I-Miun Liu is the perfect creator for this moment in Capitol Hill food+drink history when new opportunities are rare and permitting, construction, and design moves at an even more glacial pace.
“It’s mainly that we’re busy,” Liu tells CHS of the long, deliberate process he seems to undertake when opening new spaces on Capitol Hill. The early plans for East Trading Co., Liu’s Chinese and Korean street food bar set to transform the former E Pike Sun Liquor lounge, have been in the works since last summer.
With the Dynasty Room transformation completed in the International District, and Raised Doughnuts, another Liu-backed project on 23rd Ave from baker Mi Kim, all but set to open, Liu can put all of the focus from the people he brings together on a project squarely on getting East Trading Co. opened in the coming weeks.
Powered by design firm Electric Coffin, Liu says the old Sun Liquor space is being reborn as a kind of Eastern cocktail dojo. “We’re going to have some really cool stuff with martial arts,” Liu said, speaking of his childhood growing up in Korea and being part of martial arts training and joining the line of the lion dance.
While one original concept of a sort of doughnut bar will be lost to history — at least for now, East Trading Co.’s menu will push the borders of Capitol Hill bar food. “Everything will be in disposable containers: street food bites. Chinese, Korean, things that I grew up eating,” Liu said. Expect snacks like dried squid, char flamed fish, or just munching on noodles, and a late night happy hour menu that will “expand as we go,” within limits, Liu said. “If we go too far, people aren’t willing to go there. People are kind of accepting of the gizzards — but not the hearts,” Liu said. Desserts will include non-doughnut sweet treats from Kim of Raised Doughnuts.
East Trading Co. joins a wave of Eastern flavors in Pike/Pine’s expansive bar scene including the likes of Foreign National and Suika sibling Tamari Bar which opened on E Pine in February.
CHS reported on Liu’s first Capitol Hill project, the E Pine Oasis Tea Zone, when it opened in 2016 and set a “record” by debuting “two years and two days after CHS first wrote about the project taking shape.”
Following Sun Liquor’s decision to move it distillery business off-Hill, Liu’s latest Pike/Pine project will have a total turnaround of somewhere just over a year. His pace is, apparently, picking up.
East Trading Co. will be located at 512 E Pike. You can keep track of progress on Instagram @easttradingcompany.
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