Dim sum, tacos and more at 21 brand-new Greater Seattle restaurants

One of the year’s big openings in the Bellevue Chinese American community is Nai Brother Chinese Sauerkraut Fish, located across the street from the Dick’s in Bellevue. You might have flashbacks of the long lines when that local burger chain made its Eastside debut last year. The wait can be long at this Chinese cafe as well if you dine on weekends from 6 to 8 pm (But it’s easy-peasy to score a table if you go off-hours.)

Sauerkraut Fish soup has been popular in southwest China and in other parts of Asia since the 1990s, but the English translation of “sauerkraut fish” befuddles some western diners. It’s fish soup accented with fermented umami from the pickled green mustard. A couple of sauerkraut fish spots have popped up around King County in recent years, but they haven’t been as popular as their counterparts in Richmond, BC But this new restaurant in the Pacific Village Center seems to have captivated many in the Chinese community. It doesn’t Americanize its menu. Pig ears and chicken feet are featured on its appetizer list. (Don’t be that guy who comes in and asks if they have egg rolls.)

On with our roll call of new openings around the Eastside, North End and South End.

The Eastside

How to order at Nai Brother Chinese Sauerkraut Fish: choose one of the eight broths and a fillet (basa, snakehead or grass carp) for your communal bowl. It comes with a side of rice. For newbies, I suggest ordering multiple small bowls for your party to sample. The signature sauerkraut fish bowl brims with a pleasant tartness, layered with allium and bold flavors. But not everyone might enjoy that deep, fermented funk. A good bowl for beginners is the “green pepper fish,” which has a sweeter, milder taste with some tingling Sichuan peppercorns to give the soup some oomph. Order each bowl with a different fish. The basa fillet possesses a softer flesh, while the grass carp has a denser, chewier bite.

Bobby Moore, the former executive chef at The Barking Frog in Woodinville, takes his second act to Main Street in the Old Bellevue commercial district. He opens his name Bar Moorea French-inspired cocktail den, and he also purchased Bis on Main Bistro a few doors down. Moore has treaded lightly to calm the regulars who worry their favorite miso cod on the Bis on Main menu will be replaced by trendy dishes or that the dining room will be infiltrated by hipsters. Fear not, Moore said. “I took over an institution… I wanted to honor what has been going on. If I wanted to change everything, I would have just started a new restaurant.”

Bis on Main makes arguably the best fries in Bellevue, like McDonald’s but redolent with truffle oil. Moore now serves those truffle shoestring fries with a side of roasted garlic dijonnaise. The chef added there will be little to no changes to the standbys: the miso cod, the Bolognese rigatoni and the garlic chicken. As for his own dishes, the chef added seven menu items from an egg yolk ravioli to spicy garlic prawns. Moore will give the dining room a face-lift after the holidays.

Big news on the dessert front. Not only did Bellevue Square score an outpost of the acclaimed Milk Bar (opening soon), but the mall landed the much sought-after franchise Ice Monster, known for its fruity, souped-up, shave ice that is the rage with teens these days. (Tomo in White Center, though, makes the undisputed best shave ice in the Puget Sound. We break down the layers of Tomo’s masterpiece here.)

Also in Bellevue, Nothing Bundt Cakes expands to the Evergreen Village, and The Whale Tea, A popular boba chain in the Northeast, debuts in the Northwest, south of Bellevue Square.

Kirkland gets the steakhouse Botteco Brazilthe bubble tea chain Happy Lemon and Early Bird Cafe. Early Bird does not mess around. Dim sum on weekdays ends at 11 am and that’s that. If you are a late riser, go on weekends when shrimp dumplings and other dim sum favorites get served until 2 pm My colleague, the woman-about-town, Jackie Varriano filed her dispatch about Early Bird and a stellar Hunan restaurant in the Houghton hood last week. (Speaking of Chinese restaurants, look for our review next week of a dim sum parlor that we think is the best in the Puget Sound.)

Issaquah gets the Tipsy Cow Burger Barwhich has a big fan base for its gourmet burgers.

Woodinville gets Island Blends Acai and Poke.

In Redmond, Los Chilangos, which owns a fleet of food trucks that makes the rounds around farmers markets and gas stations, expands with a brick and mortar at the Marbella Retail Center in Redmond and is a month or so away from opening a second taqueria in Redmond Ridge. They make excellent carnitas. The local chain is working with a bartender to start a tequila bar program at both restaurants.

In the South End

Burien gets Lowrider Cookie Company. This has been one of the unexpected hits, with long lines on weekends. Those chewy s’mores cookies are worth the wait. (Speaking of cookies, you’re going to love our Nov. 27 holiday cookie guide from my colleagues, accomplished bakers Taylor Blatchford and Anika Varty.)

Kent gets Pho T & Lwhich is under new ownership and features many rice and vermicelli noodle dishes along with its namesake soup.

Des Moines gets Tandoori Slice, which specializes in Indian-fusion pizza with chicken tikka and paneer cheese toppings. For the uninitiated, Indian pizza is popular around pockets of the Eastside and the South End. For more details, check out our roundup of the best Indian pizzas in the Puget Sound here.

In Auburn, PHOnominal Teriyaki Serves Vietnamese staples of beef soup and banh mi along with its namesake chicken.

Federal Way, which boasts some of the finest Korean restaurants in the Northwest, gets Chosun Korean BBQ and its glorious lineup of wagyu beef and USDA prime cuts.

North of Seattle

Alderwood mall, which already landed the year’s big opening in the North End, Baekjeong, scores two more popular Asian restaurants. Kizuki Ramen & Izakaya opens its 10th noodle house in Western Washington. It’s known for a garlic tonkotsu ramen with a fatty-rich broth that borders on gravy. Also Swish Swish Hot Pot opens nearby, offering 15 different broths for you to dip your wagyu beef in.

Shoreline gets a branch of Round Table Pizza.

And Mountlake Terrace gets BW Noodle Companywhich specializes in Thai soups, though you can get the takeout staple pad thai.