Some of the best ethnic food can be had up and down historic Highway 99 in Edmonds, from 238th St. SW to 224th St. SW… otherwise known as the fast-growing, ever-popular, groundbreaking International District.

The ethnic food here is so other-worldly, authentic, diverse, and plentiful that Eater Seattle contributor Jay Friedman singled out “12 Essential Asian Restaurants in Edmonds [March 14, 2019],” including The Noodle Hut, Dong Ting Chun, Boiling Point, and Wonton Noodle House.

Steven Ono of Ono Authentic Hawaiian Poke once bumped into the late Anthony Bourdain at the famed Noodle Hut, renowned for its Bangkok style boat noodles. High praise, indeed.

Hwy. 99, a major West Coast thoroughfare about 1,687 miles long, the farm-to-market “Golden State Highway” winds its way from the Mexican border up through California, Oregon, and Washington, ending at the Blaine, WA/Canadian border.

In the 1930s, Hwy. 99 received a ton of traffic from Dust Bowl immigrant farm workers. Later it turned into a fun, touristy drive.

Today, Hwy. 99 through Edmonds has become an essential part of that drive, an eye-opening, tummy-warming gateway to a foodie paradise, somewhere between India and Seoul, and the Seven Seas. Mom ‘n pop stores, bubble tea shops, markets, and restaurants promise exotic adventures, often tucked inside unassuming, non-descript strip malls.

Those one-stop strip malls, or plazas — arranged here from South to North — contain everything you’d ever want. Take a day, a weekend, an entire month to go exploring. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by what you find around every corner, nook, and cranny.

If you close your eyes, you can almost believe you’re in another world.

Edmonds Central Plaza

E.C. Plaza on 23830 Hwy. 99 is where you’ll find Stars In The Sky Korean fried chicken, Hosoonyi Korean Restaurant, Dumpling Generation, and Milkie Milkie Dessert Café — a nice sampling of the latest in hot Asian food trends.

Spicy, crispy, crunchy, juicy Korean fried chicken is everywhere, the darling of the K-drama/K-pop set and a South Korean, street food staple. It wasn’t long before Korean fried chicken took the States by storm. In Edmonds, locals-in-the-know call on Stars In The Sky (425-582-8802) to feed their munchies. The menu’s a banquet of possibilities: whole and half fried chicken, boneless and bone-in wings, sauced or naked, dressed with tantalizing seasonings, from honey butter garlic to extra spicy. Along with uber-modern, teen-friendly anjoo (appetizers) the likes of which will have you coming back for more (pizza corn cheese, bacon-wrapped rice cake, cream Dduckboki rice cakes). Karaoke for after.

Come to mom-approved Hosoonyi Korean Restaurant (425-775-8196) for the full dining experience. Hosoonyi serves up every kind of Korean comfort food you can think of, and then some. Soft tofu soup and kim chi jjigae for the blues, Korea’s version of chicken soup, for whatever ails you…deep flavors derived from dried, fermented chili peppers, aged kim chee, and farm-fresh, culinary emollients. Korean BBQ, bibimbap rice bowls, bulgogi’s seasoned, marinated “fire meat,” and gal-bi/kal bi, popularized in Hawaiian plate lunches.

Currently doing only takeout orders, family-owned Dumpling Generation in Edmonds (425-678-0806) prides itself on authentic, healthy, handmade Northeast Chinese flour dumplings and noodles. The family behind this local chain (Lake Forest Park’s the original) hails from the Liaoning Province of the People’s Republic of China, and is well-versed in running a successful restaurant. 

They attracted the crème de la crème of diners back when they ran China Town, a Chinese-American restaurant in Anchorage. (Even famous concert pianist Lang Lang ate there.) Selections are endless, and generous, at Dumpling Generation. Definitely make room for steamed shrimp, pork & chives, pork buns, braised pork belly and ribs hot pot, spicy cold noodles, wonton noodle soup, and salted duck starter.

