The U District has a big cluster of cheap student-oriented places with heaping helpings of Asian comestibles. Just walk up The Ave to see what looks good. A personal favorite is Mandarin Chef (5022 University Way NE, 206/528-7596, www.mandarinchef.com, 11 a.m.–10 p.m. Mon.–Sat., closed Sun., $8) with homemade noodles and dumplings for practically nothing. Tasty mu shu dishes, too.
For Chinese food with a difference, head to the always-crowded Black Pearl (7347 35th Avenue NE, 206/283-9030, 11 a.m.–9:30 p.m. Mon.–Thurs., 11 a.m.–10 p.m. Fri.–Sat., 4–9:30 p.m. Sun., $10) just north of the U District in Wedgwood. Watch the busy cooks in the open kitchen, and enjoy the friendly service and distinctive dishes such as a batter-fried eggplant with vegetables, or green onion and smoked salmon pancakes. But be ready for a wait most evenings. Save time and order out; there’s free delivery to the north end of town (including the U District).
© Ericka Chickowski from Moon Washington, 8th edition