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Feb 5, 2006 04:57 PM

Looking for Dim Sum Place - Its a long shot

  • d

A week ago I was in SF. I stayed two blocks from Chinatown and I had Chinease Dim Sum/Dumplings everyday. It was not at a dim sum resturant but rather these hole in the wall places that sold dumplings, and other items you find at more formal dimsum resturants.

You walk in and you see these steam tables with very large steamer selling all kinds of dumplings. It was extremely cheap (especially when I hit a place by accident right before they closed).

I've also seen these places in NY chinatown. Any such place in the Wash/DC area? I thougth it would be a very long shot but if there was one out there someone on this board would know.

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  1. Try China Bistro in Rockville (755 Hungerford Drive, a little north of the Rockville Metro station and near the Chowhound landmarks of Cuban Corner and Caribbean Feast). It's a tiny place with the usual Chinese carryout items available, but it's really a dumpling specialist. When in doubt, try the house special dumplings.

    It's not quite the same as the SF places (darn, do I ever miss living in the Bay Area...), but it will do.

    5 Replies
    1. re: coastcat

      I have been to New Fortune several times, most recently about two weeks ago. Their food is OK but not great, service is usually adequate. Perhaps they were overloaded by Chinese New Year's crowd.

      A MUCH better place for dim sum is the new Hollywood East On the Boulevard at Wheaton, MD on University Blvd. I was there this Sunday and the food, decor and service were great. They do a full dim sum with carts weekends/holidays and limited dim sum from a menu daily.

      Highly recommended.

      1. re: Richard

        I've been to that Hollywood East once, after it got great reviews, and was convincingly disappointed. The dim sum was ok, but what I think is critical to every dim sum restaurant is the proper training of thes staff, which is typically subpar to nonexistent. The best quality dim sum in montgomery cty to me is still Oriental East.

        1. re: RL

          Well, just to jump in with yet another perspective: I have always had the best dim sum experience in MoCo at New Fortune. Friends sometimes want to go to Orient East, but I find the food unifomly oilier. Perhaps oil is the emergency butter of Chinese restaurants . . . as in the formula: if you make a mistake, add butter, if you make a big mistake, add more butter. Only at Orient East, it seemed to be oil.

          Perhaps there are as many opinions as there a re Chowhounds . . . . but I do have it on my list to get up to Hollywood East now.

          1. re: RL

            Yes, IMHO Oriental East has VERY good dim sum, but is terribly crowded at noon any day of the week. I prefer Hollywood East with Oriental East a close second. Both are better tha New Fortune. If anyone is interested can provide the name of a great dum sum place in Singapore.

        2. re: coastcat

          I know of no not a "practically street food" fast-food dumpling shops (wouldn't that be nice, though?

          China Bistro has the VERY BEST dumplings I've ever had in my life, and I'm sure you'll agree.

        3. I've been to this place a few times, and it was ok in the past. Went again this weekend, and was very disappointed.

          First thing, as most dim sum joints do, the dim sum girls bum rush you when you first sit down. The problem was that our table was not even set yet, with no plates, no silverware, no chopsticks, no tea cups, no tea. Nothing. How stupid was that?

          Finally the hostess brought over the stuff and plopped it onto our table, but the waitress was nowhere in sight, so we had to set up everything. Unfortunately though, there was no table cloth to cover up the dingy/ugly piece of plywood used as a table. Finally, the boss lady saw the lack of service we were getting and chewed out the waitress for not taking care of us. When the waitress brought the tea, she squeezed in right where my newborn was, and was chewed out by the boss lady again for bringing such hot liquids so close to an infant.

          In line with Murphy's law, no dim sum girls were in sight after we were ready to eat. Hostess brought over some shrimp dumplings and siao mai per our request. A dim sum girl finally came over and we got seven more items, but she was stamp happy and overcharged us for nine. Luckily, the boss lady was around and remedied the situation. Overall, the dim sum was blah.

          Shrimp dumplings were mushy and the rest of the stuff was not steaming hot and lacking in taste. We ordered a noodle dish, and that was ok. The staff there really couldn't care less as I saw a few other tables complain and even get up and leave. In such a big restaurant, training of staff appeared inadequate to nonexistent. Of course, when the tab was tallied and the check was presented, they anxiously check out what the tip is. Very pitiful. Probably not worth another visit.

          8 Replies
          1. re: CK

            Sorry you had such a bad experience at NF. I've been there several times (tho admittedly not recently) and not found it to be anything like what you describe, as is true of many others who have posted here and elsewhere. Quite the reverse. I've also never heard the servers referred to as dim sum "girls." Maybe it was a bad day?

            1. re: johnb

              I've always had good experiences at New Fortune, but I've never ventured there during Chinese New Year. To me, it's a bit like going out to dinner on New Year's Eve - too likely to be crowded, chaotic, and below average!

