Chinese cuisine worth leaving the Chinatown ID for
Seattle Times staff reporter
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When it comes to Chinese cuisine, many Asians won't venture beyond the Chinatown International District. The perception that only South Jackson Street has the finest or most authentic Chinese fare has frustrated many restaurateurs for decades.
T & T Seafood Restaurant in Edmonds and the Imperial Garden Seafood Restaurant in Kent are among a handful that have gained a faithful following outside the Chinatown International District in recent years. You can add a new member to this exclusive club: Chiang's Gourmet in Lake City.
The place has the hustle-and-bustle energy of its brethren in the Chinatown International District. Chef and owner William Chiang also runs a second Chiang's Gourmet in Renton. Why people have flocked to his North Seattle location instead is a puzzle to him. Not that he is complaining.
Chiang's offers Northern Style dim sum on weekends. On weekdays, the regulars come for the hefty entrees of Szechwan and Taiwanese cuisine and the fresh, chewy noodles.
The four menus can be overwhelming. Work from the mainstream menu with stir fries and dumplings, or the traditional menu with pig's feet and shank hock.
The Fish Fillet in Szechuan Garlic Hot Bean Sauce ($9.25), a dozen pieces of tender soles served on a bed of thick, chewy noodles, is reliably excellent.
Rice, though, is a better complement for Chinese seafood, especially when Chiang's offers such impressive entrees as fish fillets with pickled hot chili. Just let the spicy sauce soak into the rice.
Chiang's deep-fried seafood dishes are textbook perfect: crisp and golden outside and tender inside. The Salt and Pepper Halibut ($11.95), though, was bland. Go for the Scallops in Garlic and Hot Pepper ($12.95) instead.
For something more unusual, try the succulent Chicken with Spicy Basil in Casserole ($8.95), which has the flavors of soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil and wine. Those are the staples of Chinese cooking. But the flavors are much more intense and complex in this braised chicken dish. The regulars won't have their poultry any other way.
One gem is the board special: Lamb with Three Peppers ($11.95) — a pound of tender pieces of lamb sautéed with jalapeño peppers, red bell peppers and dried hot peppers with caramelized green onions.
For a hearty, bargain meal, skip the appetizers. The hefty entrees are reasonably priced (many range from $6.95 to $9.25). A couple can order three dishes for less than $30 and may still have enough food left for the affable waitstaff to box your leftovers.
It's one of the best reasons to go outside of the Chinatown International District for dinner.
Pan Fried Noodle in Spicy Hot Sauce With Beef: One of the city's best noodles. Chef Chiang's noodles are thick and chewy, and his version of lo mein is one of the restaurant's best.
Crispy Pig's Intestine in Garlic and Hot Pepper: Soul-food lovers will delight in this Chinese version of chitterlings. The deep-fried intestines are chewy and come with a heavy dose of dried red pepper that cuts nicely into the intestines' richness. Customers who don't have a palate for this delicacy will find the aroma pungent even with the fried garlic.
Spicy Hot Fish Fillet on Romaine Lettuce: It's a bed of lettuce, layered with pieces of tender sole sprinkled with powdered hot pepper. Toss it like a salad but eat it with rice.
Itemized bill, meal for two
Pan Fried Noodle in Spicy Hot Sauce With Beef $6.95
Crispy Pig's Intestine in Garlic and Hot Pepper $8.95
Spicy Hot Fish Fillet on Romaine Lettuce $10.25
Rice for two $1.50
Tan Vinh: 206-515-5656 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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