Huy Tat was born in Vietnam and raised in Columbia City by his family, owners of Hue Ky Mi Gia (huekymigia.com), a small, cult-favorite chain of noodle houses in Seattle, Kent and Tacoma. It was there that Tat met Allyss Taylor (former sous chef at The Harvest Vine), who came in regularly for a dose of butter garlic fried chicken wings. Tat and Taylor struck up a friendship, and it wasn’t long before Salted Sea was born.
Open since June in the former Angie’s Tavern space, Salted Sea is an upscale seafood restaurant and raw bar with a Vietnamese twist. People come into the modern, metal-and-wood eatery for fresh oysters ($3 each/$16 half-dozen) and stay (or come back with their families, as we did) for home runs like herb-flecked, spicy green curry mussels ($12) and pan-seared Alaskan sea scallops ($27) served with pencil-thin crab lumpia.
Taylor’s food is refined, but there’s no pretension, and I think that’s one of the reasons kids do well at Salted Sea (or maybe it’s the sweet chili oil on crispy calamari, $8). At 28, Tat has four kids of his own and opened the restaurant because he loves seafood, takes pride in his ’hood, and wants families to feel at home. Maybe that’s why he stamped a giant 98118 on the wood slats in the entryway. Along with spots such as Super Six, from the Marination team, filling the neighborhood, this ZIP code is experiencing a second fine-dining renaissance. Columbia City, 4915 Rainier Ave. S; 206.858.6328; saltedseaseattle.com