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from the heart of the Dragon

From the Heart of the Dragon is a multimedia project that shares the stories of how American Asians helped shape neighborhoods and communities. It is the stories from the community that will bring history, life and compassion to the everyday citizens that have shaped Seattle’s Chinatown International District or C-ID.

The cumulation of stories from Seattle’s C-ID will be shared at an exhibit in May 2024, at Nisei Veterans Committee.

We are searching for memories and photographs from you, the community that will serve as the essence of 'events in history' about the Chinatown International District. It is your memories from the heart that will be an integral part of breathing fire and light to the project. If you are interested in recording your stories for the show let us know below.

Contact Us and tell us your story

Thanks for submitting!

 In 1975, when I was just a teenager, my family escaped from Vietnam... the United States just before the Fall of Saigon. My father had served in the South Vietnam Air Force. It was crucial that he leave the country. Former military officers from Southern Vietnam would soon be rounded up and forced into “re-education camps”, where many were tortured and killed. After some months in various refugee camps in the U.S., my family landed in Redmond, Washington, the day before school started. We were all very fortunate to have sponsors who helped us adjust to our new lives, access legal assistance and enroll in school. My siblings and I were all able to graduate from higher education and contribute to society in meaningful ways....

A few the of stories submitted:
Chinese Baptist Church Nursery School

I attended the nursery school at the old Chinese Baptist Church at 925 S. King Street, on 10th Avenue, between King and Weller Streets.  I interacted with other young people and learned to get along with them.  Mrs. June Eng was the head teacher/leader there.  She really liked me.  She liked me so much that she held up the whole class until I returned from the toilet in the kiddies’ bathroom.  Well, I didn’t make it in time and had an “accident” in my pants.  I just sat there, staring at the pink walls, while the class waited.  I didn’t know what to do.  I didn’t possess the problem-solving skills I have today.  Mrs. Eng finally came in to check on me, and she took care of everything and I returned to my little chair in the circle.  Surprisingly, I was able to put the incident behind me quickly....

Seafair Parades

We attended the Chinatown Seafair parades on Jackson Street. Usually, the cousins and aunts (the dads were working) would take us down there early. We’d stake a claim on the sidewalk, lay newspaper down, then sit and wait about an hour before the parade began. Those were the days of the lengthy parades that go for at least an hour or more, not just 30 minutes. Floats, floats and more floats. Community marching bands. Cars with neighborhood royalty. Floats carrying Seafair royalty. I really liked watching and listening to the military marching bands, especially the tall, slim drum major of the Navy (or was it Coast Guard?). He had to be nearly seven feet tall (or so it seemed)! And his high-stepping was so…cool! The clowns ran all over the place, as did the Seafair pirates, but they were much scarier when they slashed their sword blades on the pavement, just missing our feet, shouting “Arrgghh”; .....

Atlas Café 

The FIRST restaurant that I went out to with only my friends present. The food was delicious. I will always remember their “curry beef, ginger beef and chicken with garlic sauce.” Going out alone to a restaurant with friends was very liberating (9th grade??). The Hong family’s son moved the restaurant to 409 8th Ave S. and changed the name to “House of Hong.” That building was previously occupied by Officemporium (office furniture store) and Safeway.


Tai Tung Restaurant (659 S. King St.): This was the spot to go for late night Chinese food in my late teens and 20’s. They were open until 3am. Over the years, they have shortened their business hours due to safety considerations. Currently they are open until 8:30pm. My favorite dish is “curry beef.” I still go there, about every 6 weeks or so. In recent years, on New Year's Eve, my friends and I order out (curry beef) to ring in the New Year!

 Seattle Buddhist Church

Located at 1427 S. Main St., the SBBT was the center of my family’s social life, as well as the majority of the Japanese-American (JA) community. I remember attending nursery school, Sunday services, Boy Scout (Troop 252) meetings, Drum & Bugle Corp practices, funerals, marriages, dances, Bon Odori, bazaars, plus many other events; and playing basketball and watching Japanese movies in the gym. My most vivid memory of nursery school was seeing my cousin who was a year older, leave for the half-day kindergarten at Bailey Gatzert Elementary School. I would cry myself to sleep during nap time....

bunch of bok choy

 I would accompany my dad driving down to Chinatown to buy just one bunch of bok choy; they wrapped it in newspaper. He’d acknowledge a few people he knew, walking on the sidewalk. Free parking was available; we did not double park. Gas was cheap, then.

Gim Ling to China Gate

For our family, Tek Wong's Gim Ling restaurant (later, became Alan Louie's China Gate) was the go-to place for dim sum. In the 1950’s and 60’s, after our annual visit to Lakeview Cemetery to lay flowers at my great-grandfather’s grave, we’d return home for a dim sum lunch. I would see my grandfather slip money to my uncle who’d drive to Gim Ling and bring home enough to feed eight of us. I thought it was a ten dollar bill, and it may have been a twenty, but the pink cake box (perhaps two) tied with kite string would have ha-gow, shu mai, and hom bows. Sometimes, a tall yellow, low sugar cake was in there. My grandmother provided the other greasy goodies. I didn’t pay that much attention to the cost, because I wasn’t paying the bill back then.

Show Times for the short Film


Nisei Veteran's Committee Memorial Hall

1212 S King Street,

Seattle, WA 98144

May 4th, 11th, 18th, 25th


1st showing 11:40AM

2nd showing 2:00 PM

Doors Open at   11:00 AM

Come early for the slide show and more stories

From the Heart of the Dragon

is free and welcome to all!

Neighborhood Matching Fund from the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods

made possible with a grant from the

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