It’s so odd to think of these new openings as restaurants. Under Gov. Jay Inslee’s latest order, indoor dining is not allowed until at least Jan. 5, and many places don’t have the real estate out front to offer seating outside. Even some that have the sidewalk space aren’t plopping down patio tables because of the damp, Northwest chill. Instead, these pandemic openings operate more like delivery services with takeout windows. Their dining rooms have been reimagined as larders so chefs can sell flour, raw meat and housemade hot sauces to supplement to-go orders and help make rent. Many have contactless and curbside pickup, where you can just pop your trunk, and a staffer will run out to drop off your food order. On with the roll call of new restaurants that have opened on the Eastside, South End and North End recently.
Bellevue: Haidilao quietly expanded to Bellevue Pacific Center, joining big name hot-pot spots such as The Dolar Shop and Liuyishou. This was supposed to be a big year for this dip-and-dunk cuisine. Earlier this fall, Haidilao, one of the world’s most beloved restaurant chains, also opened a 8,408-square-foot dining room to anchor Pacific Place, one of the most ambitious restaurants to land in downtown Seattle in recent memory.
Crab Season specializes in seafood boil, but if you’re allergic to shellfish, there’s beef chow mein, sweet-and-sour chicken and other Chinese takeout staples.
La Chingona Taqueria has rolled out a second taco truck, hawking Mexico City-style street food at the elbow of 148th Avenue Southeast and Main Street. Speaking of food trucks, after its success in Woodinville, Hapa Food added a second truck in Lake Hills, featuring kalua pig platters, ahi poke bowls and those malasadas doughnuts. Meanwhile, Bellevue Square landed a branch of Lady Yum macarons.
Kirkland: The popular Portland-based ice cream shop Salt & Straw comes to the Eastside, holding court at The Village at Totem Lake with favorite flavors including the sea salt with caramel and chocolate brownie. Panda Express has also expanded here, and the Italian fast-casual spot Dué Cucina, already on Capitol Hill, will open a second branch in the same complex after Christmas.
But the big opening that has Eastside fans drooling is Silverlake Ramen, which draws big crowds for its tonkotsu ramen at its Sunset Boulevard restaurant in Los Angeles and at its other branches around California. Management at The Village said Silverlake Ramen’s debut in Washington state will be at the beginning of the new year.
Redmond: Musashi’s, the popular sushi restaurant in Wallingford, landed in Redmond Town Center, joining another newcomer, The Urban Homestead; the latter does Southern and comfort food fare, from meatloaf sandwiches to chicken and dumplings. Redmond also gets another bubble tea spot in YiFang Taiwan Fruit Tea.
Issaquah: Enzo’s Bistro & Bar, which has an outdoor “cocktail patio,” runs an extensive lineup of fresh pastas and pizzas for takeout. Desi Tadka serves samosa and biryani out of its truck. You can find out more about their brand of Indian food and other Issaquah takeouts from our food writer Jackie Varriano, who hopped around Issaquah in recent weeks to check out the food scene.
In Bothell, the owners behind Moghul Express and Gyro Express in downtown Seattle have expanded to downtown Bothell with Bay Leaf Bar & Grill.
In Shoreline, the Black-owned Black Coffee Northwest has opened. Its grand opening was delayed after the building that houses its coffee shop was damaged by several Molotov cocktails that were thrown at the back wall. Black Coffee Northwest runs a barista job-training program and sells products made by other Black-owned businesses.
Renton: The popular soup dumpling chain Dough Zone has landed at The Landing. Dough Zone makes some of the best frozen dumplings around. It’s also one of the best values (50 pieces for $30) if you order directly from the restaurant. If you don’t own a steamer, you can get Dough Zone’s frozen pork buns (30 buns for $30) to fry up at home. Sadly, its popular pot stickers are no longer available frozen. Cooked dumplings, especially xiao long bao, are a mushy mess. Buying them frozen is the way to go. Frozen dumplings have become such a big hit that many Chinese restaurants sell them in big Ziploc bags for a fraction of the price of what they charge on the dinner menu, if you’re willing to cook them up at home. Earlier this year, I ate more than 1,000 pot stickers and xiao long bao for my roundup of the best frozen dumplings in the Seattle area.
BRICK Kitchen + Lounge gives an Asian twist to bar and comfort food, from bulgogi cheesesteaks to panang poutine. This bistro does smashed burgers, a diner staple that has found a wider audience during the pandemic since smashed burgers have appeared on many lunch menus lately. You can also now get a cup of joe at Renton’s Candor Coffee.