by Rosalind Brazel
Sunflower: a tall North American plant of the daisy family, with large golden-rayed flowers. Sunflowers are cultivated for their edible seeds, which are an important source of oil for cooking and margarine. This bold flower is the driving force behind the concept at Huong Duong, which means “sunflower” in Vietnamese. It’s located on Martin Luther King Jr. Way South, next to the Othello light rail station. Duy Tran and his family run the restaurant. His mom is the main cook, and his dad helps out in the kitchen. His younger siblings, both working their own jobs, work at the restaurant too.
“But it’s my restaurant,” Duy Tran says proudly of Huong Duong.
It took the family five years to find the location, build a menu based on his mother’s recipes, and open its doors for the first time. Now, five years after that, Huong Duong has a solid base of loyal customers who frequent this neighborhood restaurant.
On the menu, you will find the traditional food of Vietnam with common ingredients such as fish sauce, shrimp paste, soy sauce, rice, fresh herbs, fruit, and vegetables. Also, like the traditional cuisine, Huong Duong’s dishes are loaded with fresh ingredients and have limited amounts of dairy and oil. A delightful balance of flavors and fragrance make this restaurant’s dishes healthy and satisfying.
The most popular dishes include the Pho’, a noodle soup with rich, flavorful broth and your choice of protein. The Sunflower Special which is a combo of grilled shrimp and pork and comes with eggrolls. The Duck Noodle Soup is a coveted dish here, because it is difficult to make.
“Many of our Vietnamese customers come here to have the Duck Noodle Soup because they don’t want to go to the trouble of making it themselves, but it’s a traditional treat from Vietnamese cuisine,” says Tran.
The Pork Chops and Rice are a great choice. The flavor of the meat is unique and the full meal comes with rice and an egg. The Mango Salad is also a good healthy choice. It’s sweet and tangy flavor with fresh and healthy ingredients create a good balanced plate. Smoothies add a sweet touch to the menu. The mango and strawberry flavors, made with fresh fruit, are the most popular.
What sets this restaurant apart is the commitment to vegetarian options. Any dish on the menu with a green check, and there are more green checks than not, can be converted to vegetarian. This even includes the rich broth that is the highlight of the incredible Pho’ served at Huong Duong. They do a vegetarian option made with a similar and equally complex process minus the marrow-rich beef bones that usually serve as a base for the broth.
“That’s very hard to find in Seattle,” says frequent customer Valerie Sloane. “This is one of my favorite restaurants that I visit at least once a month.”
Tran says the family hopes to branch out someday and open a second restaurant in another Seattle neighborhood. For now, Huong Duong remains a south Seattle favorite with many options and a traditional but flavorful menu.
Rosalind Brazel is a self-professed food snob. She has been food obsessed since childhood and enjoys dining out as much as she does creating meals of her own. She was recently featured as a Cook-to-Follow in Allrecipes magazine and served as judge on the cooking show Dinner Spinner. She calls South Seattle home.
Huong Duong is located at 7136 Martin Luther King Jr. Way S.
Featured Image: The Sunflower Special (Photo: Rosalind Brazel)