Fairwood has a quiet gem in its midst ... I’d visited the north Seattle Chiang’s location before — years ago — with a Taiwanese friend/chef who raved about their bustling breakfast. Go to either location between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Saturday or Sunday for the full gamut of Northern dim sum specials. Kick your day off with a complimentary pot of tea and take your time perusing the menus. No carts here, most things are made to order.
Chiang’s has authentic dishes to satisfy adventure-lovers like me, but a hugely diverse list of offerings that should fit most diners. There is the Chinese Menu, American Menu, Vegetarian Menu, and Szechuan Heaven Menu—pick your gastronomical mood.
My first Renton Chiang’s visit was for weekday lunch. Hooray for Home Made Pan-Fried Noodles ($9 with pork, beef or chicken, $11 with shrimp), thick and toothy waves, glistening with a light coating of sauce and oil, wok-tossed, and threaded with flavorful greens.
I was charmed by the name of a colorful dish and rightly so—Ta-Chien Chicken ($11), named after the famous Chinese painter, Tai-Chien Chang. Celery, red peppers, and snow peas are generously showered over sliced chicken in a spicy sauce. Every once in a while we heard the whack whack of a cleaver from the back room! Snow peas were admirably crisp and generous, the soy chili sauce spicy, and the white meat tender.
Lunch was so good I returned with my husband and a friend to further explore their brunch offerings. While the weekday menu offers Steamed Wontons in Red Sesame Sauce ($4), I'll be dreaming of re-ordering the weekend menu Steamed Wontons with Hot Spicy Sauce ($5). Two totally different dishes—the Red Sesame Sauce being sweet and thick, the Hot Spicy version kicks up the heat with numbing Szechuan peppercorns and cooling steamed greens overlaid.
Another intriguing first-time order was Stir Fried Minced Prawns with Fried Rice Noodle Serving with Leafs of Lettuce Wrapping ($16). Decoded, this is a huge plateful of chopped sweet prawn meat tossed with minced water chestnuts, served atop crispy rice vermicelli, with a side car of Romaine lettuce leaves, readied as a serving platform. Interesting and plentiful.
If heading for a Chinese breakfast at Chiang’s, the ‘Baked Cakes’ jiang rou shao bing are my new favorite. Surrounded by a flaky pastry bun studded with sesame seed, this sandwich is a dream come true with all sorts of options, but my favorite was a combination called “sour cabbage” and minced pork. It brought back fond memories of the beloved dish, sour cabbage and lamb, from now-defunct Jack’s Tapas in the University District. Jack’s fans, you’ve found new salvation. These were so good we ordered a second round, even though our table was covered with dishes to take home.
Soups comprised our next round of Gourmet exploring. I wanted to try the Home Made Barley Green Noodles with Vegetable, Prawn, Crab and Squid Meat Ball In Soup ($10) and there was a vote for the Fried Tofu, Thread and Bean Curd Sheet Wrapped with Ground Pork In Soup ($6). At that price we couldn’t resist trying both. The crab element was actually a delicious substitution of slightly caramelized sweet scallops, and both broths were clear chicken stocks that tasted both clean and light. Unfortunately Chiang’s green barley noodles let us down, going far beyond chewy.
The Fried Tofu Soup was quite unusual and ridiculously inexpensive. Threads of tofu skin are cut into noodle-like strips, and rosy minced pork is stuffed into two delicious little candy-wrapper shaped bean curd dumplings. Our only grievance was that serving only two delicious dumplings is a tease, but the fried tofu cubes, rice vermicelli, and scallions were plentiful.
Service is extremely polite and welcoming, and while we were the only non-Asian group dining, we were treated with patience and warmth. I look forward to returning many times to keep exploring their 100-plus offerings.
17650 140th Ave. SE
Renton, WA 98058
Tuesday - Thursday: 11:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.; 4 - 9:30 p.m.
Friday: 11:30 am - 2:30 p.m.; 4 - 10:30 p.m.
Saturday: 10:30 a.m. - 10:30 p.m.
Sunday: 10:30 a.m. - 9:30 p.m.
*Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the location Chiang's Gourmet. The current version has the correct neighborhood and address. Patch regrets the error.