KAU KAU Chicken Kelly O

Part of a series of restaurant recommendations offered in The Stranger’s 2017 Guide to Food and Drink (International Edition).

Cafe O'Dessert

Kelly Liang's casual cafe does a brisk business on weekend nights, when UW students and other fans of Hong Kong–style desserts stop by for her shaved ice, sticky rice, and sweet soups. Liang offers more than 10 different flavors of shaved ice, from cantaloupe to sesame, and an array of different sauces and toppings, from fresh fruit to lychee coconut jelly. You could literally spend every day this summer trying a different combination. There's also a full menu of Chinese noodle soups, stir-fries, and fried-rice dishes, for those who need a little more sustenance before they dig into the main attraction. CORINA ZAPPIA

Country Dough

A meal at Cheng Biao Yang's tiny sliver of Pike Place Market involves a cascading set of choices. Do you want a crunchy grilled flatbread sandwich? Or the thick hand-shaved noodles? Do you want that with meat (your pick of the standard barnyard array) or veggie dry bean curd? And which sauce? Options include hot and spicy (with numbing Szechuan peppercorns) and a cumin curry. Or you could just go for the Chinese crepe, a thin, springy sheet spread with a layer of house-made chili oil, hoisin sauce, and fermented bean curd wrapped around a deep-fried Chinese doughnut. There are no wrong answers here, especially if you manage to snag the table by the kitchen and you can watch the show while you eat. JENN CAMPBELL

Dumpling Generation

This restaurant on Highway 99 in Edmonds may specialize in Northeastern Chinese dumplings and noodles, but it's actually the pork with spicy eggplant that we keep returning for, the vegetable deep-fried with a hint of heat and sprinkling of savory ground pork. The no-frills decor—plain tables, fairly unadorned white walls, hard chairs—does not entice you to linger long, but who cares? This place is about eating fast and well. Try the mixed homemade noodles topped with pork and black mushrooms, or the spicy chicken with a liberal dose of red chilies. CORINA ZAPPIA

Ho Ho Seafood Restaurant

A monthly trip to Ho Ho in the ID has become a ritual. Hey, it was good enough for Beast Mode, so it's good enough for me. The restaurant is almost always empty when I go, save for large families enjoying ridiculously generous, ridiculously savory portions of seafood. We order the crab; it's made fresh to order, pulled right from the tank. We drain every last bit, and never learn not to over-order, feasting on the Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce and wonton soup, too. But be careful when you order the crab—it's priced per pound and can get expensive fast. TRICIA ROMANO

Hue Ky Mi Gia

Hue Ky Mi Gia's fried butter chicken wings have been talked up so much that it's hard not be skeptical of such praise—the restaurant now has three booths in CenturyLink Field for Seahawks games. Accept that and order the wings anyway, deep-fried perfection sprinkled with thin chili slices. You'll be fighting over the last little crispy bits of fried batter long after the meat is gone. The wings are just an appetizer here. Supplement it, if you wish, with one of their many hearty soups; the roasted duck egg noodle soup is a popular one. CORINA ZAPPIA

Kau Kau BBQ Restaurant

Offering cheap Chinese food at its finest, Kau Kau's atmosphere is the perfect balance of interesting/odd decor and unpretentious functionality. The counter up front slings delicious barbecue lunches to go, usually chopped up as you wait. The full menu is worth sticking around for as well, and not just because the barbecue at this International District mainstay is best enjoyed with a bottle of Tsingtao. Their hot-and-sour soup is my favorite in the city, their barbecue duck is a delight, and their Chinese broccoli is exactly the umami bomb that any self-respecting Chinese vegetable side dish should be. TOBIAS COUGHLIN-BOGUE

Little Ting's Dumplings

Thick, hearty dough unapologetically smashes around the bold, flavorful meat of the homey Northern Chinese–style dumplings that earn this Broadview strip-mall star its name. A temple to the universal comfort food, each of the more than a half-dozen types of dumplings (all available steamed or fried) are handmade, and the menu holds even more unassuming treasures like the griddle-cooked spare ribs, served with pancake-like fried noodles (or, perhaps, noodle-like pancakes), and the crispy, spice-crusted lamb rib. But perhaps the most unmissable item on the menu is a bag of the house specialty, frozen, to answer all of your at-home dumpling needs. NAOMI TOMKY

Qin

No need to overthink things at this unassuming Edmonds strip-mall joint that specializes in food from Shaanxi Province: Just get the hot oil seared biang biang noodles. Coated in a simple, smoky chili oil, these wide ribbons of dough are probably all you need in life (or for dinner, anyway). Should you require more, there are other toppings—including rich cumin beef with jalapeños, and tomato and egg—as well as a solid lineup of non-noodle items, like grilled lamb skewers, chilled slices of beef tendon, and meaty flatbread sandwiches. You'll need to enlist a crowd for the chicken on a big plate, a fragrant mess of bone-in meat, potatoes, and whole spices (and noodles if you want, which you do). JENN CAMPBELL

Szechuan First

Tucked away in a strip mall near the Ikea is a paradise of ma la—that fiery, numbing sensation created by a combo of chili peppers and Szechuan peppercorns. The extensive menu offers plenty of ways (incendiary and non) to experience Szechuan cuisine—plates of cumin lamb or crunchy Chongqing chicken, bowls of dan dan noodles, and platters of elegant crispy fried sole are highlights. Or throw yourself right in the red-hot deep end with Szechuan boiled fish—tender morsels swimming in a delicious ma la lava that will have you looking for every available grain to soak up every single drop. Weekday lunch specials come with soup and rice for less than $10. JENN CAMPBELL recommended