Mon Hei Bakery – come back to the ID

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.

Mon Hei after fire barricade

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.

Mon Hei Bakery donut, tart, puff

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.

Mon Hei Bakery Seattle International District

The stacks of pink boxes waiting…love.

Mon Hei Bakery pink box stack

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.

Mon Hei Seattle and man

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.

birds above Mon Hei building

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

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4 Responses to Mon Hei Bakery – come back to the ID

  1. Cecilia says:

    I love Mon Hei Bakery and I am so distraught that they are closed. I feel like they are the ONLY Chinese bakery in Chinatown that making decent Gai Mai Baos. The rest are just so-so! I really want to find out if they plan to reopen. We should also let the owners know that there are many loyal customers hoping they will reopen. Do you think we pastry fans would be able to do that? I love your blog BTW.

    • @ceciliawu I keep hoping to hear something about Mon Hei reopening. Maybe we pastry people need to rally & throw some sort of come back party. Thank you, by the way, for reading my blog and for commenting….oink!

  2. Dennis Hollinger-Lant says:

    We attended the 2013 Chinese New Year festivities in the ID and enjoyed the $2.00 samples throughout the community. The Mon Hei Bakery was not on the list, but the line was down the block so we joined the wait. It was so worth it! I few months later we returned to spend time at the Wing Luke Museum, but stopped at the bakery first. I was heart broken when I read about the fire. Hoping things had changed, I was in the neighborhood today (3/3/14) and saw the fences still up. I hope the bakery will relocate in the ID and have a grand re-opening so we can all come and support the business. I don’t know anything about Chinese baking, but I know the Mon Hei made delicious pastries.

    • @Dennis I heard that the King Street building will be deconstructed from the top down and then rebuilt. And I expect that’ll take a long time. I hope Mon Hei will relocate and reopen in the ID too. Soon! I’ll be at that grand opening…definitely!