Around Bellevue, Chinese restaurants – no surprise – dominate the latest wave of openings. Eggy Pocket, the Portland food truck, has expanded to the food court in downtown Bellevue’s Soma Towers, sharing kitchen space with the popular Xiao Chi Jie dumpling counter. (XCJ, as it’s known, plans to expand to Seattle soon, with eyes toward downtown or South Lake Union. Even in a city populated with a zillion Chinese-street-food-style crepe stands, Eggy Pocket is among the best, their crepes stuffed with duck, beef, chicken, sausage and veggies (from $8.99 to $15.99). Next door sits Hui Lau Shan, the wildly popular Hong Kong mango dessert spot that made its American debut in Redmond last year. The lines for their Bellevue branch aren’t as long on weekends.
At the Bellevue Marketplace, Indian-inspired Burger Hut, hot-pot spot Simmer Huang and Luna Bistro have opened along the strip mall. Luna Bistro specializes in food “wrapped in lotus leaf” to give dishes that signature “earthy tea flavor,” according to the bistro. Bellevue Marketplace also scored a coup by landing the giant 85°C Bakery Café , which will make its Eastside debut any day now. Last year, this mall also struck gold when it landed the China-based Núodle, which made its North American debut here. Núodle has 40 outposts in China, Singapore and Japan, and plans to add nine more branches around the Puget Sound, including in Seattle, Lynnwood, Kirkland, Sammamish, Renton, Kent, Everett and Tacoma. (Check out our review of Núodle and its Lanzhou-style hand-pulled beef noodles here.)
At Bellevue Square, shoppers can hit Nordstrom Grill on the second floor of the store, by the men’s department. Nordstrom Grill is a reboot of Tom Douglas’ Department Bento. The new concept focuses on New American cuisine from crab spaghetti to a wild-salmon Oscar, along with the usual burgers and fish and chips. Full bar service as well.
Near the 520 Plaza sits Dan Gui Sichuan Cuisine, which features mapo tofu, dry pots and other dishes from the southwest Chinese province. Lots of whole fish dressed up and cooked in several ways.
Also doing Sichuan cuisine, Huo Yan Hot Pot opened at the Crossroads shopping center.
L’Experience Paris has opened two patisseries, in downtown Bellevue and Mercer Island; at the latter, all the croissants and pastries are baked in the morning. The Mercer Island bakery is more of a day-time hangout, while its Bellevue branch extends into the night with its wine bar.
Chi Mac, the popular joint for beer and Korean fried chicken along the Ave, has added a second location, in Factoria Village. (Speaking of wings, check out the ongoing wing debate between me and my colleague Bethany Jean Clement right here.)
Romp, the children’s play-space, now has a coffee shop.
In Woodinville, Hapa Food Company hawks Hawaiian food such as poke, kalbi ribs and kalua pig out of its trailer (and coming soon, a second trailer, parked in Bellevue, and a food truck in Seattle).
In Redmond, Zio Sal Ristorante is a casual Italian bistro with $12.50-$13.50 pastas ranging from ravioli marinara to spaghetti carbonara.
In Kirkland, Hibiscus Egyptian and Mediterranean Cuisine does fried beef liver along with kofta kebabs, falafel and beef shawarma in the Totem Lake area. Also, Portland-based Joe’s Burgers has expanded with its first Washington-state outpost, located at The Village at Totem Lake. (Pssst, in June, Portland-based Salt & Straw plans to open an outpost in this mall as well.)
In Renton, Sago Kitchen does Vietnamese food — pho, vermicelli noodles and rice dishes.
In Kent, Nana’s Southern Kitchen serves soul food. Look for fried catfish, pork chops and sides such as collard greens and yams. Shanasheel Restaurant focuses on Greek, Turkish, Mediterranean and halal food. Two miles west of that sits the bubble tea spot Ding Tea.
In Burien, El Cabrito showcases moles and Oaxacan food.
In Federal Way, Kitchen Remix does Korean food.
In Tukwila, Homegrown sandwiches has expanded to the Westfield Southcenter mall.
In Edmonds, Boiling Fish is the latest Chinese restaurant to pop up along Aurora Avenue North. Also Santa Fe Mexican Grill & Cantina has expanded to downtown on Main Street. (Yes, that’s the same owner behind the Santa Fe restaurant in Richmond Beach.)
In Lynnwood, Pho Nguyen’s House offers banh mis, vermicelli noodles and its namesake soup. Three miles west of that Vietnamese noodle house sits Falafel House, with its hummus, lamb shawarma and za’atar flatbread. And hit LUMI Dessert Cafe for shaved ice, espresso drinks and brewed teas.