“Have you eaten yet?” is a traditional greeting in Asian families, where affection is shown through food rather than a spoken “I love you.” It’s not surprising, then, that Seattle’s Chinatown-International District is a culinary wonderland.

The neighborhood boasts more than 50 authentic and fusion dining options. Within a few compact blocks, you can find Cantonese har gow (shrimp dumplings), Filipino pan de ube (purple yam bread), Taiwanese bubble tea, and Vietnamese bánh canh (chubby noodles).

Asian communities have been a part of Seattle since the first Chinese immigrants arrived in the 1860s. Today, Seattle’s International District remains a tightly knit community of hardworking shopkeepers and residents united by a love of delicious, affordable food.

So put on your stretchy pants and get ready for a foodie journey across Asian cuisines with these recommendations from a Seattle local.

Restaurants to try in the Seattle International District

Jade Garden

Photo Credit: JiaYing Grygiel

Good for: Big groups, bustling energy, dim sum carts

Jade Garden is the quintessential dim sum experience, full stop. Saturday mornings means raucous family gatherings around a big round table, babies passing to grandmas, hot tea pouring, and a lazy susan overflowing with steaming baskets of heaven.

There’s no need to scrutinize a menu here. Catch the server’s eye when she’s pushing the trolley by and peruse the possibilities: steamed pork buns, siu mai, pan-fried radish cake. Order chicken feet for the adventurous, honey walnut prawns for the kids. Ask to have your food snipped in half with kitchen shears so you have room to try everything.

The wait for a table can be an hour long on weekends, so bring your patience and remember that good things come to those who wait.

Must try: Don’t miss out on the flaky egg custard tarts for dessert.

Tai Tung

Photo Credit: JiaYing Grygiel

Good for: Pop culture landmark, Chinese-American comfort food

Tai Tung was Bruce Lee’s favorite Seattle restaurant during the time he lived in the city. The martial arts icon and actor always sat at the same back table with his back against the wall — that way no one could come up behind him. Today, that booth is enshrined as a Bruce Lee memorial, complete with a cutout of the film legend.

Founded in 1935, Tai Tung is Seattle’s oldest remaining Chinese restaurant. Current owner Harry Chan, the third generation of his family to run the restaurant, is there almost every day to welcome customers with a smile.

Must try: Get what Bruce Lee always ordered: oyster sauce beef and garlic shrimp.


Good for: Homey Japanese cuisine, tatami rooms, historical importance

The venerable Maneki has served traditional Japanese cuisine in the Seattle International District for more than a century. The original restaurant opened its doors in 1904 and was designed like a three-story Japanese castle. With the attack on Pearl Harbor and the subsequent incarceration of Japanese-Americans, the castle was heavily damaged. Maneki reopened in the NP Hotel a block south after the internees returned.

Maneki is Seattle’s first sushi bar and the only restaurant in Nihonmachi (Japantown) to survive the racism of World War II. It didn’t just push through it, though. It thrived, earning a coveted James Beard award in 2008. The restaurant recently reopened after a 2024 remodel. Be sure to make a reservation for a private tatami room.

Fun fact: Maneki dishwasher Takeo Miki went on to become prime minister of Japan from 1974 to 1976.

Must try: A sukiyaki is a warm and filling dish to eat family-style. It’s a bubbling pot of tofu, napa cabbage, noodles, and thinly sliced beef. Itadakimasu — dig in!

Dough Zone Dumpling House

Photo courtesy of Dough Zone

Good for: Upscale setting, soup dumplings

Dough Zone is a good place to start if you’re unsure where to eat in Seattle’s International District. The dumpling house began as a mom-and-pop establishment and has expanded with branches down the West Coast and into Texas. And no wonder: the interiors are bright and modern and beautiful. More importantly, the food is fantastic.

Must try: Soup dumplings, called xiao long bao, are a two-handed operation. Lift the dumpling with your chopsticks, take a tiny bite, and use the spoon with the other hand to catch the savory broth streaming out.

Hood Famous Bakeshop Cafe + Bar

Photo Credit: JiaYing Grygiel

Good for: Hip vibe, Filipino-inspired flavors

Hood Famous Bakeshop is an innovative take on Filipino flavors injected in all kinds of yummy house-made pastries. Purple ube, white chocolate guava, coconut pandan, mango calamansi, and Vietnamese coffee cheesecake — you won’t find these flavors anywhere else. Plus, there’s coffee and cocktails.