Milkie Milkie Dessert Café’s (425-361-7696) bingsoo is a cut above snow cones, slurpees, and Hawaiian shave ice. The frozen Korean treat is a perfect mix of milk ice, sweetened condensed milk, and sugar. They take frozen blocks of milk, not water, to make their bingsoo. Gild the lily with wild toppings, including hot lava cake, crushed Oreos, black sesame, and green tea. Add more American-inspired specialties, like sweet and savory, homemade soft rice cake toast — crispy on the outside, chewy good on the inside — and dessert waffles. Korean street food (Korean egg cake, Sodduk-Sodduk grilled, chili-glazed pork sausage/rice cake skewers, fish-shaped Bungeoppang bread with red bean filling, spicy Takoyaki octopus balls) round out the balance.

Brentwood Plaza

Traditional Korean Beef Soup (425-977-2929), the King of Korean comfort food, pleases both homesick Koreans and Korean food fans. Get yours in a variety of bone-deep flavors, from flank to ox knee. The menu is augmented with other, Korean-friendly dishes you’ve grown to love: bibimbap served in a sizzling stone pot, beef or spicy pork bulgogi, grilled mackerel, spicy soft tofu jjigae, ginseng chicken soup, Sagol Tteok Mandut Guk, the quintessential rice cake and dumpling soup every child in Korean grew up eating.

All your favorite dumplings — piggy bun, juicy pork buns/pork soup dumplings, shrimp dumpling, chicken rice on lotus leaf, pork siu mai, mixed veggie egg rolls, BBQ beef bun — can be found at Fashion Dim Sum (425-697-2886). Small, compact, and full of flavor, Fashion Dim Sum receives high marks for sticking to the basics and doing them well. Best of all, the tasty, handmade dim sum are served all day with quick, courteous efficiency. Just like you like it. Closed Wed.

22910 Hwy. 99

Abeba Grocery & Deli (425-350-9433) represent Ethiopia very well. Their forte: lots of dishes to-go: Yebeg Tibs, tender marinated lamb, stir-fried onions, garlic, tomato; Kitfo red lentil sauce; vegan Foul, fava beans, tomatoes, onions; Enqulal Besiga, scrambled eggs and minced meat; and Siga Firfir, beef sauce with injera.

Bohan Plaza

Farther up Hwy. 99 lies the self-contained Asian village of Boo Han Market (22618 Hwy. 99, 425-778-7400), with a bustling retail and restaurant presence.

South Korean immigrant Boo Han arrived in the Lakewood area in the early ‘70s, before launching a tofu manufacturing plant out of a self-built garage, then an Asian grocery store on South Tacoma Way, expanding business to Edmonds in 1990. The family-owned grocery store serves a growing Korean community.

At Seattle Deli (425-776-1788) next door, tasty Vietnamese dishes (between 75 cents and $7) packaged for easy handling and quick eating are a huge draw: hefty $5 Banh Mi sandwiches, spring rolls, caramelized pork chop with steamed egg (Com Sườn Ram), meatloaf on rice (Chả Trứng Hấp), crab-based noodle soup (Bún Riêu Cua). Closed Mondays and for TET. Doing brisk business since 2000.

Seattle rapper Macklemore is a huge fan of Pho Than Brothers’ (425-744-0212) home-made pho and complimentary cream puff upon your arrival. The local, 1996 Vietnamese chain does for pho — pronounced “feh” — what Chipotle did for make-your-own burritos. Fourteen pho varieties and several sizes available, depending on your appetite. Even vegetarians get to play.

Japanese-inspired Katsu Burger & Bakery appeared on the Food Network, capturing the appetites of generations worldwide. There’s one at Bohan Plaza (425-921-6981), serving up house-made brioche milk buns, breaded burgers, nori fries, matcha Palmiers, green tea shakes, and much more. The Wabi Wasabi Burger, potato and veggie croquettes, and sweet beignets look dangerously good.

Sushi-Moto (425-673-5477) is always jammed with happy diners eating their fill of teriyaki, katsu, udon, and of course, the main event — the sushi. Top choices: negi-hama, toro, spicy tuna, and the Special Moto Lobster Roll, bathed in wasabi dressing, mayo, and eel sauce.

