At Peking Wok, supple meats and veggies sink into Mandarin- and Szechuan-style sauces crafted from scratch each day. Diners populate the dining room for lunch, dinner, or a family-style grazing session, complete with soups and appetizers such as pot stickers, egg rolls, and fried shrimp and lobster chips. Portions of aromatic barbecue pork, sweet and sour chicken, and honey-walnut shrimp arrive at tables weighed down by full wine glasses and manner-less elbows, or tucked inside to-go boxes for carry-out or delivery.
Fresh squid. Deep-fried scallops. Szechwan spicy prawns. Live fish. These are just a sampling of the many seafood dishes that help Imperial Garden Seafood Restaurant live up to its name. Here, the menu brims with dried, fried, and fresh seafood offerings next to an abundance of classic Chinese dishes such as Peking duck, sweet and sour pork, and beef chow fun. The eatery also whips up an array of dim sum including prawn with Chinese parsley dumplings, fried taro, and satay beef honeycomp tripe.
O Phở & Teriyaki’s chefs prepare a flavorful array of Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese fare served inside a glowing, golden dining room. Steam rises from healthful bowls of phở, where beef brisket and rice noodles float in hot, clear broth, served with cool bean sprouts, spicy jalapeño, and tart lime for building complexity. Chinese staples such as kung pao tofu and shrimp fried rice accompany tall glasses of honeydew bubble tea, conspiring on tactics to overthrow general tso’s chicken army.
When crafting his signature maritime dishes at KC's Seafood Restaurant, chef and owner KC Lam draws from years of experience as the chef at Chinatown-staple Sea Garden. But mostly, he enjoys the creative control he now wields over his culinary creations, a fact evidenced in each dish’s presentation. An appetizer sampler, for example, features sashimi arranged in concentric circles, encouraging groups of diners to attack the dish from all sides and nosh their way toward the center. Oysters are equally impressive, served on the half shell with sides of soy sauce and wasabi, while entrees win taste buds over with flavorful creations like salt and pepper pork chops, honey walnut shrimp, and a whole fried fish served with a zesty soy sauce.
The Vibe: Canton Wonton House emanates a casual, no-frills vibe with simple tabletops and a few pieces of Chinese artwork on the walls. A long window looks in on the kitchen, so customers can see the chefs at work.
Congee: a thick rice porridge prepared with meat, fish, veggies, and other add-ins.
Bok choy: this vegetable looks like a thick stalk of celery with a white stem and large, green leaves; it's also known as chinese white cabbage.
While You’re in the Neighborhood
Before: Take a stroll through the not-too-distant past at Pink Gorilla (601 S King Street), which specializes in old video games.
After: Get all the essentials for a home-brewed cup of post-meal tea at New Century Tea Gallery (416 Maynard Avenue S).
If You Can’t Make It, Try This: King Noodle (615 S King Street), where you can build your own Chinese soup.
Chinese food has become almost synonymous with those little white takeout containers, but here’s a bit of advice: opt for dine-in service at Tai Tung Chinese Restaurant. Pulling a stool up to the counter here grants diners the opportunity to chat with the chef, servers, and regulars, some of whom have decades worth of stories to tell. Here are a few facts to jumpstart the conversation:
It opened in 1935. That makes it the oldest Chinese restaurant in the International District.
Those decades have been spent mastering Cantonese and Szechuan cuisine. Some of the chef’s specialties include kung pao shrimp, Singapore–style vermicelli, and beef with chinese broccoli.
They also serve wine, beer, and liquor.
One of the servers has been there since the early 1960s. Jimmy Chan walked in for a job when he was a 19-year-old immigrant from Hong Kong. He’s been serving the restaurant’s dishes ever since, and his story was even profiled in The International Examiner.
Some customers have stood out over the years. Jimmy and other regulars might tell you about some of the famous faces who’ve stopped by, including Bruce Lee.