Seattle’s newest Sichuan restaurant doesn’t exactly have timing on its side. Tyger Tyger, a sibling of sorts to Lionhead on Capitol Hill, opened softly Friday, to a city seething in the wake of George Floyd’s death. Some friends texted me high praise for an inaugural takeout order, but the restaurant closed for the next two nights after Mayor Durkan imposed a citywide curfew.
Now Tyger Tyger is open in earnest at 114 Republican Street across from Seattle Center with a takeout menu that includes favorites like mapo doufu, dan dan mian, and cumin beef, plus plans to expand the lineup in the very near future. Though it's existed for less than a week, Tyger Tyger is no stranger to the shaping force of world events; its owners signed the paperwork against the early stages of the coronavirus outbreak. As chef and co-owner Garrett Doherty puts it: “We bought a restaurant on Saturday. The world fell apart on Monday.”
Doherty and business partner Benjamin Chew hadn’t exactly been looking for a new project. They were six months into running Lionhead; chef Jerry Traunfeld had sold his two employees the Capitol Hill Sichuan restaurant when he retired last year. But then the opportunity arose to take over the former Triumph space, with its patio, Space Needle views, and proximity to future hockey games at KeyArena. Doherty and Chew marshaled Ben’s brother and sister, plus two more friends to join the endeavor.
So instead of opening their doors after a simple dining room refresh, Tyger Tyger’s owners have built an initial takeout menu that should look familiar to fans of Lionhead’s carefully sourced Sichuan dishes. In the coming weeks, says Doherty, his team will add more dishes, like stir-fried noodles and housemade pinch buns with various fillings. "That's when the real difference will come through." The new kitchen has a grill—unlike Lionhead—which opens up the possibility of skewers. Cocktails and beer for takeaway debut later this week.
Down the road, of course, Tyger Tyger will serve those tingly dishes in its dining room, alongside a bar program of beer, cocktails, baiju, and natural wine. Sure, this place sounds like an ace destination for anyone coming to Seattle Center, or seeking a meal outside. For now, says Doherty, "we want to be a neighborhood restaurant."
Tyger Tyger is open daily noon–8pm for delivery and takeout. Keep tabs on all things Sichuan via the restaurant's Instagram.