 425-820-5929;

Asian American Play
It started with a casual sex chat among friends. “Our parents, first-generation immigrants, had never had ‘the talk’ with us,” recalls local actor Kathy Hsieh. “Most of what we learned was from television, which never dealt with Asians.” That conversation inspired the romantic tribulations of the cheerfully frank stage sitcom SEX IN SEATTLE. Its four Asian American leading ladies quickly found fans: “We get international students here for school or work,” says Hsieh. “They come to our show because they get to see people who look like them dealing with everyday life.” Episode 17 “airs” this fall. Sex in Seattle, Richard Hugo House, 1634 11th Ave, Capitol Hill, 206-323-9443;

Nordic History Project
Among the people that make up NORDIC AMERICAN VOICES: a 93-year-old Federal Way man who took part in the Shetland Bus—a Resistance operation that shuttled refugees and supplies between Scotland and Norway via small fishing boats. “We have a quickly aging population of Scandinavian people with memories of World War II,” says Janet Rauscher, chief curator of Ballard’s Nordic Heritage Museum. To preserve those memories, the museum hopes to record 150 to 200 oral histories by project’s end. If you know someone whose story should be heard, nominate them for the project online or at the museum. Nordic American Voices, Nordic Heritage Museum, 3014 NW 67th St, Ballard, 206-789-5707;

African-Rooted Exhibit
There’s a quote from Maya Angelou in THE JOURNEY GALLERY AT THE NORTHWEST AFRICAN AMERICAN MUSEUM: “No man can know where he is going unless he knows exactly where he has been and exactly how he arrived at this present place.” The walls of the gallery’s narrow corridor detail an array of arrival stories: Marcus Lopez, whose 1788 exploration of our coast aboard the Lady Washington made him the first person of African descent in the Northwest; George Washington Bush, who headed west from Missouri on the Oregon Trail to settle outside Olympia in 1846; the many workers on Pullman train cars; and Waynigus “Wayne” Debeb, who left Ethiopia in 1969, then built his still successful Seattle business as a general contractor. The Journey Gallery at the Northwest African American Museum, 2300 S Massachusetts St, Judkins Park, 206-518-6000;

Global Arts Outreach
The UW WORLD SERIES COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS program, says director of education Elizabeth Duffell, teaches young Seattleites “global citizenship through the arts.” The series invites a stellar roster of international performers into Meany Hall, and Community Connections sends them out into the schools. Compagnie La Calebasse, an electrifying dance troupe led by the Cameroon-­born Merlin Nyakam, made its U.S. debut for the series this spring, then showed off its blend of European and African movement to Seattle students in gymnasiums and classrooms. Seventy-five similar in-school residencies are scheduled for next year, plus six free student matinees. UW World Series’ community connections, Meany Hall, 4001 University Way NE, University District, 206-543-4880;

Japanese Celebration
For 102 years, Seattle’s Betsuin Buddhist Temple has welcomed souls from the Pure Land (heaven) to the Emerald City with music, food, dances, and cultural exhibits. Called BON ODORI, the Buddhist celebration is based on the story of Mokuren, who danced for joy upon seeing his deceased mother relieved of all suffering. “Think of it as a spiritual homecoming,” says chairperson Ron Hamakawa. “You remember those who have passed away and appreciate the sacrifices they made that allow us to enjoy our lives.” It’s made all the more enjoyable by teriyaki chicken, soba, and beef and rice bowls—prepared with care by meticulous temple elders. Bon Odori, Seattle Betsuin Buddhist Temple, 1427 S Main St, First Hill, 206-329-0800;

Show Comments