In the mood for Korean BBQ and all the fixings? Gilson (425-673-5334) has you covered. Sit at the BBQ table and fire up the wine-braised pork belly, short ribs (with or without bones), beef brisket, and beef skirts. Note: must order at least two items for BBQ. People rave about the Fire Chicken, possibly the best you’ll ever have. Also worth ordering: bibimbap specials, kim chi pancake, “sweet and sour and spicy” sauced cold noodles swimming in steamed pork and vegetables, and the hot pots.

Lee’s Healing Center (425-778-7771) provides acupuncture services for whatever ails you. Asians grew up with the natural healing benefits of chi-balancing acupuncture, medicinal herbs, and other naturopathic sources for their health needs.

Joo Family Clinic (425-409-9247) next door takes care of your primary care and aesthetic needs (Botox, filler, micro-needling, laser treatments, platelet-rich plasma for healing).

Before you leave, don’t forget to give Giftland (425-672-2636) some love. The boutique displays quite an array of the latest, Seoul- and European-inspired fashions and beauty products, all reasonably-priced.

99 Ranch Market

The heart of Edmonds’ International District starts and stops at 99 Ranch Market, an all-inclusive strip mall on 22511 Hwy. 99, frequented by locals shopping for the week’s menu, looking for a quick snack, or treating themselves to a typical Sunday feast, family style.

Anchoring the strip mall is 99 Ranch Market, a dream realized by Taiwanese immigrant and entrepreneur Roger Chen. Seeing an increasing demand for hard-to-find Asian ingredients, products, and services, Chen came up with Tawa Supermarket in 1984.

99 Ranch Market, known today and expanded to include other shops and restaurants, brings the vibe of open-air markets and little side-street dives craved by homesick Asian immigrants and adventurous foodies.

Here, they can indulge in rice dumplings, roasted laver (nori seaweed) for rice balls and straight-snacking, kim chee for jjigae and namul, sesame seed crunch candy, and everything else their heart desires.

A small food court inside the Asian supermarket features greasy, juicy, golden, Hong Kong-style barbecued ducks hung with care, specialty breads, cake rolls, and butter cookies.

T&T Seafood Restaurant (425-776-3832) has become an institution for everyone, not just Asians on a dim sum high. Quintessentially Chinese, T&T Seafood first opened in Shoreline in 2000 before moving to Edmonds five years later. The humongous menu offers up choices for every palate. Go on the weekends and holidays for dim sum specials and classics, like steamed prawn dumplings, pan-fried bok choy and pork buns, steamed rice roll with fried donut, coconut milk pudding, and baked pineapple egg custard buns. On Friday, get the Peking Duck for a steal, $27.80, over $31.80 other days. Live lobster and Alaskan crab, sizzling sea bass with Thai style sauce, clams with French style hot pot, and crispy prawns with honey walnuts are the order of the day. T&T’s dim sum happens 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Closed Wed., for now.

Dan Dan noodles are all the rage. Boiling Fish (425-670-1071) does them right, with spicy sesame sauce. The menu’s just as large as T&T’s, but with a much more exotic selection (FeiTeng Alive Fish, pig ear, frog legs, pork intestines), as well as the familiar classics incorporating more of the Sichuan-influenced trends (Mapo Tofu, Kung Pao Chicken, spicy chicken wings).

Savvy Thai Cuisine (425-775-2141) introduces diners to the fresh, beautiful, spicy, salty, tangy balance of true Thai cuisine, with plenty of gluten-free options. A sampling of the menu: fresh prawn or tofu summer rolls, chicken satay, curry puffs, chili and coconut milk chicken soup (Tom Kah), chicken or pork larb salad, pineapple red curry, boat noodle and Phad Thai, deep-fried trout (Pla Tod), black rice pudding. 

Bambū’s (425-361-1777) signature Pandan waffles (Bánh Kẹp Lá Dứa) will have you coming back for more, more, more. Pretty soon, you’re making these sweet green, honeycomb squares a regular habit. Many people have. Crispy golden brown on the outside, lime-green on the inside, and ridiculously addictive, the Vietnamese Pandan waffle gets its intoxicating vanilla scent and chewy, mochi-like texture from the tropical pandan leaves, rice flour, and coconut cream. Bambū also whips up a mean bubble tea and fresh fruit smoothies to go with your Pandan waffle fix.

