Momo. Photo by Jose Trujillo

The International District’s Shopping Wonders

Ideas in the ID.

The International District is a trove of history, art, retail, and dining, especially in Chinatown and Nihonmachi near the transit tunnel. A visit to the famous Kinokuniya bookstore is a must, but more rewards—and great gifts—await those who explore the whole neighborhood, whose historic facades hide eccentric but welcoming shops.

On Maynard Avenue you’ll find the family-owned 1. New Century Tea Gallery (416 Maynard Ave. S., 622-3599). In addition to excellent Chinese and Taiwanese loose-leaf teas, the shop has more than 50 varieties of pressed tea cakes, large and small, oolong and pu-erh. The beautiful wrapping makes them ideal gifts for tea lovers. Co-owner Grace Li is often there, pouring gong fu tea tastings with love. (I recently enjoyed a velvety smooth pu-erh from 1992. So good.) Naturally, they have wonderful accessories and teapots, too.

If you need a snack, the nearby 2. Purple Dot Cafe (515 Maynard Ave. S., 335-5889) is a perfect spot for noodles or dim sum. Plump ha gao and steamy dumplings are a great pick-me-up on a cold day, and the restaurant’s clean, contemporary setting is quite relaxing.

Tucked further back on Seventh Avenue, 3. Deng Studio & Art Gallery (515 Seventh Ave. S., 682-3533) is its own little world, full of everything one needs for ink painting (paper, pigments, brushes galore, unique mineral formations), and plenty of paintings by Zoulie Deng himself. Jade chops line many shelves, and Deng can hand-carve initials into them for a small fee. They make a fascinating, beautiful, personalized gift, perfect for artists and writers.

On Jackson, 4. Momo (600 S. Jackson St., 329-4736) is a hip, quirky boutique with high-style brands (Cop Copine, Marita Huurinainen) and lots of great locally designed gifts, including ceramics, mittens, bandannas, furoshiki, and toys. Next door, the historic 5. Kobo at Higo (602 S. Jackson St., 381-3000) offers a wide range of décor, jewelry, books, and prints. Currently, Kobo is displaying its annual simple cup show, with unique cups from national and international potters. It alone is worth the trip to the ID.

If you are there in mid-afternoon, get some goodies and a hot cocoa from 6. Fuji Bakery (526 S. King St., 623-4050). The fondant chocolate is outrageously rich, and their curry buns are the best in town. If you are in the area for happy hour, pop into 7. Kaname (610 S. Jackson St., 682-1828) for exotic cocktails and Japanese comfort food. Last but not least, if you really want to unwind, head to 8. Panama Hotel (605 S. Main St., 223-9242). It’s not just one of the best cafe settings in town; it’s a museum of local history, including one of America’s most shameful episodes, Japanese internment. You don’t just leave the ID with goodies and fond memories. You also take away a strong sense of place, history, and—hopefully—gratitude.

New Century Tea Gallery. Photo by Jose Trujillo

More in Arts & Culture

A scene from the 2017 Seattle Pride Parade. Photo by Bobby Arispe Jr./Flickr
Seattle Pride Pick List

Maximize your Pride Weekend experience with these standout celebrations and activities.

Hulking out at the ACE Comic Con in Glendale, Ariz. Photo courtesy of ACE Comic Con
The Pop-Up Disruptor Con

ACE Comic Con heads to Seattle this week with a stripped down, star-focused model. Will it work?

Snail Mail’s Lindsey Jordan is still a teen, making ‘Lush’ an even more ridiculous indie rock achievement. Photo courtesy Ground Control Touring
Pick List: Snail Mail, Sounders Pride, Peach Kelli Pop

The week’s best entertainment options.


While peppier than its predecessor, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom still feels very calculated.

Photo by Brett Curtiss/Flickr
Memories of Prides Past

We caught up with some notable locals to reminisce about their favorite moments from the festivities.

Illustration by Taylor Dow
Indignation and Compassion

Cancer season, and summer, begin with choppy waters.

Putting in the Werk

While best known for underground dance music, Kremwerk has quietly fostered Seattle’s alternative queer entertainment scene.

Take dad out to the ball game, take dad out with the crowd… Photo by Elise Lin/Flickr
Father’s Day Pick List

Make the most of a day with the ol’ man with these dad-centric activities.

Speedy Ortiz with the candlestick in the flowery room. Photo courtesy Ground Control Touring
Pick List: Speedy Ortiz, Men in Blazers, Fremont Fair

The week’s best entertainment options.

Most Read