I like new years. I’m down with moving forward.
But as this new year starts up a little piece of my heart stays fast with 2013. A place I love, Mon Hei Bakery, didn’t make it into 2014 with us. On Christmas Eve the long-abandoned top floor of 665 South King Street caught fire and burned through the night.
Mon Hei, the first bakery in Seattle’s Chinatown (est. 1979), and several other offices and businesses operating from the lower level spaces of the historic building are now closed indefinitely. Among the businesses affected: a 34-year-old pet store, Liem’s Aquarium as well as the Greater Seattle Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Palace Gift Shop and Sea Garden Restaurant. The 104-year-old structure is now too unstable to be entered safely.
I’ve dropped little love notes to Mon Hei into this blog before. Their sumptuously soft, perfectly sugared donuts have certainly appeared in my Instagram feed alongside what I consider to be the BEST egg tarts ever and chicken hand pies, my favorite lunch treat.
I love the vibe Mon Hei had. Old guys commandeered the little back tables and seemed to always be chilling, chatting and chewing. The digital doorbell would ding dong as customers entered. Sometimes people set off inadvertent doorbell symphonies as they perused the bakery cases…lost in looking and longing, pacing over the entry mat near the door.
I adored the simple layer cake neon in their window though I struggled to nab a reflection-free photo of it.
The stacks of pink boxes waiting…love.
Come back, Mon Hei! The International District needs you and that’s not just the donut lover in me crying out to you. Small, excellent businesses are the heartbeat of neighborhoods.
The first time I tried a Chinese donut from Mon Hei I went home and researched the history of Chinese baking because if that’s your version of donut then I’m in all the way. In, son.
Dear Mon Hei…people walk by your storefront daily and pause to peer at your place. We wait.
Here’s my wish for 2014…that this neighborhood bakery will return to The International District of Seattle along with the other businesses and offices that were ousted by flames, water, time.
Come back, Mon Hei Bakery. Come back to the *ID.
We wait. Hearts beating. Build back.
I will be there to greet you with oinking arms and thumping heart.
xo – fatpiginthemarket
*ID: International District: a Seattle neighborhood, cultural and commercial center for Seattle’s Asian American and Pacific Islander communities