Students visiting Seattle's Chinatown International District.
Octopus: curly goodness? Adrien Camp thinks so. See our Photography Gallery for more exciting sights to be found in Seattle's International District. Photos by Luke Rutan and Mike Siegal
Far East in the Northwest
A visit to Seattle's Chinatown
Think you don’t have time or money to experience another culture? In a city such as Seattle, that’s no excuse.
Take China for example. Sure, a roundtrip flight will set you back about two grand and 24 hours of in-flight time. But Chinese culture is in full swing — only 15 minutes from the Seattle Pacific University campus — in Seattle’s Chinatown International District.
You’ll find authentic dim sum, cultural festivals, and a thriving Asian-American community, equipped with its own newspaper and Chamber of Commerce.
“I was surprised to see that it really is a neighborhood and not just a tourist attraction,” says senior Adrien Camp, who recently visited Chinatown for the first time with fellow seniors Rob Sesser and Samantha Davis. The district is actually one of Seattle’s oldest, first settled in the late 1800s. Some say it’s the only place in the continental United States where Americans of Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Vietnamese, Korean, Cambodian, Thai, and other Asian descent live together in one neighborhood.
The SPU students started their tour at the House of Hong for dim sum. Shrimp wontons, fried rice, and pork dumplings scented the sprawling room, while customers ate and sipped tea. Menus were unnecessary as servers pushed food-filled carts to tables.
Seattle's Chinatown International District“I totally felt like I was in China,” Sesser says. “I didn’t know what I was eating, and I embraced it.”
For Camp, it was Seattle, “but it wasn’t American Seattle. It was much more foreign than I was expecting.”
Bubble tea in Seattle's Chinatown International DistrictThe International District has a little something for everyone: History buffs can visit the Wing Luke Asian Museum. Art enthusiasts only have to gaze up to find one of 11 vibrant dragons winding their 300-pound bodies around a light post.
Foodies find grocery heaven at Uwajimaya, the Northwest’s largest family-owned Asian grocery store chain. If you ever need lotus root, eel, or live sea cucumbers, it’s the place to go. Camp, who spent last summer in Turkey and Greece, couldn’t wait to peruse the seafood counter in Uwajimaya for octopus. “I had grilled octopus in Greece and it was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten,” she says. For just over $5, she purchased one tentacle — and immediately unwrapped it for a second look.
Davis and Sesser gawked at the suction-studded skin. Obviously some things aren’t for everyone.
Sushi in Seattle's Chinatown International District But in the International District, you’ll always find something new to try. So next time you’re in Seattle, hop a bus and create your own Chinatown adventure. Tour the fortune cookie factory, take a photo under the 45-foot archway, or try an authentic Chinese pastry.
We can’t think of an excuse not to.
Photography Gallery.
By Joe Kent, Photos By Luke Rutan and Mike Siegel
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