NFT Seattle International District

International District

This historic neighborhood has provided a cultural hub for Seattle's sizable Asian-American population since the 19th century. Home to Filipino, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Japanese, and Chinese businesses of every stripe, the International District truly feels, well, international. It's hardly the most glamorous area of the city, but strolling through the ID is highly recommended.

Uwajimaya Village features an awesome food court, a bookstore, apartments, and even a bank--you could move in and never leave. But hit the streets of the ID for the real eats. Maneki, a Seattle gem, has been dishing up sushi and traditional Japanese for over 100 years. If you want to try Cambodian, head to Phnom Penh. Or grab a super cheap bahn mi at See more.

>Saigon Deli. Meanwhile, Momo is a unique boutique.


This Neighborhood Featured in...
Aaaaaah, For It

By Karen Watson
Little known fact: Too much coffee and very little sun can do major harm to the body. So like all Seattleites, Karen Watson deserves some pampering and primping every so often. Follow Karen on her spa quest across the city and beyond.

A (Karaoke) Place to Call Home

By Jessica Baxter
Eight years ago Jessica Baxter walked into an empty bar in Seattle to "sing" Daydream Believer in front of 3 friends and 6 wasted, possibly dangerous strangers. She wanted more. Now she's a bona fide karaoke expert.

On Our Radar:

Posted By:  Karen Watson
Photo:  Karen Watson

Panama Hotel Tea & Coffee House
Once humble and somewhat forgotten, the Panama Hotel has now been immortalized in prose as the setting for the bestselling novel "The Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet." Tucked away in a cozy corner of the International District, this national historic landmark really is like a living history lesson and simply sighs nostalgia. The preserved original wood floors cast a warm buttery glow about the place, and countless black and white photos transport you back to Seattle’s infancy. You really won't be able to resist the temptation to spend hours in the first floor coffee house pouring over a good read while nursing a green tea latte on a soggy day. Originally built by the first Japanese architect in Seattle, it still houses the only authentic Japanese bath house in the States. Although the baths are no longer in use, the rest of the hotel is still functioning and open for guests. If you can handle the European style of shared bathrooms on each floor, the Panama is a fantastic budget friendly choice in the downtown corridor. The staff is just as eclectic and unusual as the place itself, easily inspiring several of the book's characters, and readily entertains with stories and smiles.

Posted By:  Craig Nelson
Photo:  Craig Nelson

The International District was once thriving with amazing, old-school Japanese lunch spots. Places like Ichiban, Takohachi (RIP to best sign ever), and Koraku made for some of the best eating experiences on the planet. These tiny spots were just like eating at grandma's house, if you're grandma happened to be an expert Japanese cook. Luckily, Seattle still has Tsukushinbo, a homey restaurant carrying on this traditional style of Japanese cooking and atmosphere. The small dining room is packed with older Japanese regulars and new converts from the fancy office buildings close by. Behind the sushi counter you'll find Sho, the son of the owner. He's incredibly friendly and knowledgeable and will serve you up excellent sushi and treat you like a family member. Dig into the hearty donburi--highly recommended is the tempura with perfectly fried shrimp and veggies over a bowl of delicious seasoned rice. Throw in a couple pieces of sushi, and you have the perfect lunch. On Friday regulars start lining up early for the special shoyu ramen. They only make 25 bowls, so make sure to get there at 11:30 if you want to partake in this tasty tradition.

Posted By:  Tirza Magdiel
Photo:  Tirza Magdiel

Honey Court Seafood Restaurant
What makes this restaurant different? I mean, it's the International District. Chinese restaurants are everywhere. You can't run away from them. There are a few things, though, that makes Honey Court Seafood special. First of all: The Honey Walnut Prawns. If you've been here and have never tasted this dish (Unless you have allergies, you poor thing), what the heck were you thinking?! I would say that Honey Court Seafood is very, very close to authentic Chinese food. It reminds me of meals I've had in Hong Kong and China. It's that good. You should also try the roasted duck (or Peking duck) and the salt and pepper pork. And don't overlook the dim sums that comes around--it smells heavenly! Another thing that makes this restaurant special is that they are open late. We're talking 2:30 am--way late for Seattle. So for those late night cravers, this place is perfect. The one thing to think about, though, is parking. There just isn't much around there. So I suggest you take the bus (another adventure you should try!).

