Seattle’s international district includes companies from all over Asia – hence the modification of the traditional Chinatown moniker. In addition to the diverse mix of dishes from Japan, Vietnam, Thailand and Korea, the ID offers guests a choice from a variety of Chinese regional cuisines and styles.
When the parents of food writer Hsiao-Ching Chou moved to the United States in 1980 and opened a Chinese restaurant, traditional dishes were not selling. The author of Vegetarian Chinese soul food jokes that “cashew chicken paid for my college education,” notes that customers preferred American options and only tried the more traditional dishes their family cooked, like dry fried beans when served buffet style.
In the decades since then, she has seen the world of Chinese food expand in America, which she attributes to more people who travel or even explore other cultures from their couches. “What’s on TV, Tony Bourdain … even people on YouTube who are broadcasting from anywhere,” she says. “That opened up access to these regional cuisines and ingredients and created a wider demand and customer base.”
The sheer diversity – and the combination of swanky well-known chains from overseas and California with long-standing local classics – makes Chou reject the idea of choosing favorites. “There are different types of restaurants and they will meet different types of needs and the type of food you want,” she says.
Even if she won’t choose, we’ll be happy to: This list compiles thrillist favorites to bring guests together with food from all over China and the surrounding area. In addition to finding the exact fit for the kitchen and style, Chou reminds guests that many places in ID deserve recognition for their history and longevity. “Regardless of a particular kitchen, it is to be celebrated that you can run a business in this market for decades.”