Jan 29, 2024 - Food and Drink

Why Seattle restaurant The Boat rocks

A bowl of dry egg noodles next to garlic fried chicken and broth and salad from The Boat.

The fried garlic chicken with egg noodles at The Boat. Photo: Melissa Santos/Axios

I didn't have a chance until a couple of months ago to make it to The Boat, which specializes in Vietnamese garlic chicken and rice (cơm gà mắm tỏi).

  • Now, after a few visits, I can tell you why the restaurant in Little Saigon is racking up so many local and national accolades — including a spot on this year's list of James Beard semifinalists — and why it's become one of my local favorites.

Details: The menu at the Boat is limited. They specialize in one dish: Cornish game hens (which are actually just tiny chickens) fried and smothered in fish sauce and garlic.

  • You can pair the chicken with rice, noodles or noodle soup. Each platter comes with a chrysanthemum salad.
  • The menu also offers pandan or banana waffles for dessert, which you can dip in whipped coconut cream. (Pro tip: Never skip these.)

Details: The food is simple and comforting, yet still feels celebratory and special. The chicken is juicy, the broth bright and flavorful.

  • Somehow, it's a filling but not overly heavy dinner — a tricky dance for a meal built around a fried bird.
A green-tinged Pandan waffle with bowl of coconut whip and accompanying strawlike spoon on a plate.
The pandan waffle with coconut cloud from The Boat. Photo: Melissa Santos/Axios

Fun fact(s): The Boat is part of the family restaurant empire run by Quynh-Vy and Yenvy Pham, who also run Phở Bắc Sup Shop on the same block.

  • It's located in the same space where the Phams' parents opened the original Phở Bắc — which the family says was Seattle's first pho restaurant — in 1982.
  • The building is, indeed, shaped like a boat, which is one of the reasons you'll find my almost-4-year-old constantly begging to go there (besides the excitement of tearing into half a mini chicken).

The bottom line: When it's cold out, I want to go to The Boat. When it's been a long day, I want to go to The Boat. When I want to celebrate, I want to go to The Boat.

What we're watching: Whether the Pham siblings snag a national James Beard Award this year, as they're up for Outstanding Restaurateur for the second year in a row.

Address: 1314 S. Jackson St.

Hours: 11am–9pm. Closed Tuesdays.

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