The Filipino-inspired bakeshop is located in the historic Publix building. Inside, you’ll see equal parts young people on dates and families stepping in for treats.

Must try: Ube, the star ingredient at Hood Famous, lends its stunning purple color to the ube latte, the ube cookie, the ube cheesecake, the ube sugar toast… you get the idea. Ube-anything is not only beautiful, it’s delicious.

Homestyle Dim Sum

Photo Credit: JiaYing Grygiel

Good for: Belly-filling on a budget

Homestyle Dim Sum hits the spot every single time. This is a true hidden gem that isn’t as well-known as some of the bigger places in the neighborhood, but that means there’s rarely a wait for a table. Service is fast, if a bit brusque, a hallmark of sterling dim sum. If your goal is to fill up with huge portions at great prices, Homestyle Dim Sum is the place.

Must Try: Make sure to order the steamed chive dumplings and cilantro shrimp dumplings. The sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaves will fill you up, so take a few home to reheat for an easy lunch the following day.

Kau Kau BBQ Restaurant

Good for: meat lovers

Barbecue lovers in Seattle breathed a sigh of relief in April 2024 when the owners of Kau Kau sold their business to a long-time employee. New owner Hock Wo has worked at Kau Kau for 50 years and has no plans to change the menu. The restaurant, founded in 1959, has a tiny dining room, but most customers are here for the to-go meat orders: barbecue pork, roast duck, soy sauce chicken, barbecue spare ribs.

This is some of the juiciest meat in the Seattle International District, and the proof is in the line that consistently snakes out the door.

Must try: Grab a pound of barbecue pork to go.

Dim Sum King

Photo courtesy of Dim Sum King

Good for: Lightning-fast service, flavorful dim sum, friendly staff

If you think you’re stopping by Dim Sum King for just one green onion bun, think again. Prepare to be upsold by the friendly ladies at the counter, especially when they’re clearing out toward the end of the day.

Dim Sum King is a cozy spot founded by a husband-and-wife team: Chef Zhen Yong Cai runs the kitchen and Amy Eng runs the front of house. Ask Eng what the restaurant’s bestsellers are and she’ll gesture across the entire menu: everything, and at great prices. Potstickers, fried sesame balls, egg rolls, and red bean mochi all for $1.30 each? Yes, please.

Must try: Dim Sum King does all the standard dim sum dishes well, but its steamed rice rolls are some of the best in the city.

Saigon Deli

Photo Credit: JiaYing Grygiel

Good for: Great Vietnamese takeout, bargain prices

The development of Interstate-5 cleaved the Seattle International District in two, and the area east of the interstate is known as Little Saigon. Saigon Deli, not to be confused with Saigon Vietnam Deli around the corner, is a no-frills hole-in-the-wall selling all the classic Vietnamese takeout food. It’s a unicorn in Seattle: bánh mì for $6 and a free parking lot. There’s no seating inside, so pick up goodies for the best picnic of your life.

Must Try: The bánh mì comes with flavorful meat and marinated veggies tucked inside a crispy baguette. After you’ve placed your order, check out the Saran-wrapped trays of fresh spring rolls and bánh cuốn on the counter, perfect taking to go.

Meet Fresh

Photo Credit: JiaYing Grygiel

Good for: Authentic Taiwanese desserts, stylish interior

In a neighborhood with a bubble tea shop on every corner, Meet Fresh stands apart. Bubble tea came out of Taiwan in the ’80s, and Meet Fresh does the signature black tea with milk and boba flawlessly. It’s also one of the few places to find legit Taiwanese-style cold tofu pudding with peanuts, shaved ice, and grass jelly with taro balls.

The Seattle International District location of this Taiwanese chain is on the first level of the KODA condominium building. It’s a modern high-rise on the periphery of the Seattle International District, meaning lower foot traffic and no wait.

Must try: The chewy black pearls at the bottom of a bubble tea, called boba, are made from a starch from cassava root. Your drink comes with a super-sized straw so you can suck up the boba.

About the Author

JiaYing Grygiel is a photographer and writer who covers food, travel and design. She earned journalism degrees from Syracuse University, then promptly moved to Seattle because you don’t have to shovel the rain. Her work appears in The Seattle Times, Seattle’s Child, ParentMap and more.

Featured image courtesy of Dough Zone