Momosan Seattle, one of the big anticipated openings, has landed. The handlers for celebrity chef Masaharu Morimoto said Sept. 5 is the opening date. No reservations. First come, first served. This will likely be the busiest restaurant in Seattle for a couple of weeks as fans of the Food Network star flock to Morimoto’s new ramen spot to rub shoulders with the celebrity chef. He’s already been spotted around town in recent weeks. Momosan will showcase tonkotsu, tantan, tsukemen and Tokyo chicken ramen. The ramen-and-sake restaurant will be located inside the Publix building, 504 Fifth Ave. S., where the wildly popular Dough Zone is already a tenant. That complex will draw even more foot traffic to south of South Jackson Street with Momosan as a tenant.
From the long lines in the Chinatown International District, you might have thought Momosan was already open. But that buzz belongs to Dochi, the Japanese mochi doughnut shop that launched in the Uwajimaya food court, with a two-hour wait for its Ube Glaze and Taro Pebbles doughnuts during its grand opening two weeks ago. Mercifully, the wait is down to about 20 minutes now. Give it a few more weeks to cool down if you don’t have the patience to wait.
Champagne Diner: Bryn Lumsden is one of the four owners behind this contemporary take on the American diner. In recent years, Lumsden has drawn many cocktail geeks to the main drag of Pioneer Square with his last venture, Damn the Weather, which punched above its weight by cranking out some of the most talked about food in that neighborhood (chicken-fat fries and the Caesar salad sandwich.) He’s looking for an encore in Interbay with Champagne Diner. Expedia’s 4,500 workforce will move into that area by winter. And Lumsden’s latest, like many of the nearby restaurants, is gearing up to get a piece of that action. One of Seattle’s best bartenders, Lumsden crafts these simple but creative two- to three-ingredient cocktails. Same blueprint here: his rum cocktail is rhum agricole with maraschino and Kina tonic. Like all the hip restaurants now, the diner focuses on natural wine. This Interbay spot doubles as a wine retail store and charges the same price whether you buy a bottle to-go or order one with your dinner. No corkage fee. The wine bottles offer maybe the best value, with many priced under $30. On food, chef Brian Miyamoto, formerly of Restaurant Zoe, Art of the Table and L’Oursin, composes contemporary takes on diner classics: eggs, burgers, meatloaf, potpies and “tuna melt” (the last is made with pacific cod).
Also, opening near Champagne Diner is Gourmondo Café.
In Belltown, Local 360, which used to revel in its all-bacon happy hour, has expanded with the plant-focused Local Vegan in the old back dining room of Local 360. Local Vegan runs $68, seven-course meals.
On the other end of the spectrum is the carnivore’s delight that is Son of a Butcher, a Korean barbecue spot that just anchored in a strip mall in Eastlake. Expect Korean chicken wings and baby back ribs as well. Also taking the Korean cuisine route is Paju in Lower Queen Anne, with contemporary takes on comfort food including a kimchi and bacon fried rice with squid ink and a smoked quail egg yolk. For something healthier, head one block west to Rush Bowls for acai bowls, berry smoothies and healthful, body-cleansing dishes with names like “Greens Guru.”
Remember Girin, the Korean joint near CenturyLink Field that had a small following but never got traction in Pioneer Square? Well, it’s been reborn as the sushi spot Matsu.
In West Seattle, the smoked-meat restaurant Lady Jaye should open after Labor Day and Alki Chicken & Waffles just opened across from the beach, and according to Westside Seattle blog, is bringing back the iconic Alki Homestead fried-chicken recipe. On the main commercial drag, Brian Clevenger has launched Haymaker, about a half-mile south from his Italian-inspired Raccolto. At Haymaker, expect lots of fresh pasta, along with seafood entrees showcasing king salmon and black cod. And what feels like a prerequisite for every new hip restaurant in town, Haymaker serves dry-aged steak and burrata cheese. (By the way, Clevenger also runs one of the city’s best cheap-eat spots, his G.H. Pasta Co. does bucatini and fresh noodle bowls for $11-$12 near the Amazon Spheres.)
In the Green Lake neighborhood, David Nichols, who headed the food program at Queen Anne Beerhall and the downtown hotel restaurant Rider, now runs his own restaurant Eight Row, a mix of South and Central American-inspired cuisines, though the venison sausage, bison tartare and other game meats are an homage to the hunting heritage from his upbringing in the foothills of the Cascades, he said. Also look for pan-fried duck breast served with duck-fat fried rice. The craft beer-and-booze list shines on locally artisan producers while the wine list focuses on the Old World.
But the biggest opening around Green Lake is set for Sept. 1: Da Long Yi Hot Pot, a wildly popular Chengdu, China-based chain with 200 locations worldwide, brings its signature Sichuan spicy broth to the Emerald City. Many hot-pot heavyweights from Asia are descending on Seattle and the Eastside now. Famous hot-pot chains Liuyishou and The Dolar Shop have opened in Bellevue, and are arguably two of the biggest restaurant openings in that city since Din Tai Fung. Later this year, HaiDiLao will anchor at Pacific Place in downtown Seattle.
Speaking of famous chains from Asia, Buerjia Chinese Sauerkraut, which has been a big hit around Richmond, B.C., and in other parts of the world, is making a big splash around King County with four branches, most recently in the University District. The famous chain also opened along Aurora Avenue North near the Bitter Lake area and in Kent and Redmond. Buerjia is a one-dish restaurant concept, essentially a fish hot pot with a fermented-kimchi-like flavor, served with steamed rice. The aromatic broth gets spicy and salty the longer it simmers. The U District’s Buerjia branch underscores how this college ’hood has grown beyond the General Tso’s chicken and shrimp fried rice phase. The area is gradually reinventing itself as a hub for a broad range of Chinese cuisines. Also new to the Ave: the Chinese restaurants DL BBQ and Chongqing Noodles. The area is abuzz with rumors of more Chinese restaurants coming in the next eight to 12 months. We might have to start nicknaming this hub Chinatown North.
And more fancy Chinese food … Chef King is a Sichuan cuisine restaurant from Jennifer Hau, who also owns a Chinese American restaurant in Des Moines. Located in Greenwood, Chef King is a more ambitious restaurant than Hau’s South End venture, with spicy dishes and authentic Chinese cuisine including stir-fried intestine, and interesting takes such as duck with rock-candy sauce. Or leave the ordering up to the restaurant, which runs “chef’s choice,” featuring the catch of the day or whatever is fresh in the kitchen.
Another Chinese restaurant generating buzz in the Asian community is Tian Fu in the Northgate area. Look for sautéed chicken gizzards with pickled beans and Chengdu pig’s feet soup. For those less adventurous, stick to dan dan noodles and pork-belly fried rice.
Secret Savory has opened in the former Root Table spot in Ballard, focusing on the cuisine of north, northwest, central and south Thailand. And former Sounders player Fredy Montero has opened Santo Coffee Co. in North Seattle.