Seattle's Child

Your guide to a kid-friendly city

The Boat restaurant kids

The boat-shaped restaurant known as The Boat. Photo courtesy PhoBacSeattle on FB.

The Boat: Imagine one main dish in a restaurant

Choosing what to eat in a Vietnamese eatery was never so easy — or tasty!

What’s a dine-out dream come true for parents?

A restaurant that serves only one entree (in two versions)  and one dessert (in two versions).

Oh, an it also happens to be in the shape of a boat. The restaurant building, that is, not the dishes.

That’s the story at The Boat, located at 1314 S. Jackson Street in Seattle. This pink, boat-shaped hole-in-the-wall is where Theresa Cat Vu and Augustine Nien Pham opened Seattle’s first pho shop nearly 40 years ago. Their children now run the family business recently re-opened their flagship building with a new approach.

The Boat new serves one thing: Cơm gà mắm tỏ  is a chicken and rice dish beloved in Vietnam. It’s a fried garlic-encrusted cornish hen with rice cooked in chicken broth that appeals to taste buds of all ages. Our 6-year-old friend raved about the chicken; despite it being covered in garlic, he said, it “tasted like garlic candy” instead of being overwhelming to his young tastebuds.

I have to say there is something very simple and satifying about going out to eat and looking around the table to see the same meal at every spot around the table. Our family mostly goes out so that everyone can have what they want and generally everyone gets a different dish. But my meal with a young friend in tow at The Boat felt a bit like sitting around a family table. Given that Cơm gà mắm tỏ  is popular dish in Vietnam, I felt our little crew had a more genuine cultural dinner experience not in spite of but because of The Boat’s  limited fare.

Of course, the real winner kids will be desert. Like the main dish, the restaurant offers only one desert, a Vietnamese dessert waffle, called bánh kẹp. You can order it in either banana pandan or caramelized pineapple. Pinapple was the clear winner at our table.

The meal isn’t fast food cheap, but it’s on the lower side of dine outs. The entree, which includes the chicken, rice, soup and greens costs $11-18 depending on the size of the chicken. Waffles are $8 a pop and are served with a delicious dipping cream. The Boat is open daily from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

More at Seattle’s Child:

“Reclaiming First Foods”

About the Author

Cheryl Murfin

Cheryl Murfin is managing editor at Seattle's Child. She is also a certified doula, lactation educator for and a certified AWA writing workshop facilitator at