It’s been about five months since I wrote up my top five Asian restaurants in Seattle. Since I’ll soon be changing my writing focus here, I thought I’d revisit that list and offer some additional thoughts. Let’s break this down by the following categories:
Chinese: The best is on the Eastside, and it tends to be Szechuan. Bamboo Garden continues to be my favorite, just edging out Szechuan Chef. In Seattle, there’s decent Szechuan food at Seven Stars Peppers and Sichuanese Cuisine, but they’re not as good as what’s in Bellevue. Seems Seattle’s settling for sub-par Chinese food. I’d like to take everyone on a field trip to Richmond, B.C., to experience what real dim sum should be. And forget about finding good xiao long bao. But I remain hopeful that someone will start offering increased variety, and increased quality, when it comes to Chinese food in Seattle.
Vietnamese: In contrast to Chinese, this is the what we get right in the Seattle area. Green Leaf and Tamarind Tree both have their strengths, and I recommend both. (I’m interested to see how Long, Tamarind Tree’s “relative,” will do in the old Qube space.) I’m also liking what the Banhs are doing at both Monsoon and Monsoon East. Thoa’s offers a different twist, and I’ll be reporting on that soon. The Vietnamese delis near 12th and Jackson offer great value; I especially like Saigon Vietnam Deli for banh mi and rice boxes. For pho, Vietnam Restaurant recently won my affections.
Malaysian: For years, Malay Satay Hut has been one of my favorite restaurants (inclusive of all cuisines) in the city. It’s still great, but there have been some signs of slippage here as well. Last time in, the cute little baby squids were gone, replaced by squid slices. Temporary? Or a permanent change catered more to Caucasian preferences?
Japanese: We can debate the best sushi places forever, and new ones keep opening, especially in Ballard. I’m a purist, though, so no rolls for me. Kisaku remains my favorite, and I consistently hear the same from friends in the Japanese community. In the non-sushi arena, I’m glad to see new offerings like Kushibar, but I’d like to have some lower-cost, home-cooking options like Takohachi offered. And while Samurai Noodle has been popular, I’d like to see more shoyu ramen in the city. Tsukushinbo offers a limited number of bowls for Friday lunch service, but we need more!
Korean: Is there a rule that the good Korean places have to be at the city’s outer limits? I’ve had some good dishes both toward the Shoreline border, and south toward Federal Way (where I also ate some strange pupa). And while such excursions make it more convenient to visit the great H Mart supermarkets, I’d like to see some spicy stuff closer to home. Luckily, Joule is creating great Korean-influenced dishes in Wallingford. Tasty, reasonably priced, and even adventurous (mmm…chocolate liver mousse popsicles); Joule may be my favorite restaurant in the entire Seattle area. (The photo shows prawns at Joule.)
Okay, there’s an update with some challenges thrown in for good measure. I’ve just scratched the surface, covering only a few of all the Asian cuisines. As my writing changes focus, note that I’ll still be reporting on “Asian Eats,” so please let me know what I’ve missed.