This critically acclaimed Sichuan chain from Los Angeles comes to the Chinatown International District in February. Six years ago, when Chengdu Taste debuted in San Gabriel Valley to rave reviews from the Los Angeles Times’ late, great restaurant critic Jonathan Gold, the wait for a table was up to four hours. (That’s not a misprint.) Co-owner Sean Xie said he loves this area, and Seattle was the first city outside of Los Angeles he targeted for expansion, but red tape and other delays meant he had to wait three more years.
In the meantime, Chengdu Taste expanded to Las Vegas, Honolulu and Houston. Some items on the Seattle menu will be tailored to the local market to take advantage of the bounty of fresh seafood, said Xie, but all of the restaurant’s greatest hits will be showcased here, including the toothpick lamb, fish in a spicy, numbing broth and its original “Guess Shrimp,” with prawns and fries spiked with fermented veggies. If all goes well, owner Xie wants to open another Seattle restaurant, “Mian,” focusing on Chinese noodles.
504 Fifth Ave. S., Suite 106, Seattle
This hot-pot spot is easily the most ambitious restaurant to open in downtown Seattle in recent years. Haidilao, one of the world’s most-beloved restaurant chains, will anchor at Pacific Place with a grand, 8,408-square-foot restaurant. Scheduled to open by May, the 300-seat restaurant will be located on the third floor by the sky-bridge.
The chain also has its eye on expanding to downtown Bellevue as well. We’ll soon know whether this global sensation will create the buzz that Din Tai Fung received when that chain opened in Lincoln Square.
600 Pine St., Seattle, haidilao.com
On the Seattle episode of PBS’s “No Passport Required,” local chef Melissa Miranda was seen bouncing around town with celebrity chef and TV host Marcus Samuelsson to check out our Filipino food scene. Missing on that episode was Miranda’s own restaurant, which was not yet ready when the episode was taped. The wait is over. The grand opening of Musang is slated for Jan. 9, Miranda said. Before giving her staff time off for the holidays, the kitchen did a soft opening, so Miranda doesn’t expect any delays. Her Beacon Hill bar-restaurant will showcase classic and contemporary takes on Filipino cuisine, from lumpia to her squid-ink noodle Adobong Pusit Pancit. In addition to the restaurant, Miranda also runs the inspirational pop-up, “No Cookbooks Allowed.”
2524 Beacon Ave. S., Seattle, musangseattle.com
Shota Nakajima, the two-time James Beard semifinalist and former Food Network “Iron Chef Gauntlet” contestant, will open an Osaka-inspired street-food counter service, located next to Salt & Straw on Capitol Hill, at the end of January. This is his homage to “kushikatsu” street food, with skewered meat, seafood and cheeses that are breaded and fried and intended to be dunked in dipping sauces — and priced in the $2-4 range.
Taku will have a takeout window, a bartop that seats about 20 and a communal table that seats 10. Taku, 21-and-over only, will have draft cocktails, boozy slushies and beers on tap, along with $7 Japanese whisky highballs.
706 E. Pike St., Seattle
The big project in downtown Bellevue
The same Beijing investors who backed Imperial Garden at Kent’s Great Wall Shopping Mall have also agreed to finance a hush-hush, high-end Chinese restaurant in downtown Bellevue that will showcase arguably the best roasted duck in the Puget Sound. The Beijing duck served at Imperial Garden was one of the best things co-restaurant critic Bethany Jean Clement and I ate in 2019. Bellevue, you lucky duck: Investors behind that Kent restaurant are also opening a 6,000-square-foot banquet restaurant near Lincoln Square in 2020, according to management.
Investors said they have not yet decided on the restaurant’s name and declined to release more details, but three cooks and staffers from Imperial Garden told me the Bellevue restaurant will focus on high-end dining with lobster, wagyu beef-stir-fry and, of course, that signature Beijing duck. I’ve recalled that crispy duck skin vividly ever since it left a fatty sheen on my lips afterward. If you can’t wait for the Eastside opening, trek down to Kent — but order ahead, because the duck takes 70 minutes to crisp up (that is, if there are any left). Only 32 ducks are made daily at Imperial Garden.