The popular White Center restaurant, also a gathering spot for the Khmer community, is closing after 11 years.
Customers and friends honored chef Chanthorn Yin with a cake and speeches during the final night of business Thursday at Queen’s Deli in White Center. Yin operated the catering business and deli for 11 years. Known for its beef skewers, sour soup and chicken curry, it also was a gathering place for the Khmer community. “I really enjoy cooking for people,” says Yin, through an interpreter. “I’ll sometimes cater for events of 600 or 250 or even 100 … It doesn’t matter how tired I am, I always have the energy to provide food for my community and for my customers as well.” Queen’s Deli helped Yin support her family, including funding her children’s education. She closed her business to take care of her 90-year-old mother, who recently moved here from Cambodia. Prenz Sa-Ngoun, a community organizer and former Buddhist monk, volunteered to stock the deli counter, wash dishes, clean and the run the cash register during the business’ final days. Others did as well. Sa-Ngoun and other community members shared news of the closing to bring people into the restaurant for one last visit. He said Queen’s Deli is one of the last Khmer eateries in Washington state. Yin sold the deli to an out out-of-state owner who will open a restaurant called Khmer Apsara. “I don’t want the richness of the Khmer food to be forgotten,” Yin said. For Yin, her last night operating queen’s Deli was spent like many others: cooking for customers. “I’m really happy,” Yin said about the outpouring of support.