Showa: 80s pop and Japanese snacks.
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  • Showa: '80s pop and Japanese snacks.

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SHOWA in Fremont: Excitement! The guy behind the excellent Sushi Kappo Tamura (and formerly behind Chiso and Chiso Kappo) does izakaya—inexpensive Japanese small plates, traditionally accompanied by copious drinking—at Showa in Fremont (upstairs, where Chiso Kappo used to be). Blame the ’80s American pop soundtrack on the chef’s childhood at the end of the Showa period in Japan, when the country was prosperous and Michael Jackson was still alive and relatively normal.

DIN TAI FUNG in Bellevue: This Taiwan-based chain specializes in xiao long bao, crazy-making soup dumplings. Each one is created at a series of six workstations, including folding-masters who typically spend two years to learn how to make 18 perfect little pleats per dumpling. One of the Hong Kong locations was awarded a Michelin star in 2009. People are FREAKING OUT!

PAI’S FOOD TRUCK mobile: More street food! Pai’s offers Thai-Hawaiian lunch plates that represent chef Pai Pongsupaht’s “Thai-born, Hawaiian-raised” background. Consider: thuli thuli chicken (boneless chicken marinated in Thai spices and Hawaiian huli huli sauce), Korean-style short ribs, and banana chocolate wontons. The bright orange truck may be found in South Lake Union, First Hill, and Capitol Hill, and it can also cater your next luau.

HERE AND THERE GRILL mobile: Still more street food! It’s “an anywhere grill,” which sounds kind of hazardous. Here and There serves sandwiches (e.g., spicy hoisin pork, meatloaf, flank steak with gorgonzola mayo), soups (spicy peanut, lemongrass veggie), and salads (use your imagination). Of note: The owner is the daughter of one of the creators of SpaghettiOs.

CHELSEA DELI in Columbia City: The Chelsea Deli is located in the recently spruced-up Weed building—the top of the building says “WEED” in art-deco-style letters—which is exactly the right home for a sandwich shop.

BUILTBURGER in Pioneer Square: A local company that began as an online-only gourmet burger-patty purveyor goes bricks-and-mortar, serving all-natural, ingredient-stuffed burgers on organic buns (i.e., beef with bacon and blue cheese, pulled pork with caramelized onions and chipotle). Sides include hand-cut fries, potato beignets (!), and rotating specials. As far as the ambiance, it’s counter service with seating, with beer and wine available; we are instructed to “Think ‘modern burger stand’ with fine dining sensibilities.”

EASY JOE’S DINER on Capitol Hill: The brick building that can’t seem to find a permanent resident—it was Cassis, then XO Bistro, then Tidbit Bistro (which moved)—currently contains a nostalgic diner experience. Expect Americana: burgers, fries, macaroni and cheese, and Joe Namath paraphernalia in the bar.

PAU HANA on Capitol Hill: Pau Hana is in the former Huiyona space, which has had even more restaurant tenants than the Easy Joe’s spot—the mind reels. It’s been redecorated Hawaiian style, with pidgin lessons posted throughout; pupus include ahi tuna poke and pork sliders, while big plates include the heart-stopping Loco Moco and suckling pig with the ubiquitous side of macaroni salad. Also: tropical drinks (the internet says that “pau hana” means “after work” or “after-work drinks”).

PATTY PAN CAFE in Madison Valley: Brought to you by a farmers’ market favorite, this little place has an affordable, seasonal menu that includes soups, salads, and sandwiches (they will cut the crusts off for you). Also: housemade granola.

BALLARD BEST BBQ in Ballard: All things meat, barbecued and grilled, as well as sides (coleslaw, baked beans) and dessert in the space that once housed Mr. Spot’s Chai House.

BENT BURGERS in Seward Park: Burgers, hot wings, shakes, and a glossy comic book theme are the latest at this frequently changing location in Seward Park (the last victim was Saffron). Early reviews from locals are mixed, but yam fries with mae ploy (sweet chili) ranch at least sound interesting.

MIKADO TEPPANYAKI in the International District: Dinner with a show of awesome knife skills—this space has been a home to teppanyaki for over 35 years (originally Nikko, then Kaizuka, now Mikado). Regulars question the sushi, but recommend meat and veggies hot off the iron griddle from the master chefs.

NEW LOCATIONS OF EXISTING PLACES: DISH IT UP! in Ballard • HOMEGROWN SUSTAINABLE SANDWICH SHOP on Queen Anne • MEDITERRANEAN KITCHEN on First Hill • THE OTHER COAST CAFE on Capitol Hill • PANERA on Capitol Hill

Support The Stranger

COMING SOON: THE CONSERVATORY in Madison Park • ELTANA BAGELS on Capitol Hill • HARLOW in Ballard • LOUISIANA GRILL AND DELI in the Central District • VARRO on Capitol Hill • ROCK BOX on Capitol Hill

NOW CLOSED: ALKI BAKERY in West Seattle • CAFE METROPOLITAIN on Capitol Hill—the weirdest faux-French place in the world is gone, soon to be home to the relocated C.C. Attle's • CASUELITA’S CARRIBEAN RESTAURANT in Belltown—but much-loved sister restaurant Island Soul in Columbia City is still open • HIMALAYAN KITCHEN in Ravenna • KURRENT on Capitol Hill—the end of the ice bar??? TABLE 35 in West Seattle • TASHA’S BISTRO CAFE on Beacon Hill • WATERTOWN on Capitol Hill • ZAO NOODLE BAR in University Village—RIPs (and "fuck all you motherfuckers") for "Health & Wisdom in a bowl" over here

Assembled with the valiant assistance of Chow intern Rachel Eggers.