Yi Fang Taiwan Fruit Tea (425-672-0880) delivers big in flavor, too. The humble bubble tea becomes transformed with a variety of fruit flavors, jams, and even hibiscus flower. Try the original, signature Yifang Fruit Tea, heady with Taiwanese pineapple and passion fruit jams, orange and apples slices, and Mountain Tea, or the Brown Sugar Pearl Oolong Tea Latte. Enough said.

Taiwanese businessman Cheng-Hsueh Wu envisioned a kind of affordable, five-star hotel café/bakery in 2003, and made it a reality, with 85°C Bakery Cafe. In no time, word of 85°C’s multi-ethnic, Taiwanese-centered bakery goodness spread from Irvine, CA in 2008 to over 1,000 other locations, including this one at 99 Ranch Market (425-670-3085). You’ll find every kind of bread, pastry, cake, and drink, kissed with Japanese, Danish, German, and French luxury: choco buns, brioche milk bread, Hokkaido Chiffon Cup, Matcha Red Bean Roll.

Yua Ramen (425-835-0068) took over Arashi Ramen’s space before the pandemic last year, quickly gaining favor with locals. Rated high on the culinary richter scale, people are raving about the perfectly cooked noodles and deeply flavorful broth that tastes as if it’s been simmering over grandma’s stove for many days. Pick your ramen flavor — shoyu, shio tonkotsu, spicy, tantan, kim chee, thin or thick noodles, sides, and appetizers. You’ll not see green curry ramen, okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake), or Gyundon (boiled beef and egg rice bowl) anywhere else. Yua’s special.

In Kong Tofu House’s place sits the Korean fried chicken chain, Vons Chicken – Edmonds (425-582-8723). Choose from fried and oven chicken, crunchy, crispy, garlicky, Yangnyum or Padak style. Load up with favorite Korean sides (mandoo, cheddar fries, kim chi fried rice, japchae). Get ‘em to go boneless, wings, drums, or a mix. Last time we checked, they were closed on Mondays.

Games, Comics & Cards (425-778-2678) will appeal to the gamers in your family. Located between Savvy Thai and 85°C Bakery Café, this magical gathering place hosts gaming events (Pokemon and Magic League, League Challenge and FNM), as well as sells “A World of Collections” in games, cards, and comics.

Take a break from fueling up and grocery shopping with a mini-spa day at Shiseido Glow Cosmetics • Spa (425-775-8888), inside 99 Ranch Market near the food court, and Huang Chen Foot Spa, just outside, off to the right. Shiseido, a recognized make-up brand throughout Asia and Hawaii, offers an all-in-one make-up studio with facials, waxes, eyelash extensions, permanent make-up, and diamond microdermabrasion therapy. Give your feet a break, too, and enjoy a nice foot reflexology massage. 

Plum Tree Plaza

Biang-biang noodles, pork fried rice with spicy XO sauce, Ikan Bakar Balinese grilled fish, mango milk tea…sounds positively divine, and guess what? They’re available at the Plum Tree Plaza, a stone’s throw from 99 Ranch Market. Serious foodies dine at the likes of Qin, Wonton Noodle House, Waroeng Jajanan, and Tapioca Express (22315 Hwy. 99) for serious food, crafted with intention and love.

Hand-pulled strings of loveliness, biang-biang noodles are what you dip or mix with spicy chile sauce, a Shaanxi Province dish. Oh, hello, pork sauce biang-biang. Bang! This Northeast Chinese restaurant (425-776-7847) also serves up pork and chive dumplings, wonton dumplings in chili sauce, braised beef rice noodle soup, and Mantou, Chinese steamed buns.

