Watercress Vietnamese Bistro

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Watercress featured in the Stranger’s “Best New Places to Eat for Cheap in Seattle”

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A Snazzy Vietnamese Bistro in Columbia City
WATERCRESS VIETNAMESE BISTRO: Tucked in the same little Columbia City strip mall that houses Full Tilt Ice Cream and the Hummingbird Saloon, Watercress Vietnamese Bistro distinguishes itself from its shopping-plaza exterior the second you step in the door. Not only is the space surprisingly airy and expansive, it’s straight-up snazzy, with careful modern decor and a menu that closes each item with a suggested wine pairing—pretty fancy for a place adjoining a pool hall. Nevertheless, with entrées running $8 to $12, it still counts as cheap eats, providing a party of two with a seriously good meal for $20 and some change. (Tip for thrifters: The lunchtime menu shaves a buck or two off everything.) I had the stir-fried green beans and tofu ($9, with a light garlic braise and the most tasteful slivers of tofu), and my date had the caramelized prawns and pork in a clay pot ($12, and essentially a bowl of meat, with a sweet-and-spicy vinegar sauce and a surprising lightness). Neither dish really stood on its own as a dinner entrée—Jake needed a serving of my green beans to make his delicious meat-pot make proper sense, and I needed some of his rice to round out my saucy vegetable dish. But we’ll definitely be going back. (5041 Rainier Ave S, watercressbistro.com) DAVID SCHMADER

Sarah Gavin of The Stranger reviews Watercress

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Watercress’s chef, who recently moved from Vietnam, developed the menu based on dishes Loan and her family eat at home. Several incorporate the restaurant’s leafy namesake, like watercress beef salad, but I opted for the vegetarian sizzling crepe. The tofu, mushroom, and bean sprout stuffed crepe was fried to a golden crisp and wreathed in fresh lettuce, basil, and mint. The way to eat this crepe is by breaking it into pieces, wrapping them in lettuce and herbs, and then dipping these bundles in a lightly salty soy-sauce concoction. “It is photo-worthy!” said the talkative customer when she noticed me snapping its picture.