by Amanda Ong
Serving banh mi to biryani, tacos to teriyaki, until April 9, 39 independently owned restaurants across southeast Seattle will be taking part in the 12th annual Plate of Nations. Founded in 2011 with the help of the MLK Business Association, Plate of Nations highlights the diverse and distinctive restaurants of the southeast Seattle community. Each participating restaurant will offer visitors shareable plates especially designed for the event, for $25 and $35.
“I think it’s important to have food events like this, because no matter where you’re from, what language you speak, your background, and your culture, there’s no better way to come together than over a nice meal,” Spring Gin, a Plate of Nations organizer, told the South Seattle Emerald. “It is important to highlight in particular these BIPOC- [and] immigrant-owned restaurants through this event to give them the recognition they deserve.”
South End diners can sample food from all over the world — from Eritrea to Laos to the Caribbean — right in their own backyard. More than that, Plate of Nations is incredibly intentional with its participating restaurants. It is not just a food event, but it seeks to bring the community together through food, support small businesses in the city’s most diverse neighborhoods, and demonstrate what the South End has to offer.
“Personally, for me, I am most excited about the opportunity to be a part of the process,” Gin said. “It was such an honor to build relationships with our community during the event planning [and] coordination process and get to know these businesses we heard of or even drive past every day and see what they [take] pride in serving.”
Many of these restaurants are immigrant- and BIPOC-owned and are still grappling with the effects of the pandemic on business. These businesses are limited in resources and face factors like language barriers in attracting business. Even though their food might be incredible, they struggle to compete with bigger chain restaurants. Plate of Nations offers a way for Seattle residents to buy small and buy local, and to see that the world’s food is at their fingertips.
A bounty of restaurants you may already know and love are participating in Plate of Nations, like Emerald City Fish & Chips, Saffron Spice, Delish Ethiopian, Huong Duong, and Lil Red — and a bounty more you can try out and fall in love with. And even when Plate of Nations is no longer happening, you can become a regular patron at any of these restaurants to support our southeast Seattle neighborhoods.
“This is a beautiful event to make sure that [these restaurants] are not forgotten, and that we appreciate these businesses sharing a piece of home away from home and sharing their culture with the community,” Gin said.
Check out the Plate of Nations website for a full list of restaurants and menus. You can also participate in social media contests on Plate of Nations Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and LinkedIn for chances to win $20 gift vouchers to participating Plate of Nations restaurants. Its website also offers a downloadable passport where you can collect stamps at participating Plate of Nations restaurants in exchange for prizes, or you can pick up your passport in any participating restaurant.
Amanda Ong (she/her) is a Chinese American writer from California. She is currently a master’s candidate at the University of Washington Museology program and graduated from Columbia University in 2020 with degrees in creative writing and ethnicity and race studies.
📸 Featured Image: Saffron Spice’s special menu for Plate of Nations. Participating restaurants will offer special shareable menu items at $25 and $35 during this southeast Seattle dining promotion. (Photo: Proverbial Media)
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