NFT Seattle Bellevue (Central)

Bellevue (Central)

Essentials
The latest census reported Bellevue to have the highest percentage of non-white residents in the state, with the Chinese and Indian populations having increased twofold since 2000. Despite the materialistic air of the "SoCal of Puget Sound," Bellevue ranks consistently high in Money's "Best Places to Live." Have you noticed how much Western Washingtonians love their magazine list rankings?

Sundries/Entertainment
Head for college-budget friendly Trader Joe's for affordable groceries and the best snacks to help you through that all-nighter. Asian cuisine enthusiasts rejoice in the bevy of specialty grocery stores: Japanese-established Uwajimaya carries everything from basic Western essentials to durian and pig feet.




         


This Neighborhood Featured in...
The NFT Guide To Recreational Weed

By Jessica Baxter
In 2014, Washington made history as one of the first states (along with Colorado) to end marijuana prohibition. The journey from legalization to retail has been a lengthy and grueling process . . .
Read More...

On Our Radar:

Posted By:  Barrie Arliss
Photo:  Barrie Arliss

Skate King
For whatever reason you want to revisit middle school, do it at Skate King. But you have to go all the way to Bellevue to go back in your little time machine. This roller skating ring is pretty typical. The rug has that sweet smell of vomit, piss, popcorn and gum. The old dude that gives you skates makes sexist jokes that are actually kinda funny. And the Michael Jackson songs are just too perfect to skate around with your loved one. The typical stage, with young kids falling over themselves and too-cool-for-school teens showing off their in-lines, makes for entertainment in itself. But to really enjoy your experience you have to get out there and skate around and around and around, and then in the opposite direction when the DJ says it's okay to do so. Then after you work up a sweat, spend $20 trying to get a shitty stuffed animal in the claw game and you've got yourself a night you’ll never forget, and never quite wash out of your jeans.



Posted By:  Jessica Baxter
Photo:  Jessica Baxter

Can-Am Pizza
Just when you thought there was nothing new under the pizza oven light, along come those crafty Canadians to shake things up. Forming an alliance with the U.S. of A., and probably inspired by those lenient Canadian pot laws, they've done something truly amazing: put Indian food on a pizza. The bad news is, there are only 4 Indian pizza combos. The good news is that two of them involve the word "butter." The Butter Chicken and Butter Paneer are both marinated in their special curry sauce. The Tandoori Chicken and Palak Paneer have a more traditional pizza flavor but still pack an awesome Eastern punch. If you're feeling especially punchy, add hot peppers, ginger or cilantro to your pie. If curry isn't your thing but your still in the mood for some stonerific grub, they also have a taco pizza. That's right. TACO. PIZZA. Oh yeah, there's a little more bad news. You gotta go to Bellevue. But even if it's out of our way, remember: you can always reheat the thing. And if you’re feeling especially entrepreneurial, check their website for info on how you can start your own franchise! Seattle definitely needs us a CanAm.



Posted By:  Meiwa Chen
Photo:  Meiwa Chen

Zen Yai Noodles
It's decent enough of a place, despite the really weird setup. Zen Yai Noodle House reminds you of a distastefully decorated hospital cafeteria with artificial plants and nauseatingly pale colors, but at least the food is a little better than hospital food. This Thai restaurant offers the usual Thai fare and some chef selected specials, however the establishment also oddly incorporates non-Thai noodles (udon, ramen, and macaroni) into their dishes: Spaghetti Kee Mao, Ka Ree Macaroni, Udon Tom Yum, Yakisoba... well, you get the point: weird. Would I come back? Maybe, if I wanted a steaming bowl of spicy noodle soup bad enough to make me overlook the color of the walls.



Posted By:  Meiwa Chen
Photo:  Meiwa Chen

Regent Bakery & Cafe
The fancy cakes here at Regent Bakery and Cafe are a well known secret among local Asians who crave light, fluffy cakes with more flavor but less sugar. There are more selections than you can imagine under one roof: tiramisu, strawberry mousse, chestnut, black forest, mocha, mango cheesecake, chocolate mousse... the list goes on. You can pre-order larger cakes for social events or just come in for a daily slice. Pastries such as cream puffs, egg custards, lotus cakes, red bean buns, moon cakes, and more round out the assortment of Asian pastries that remind you of Hong Kong, plus bubble tea and fruit smoothies to help you down the guilty pleasures.



Posted By:  Meiwa Chen
Photo:  Meiwa Chen

Paldo World
It's a bit out of the way in the Lake Hills area of Bellevue, so if I ever go to the Korean market Pal-do World, which is practically never, it's only for the freshly made kimchee. Pal-Do World, like a true Asian store, also has aisles full of home and kitchen appliances that I never knew existed and never thought necessary. Grocery-wise, almost everything here can also be found at Uwajimaya, unless it's uniquely a Korean item like Korean melon or frozen Korean pancakes, or even Korean music cds. But who knew cabbage, drenched in stinking fish sauce, garlic and chili pepper, would actually taste good. If you're brave enough, try the other heavily fermented varieties of kimchee in their self-serving kimchee bar.



