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Apr 3, 2003 01:25 PM

Dim Sum in Rosslyn

  • p

I've heard there is a huge Hong Kong style dim sum restaurant in one of the office buildings in Rosslyn-- I think its the USA Today/ Gannett building. Supposedly it is very popular in the Asian community and gets busloads on the weekends. Can anybody tell me the name and address and if they have experienced Sunday AM dim sum and what they thought of the food and if they have any sugestions re logistics and timing to avoid the crowds.

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  1. You're thinking of China Garden, which is in the old USA Today building on the corner of N. Lynn and Wilson.

    I have been there twice in recent weeks and really enjoyed it. You'll have to double check me on the time, but I am thinking it opens at 11:30 and there is a significant crowd gathered by then. However, we had no trouble at all seating a very large group when we were there waiting at 11:30, and it seemed that a smaller group of 2-4 would have no problem getting a table any time. The seating capacity is quite large so they have plenty of room. With a group of any size, I would say get there a little before 11:30 and you'll be fine. Last time I was there, it was just two of us and they appeared to be seating people already at 11:20, so we walked in and got a table.

    I really enjoyed the food. I don't really know all the names of all the items but they have great little shrimp/pork dumplings, scallion dumplings, and those buns with the BBQ pork inside. I also just love the sweet bean paste balls you get for dessert. We plan to make a habit out of it.

    There is free parking under the building (entrance on Wilson just as you cross N. Lynn.) The restaurant is on the second level, which is called the Mezzanine, above CVS. You can take an elevator up from the parking lot, or go in the main entrance and up the escalator.


    1. It's not huge, but I like it. I've attached a previous discussion on the restaurant below; I know that some people have been less complimentary of the restaurant on this board. Very good bao. Also, I don't believe it serves dim sum during the weekdays.


      2 Replies
      1. re: asun

        Thanks for the comments on China Garden, including the string from Jan '02. As I've looked for dim sum ideas on chow hound, New Fortune in Gaithersburg seems to be the overwhelming favorite-- I've been to Good Fortune in Wheaton and agree with the consensus that it is decent but limited. So I guess we are in for a visit to the burbs (Gaithersburg) or the urbs (Rosslyn) for Dim Sum this Sunday.

        1. re: peterh

          I've been to both; New Fortune circulates some items that China Garden doesn't, but for me, there are certain things that China Garden does better and there are certain things that New Fortune does better. E.g., I've not found a place in the MD-VA-DC area that does everything fabulously.

          Won't stop me from looking though. Would like to hear what you think on either.

      2. China Garden dim sum is good. I've been to both Fortunes, New Fortune in Gaithersburg, as well as China Garden, and I would say they are all similar in quality. Some days one is better than the other, but that is unpredictable, so if China Garden is convenient for you, I say go for it! Plus, it is bigger than most of the others (except maybe New Fortune)--China Garden can seat 600 people--so it's a bit easier to get a table. The cooks who make the dim sum are not the same ones who cook the "regular" chinese food, so really they should be judged separately.

        Of course, the dim sum in Boston Chinatown beats the pants off anything here. Some of the best Chinese food I've ever had (dim sum, dinner, pastries) was in Boston. And that's compared to NYC, Hong Kong, Toronto (ok, ok, I need to go to San Fran...)

          1. re: WestIndianArchie

            I've been recently. I am NOT an expert on dim sum, but it was fun. Do arrive early, but not too early. We learned the hard way that if you load up from the first carts out, you miss out on some really cool stuff that comes out later (like roasted duck). There is a carrot-shaped, carrot colored item that is sweetish and just delicious. It has a custard inside. I wasn't overly impressed with fried items. There is a ton of variety, prices are reasonable, the service is pretty efficient and there's free parking in the building. I'd go back with a group, to enjoy being able to experience the variety offered.

            1. re: WestIndianArchie

              It's a place to bring American friends who want to try dim sum but don't go expecting great food. Busloads of tourists go because the tour company gets a great deal. But, good dimsum is sadly lacking in NoVa.

              1. re: chowser

                I am afraid chowser is right - this place is mediocre on a good day, and can't hold a candle to the better places in Mont Co.

                1. re: chowser

                  Just to clarify, the tourist buses don't go there for dim sum. They are put in a side dining room and served a set menu of regular items (non-dim sum). IMHO China Garden is okay if you have the urge for dim sum with a variety of items. We've been going to Oriental East in Silver Spring, but our lastest visit may be the last for awhile. The food was cold and variety was lacking (we were there about 1 pm on a Saturday).

                  1. re: chowser

                    China Garden is better known for hosting huge wedding banquets and parties. Their dim sum has dropped in quality, but has gone up in price.

                    China Garden offers the most upscale feel and best ambiance for a Chinese restaurant in this area. It makes New Fortune seem like Old Fortune instead, since Old Fortune is a large dump, is dark, and smells. Old Fortune needs a serious makeover.

                    I've been there for dim sum and dinner. Never had a big reason to return.

                2. Dim sum is tricky. It generally requires a specialized chef and many restaurants aren't willing to pay for a dim sum chef. From what I understand, turnover is high in these positions and that's why you get very inconsistent food. I love dim sum but I can't say there's one place that's truly good on a consistent basis in the DC metro area. In NOVA, I still give my nod to Mark's Duck House.

                  13 Replies
                  1. re: Ericandblueboy

                    Mark's is our pick -- we'll be there for Father's Day!
                    Fortune across the street is our 2nd choice when the line at Mark's is too long.

                    We've been eating dim sum in this area since the '60s with my Cantonese mother, so we've seen many dim sum places come and go. From the great lamentably-gone Tung Bor and China Garden in Chinatown (it was really good a few decades ago).

                    In Wheaton, Good Fortune is pretty good as is Hollywood East.

                    1. re: TerryS

                      Hollywood East is closed. Good Fortune hasn't been good for years.

                      Oriental East in Silver Spring is good, but New Fortune in Gaithersburg is probably the best in the area these days.

                      1. re: DanielK

                        Not only is Hollywood East closed, but China Chef as well. The line for Good Fortune this Sunday was probably longer than Oriental East!

                        1. re: DanielK

                          Daniel--Is this still your opinion on Oriental East? I'm going there on Saturday (tried to talk the group into New Fortune, but there was no shifting things) and am curious about it.

                          1. re: Smokey

                            I don't think you'll have a BAD meal at OE, but NF remains my favorite.

                        2. re: TerryS

                          If you're not looking for dim sum, but instead, want good chinese food that rivals Mark's, I suggest XO Taste across the street.

                        3. re: Ericandblueboy

                          We've been to Mark's several times in the last few months, but that's quite enough thank you.

                          Last time there at most 5 plates of greenery (Chinese broccoli) made it down the aisles during the 45 minutes we were there. It was all gone by the time the cart got to us. Very very heavy on the shrimp variants and not much else. A couple plates of crispy roast pork, that's about it.

                          I've been dining at Mark's since 1997, so maybe it's me but I don't recall it being quite so boring in the past.

                          1. re: Geeyore

                            Mark's has changed ownership since over 1 year's gone downhill since, while prices have shot upwards.

                            1. re: Chownut

                              Thanks for noting that, I was not aware of it.

                              It explains why our own experience has been less than stellar in recent visits.

                            2. re: Geeyore

                              I've found that if you don't see what you want at Mark's, you flag down your server and ask for it.

                              My dad always wants Lo Bak Go (turnip pudding) and sometimes the only way you can get it is to tell the server you want it. Same thing with greens. Order the baby bok choy or the snow pea shoots (this one is pricey).

                              I've found that Mark's is very uneven, but it is better than most places I've been to in NoVa in recent years. And most other places are uneven in quality as well.

                              1. re: TerryS

                                Any dim sum restaurant will have things in the kitchen that are not on the carts. My kids always want the lotus wrapped sticky rice with chicken, but most times we have ask to have it delivered to the table. Same thing for the quick to sell out items like the rice noodle rolls with beef/shrimp/roast pork, and egg custard tarts.

                                1. re: dpan

                                  Mark's egg custard tarts are a huge disappoint because they are tiny and dry.

                                2. re: TerryS

                                  If what you want is not on the dim sum carts at Mark's, they'll glady go to the freezer and microwave it up for you.

                                  Even off hours, they'll seel frozen dim sum for you to take home.