Step inside Wonton Noodle House (425-775-8628), and you won’t miss a thing. Every kind of Chinese, Hong Kong style food your stomach can think of is in the 100-plus-item menu: beef ball noodle soup, shredded pork spicy sauce lo-mein, pumpkin and rock cod congee (rice porridge), shrimp chow fun, stir-fried pork vermicelli with XO sauce, pan-fried black pepper chicken. Take a dozen uncooked dumplings and soup to go, and make your own at home. They’re open late, too. Bonus.

The only way to understand the appeal of Waroeng Jajanan’s Indonesian grocery store (425-412-7025) is to experience it for yourself. Hit Waroeng Jajanan on the weekends to try the delicious specials and pick up exotic snacks. Whole fried chicken, grilled chicken, rice cakes, beef satay, and deep-fried beef rolls…sambal, palm sugar, and beng-beng chocolate-wafers are just the start.

Doing business since 1999, the TapiocaExpress® (425-774-6764) chain made its mark in the bubble tea market with its specialty Taiwanese boba milk tea. Wayne and Stephanie opened up their first store in the San Gabriel Valley. Besides bubble milk teas, they also do Italian sodas, fruity lemonades, juices, hot drinks, a yogurt frost, and snack-sized meals (rice bowls, fried dumplings, sausage bacon waffles, spring rolls, Chi Chi Fries).

22001 Hwy. 99 

Throngs of trendy foodies flock to this small but mighty strip mall almost up to the Lynnwood/Edmonds border — all for the Boiling Point, Dong Ting Chun, and Mochinut Edmonds.

The Boiling Point (425-673-7101) rides the wave of the hot pot trend. A small chain with locations in Canada, Japan, California, and now, Edmonds, the Boiling Point allows for fun communal dining. In a spicy mood? Taiwanese Spicy or Korean Bean Paste hits just right. Japanese? Try the Tonkotsu Miso hot pot. Go out on a limb with Thai Tomato, Lamb, or Milk Cream Curry. Augment the hot pot frenzy with add-ons and appetizers. With garlic pork belly, spicy cumin lamb, and spicy tangy beef on hand, you’ll definitely want to.

Dong Ting Chun (425-616-5616), with locations in Edmonds and Redmond, goes all out for that one-of-a-kind Hunan and dry pot experience. Go for the chef’s specials — mashed eggplant, green pepper, and century eggs, beef brisket with potato, deep-fried chicken with crispy red pepper, as well as steamed spareribs with black bean sauce, house-made Chinese bacon dry pot, and hometown classics, like sliced lamb in Golden Soup and spicy boiled fish. You’ll forget you’re in Edmonds.

Everyone’s going nuts for Mochinut Edmonds, because, duh, Japanese mochi donuts and Korean style corndogs! Pair your order with Happy Lemon Seattle bubble tea. A blend of American donuts and Japanese rice cake, originating in Hawaii, the eight-circle mochi donut will spoil you silly. Ten-plus U.S. locations.

Stand-alones

Kuzma’s Fish Market and Eatery (425-582-8521) is second to none, not only for fine, freshly-caught seafood, but amazing poke bowls. Fill yours with the latest catch, depending on seasonal availability. The Edmonds fish market on 21104 70th Ave. W also offers live crabs, lobsters, oysters, and the freshest fish. As for the market part, Ken “Kuzma” Hewitt and his expert staff will clean, filet, de-bone, crack, and portion whatever seafood fits your fancy, whether it’s salmon, branzino, crab, or Kasuzuke black cod — whatever it takes to get you on your way, happy as a clam. Check out the clean, saltwater live product tanks, teeming with geoduck, uni, spot prawns, Manila clams and oysters, Maine lobsters, and Dungeness and King crabs — year ‘round/seasonally. 

Craving gyros and hummus? Come to Kafé Neo Edmonds (425-672-3476), on 21108 Hwy. 99. Besides the classics, Kafé Neo Bowls boost the nutritional value with every mouth-watering bite. Select from Apollo’s Ancient Grain, Neo Power, and Greek…Teriyaki. The best deal is the Gyro combos. That way, you get a little of everything: succulent meat, soft, pillowy pita, and feta fries. The rest of the menu will appeal to vegetarians, light eaters, and the constant grazers. Don’t forget baklava for dessert.