During Uwajimaya’s Natsu Matsuri festival last weekend, attendees got a preview of the Asian grocer’s newest food court member, a grilled-cheese shop called Cheese Meats Bread that plans to open officially this Friday, July 14. Below, see photos and a menu from the new business, replacing Herfy’s, as well as pictures from the event on S. Weller St., which involved a number of food vendors, live performances like Bon Odori dance lessons, and even a goldfish-catching game.
Cheese Meats Bread is the brainchild of 8oz. Burger and Co. owner Kevin Chung. His sandwiches all start with a house-blend of cheese, including Beecher’s Flagship white cheddar, buffalo mozzarella, mild cheddar, fontina, and muenster.
From there, diners choose their own add-ons or select from signature items like the SEA (an homage to a Seattle dog with sriracha-garlic cream cheese, Polish sausage, sauerkraut, and grilled jalapenos on French white bread) and the Seoul (a Korean combo of braised pork belly, fried egg, house kimchi, cilantro, and gochujang aioli on a brioche roll). Sides like Mexican-style tots (topped with chorizo, pico de gallo, and pimento cheese sauce) and Full Tilt ice cream shakes like Green Tea Nutella round out the concise menu.
Chung says he and Uwajimaya wanted to bring something different to the food court other than Asian food to cater to a newer customer base. “It's something different for the office crowd for lunch in close by downtown and Pioneer Square,” he says. “The residents in the ID are also excited as most of the people that live there are no longer mostly Asian.”
Indeed, tensions in the diverse neighborhood are high, with plenty of fears that its culture could be erased through rampant gentrification; just across from Uwajimaya is the Publix Hotel, which Seattle Globalist reported was “historically Single Room Occupancy housing for low-income workers, [but] re-opened in August as mixed-use complex with 80% market rate apartments, and has been pointed to as signaling a green light to additional developers.” Publix will soon house acclaimed Eastside dumpling chain Dough Zone but is also home to a new outpost of Great State Burger, Josh Henderson’s counter-service hamburger chain.
It remains to be seen how harmoniously these shifting businesses and residents can coexist, and how much of the International District’s heritage will survive the city’s housing crisis. But amidst a lively street fair on a gorgeous weekend, Cheese Meats Bread’s samples were well-received, and Uwajimaya’s Asian market thrummed with positive energy.