Your Guide to Delicious Asian Food in Washington!
Born in Los Angeles, California and raised in Taipei, Taiwan, I come from an international background with different cultural elements ingrained in my identity. Having lived in Seattle, Washington for about 10 months during my freshman year of college, I had many opportunities to explore the local area and the Asian restaurants there. Whether it was a lazy Sunday, a typical afternoon, or a late-night after surviving through multiple study sessions in the library, I always made time to enjoy good food and explore authentic cuisine in Seattle. For this winter break, I decided to revisit the place to satisfy my cravings for Asian food and home cooked meals. This article is not your typical “best restaurants” guide, but rather a compilation of my dining experiences at these unique Asian (mostly Taiwanese) restaurants.
1. Din Tai Fung
I know how cliché it sounds, but Din Tai Fung is one of the best Taiwanese restaurants that serves delicious and authentic Taiwanese food in the United States. Originated from Taiwan, this restaurant quickly expanded worldwide, opening branches in Japan, China, Hong Kong, Australia, Thailand etc within a few years. Its philosophy is to show the world a “taste of Taiwan” through its unsurpassed cuisine, attention to detail, and service. While this restaurant may be a little overpriced in the United States, it will satisfy your cravings for Taiwanese food and homesickness instantly. Having spent most of my childhood Taiwan, I know what Taiwanese food ought to taste like. From braised beef noodle soup, soup dumpling (XiaoLongBao), to shrimp and pork wontons with spicy sauce, Din Tai Fung has everything you are craving for. It might sound a little odd but I love mixing the pork chop fried rice and the hot and sour soup together for the perfect flavor. For dessert, I always order the red bean XiaoLong Bao and eight-treasure sticky rice simply because their deliciousness is beyond expression. Funny story, I had only visited this place once in Seattle because I was so eager of trying other places that I had not been before; however, Din Tai Fung’s flavorful and authentic dishes cannot be replaced. Whether I will ever visit Din Tai Fung when I return to Taiwan is a different story but for those who want to experience authentic Taiwanese cuisine, this is definitely the place to be!
2. Boiling Point
Boiling Point is probably the most popular Taiwanese hot pot restaurant in the area. The cozy shop serves a variety of hot pots, featuring specialty flavors from different cuisines. In addition, they also have traditional desserts and beverages, such as milky soft herbal jelly and Hokkaido milk tea. Year round, you can spot customers lining up outside the restaurant on both weekends and weekdays. My mom’s friend has actually tried all the flavors on the menu and she especially likes the house special and lamb hot soup. What makes the house special hot soup unique is the ingredients: fermented tofu, fish cake, sliced pork, and many other tasty items. I personally like the mixed cream curry hot soup for its soft, creamy texture and flavorful ingredients. Because the restaurant is almost always packed, my friends and I would usually come during irregular hours, such as between 2:00-5:00p.m., to avoid the traffic hours and rush. In the winter months, Boiling Point is definitely the place to go for a warm, tasty meal and some authentic bubble tea!
3. Facing East
Besides Boiling Point, Facing East is one of the first Asian restaurants I visited in Bellevue.
This popular shop serves a variety of traditional Taiwanese and Chinese dishes. On weekends, it is typical to see long lines of people looking at the menus as they wait outside the restaurant to be seated. Although it is about 20-30 minutes by bus from Seattle, my friends and I often come here for celebrations or a big meal. Since the portions are quite generous, I would recommend coming in groups and order multiple dishes to get a taste of each of them. Facing East is the perfect place to take your family or a group of friends to enjoy a homey meal at the round tables.
4. Dough Zone Dumpling House
Similar to Din Tai Fung, Dough Zone is another popular Asian restaurant that has stores in Seattle, Issaquah, Redmond, and Bellevue. Besides the famous soup dumpling (XiaoLong Bao), it also serves green onion pancakes, house made beef noodle soup, and Q bao (pan-fried pork buns) amongst other items such as steam dumplings and noodles. This delicious and wallet-friendly restaurant is sometimes compared to Din Tai Fung by foodies for shorter lines and more affordable pricing. If you are short on time, consider coming to Dough Zone for a taste of Taiwanese cuisine!
5. Henry’s Taiwan Kitchen
Although where I lived (close by University District) at UW has a great and extensive selection of restaurants to eat at, Henry’s Taiwan Kitchen is probably the only Taiwanese restaurant in the area. Interestingly, it is usually not my first choice when I am picking restaurants to eat at; however, if you happen to be craving for Taiwanese food near UW, I would recommend visiting Henry’s Taiwan Kitchen. Located conveniently behind the West Campus dorms, you will not miss its colorful walls and decorations when passing by. I would recommend ordering the crispy basil chicken, minced pork rice, and chef henry’s beef noodle soup. After a wholesome meal, you can also visit the shop right next door-- C Fruit Life, a Cantonese dessert and beverage shop that serves similar desserts to Honeymoon Dessert.
Cafe and dessert shops:
1. C Fruit Life
Although C Fruit Life only opened in University District in recent years, it has quickly become one of the most popular dessert shops that UW students visit at night. Featuring smoothie, fruit mix, and special beverages such as coconut mango jelly, avocado aloe jelly, signature mango and coconut sago, this place focuses on using fresh fruits and ingredients to make its Cantonese desserts and drinks. If you are not into drinks, you can also try the snacks and desserts it offers such as mango pancake, coconut pudding, and whole coconut jelly.
2. Share Tea
Share Tea is the most popular bubble tea in University District. No matter what hours you visit the shop, it is always full of students hanging out while sipping bubble tea inside. Since it has an extensive selection of beverages, you can pretty much find everything that you need here. In the winter, you can still come here for some hot tea to fight the winter blues!
Although Chatime is located further away from the university dorms, it is worth the walk. Often compared with Share Tea and Kung Fu Tea, Chatime also serves a great selection of bubble tea, smoothie, and tea. It also has board games inside the shop for customers to play with their friends while hanging out. Overall, this shop is bigger than the other two due to its location. After visiting Chai Time, you can also check out the Trader Joe’s nearby for some grocery shopping.