Here’s welcome news for North Seattleites. New York’s Friendship BBQ — which opened in Queens, NY, three years ago to long lines and has since expanded to New York’s Chinatown — is planning its first West Coast location at 13520 Aurora Ave. A rep for the restaurant says it hopes to open to the public by the end of January, as the owners continue to finalize construction.
As Eater NY writes, Friendship BBQ became a popular hot spot in Flushing, Queens, and as a destination for Chinese expats in the city. Like the New York outposts, the Seattle restaurant will feature the mini chain’s robust menu of various meat and vegetable skewers, or chuan’er (串儿) in Mandarin, grilled fish, hot pot, and a seafood boil with crawfish, crab, and shrimp. In addition to the signature Xinjiang Red Willow lamb skewer, there will also be barbecued scallops, oysters, cold noodles, and grilled pork bones.
Owner Tommy Tanzil, originally from the Seattle area, had no direct connection to Friendship BBQ on the East Coast. But after visiting the Queens location on a business trip to New York a couple of years ago, he was inspired to bring the chain here. He struck a deal with the Friendship BBQ owners for franchising, and says that “the sauces and technique come directly from training with the chefs in their Flushing location to assure that the quality is the same.”
When it arrives, Friendship BBQ will join a growing list of outside Chinese food chains flocking to the city, most significantly Chengdu Taste (coming next month). It also may fill a demand for more skewer places in Seattle, as well as joining several notable restaurants in that Aurora Ave vicinity, including an outpost of the popular chain Buerjia Chinese Sauerkraut Fish and Pop Pop Thai Street Food (on Eater’s list of excellent Thai restaurants).
UPDATE, January 9, 10:15 a.m.: This piece has been updated with more details about why Friendship BBQ is coming to Seattle from info provided by the owner and sample menus. It also changed language that implied a lack of strong dining options in that area on Aurora Ave, and lists notable restaurants.