Richmond, B.C., has long been known as the Pacific Northwest’s epicenter for good Chinese cuisine. But maybe, just maybe, we can start to take seriously the rumblings that our Eastside could be the next Richmond. It’s not too far-fetched. In the last 18 months, two dozen Chinese restaurants (several from Richmond and from mainland China) including many big-name chains like Liuyishou, have expanded to Bellevue and other nearby cities. Guess what? They’re still coming. Check out the latest wave below.
One of the surprise hits this summer, Qian Express Chinese Ramen House, situated in an unassuming strip mall in downtown, gets packed by noon on weekdays as office workers line up for the bone-marrow soup and the lamb and beef noodles. Wait until the buzz dies down or come at off hours. The deep-fried peanuts-and-dried Sichuan peppers that are served before you order your food may be the best complimentary snack I’ve had this year.
Speaking of noodles, Huaxi Rice Ramen is now a tenant inside the Asian Family Market.
Me + Crêpe, a chain that has a large following in Richmond, B.C., has opened in Bellevue Square, doing the crêpe jianbing, a popular Chinese street food that has caught on around the Northwest. The chain does fancy fusions including a pancake stuffed with foie gras, though fans usually opt for its Peking duck pancake. Me + Crêpe is also known for its tea-infused eggs and tofu soup.
Chongqing Dumpling, which despite its name is better known for its spicy noodles, has opened shop in the Bellevue Marketplace, a strip mall that is becoming a major hub for Chinese grub. At least four more Asian cafes and eateries are opening there soon, including 85 C Bakery Café early next year. That famous Taiwanese bakery chain will be the biggest tenant Bellevue Marketplace has landed since last fall, when China-based Núodle 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 noodle here.)
Pavo, which serves Yunnan-style cuisine, has also been so packed during its opening that management posted an apology to diners for the long wait. And there’s more hot-pot madness with the addition of Zhang Liang Malatang near the Old Bellevue district. Check out our reviews of the growing hot-pot scene here and here.
Thaal recently showcased the delicacies of the northern region of Uttar Pradesh as part of its rotating Indian menu.
The trendy Hong Kong-based Hui Lau Shan opened its first U.S. branch near Microsoft Commons, with its signature mango, durian and dragon-fruit desserts. Also in the city, Meetea Cafe does bubble tea and sandwiches. La Isla, after closing down one Redmond location, has resurfaced in the Redmond Town Center.
Shake Shack has launched its second branch in Washington, plopping down in “Kirkland Urban” along with about a dozen other tenants in this ambitious 12-acre development on Sixth Street South and Central Way. The New York City chain is known more for its burgers and crinkle-cut fries, but thanks to the recent Popeyes-Chick-fil-A showdown, fans are digging the chicken sandwich here. But get the Shack Stack, which just might be the best souped-up burger you can get at any fast-food casual chain. It’s stacked not with a patty, but a “fried portobello mushroom filled with gooey muenster and cheddar cheese.”
Another chain, Ivar’s, with its popular clam chowder and fish and chips, has expanded to Houghton Beach Park, with 78 seats including about three dozen outside.
Sheng Ramen, another international chain with branches in Taiwan and China, has opened on the Eastside, hawking tonkotsu, shoyu and mala sheng ramen. The branch has also expanded to New York and Pittsburgh.
Lollicup Fresh, a bubble-tea spot, opened in the Voda apartments complex.
Biscuit Bitch, the much-loved breakfast-sandwich spot, has expanded along the barhopping drag in White Center, which has seen a surge of new arrivals from Capitol Hill and Ballard restaurateurs. Our roundup from last year on White Center still rings true.
In Kent, Mediterranean Breeze does Turkish cuisine near downtown. Buerjia Chinese Sauerkraut Fish is a one-dish restaurant concept, a fish hot pot with a fermented-kimchi-like flavor, served with steamed rice. The chain has branches in Seattle and Redmond. Its South End branch sits near the busy entrance of the Great Wall mall. (If you’re going there, you should check out the great soup-dumpling house we reviewed this summer.)
A slew of bubble-tea spots have opened in Kent. The latest: BTO.
In Renton, a Korean barbecue spot getting a lot of buzz is Exit 5 Korean BBQ.
In Auburn, Solamente Al Pastor serves fresh, hot tortillas for its namesake taco.
In Tukwila, Trapper’s Sushi has expanded to Southcenter mall.
Big Fish Sushi has moved from Everett to Bothell. More than raw fish, the kitchen offers ramen, bento boxes and teriyaki.
Alderwood mall has landed Mr. Simon’s Chinese Pancake, the popular jianbing street food. And along Highway 99 you can now get street tacos from Omar’s Taqueria in Lynnwood and Yua Ramen by 99 Ranch Market in Edmonds.