For a seemingly simple and straightforward grain, rice takes on many tantalizing forms. Best hits include stir-fried rice, rice topped with decadent sauces, and rice served under a perfectly grilled, roasted, or braised piece of meat. You’ll find rice living up to its impressive versatility at many of Seattle’s best South and East Asian and Mediterranean restaurants. Here are a few must-try favorites.
Annapurna Cafe | 1833 Broadway | 206-320-7770
Capitol Hill’s Indian, Nepalese, and Tibetan kitchen does a luxurious Biryani -- a traditional mixed basmati rice dish. Annapurna’s rendition is cooked with a special blend of Indian spices, nuts, and raisins, and is served with Raita (a spiced and herbed yogurt-based condiment). Order it with egg, mixed veggies, chicken, lamb, or shrimp.
Cedars | Multiple locations
Both Cedars locations in the U District and on Broadway offer a Mughlai-inspired Royal Biryani simmered with curry, raisins, cashews, saffron, and your choice of vegetables, chicken, lamb, beef, fish, or prawns. Each serving is accompanied by a side of Raita.
India Gate | 3080 148th Ave SE, Suite 102, Bellevue | 425-747-1075
The Biryani dishes at this Bellevue staple start with classic spiced pilau rice. Diners can then add chicken, lamb, or keep it vegetarian with fresh produce and chopped nuts mixed in. And, of course, you’ll get plenty of Raita to top if all off.
Petra Bistro | 2501 4th Ave | 206-728-5389
Belltown’s premier Mediterranean bistro cooks up a unique Jordanian dish called Ouzi. While it is traditionally served to family and guests on special occasions, you can order yours anytime at Petra Bistro. Ground beef, carrots, and peas are mixed into rice, topped with sautéed almonds, pine nuts, and housemade tzatziki sauce, and served with charbroiled chicken breast, lamb, beef, or gyro meat.
Siam on Eastlake | 1629 Eastlake Ave E | 206-322-6174
Choose from four specialty fried rice options during dinner service at Siam on Eastlake, including the classic (jasmine rice, egg, onions, your choice of meat, tomatoes, cucumber, and cilantro), Crab Fried Rice, Basil Fried Rice (green beans, mushrooms, cabbage, bell peppers, onions, egg, basil-chili sauce, and beef or prawns), and the Siam Special (prawns, chicken, Chinese sausage, pineapple, onions, egg, yellow curry powder, and the rest of the works). If you’re in during daily happy hour, go for the chicken or tofu fried rice. Hint: happy hour is extra-long every Monday, when it lasts all night starting at 3 p.m.
Soi | 1400 10th Ave | 206-556-4853
Soi brings a complete and unique Thai culinary tour to discerning Capitol Hill palates, with a special focus on specialties hailing from the country’s Northeastern Isan region. The two standout rice dishes include Naam Khao Tod and Khao Phad Tom Yum. The former features crispy marinated rice with house-fermented sour pork, fresh ginger, toasted peanuts, red onion, kaffir lime leaf, cilantro, and lemongrass, all mixed with lime juice and fish sauce, while the latter is a mouthwatering stir-fried rice combined with tiger prawns, lemongrass, button mushrooms, egg, kaffir lime leaf, galangal, cilantro, chili paste, and fresh lime juice.
Note: Always check with your server to confirm whether specific dishes are made with 100% gluten-free ingredients. Even gluten-free dishes are often prepared in non-gluten-free kitchens, so use caution if you have an allergy, sensitivity, or other condition.