Phuket Pork Belly Stew and Chu Chi Red Curry at Thai Isarn Soul Kitchen. Credit: Nancy Chaney
It’s fall, you’re busy. Soccer practice, homework supervision, music lessons. The days are getting shorter and before you know it, we’ll be hurtling toward the holidays.
No shame in ’fessing up that eating out and ordering takeout make up two of our major food groups. Everyone gets to pick what they want to eat, and the household chef gets a night off. Win-win.
When our family eats out, we love to try and find the best Asian restaurants, just like so many Seattleites. King County is one of just eight counties in the entire country where at least 25 percent of restaurants serve some type of Asian food, according to a recent report from Pew Research Center. Supply and demand at work? Census stats indicate that the population of King County is 21.7 percent Asian. Get your mouth watering with our mom-approved picks.
Best Asian restaurants in Seattle
Best Indian: Rasai
Book a date night, stat, at this jewel box of a restaurant in Fremont. The cuisine is modern Indian and it’s gorgeous. A puff of edible perfume, a smoke bubble — the tableside theatrics make dinner extra fun. Every dish in the 7-course dinner tasting menu is a work of art. Add drink pairings for a truly sublime experience.
Brunch here comes with plates big enough to share. Don’t worry, the spice level is minimal. It’s casual enough for a nice outing with kids, elegant enough to to impress your in-laws.
Find it: 473 N. 36th St., Seattle (Fremont)
Runner-up Indian: Kricket Club
When you think sports bar, you think glam and sophisticated, right? The dark, rich décor of Kricket Club is inspired by India’s elite social clubs where members talk sports and eat well.
Kricket Club serves elevated Indian cuisine, referencing dishes from royal recipes to street food. This is the kind of place where you go for birthdays, anniversaries and anytime you’re feeling a bit fancy.
Find it: 2404 N.E. 65th St., Seattle (Ravenna)
Best Chinese: Dough Zone Dumpling House
Don’t let the word “chain” fool you; there’s nothing generic about Dough Zone, a Bellevue-based dumpling house chain.
The interior is modern and stylish — and the food is authentically tasty. The vibe equally suits a business lunch and a big family gathering. Dough Zone specializes in soup dumplings, and you can even buy frozen pre-made soup dumplings to take home — a life saver on a busy weeknight.
Find it: Dough Zone has 11 Seattle-area locations.
Runner-up Chinese: Kau Kau
Keep scrolling if you’re a vegetarian. Kau Kau is our pick solely for the juicy, drippy, fatty char siu pork. Supposedly there are vegetables on the menu, but we’ve never made it that far.
Find it: 656 S. King St., Seattle (Chinatown-International District)
Best Vietnamese: Pho Than Brothers
We love this no-frills local chain. You’re not paying for ambiance, you’re just paying for delicious pho. On a drizzly gray day, nothing will warm you up like a vat of fragrant beef broth with rice noodles, fresh basil and bean sprouts. Another huge plus for dining with kids: Service here is lightning fast.
Find it: Pho Than Brothers has 7 Seattle-area locations.
Runner-up Vietnamese: Seattle Deli
My family has been deeply loyal to this Vietnamese deli since waaaay back when it was located in the C-ID and a banh mi set you back just $3. Gentrification pushed Seattle Deli out to Edmonds and inflation pushed the price up to $9.75. It’s still a heck of a deal. Note: No dine-in here, it’s takeout only.
Find it: 22618 Highway 99, Suite 114, Edmonds
Best Filipino: Musang
Musang is one of the very best Filipino restaurants in our region, and also in the entire country. Don’t just take our word for it: Chef Melissa Miranda was named one of Food and Wine Magazine’s best new chefs of 2022, and she is a 2023 James Beard Award semifinalist. Musang serves Filipino dishes inspired by Miranda’s childhood memories.
Find it: 2524 Beacon Ave. S., Seattle (Beacon Hill)
Runner-up Filipino: Despi Delite Bakery
A bakery doesn’t technically count as a restaurant unless you consider pastries and cake an acceptable dinner. (We do!) We love this unpretentious bakery in Beacon Hill and the kind aunties who work there. The delightful mini ube rolls are the bakery’s best-selling treat and they’re just the right size for little hands. Takeout only.
Best Korean: Stone Korean
The way to my heart is through my stomach. Specifically, through banchan, the little side dishes that are part of Korean meals. The rest of my usual order includes kalbi (short ribs), bulgogi (barbecue rib-eye), haemul pahjuhn (seafood pancake), and bibimbap (rice and veggies with an egg on top). Legit Korean food in Seattle is hard to find. Stone Korean hits the spot.
Find it: 900 Dexter Ave. N., Seattle (South Lake Union); 24032 Bothell-Everett Highway, Suite 400, Bothell; and 15015 Main St., Suite 114, Bellevue. Note that the original Redmond location closed recently, but is still listed on the website. A new Redmond restaurant is slated to open later this year.
Runner-up Korean: Meet Korean
This spot is where you’ll find Korean barbecue heaven. Chefs grill the meat to perfection right at your table. This restaurant is upscale and a bit pricey; think of it for special occasions.
Find it: 500 E. Pike St., Seattle (Capitol Hill)
Best Japanese: Maneki
Maneki is a legendary Seattle landmark. Established in 1904, it’s the oldest Japanese restaurant in Seattle. We love the homey atmosphere and private tatami rooms, which are perfect for a family dinner. Maneki is temporarily closed for building upgrades; check social media to find out when it will reopen.
Find it: 304 6th Ave. S., Seattle (Chinatown-International District)
Runner-up Japanese: Musashi’s
Musashi’s is a tiny, tiny sushi joint, with fair prices and fast service. Get the chirashi bowl! Most people get their orders to go, though there is a small dining area.
Find it: 1400 N. 45th St., Seattle (Wallingford)
Best Thai: Thai Isarn Soul Kitchen
Thai Isarn serves yummy authentic Thai food recommended by my Thai friend, so you know it’s real. The Phuket Pork Belly Stew is served in a bowl that resembles a mini cauldron, kept hot by its own candle underneath. Chunks of pork belly and a hard-boiled egg float in the rich brown broth. The Chu Chi Red Curry is creamy and delicious; two stars rendered the perfect amount of spice. Tip: Happy hour happens every day, 3–6 p.m. Roll up for an early dinner and satisfy your crew with lemongrass wings and the green papaya salad. Delish.
Runner-up Thai: Araya’s Place
For veggie, head to Araya’s, the first vegan Thai restaurant in the Northwest. It’s family-owned and operated, and named for the owner’s mom. Araya offers a takeout family meal ($65), which makes it super easy to feed the troops a budget-friendly dinner.
Best Indonesian: Indo Café
There’s only one sit-down Indonesian restaurant in Seattle, and it’s in a strip mall on Aurora. Indo Café is a hole-in-the-wall spot with solid, authentic cooking.
Find it: 13754 Aurora Ave. N., Suite D, Seattle (Haller Lake)
Runner-up Indonesian: Seattle’s other Indonesian option is a roving Indonesian food truck, Bumbu. We spotted it recently at the Queen Anne Farmers Market. Track its location on social media and perhaps try something new. Bumbu’s aptly named Undecided Combo offers a bit of everything: chicken satay, lumpia, fried rice, noodles and salad.
More dinner-out ideas: