Tacoma’s Weird Restaurants

Tacoma, where The Bygone Bureau is headquartered, is like the slightly mutated younger brother of Seattle. Everything’s a little weirder in Tacoma, even the restaurants. Kevin Nguyen and Nick Martens showcase some of the city’s finest examples of strange businesses that ostensibly serve Asian food.

Seattle just might have the best Asian food in all of America. Its healthy fishing industry and prime West Coast location provide the perfect setting for unbelievable sushi, and the Thai is nothing to sneeze at either. Seattle is the closest many Americans will ever get to Tokyo, both geographically and culinarily, and it thankfully does not disappoint.

But we don’t live in Seattle. Our school, the University of Puget Sound, is located 30 miles south of Seattle in the city of Tacoma. Tacoma is like Seattle, only smaller, less exciting, less safe, uglier, and weirder. For example, Seattle’s iconic structure is the futuristic and progressive Space Needle while Tacoma’s is the breast-shaped Tacoma Dome, which is notable because it’s the world’s second largest arena with a wooden dome and because everyone in town wants it torn down.

This predilection for weirdness also extends to Tacoma’s Asian restaurants. If Seattle is the Olympus of Asian food in America, Tacoma is Alice’s Wonderland. Don’t get me wrong, you can still get a mean bowl of pho on the cheap, but the ultra-elite super-cuisine stays a few dozen miles north. Luckily for the Tacoma resident, what’s lacking in the high-end is made up for in the, er… strange-end. Tacoma has some truly bizarre Asian restaurants; the following are just the tip of the iceberg.

goofy sign

We should make clear that we have not eaten at any of the following establishments. The Goofy Goose should show you why. First, the name. We don’t want goofiness or geese associated with anything we’re going to eat. Second, the Goofy Goose is a restaurant that specializes in hamburger/teriyaki. Whether they serve teriyaki hamburgers or hamburgers and teriyaki separately, we don’t know, and, frankly, we don’t care to find out. There’s also the matter of the goose himself:


This strung-out, vest-wearing waterfowl should be kept as far away from humans and from human food as possible. He’s clearly deranged, and is surely cutting costs on ingredients and sanitation so he can score more crystal meth. He should be serving time instead of serving teriyaki hamburgers. We’ll pass on the Goofy Goose, thanks.

This next restaurant isn’t so much a case of avian aggression as it of confused marketing. In a culture that seems to worship sequels, this place must have seemed like a sure-fire hit:


The proprietors, however, made a few errors in the design of Wendy’s II. Our research shows that restaurants generally do not receive sequels. This is because the originals tend not to leave loose ends. Additionally, if there were to be a sequel to a restaurant, wouldn’t it make sense to build upon the strengths of the prequel? While the move from a national hamburger chain to a crummy Vietnamese joint in a strip mall might interest some avant-garde circles, most audiences simply resist such a drastic change.

This notice outside Wendy’s II also seems largely experimental.


The combination of statement, command, and request is bold, but, again, confusing. Also, a cheaper pho place is just up the street.

This is the ultimate Tacoma restaurant. We have nothing more to add.

sars sign

It’s not… it’s not really open anymore. I wonder why.


Nick Martens is a founding editor of The Bygone Bureau. You can email him, if you like.