Sexy Food: Visit Korea by Way of Seattle at Cha:n Restaurant

Photo courtesy of

Pike Place corridor’s newest Far East addition.

Tucked just around the corner from Post Alley on Stewart, Cha:n Restaurant sits sleek and unassuming, waiting for the chance to open your eyes to the world of Korean cuisine. I think of the menu as comfort Korean, with many small but filling bites, just right for sharing.

A glimpse at the gourmet culinary experience and action at Cha::n. Photo courtesy of Denise Sakaki.

The space may be small, but the design is a quintessentially-Korean example of how to get a big feel out of a tight fit. At the recent grand opening, friends were ensconced into cleverly-carved niches I continued to discover throughout the night. At Cha:n, the kitchen and bar form the nucleus of the restaurant, giving diners and imbibers an excellent view of the action.

Drink offerings are versatile but well-edited, in keeping with the craft cocktail movement that has successfully swept Seattle. Of particular interest is the fact that Cha:n incorporates soju into drinks that otherwise have a Western flair. I find soju to be deeply soul-satisfying in a clean, effervescent way. It does possess that sneaky ability to taste deceptively free of alcohol after a glass or two, however, so proceed with caution.

The soul-satisfying Korean sliders. Photo courtesy of Denise Sakaki.

Cha:n’s menu is divided into two sections: traditional and modern. Within these sections there is crossover, and even the traditional Korean offerings have been tailored to appeal to a Western audience. On the traditional side, the farmer’s market bi-bim bob, organic fried egg with bulgogi beef is not to be missed. The modern take on bulgogi beef comes on a slider, which I have a fundamental problem with considering the fratboy “yo- they have sliders, dude!” sullying of the small sandwiches. Nevertheless, the sliders are addictive, and as long as I channel my inner kegstander, I can overlook the form factor.

Another popular dish on the modern menu is the fried chicken wing, chili caramel glaze and peanuts with pickled daikon. Definitely finger-lickin’, these are the kind of thing you may just want to get down and dirty with all by yourself while eating. Other favorites include steak tartare with quail egg on the traditional menu, and the modern tuna tartare.

Korean comfort food meets the Western fried chicken wing. Photo courtesy of Denise Sakaki.

Cha:n has the makings of a restaurant that can survive the Seattle two-season curse. The space isn’t excessively large or ego-driven, the location is unparalleled, despite not being in the trendy dining quadrant of Capitol Hill, and the emphasis is on artfully-prepared yet approachable food. To do your part in supporting one of Seattle’s latest in-crowd destinations, head over there as soon as you can.

Cha:n Restaurant | 86 Pine St., Seattle | (206) 443-5443