Exploring Seattle’s International District: What to Do & Eat

Updated March 19, 2019

Seattle’s food scene has long been influenced by its location on the Pacific Rim. Each neighborhood has its own Asian inspired restaurant, many within walking distance of one another. But for those eager to branch out from their neighborhood spot, and try new healthy eats, head to the true mecca of Seattle’s Asian food scene: the Chinatown-International District.


How to get there

With a significant Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, Filipino and Southeast Asian presence in the area, the Chinatown-International District (dubbed the “I.D.”) is the center of Seattle’s Asian Community. Located south of Seattle’s downtown corridor, South Jackson and South King Street anchor the neighborhood.

What to see & do

As you’re walking the side streets, you’ll take in many of the familiar Chinatown sights: Peking ducks hanging from store windows, apothecaries stocked with endless shelves of medicinal herbs and dim sum restaurants with lines out the door on Sunday morning. Before you settle on a place to stop and eat, explore the I.D. and work up an appetite with a 90-minute walking tour offered by the Wing Luke Museum, which covers the history and culture of the neighborhood. If you’d rather explore on your own, download this free, self-guided walking map from History Link. Starting at the historic Union Station then head to the Wing Luke Asian Museum and see many historic hotels and sights along the way.


With more restaurants per block than any other neighborhood in Seattle, it’s hard to choose just one place for a healthy lunch or dinner. A few highlights include:

Green Leaf: For authentic Vietnamese food, look no further than Green Leaf restaurant. A popular (and often crowded) Seattle establishment, Green Leaf has been run by the Kuang family since 2005. 


Mike’s Noodle HouseThe place to go for Cantonese-style Chinese food, Mike’s is a classic “hole-in-the-wall” where cheap, authentic food is served in a no-frills setting.

Tsukishinbo: The place to go for authentic shoyu ramen, served on Fridays only, has attracted a dedicated following. Get there well before the place opens at 11:45 am, as there is often a line (and they tend to run out by 1:00 pm). The sushi specials and traditional Japanese dishes are also quite good, and prices are reasonable.

Take Home

Viet Wah: While Uwajimaya is the most well-known Asian grocery store in Seattle (with outposts in Bellevue, Renton and Beaverton, OR), Viet Wah offers a similar selection, albeit in a smaller, more compact setting and with much lower prices.

Don’t miss: 

  • Asian knives, priced between $5-10, that offer super-sharp edges for slicing through even the thickest pieces of lemongrass.
  • Fresh rice noodles, made daily and sold while still warm, that will transform your noodle stir fry into something restaurant-worthy.
  • Insanely large bunches of fresh herbs, including mint, Thai basil and dill, which are cheaper here than anywhere else in the city.

More information

Visit the Chinatown-International District website for the latest news, events, directions and a comprehensive business directory.

Erin Burchfield

For Erin Burchfield, a Seattle native, cooking is a passion. She enjoys the art of creating something delicious with simple ingredients, or improvising with whatever is in season, on hand, or looking particularly tempting. Erin strives to be connected to her food, whether by growing her own or developing friendships with producers at her local farmers market. When not in the kitchen, you can find her outside running, hiking or training for her first triathlon. You can find more of Erin’s food writing and recipes can at www.notesondelicious.com

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