Posted By:  Meiwa Chen
Photo:  Meiwa Chen

Saigon City
The spring rolls came out of Saigon City's kitchen too fast to have been wrapped fresh. Even the plate felt refrigerated. The beef pho was, well, disappointingly unremarkable (waaaay too salty), but at least there were numerous other Vietnamese dishes offered compared to the usual pho place. Yet, this family-run restaurant (which looks like the type of place you would find just off a highway exit in the middle of nowhere) also has a frozen yogurt and bubble tea counter. To me that's real sketchy. Like it's catering to people who have never had Vietnamese food and have nothing to compare it to. I hate to say it, but while the service from the Vietnamese family was very cheerful and attentive, they may be trying too hard--there are even old family photographs displayed in the menu.



Posted By:  Meiwa Chen
Photo: 

Pho Hoa
If you need a MSG fix, Pho Hoa is the place to hit. It looks and feels grimy in this Vietnamese rice noodle restaurant, yet I keep coming back for heaping, steaming bowls of tasty pho. They've gotten newer rags to wipe down the tables, but become a regular here and your arms will have taught themselves not to rest on the sticky tables. Devotees of Pho Hoa don't really bother trying other Vietnamese noodle chains (ok, that's just me) since they've already found a place that satisfies the tongue (thank you, MSG). It's nearly impossible to get a table during lunch hours with the line running out the door, but service sure is speedy--the meat and noodles basically cook themselves in the hot broth while on its way out of the kitchen towards your table. Garnish with bean sprouts, basil leaves, lime and jalapenos, and voila, you're officially addicted to MSG.



Posted By:  Meiwa Chen
Photo: 

Jeem Asian Restaurant
Picky Asians know that getting high quality Chinese food on the Eastside is pretty unlikely, so we shut up, count our blessings and just endure the mediocrity. With an unusual high turnover of ownership and chefs, customer reviews of Jeem’s Asian Restaurant fluctuate faster than a roller coaster. Popular for its dim sum (but hardly for the service), ratings are high when the tables are filled with the Microsoft and AT&T workforces during lunch hour and dim sum carts brim with towers of Cantonese radish cakes, pork belly, shrimp-and-chive dumplings, etc. Unless you live near the International District surrounded by cheap Asian eateries, this is the place on the Eastside for dim sum. At least, until the chef leaves, the owner changes, customers disappear, and the chicken feet and cow stomach get cold.



Posted By:  Meiwa Chen
Photo: 

Boba Express
Most people come here for the bubble milk teas, coffees, and smoothies, yet they don’t know what they’re really missing. Not being a fan of anything made from tapioca, I come here for the spicy Asian popcorn chicken. Inside the Crossroads Shopping Mall food court, I can’t help feeling guilty as I indulge and walk past people sniffing and turning their heads, commenting on how good this mysterious snack smells. Fried and seasoned with basil and spices, these sizzling bite-sized pieces of chicken are the closest thing to authentic you can get from a food court. Have I mentioned the fried squid balls?



Posted By:  Meiwa Chen
Photo: 

I Love Sushi
Don't ask me why there are two I Love Sushi locations in Bellevue that share a parking lot. I don't know, but I ain't complaining. It's probable that you won't be able to get a table (much less get inside the door) at "Bellevue Main," the older, more casual restaurant, so just walk the extremely far 200 feet or so to the other--"Lake Bellevue." With a slightly different menu, the newer I Love Sushi sits atop the artificial Lake Bellevue and feels more business casual. There's a 3rd one in Seattle on Lake Union, but that one's lookin' pretty run down compared to these two on the Eastside (the view of Lake Union sure beats the one of the fake lake, though). The fresh, large sushi portions served here are definitely more satisfying than, say, Sushi Land, plus I Love Sushi presents daily specials and creates their own unique rolls (I Love Roll). Oh, and don't be greedy--share the fried tempura green tea ice cream--it's HUGE.



Posted By:  Meiwa Chen
Photo: 

Trader Joe's
People have commented that I might as well not be alive if Trader Joe’s didn’t exist. My sanity depends on their dark chocolate covered espresso beans. And their green tea…and their chicken enchiladas, and blueberry scones… I’m not pathetic, I’m really not. Trader Joe’s is the best option for those wanting a budget-friendly, organic, healthy grocery store. And none of that $1/package MSG-laden, instant Maruchan ramen crap, either. With fresh produce and pre-packaged meals ready for you to grab and go, your co-workers will be jealous of your chicken sausage and polenta lasagna while they’re dining on Lean Cuisine. At the very least they will make up excuses to come by your desk just for the espresso beans. If you don’t believe me, I dare you to try just one single bean. And then we’ll talk.



Posted By:  Meiwa Chen
Photo: 

Uwajimaya
A lot smaller than its parent in the International District, this offshoot in Bellevue still carries everything essentially Asian, from cosmetics and Hello Kitty gifts to Japanese designed dinnerware. And I can’t forget about all the exotic foods you can never quite figure out how to appropriately include in your dinner menu without scaring away your less-than-adventurous guests–pig feet, chicken feet, oxtail, durian…need I continue? If you must learn, though, the recipes available on their website will teach you how to slice and pickle pig ears, and how to sauté up some frog legs. Hungry anyone? Rest assured, Uwajimaya does carry less exotic Asian specialties such as bok choy and shitake mushrooms, and their seafood selection is definitely fresher and tastier than that of um, (cough) Safeway.




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