In a time when city living is becoming more difficult, especially for those who develop our art, food, and community care, it is essential to coordinate our efforts to maintain the very foundations that make the culture of Seattle, well, Seattle. Seattle Restaurant Week is proud to feature restaurants along the Green Book Tour, a new app developed by Black & Tan Hall that highlights the rich cultural past of Seattle’s historic Chinatown-International District neighborhood.
Part of Seattle’s true wealth is born of the dedication to community and history by way of thoughtful organizers. Black & Tan Hall inhabits a long-vacant, historic theater in Hillman City, and is named after the famous Black & Tan Club that was on the corner of 12th & Jackson for nearly 50 years, housing Seattle’s early jazz scene. Black & Tan Hall’s opening has been deeply anticipated for years. They offer an anti-gentrification, hyper-local economy that respects and elevates diverse cultures, built by and for people rooted in community. While visiting, you can expect to attend workshops, cultural events, and performances alongside art and pop-up events featuring local chefs.
The space they’re creating, both in practice and inexperience, offers a chance to invest in our future while holding ties to the past otherwise overlooked. Black & Tan Hall recently created and launched the Seattle Self-Guided Green Book Tour. This self-guided walking tour offers a look into Seattle’s past and highlights businesses that were owned by Black residents or welcoming to Black patronage in a time of segregation. Once you download the app, you will find yourself taken back in time, traveling from the 1920s through to the 1960s. Walking along the Jackson corridor, you will learn about local hotels, restaurants, clubs, and barbershops listed in the national Green Book guide for Black travelers and the entrepreneurs who established them, alongside historic preservation and restoration projects.
As you explore this cherished neighborhood and its history, it will behoove you to visit some of the incredible neighborhood restaurants that echo this diverse historical and community significance. Little Saigon, Japantown, and the Chinatown-International District are home to some of the best restaurants in all of Seattle. They have also been adversely impacted by the pandemic more than most areas of the city. By supporting these restaurants, you’ll not only get to enjoy recipes made in restaurants that have been passed down through generations of families and friends, you will also have a hand in ensuring Seattle maintains the rich depths of its culture that deserve to thrive unencumbered for years to come.
Gan Bei is a beloved neighborhood restaurant sustained by word of mouth from the community and those dedicated to their offerings of both familiar comfort food and modern bar snacks. With food reminiscent of the post and pre-Mao era in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, Gan Bei offers nostalgia to overseas tourists and Chinese immigrants—making food reminiscent of what their grandmothers might have made. Initially, a mom-and-pop shop, Gan Bei is now a father-daughter business. Yen Ma runs the bar with 12 years of experience, while her father offers meals cooked with over 39 years of culinary prowess. Gan Bei is loved by all who have had the chance to meet them and enjoy their food and has become a touchstone for what it means to live in Seattle.
Dim Sum King
Zhen Cai and Amy Eng opened Dim Sum King in 2009 with two tenets. First, they made the nontraditional decision to sell their dim sum piece-by-piece. Next, they decided to work out of a smaller space with a fast-casual concept in order to maintain their commitment to using high-quality ingredients while offering their menu at affordable prices. Their approach has ensured a sustainable model that has seen them through a recession and the pandemic. Zhen and Amy’s approach to offering traditional Chinese cuisine whose history dates back to the 10th century opens access to people of all cultures who come through their doors.
While Torrey Le notes that a seafood boil isn’t traditionally part of Asian cuisine, he and his wife Julie Nguyen mutually celebrate the ability of this style of dining to bring family and friends around a table. Nothing makes them happier than seeing a large group enjoying their food.
When Torrey was growing up, everyone in his family worked day and night, handling multiple jobs to make ends meet. Torrey recalls that their house would be full of conversations and laughter from family and friends. Even when they were tired, they would put their last bit of energy to cook up batches of food for the weekend. “Enough” meant everyone was able to take some home, too. Naturally, the seafood boil was the perfect preparation for these gatherings. With his years of culinary training and work, Torrey started researching and learning more about seafood boils, traveling to Louisiana and Texas to experience various expressions of this tradition firsthand. The more he learned, the more he fell in love with its culture of it, both for its unique flavors and for the way it's meant to be shared among many. Then the opportunity came to run Crawfish King in his hometown of Seattle. He had to take it, and the rest is history!
Please visit srweek.org to confirm menu availability.