Posted By:  Jessica Baxter
Photo:  Jessica Baxter

Vegetarian Bistro
I may be veggie, but I love Dim Sum. I'm always game to visit traditional places with friends and gorge on dessert or receive derisive laughs from cart ladies when I ask if something has meat in it. But at Vegetarian Bistro, the veggie is king. They have all the Dim Sum favorites like Hum Bun, Shu Mai and dumplings, as well as Chinese classics like Won Ton Soup and General Tso’s Chicken. And you can order it all no questions asked. Faux-flesh connoisseurs will delight in their house recipe. The General Tso’s is crispy and tender, its deliciousness agreed-upon by all dietary persuasions. If fake meat isn't your thing, there are plenty of straight-up vegetable dishes perfectly sauced and ready to sit in your gut for the next 4-6 hours. The only people who won't be happy here are the needlessly picky and the gluten-allergic. Save room for dessert! The egg custard pies are warm and fresh. The Pumpkin Cakes are almost too cute to eat... almost. The only thing missing (besides the meat) are the carts. Everything comes straight from the kitchen. Rest assured, they'll still pressure you into ordering more food than you can eat.

Posted By:  Karen Watson
Photo:  Karen Watson

In the International District at the corner of 6th Avenue and Weller Street is the magic that is Uwajimaya. Started by a Japanese immigrant in 1928, it has mushroomed into an entire overwhelming mega-retail block. Kinokuniya Bookstore, located inside the market, is the largest Japanese bookstore in the Northwest. The gift shop has an impressive selection of Hello Kitty merchandise, Japanese knives, rice cookers, lacquer ware dishes, and luck cats. But the real reason to go inside is the grocery selection. Prepare to be stunned by the number of unidentifiable products located up and down every aisle. At the seafood counter you can even pick your own sea cucumber or live Tilapia out of huge water tanks. When all the smells and eye candy get you salivating stop by the deli for a Bento Box or fresh sushi to enjoy in the attached food court. Oh, and the coconut buns at the Yummy House Bakery are pretty spectacular too.

Posted By:  Karen Watson
Photo:  Karen Watson

Four Seas Restaurant
A Cantonese tradition, dim sum means "to your heart's content" but be careful not to order too heartily since your stomach may be in disagreement. But with cart after cart of food rolling by it is difficult to resist the temptation to order a little of everything. Dumplings and BBQ pork-filled buns fill up those that want to play it safe but locals and those with more advanced palates go for the chicken feet and jellyfish. Pot stickers are given a refreshing fry up tableside and will certainly fulfill your daily requirement of Vitamin G. I usually alternate between a serving of steamed dumplings and then a fried course, thus avoiding sending my gut into an oil overdose. All the items are served in trios so bring friends, but only those who like to share.

Posted By:  Sara Dow
Photo:  Sara Dow

Big John's Pacific Food Importers
Big John's isn't a place you discover, it's a place someone tells you about. It's in a back alley by Safeco field. Shelves of olive oil and balsamic, big barrels of bulk herbs and spices, a huge counter of cheeses, nearly 20 different kinds of olives--all for amazingly low prices. Not to mention the shelves and shelves of imports you can't find anywhere else (marmite, guava paste, pomegrante molasses, halumi, akvar). I could spend hours in there. You do have to buy the cheese and olives by the pound, but their selection is so good you'll polish off whatever you buy in no time. The catch? So easy to spend money when it all looks so good.

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Restaurants (28)
Nightlife (3)
Shopping (10)
Landmarks (3)