Celebrate the Chinese New Year in Seattle's International District

Add flavor to a gray day in the Northwest with the colors and cuisine of Asia

Jenny Cunningham

One of the richest men in America might work down the block, but Seattle's International District is still a far cry from gentrified.

In the shadow of Paul Allen's steel-and-glass Vulcan headquarters, the "ID" continues to buzz along - low-tech and fiery, oblivious to any Windows save those that look out on Jackson, Main, or King Streets. Multiple waves of immigrants have made this a pan-Asian neighborhood, but it's especially festive here in January, when the district is adorned in dragons for the Chinese New Year, which falls on February 7. Here's to the Year of the Rat.


The International District is south of downtown, roughly between Qwest Field and I-5 along S. Jackson St. Head south from downtown on 2nd Ave., then turn left on S. Jackson.


Tamarind Tree
An upscale Vietnamese restaurant housed in a strip mall - and the kind of place foodies prefer to keep to themselves. The wait for a table is long enough, but the crunchy Tamarind Tree rolls alone are worth it. INFO: $; 1036 S. Jackson St., Ste. A; 206/860-1404.

Shop the day away in Madison Valley
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Buttery pink amberjack nigiri or steamed salmon in a creamy miso sauce. Our only reservation about this place is that it doesn't take them. INFO: $; closed Mon; 304 6th Ave. S.; 206/622-2631.

Seven Stars Pepper
Probe your Chinese pals for tips on the best food in the International District, and this spot always makes the list. INFO: $; 1207 S. Jackson St., Ste. 211; 206/568-6446.


A mega-market with fresh sushi-grade tuna, orchids, and Asian fare. INFO: 600 5th Ave. S.; 206/624-6248.

International Model Toys
Collectors come from all around western Washington in search of anime. Some of which, parents beware, is racier than Pokémon. INFO: 601 S. King St., 206/682-8534.

Kobo at Higo
Japanese and Northwest fine crafts coexist with 1940s flotsam. INFO: Closed Sun; 604 S. Jackson St.; 206/381-3000.


At Panama Hotel Tea & Coffee House (rooms from $75; 607 S. Main St.; 206/515-4000), rest your feet, soak up Japanese American WWII history, and sip oolong infusions. Upstairs, the shared-bath hotel rooms appeal to history buffs on a budget.


The Wing Luke Asian Museum is arguably the International District's most important cultural draw. In May 2008, after a $23 million restoration, the museum will reopen in its new home, the historic East Kong Yick Building (719 S. King St.; 206/623-5124).