By Nina Huang
April 10, 2017
Over the years, the greater Seattle area has seen an influx of Taiwanese chains, both big and small. And akin to the so-called “line culture” seen in Taiwan (Editor’s note: some visitors in Taiwan have taken notice to their proclivity for waiting in long lines, sometimes even waiting for the unspectacular; a cultural phenomenon perhaps?), many of these popular spots have generated long lines of people eagerly awaiting delicious meals and snacks—we see you, 85C Bakery.
Here are some places we think are certainly waiting in line for…
Din Tai Fung
Founded in 1958 in Taipei, Taiwan, Din Tai Fung slowly grew locations in over 10 countries. The first restaurant in Washington landed on the eastside, in Bellevue back in 2010. Locations in the University District’s U Village and Pacific Place soon followed suit in 2013 and 2017, respectively. Next up: The Tukwila branch is expected to open later this spring. The restaurant is most notably known for their pork soup dumplings, or xiao long bao, and wide array of stir fry dishes like the Shanghai rice cakes or pork chop fried rice. You can’t really go wrong with anything that you order here. If you’re feeling extravagant, try the truffle and pork soup dumplings! Don’t forget to also order some taro dessert dumplings for the perfect way to end your meal. The trick is go with a small group and grab seats at the first-come, first-serve bar area. Multiple locations, website
Perfect for the cold weather, the personal hot pots at Boiling Point will warm your cold bones, especially since spring is taking its sweet timing getting here. There are a variety of flavors you can choose from: Taiwanese Spicy, Curry Fishball, Japanese Miso, Original Beef, and more. My personal favorite is the simple yet mouthwatering Original Beef hot pot. Try the spicy fermented tofu if you dare. Stop in for a sizzling hot pot at one of their locations in Bellevue, International District, or Edmonds. Multiple locations, website
The first Sharetea was opened to a warm welcome and positive reviews in the University District. Despite several bubble tea shops already present in the neighborhood, Sharetea is located off of University Way aka The Ave at 45th Street. Unlike most other bubble tea places, Sharetea serves its delicious taro milk tea with real taro and not the flavored powder. In fact, most of the drinks on their menu are made with fresh ingredients and real teas. Their specialty drink is the creama tea with a whipped cream topping and strong tea flavors. Celebrate the beginning of spring with a bubble tea at either the University District, Renton, or Redmond locations. Multiple locations, website
Established in Los Angeles, Kiki Bakery may not be as well known as 85C Bakery, but they still satisfy their customers with their delicious Taiwanese pastries, buns, and specialty cakes. The bakery was opened first in L.A. back in May of 2004. Their beautiful and cute cartoon character cakes are perfect for a special occasion. What’s unique about Kiki Bakery is that they also serve savory meals like Taiwanese bentos with stewed pork over rice or fried chicken cutlet with rice. They also serve a variety of iced and hot drinks like bubble tea and Hokkaido milk tea. Grab a bun from Bellevue, Haller Lake, or the University District location. Multiple locations, website
85°C Bakery and Cafe
If you’re patient and hungry for these coveted Taiwanese buns and breads, you’ll be able to get your fix of the delicacies coming out of the oven at 85°C Bakery and Cafe (read Ethnic Seattle‘s review here). The trick is to come with another person so you can divide and conquer once you’re in the bakery. One person to pick up the pastries and the other to wait in the checkout line. Going right when it opens in the mornings may decrease your wait time. Taiwanese bun and sea salt coffee aficionados can look forward to future locations in Capitol Hill, Lynnwood, and Federal Way later this year. Multiple locations, website
Not huge chains, but also noteworthy Taiwanese spots
Local restaurateur Henry Ku serves up traditional Taiwanese eats like the railroad bento at Henry’s Taiwan Bistro at locations in the International District, Bellevue and now Queen Anne.
People rave about the pork burgers (gua bao) and stewed pork over rice (ru rou fan) at Bellevue’s Facing East.
HardWok Cafe in the International District and Bellevue serve up tasty bubble milk teas and Taiwanese eats like beef noodle soup and popcorn chicken. It’s also known for their sweet and layered treat, Honey Toast. Circa has a pretty sweet video of it, too.
The International District’s Gourmet Noodle Bowl is often overlooked for their all-you-can-eat hot pot and flavorful noodle soups.
Don’t miss out on the cookie milk tea and savory Taiwanese home-style cooking from Looking for Chai in Edmonds.
Lastly, check out Taiwanese-style desserts such as grass jelly and ai-yu jelly and other delectable sweets at Black Ball Desserts in Edmonds.