From traditional Japanese tea to some of the best pho outside of Vietnam, Seattle’s International District, just southeast of downtown, has incredible Asian dishes that are handmade by families preserving culture through food. The district’s largest neighborhood, Chinatown, offers meals that will make you think you’ve taken a 12-hour flight. Here are three can’t-miss bites.
Located on Jackson Street, Dim Sum King is in the heart of Chinatown, and you can smell the sweet pastries before you even walk through the door.
The bakery and cafe is a favorite among locals and tourists because it may be the cheapest place to eat in Seattle. When you look up at the menu board you might think you’ve gone back in time, but those cent marks are real prices.
The egg tart is a must. Don’t let the name scare you. This custard pastry is a common dessert in the dim sum scene. The rich filling is more egg-y and thicker than an English custard. Dim Sum King sticks to a traditional recipe and serves up these delicious treats for 80 cents apiece. If you’re feeling like a big spender, try the warm custard bun with a crispy sugary top for a whopping 90 cents.
Szechuan Noodle Bowl (they don’t maintain a site, but can be found on Yelp) is a couple blocks away from the bustling center of Chinatown but it’s worth the walk for traditional egg noodles.
Leave your cliche notions behind and get a primer on a real Chinese meal. This no-frills, family-run restaurant has been in business for 25 years and makes its soups, dumplings and onion pancakes from scratch.
Tea is so important here it’s not even on the menu. A pot of green comes out automatically when you sit down. Start with the green onion pancake to share, and then order a spicy beef noodle bowl (or the original if you can’t take the heat). The beef tenderloin tastes better than your grandma’s Sunday roast and the bok choy is super fresh. The price is right, too, as nothing on the menu is more than $10.
The Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience is the cultural hub of the International District and no visit would be complete without a stop here. In addition to the rotating exhibits, the museum offers seasonal food tours on Friday nights, including their popular dumpling crawl. The 2.5 hour, one-mile walk starts at the museum and goes through different restaurants in Chinatown. Eat and learn about the history of this Chinese staple, plus meet the local chefs serving it right. Plan your tour here.
The International District is served by light rail, bus and streetcar. The easiest way to get there from downtown is via the LINK light rail. Hop on at Westlake or Pioneer Square station (heading southbound) for a quick ride to Chinatown.