North Seattle just got a little spicier. The new Sichuan restaurant Chef King recently opened at North 85th Street and First Avenue NW in Greenwood, serving up sizzling plates of fu qi fei pian (thin-sliced beef in chili sauce), la zi ji (Chongqing spicy chicken), and shui zhu yu (water-boiled fish, with a beef option also available). Maybe the most intriguing dish, though, is the house specialty: rock candy duck, which is boiled with Chinese herbs and spices to flavor the meat, then steamed, lightly deep-fried to a crisp, and rubbed with a rock sugar sauce, served with a spicy dipping sauce for balance.
Those looking for more heat can order maoxuewang — a spicy stew with blood and other pork parts — as well as the tongue-tingling suan la fen (sweet potato noodles), with intestines and peanuts, and a braised beef noodle soup with plenty of kick. Or there’s the option to leave things up to the kitchen fates. “Whatever” is basically an omakase order that lets the chefs (from Chengdu) cook whatever they want. Customers who want a second surprise can add “I Don’t Know” to the order.
Owner Jennifer Hua — who also runs a Chinese restaurant in Des Moines, WA — likes to interact with diners and help them navigate their options, which she hopes reflect a playful vibe in the casual, family-friendly spot that seats around 60. She also aims to draw people in between meals to indulge in locally-made sweets, along with bubble tea, smoothies, and Italian soda.
But, in general, the restaurant will try to fill a void in the Greenwood dining scene, which has been lacking a true go-to Sichuan place ever since the highly-acclaimed Sichuan restaurant Seven Stars Pepper moved from North 85th Street to its current spot in the International District in 2003. Can Chef King take the crown as a Chinese food destination in the neighborhood? Time will tell.