While the Seattle area doesn't seem to have any great formal, fancy, banquet-worthy Chinese places, there are quite a few damn good places for more every day Chinese food. As an ABC (American Born Chinese) my fondness for homestyle Chinese food outstrips my ability to cook it, so these places are important to me.
Around the Bellevue area (near my home and Microsoft), there are a few good haunts.
- Szechuan Chef is all the rage now among the Microsoft Chinese community. Great hand shaved noodles, yummy crispy onion pancakes with hot sauce, and good dry fried string beans (always my favorite). The hot pots look good too, but we haven't tried those yet.
15015 Main Street Suite 107 (near the old KMart)
- Pizza and Sandwich House is my favorite hole in the wall. I've been coming here for a dozen years or so (see if you can find the photos of me, Michelle, and the kids on the walls. It's an odd name for a Chinese restaurant unti you realize it's not a Chinese restaurant (or not just a Chinese restaurant). Lee and Joe used to run a Chinese restaurant in Seattle 20+ years ago when they decided it was too much damn work. They bought a little pizza and sandwich shop (hence the name) which was apparently an easier life. However, their old customers followed them to Bellevue and begged them for their old favorites. Now, the first two pages of the menu are pretty decent pizzas and grinders. The back page is all Chinese.
Hands down, my favorite item on the menu is the spicy beef noodles with extra veggies. Damn, this is good eats. The crispy onion cakes are super here too (see a trend?) We also like the veggie potstickers (which come out in real Chinese fashion, the whole dozen or so potstickers upside down with a sheet of crispy floury stuff attaching them all -- hard to explain, but it's yummy.) Lee and Joe are simply great too. They are our extended family. A few warnings -- it's cash only and the facilities are not at all charming. The food and the owners are what make this place great.
2245 140th Ave. N.E. (near Skate King, next to the Enterprise Rent-a-Car)
- Chengdu Chinese Buffet is another unlikely Chinese hot spot. Tucked away in the same strip mall as the most horrible place on earth, Chengdu has scary Americanized, glowing orange Chinese food in some parts of the endless buffet tables, but in a few spots, they have some of the most authentic, delicious stuff. Just follow the Chinese folks around the tables and you'll find the good bits. I especially like the thinly sliced, peppery dried beef.
14625 NE 24th St. (behind The Warehouse near Fred Meyer)
- Cafe Ori is another staple of the local community. It's so popular, they bought out the space next door a few years ago and expanded into it. The place is still always full of local Chinese and in-the-known baigui (if you don't know what this means, you probably don't need to.) My all time favorite thing (and the boys') is the Pork Chop Rice -- two deep fried pork chops on a bed of rice that also has browned ground pork, tart pickles, and some veggies. How can deep fried pork chops be bad?! The Singapore Rice Noodles and the Beef Chow Fun are good too as is the Satay Beef or Chicken. Hell, it's all good.
14339 NE 20th St Ste I (near the Ross and Video Only)
- Wonton City, not surprisingly, has good wontons -- full of shrimp and pork with a little white pepper bite. They have the hard, thin noodles I like too. The congees (rice porridge) are also hen hao (very good). I only wish they were open late at night. Noodles and congee are good post-drinking food. The place is tiny and cash only.
503 - 156th Ave S.E. (Lake Hills Shopping Center, near Stamos Cafe)
There are a few other decent places -- Jeem for dim sum (the owner was the former chef at Wild Ginger), Noble Court for roast duck and seafood and dim sum, and Regent Bakery for roast duck noodles and their killer mango pudding (only in season!).
Hm, I'm hungry now just thinking about it. Lunch anyone?