Start-of-the-week solace comes in the form of flour and water at Chiang's, where the handmade noodles are on each of the four different menus that float around the restaurant. On the 'Chinese' menu--don't worry, it's in English--you'll find "Home Made Pan Fried Noodles Shanghai Style." On the Szechuan menu the sauce is looser and spicier; the vegetarian and American menus each have their own version too. However you please, these noodles will please you. Whether you stick to the pan-fried specialty or get them in soup, the al dente bite will have you smitten.
Dishes on the Chinese menu at Chiang's, such as the aforementioned Shanghai-style pan-fried noodles, cater to the groups of giggling UW students and large families, chatting away in Chinese, all of whom seek their comfort in traditional preparations. That means the slivers of pork are thin, unlike the large chunks of deep-fried meat that can be found on the 'American' menu, typified by General Tso's chicken. If you're nervous about what to order, don't hesitate to ask the friendly servers--it was this method that led me to the conspicuously colored, deep crimson "Spicy Hot Fish Fillet On Roman Lettuce," (sic) now replacing my own heritage's matzoh ball soup as my ultimate comfort food.
Romaine, not Roman, is the lettuce that provides the foundation for the dish. On top of the greens are generous chunks of fish so mild, yet rich, that if they didn't fall apart at the gentlest of chopstick touches, they could be mistaken for meat. A mountain of red peppers finishes the dish, showering it with spice. If meltingly tender fish is not on your comfort-food radar, find crunch and capsicum in the '5-star Chicken.' This dish I discovered after watching table after table leave behind a foil wrapped basket with nothing by piles of tiny, spicy peppers. Of course, I had to ask for a basket myself, and was pleased with the cracker like crunch of the coating and the deep, garlicky spice that permeated through to the chicken meat beneath.
Proof of Chiang's place in comfort food heaven comes via the inclement weather rating scale: the minute the weather turns grey and wet, the number of people slogging through the rain to get to this North Seattle classic doubles, sometimes forming a wait, despite the size of the dining room. The outer windows steam up and the smell of food wafts into the parking lot, signifying it's worth cramming in to the front alcove for the quick wait for a table.