              My choice for weekend dim sum is Hollywood East, but I believe the original poster was looking for an all-day quick dumpling place rather than one that serves dim sum at the usual time (thus the China Bistro suggestion).

              1. re: coastcat

                Chinese New Years was two weekends ago though.

                1. re: CK

                  Actually, the Lunar Year celebrations last 15 days. This year they started on January 29 and continue until February 16. Lakeforest Mall is a prime activity hub for festivities, and activities & entertainment events were held last weekend (Feb 4/5) as well as the weekend before. New Fortune is the closest dim sum place to Lakeforest, and it's ideal for large family groups. You get the picture. Things should be calmer there now!

                  (come to think of it, the shrimp dishes were mushy on my most recent visit too - they had always been good previously, and I was hoping it was just an off day...)

                  1. re: coastcat

                    Most people in china may celebrate for 2 or 3 weeks (ie. vacation from work), but not really around here. For the most part, the busiest dim sum time around new years is that first weekend. I was at Lakeforest and stopped by New Fortune afterwards. In fact, it should have been more dead during normal dim sum time at New Fortune since the prime opening, lion dancing, and girl's dancing, orchestra, etc. performances were started during prime dim sum time at around 12.

                    I'm just glad I didn't go to Lakeforest on that final sunday, as I heard that there was a big fistfight that broke out. Wonder what it was about.

              2. re: johnb

                It could have been a bad day. The dim sum shift was winding though. We got there at 1:30 to avoid the big rush. The restaurant was not crowded, thought there were still many families coming in after we had already started to eat, and we weren't the only ones that noticed a lack of service. At least 3 other parties clearly looked dissatisfied, while one got up and left. I refer to them as "dim sum girls" because those girls/women that push around the dim sum carts are usually female.

              3. re: CK

                I've eaten at New Fortune a few times and didn't find anything spectacular about it. It was ok, but is probably overhyped by the locals because it's the only cantonese dim sum option in that part of town and it's a fairly large restaurant. The rest in that area is either northern style (AJ) or taiwanese style (Joe's, Bob's, etc.) dim sum/noodles. Better cantonese style dim sum can be found in wheaton and falls church.

                1. re: RL

                  Another decent dim sum restaurant in Wheaton is Silver Fountain. You may want to consider that one instead next time.

              4. I am a regular at New Fortune, Oriental East, and Hollywood East on the Boulevard.

                OE I think is a step below the other two. Smallest dining room, smallest selection. Decent service, but it doesn't take much to cause a wait because the place is so small. I go there only when I'm in the neighborhood.

                HE and NF I think are tied as far as quality of food goes. The selection at NF is far superior to that of HE - I think NF may even have better selection on weekdays than NF has on weekends! The trick with NF (besides not going during Chinese New Year when it's a madhouse) is insisting on a table near the kitchen, so you always get first pick of the food. The dining room holds hundreds, so if you get a bad table, the quality can definitely suffer. The great thing is that other than holidays, you can always walk in and immediately get a table. BBQ is fabulous there, and they have a lot of dumplings I don't see in other places. I love their tripe, chicken feet, cheong fun, and char sui bao.

                At HE I think the food is of the same quality as NF, but less selection. The parking is also miserable in that area, and because the dining room is pretty small, there's a wait pretty much any time during opening hours. When they have Dungeness crab, don't miss it, though it's very expensive. Their siu mei I think is the best I've ever had, including many trips to NY, SF, and Seattle Chinatowns.

                For pure soup dumplings, I think Chinatown Express in DC's Chinatown is the best in the area, but other than that, BBQ, and noodles, the rest of their menu is pretty ordinary.

                1 Reply
                1. re: DanielK

                  I think that the desserts at HE are pretty spectacular and from my last long ago visit to NF they don't have anything like them. For BBQ I think that the selection at NF is far better but the quality is similar. On steamed foods, I have always likes HE better and I thing that is their forte.

                2. I'm trying Good Fortune in Wheaton this Sunday. I'm nervous because a) I don't speak cantonese very well and b)I'm going with a few gui lohs (white people) so I don't know if that affects how good the service is.

                  Has anyone eaten there an can give me some tips on how to still get great food without being fluent in the langauge?


                  1 Reply
                  1. re: vru

                    Honestly, the last trip to Good Fortune I made was about 2 years ago, and it was so atrocious, I crossed it off my list forever. Go across the street to Hollywood East for a much, much better meal.

                  2. I know the kind of place you are talking about, like the dumpling shops in the San Gabriel Valley. The short answer is no, they don't exist here. That formula is very foreign to what we have.

                    If you want good, fresh dumplings, then China Bistro in Rockville is your best bet. Filling options are boring, plus I think you are obligated to buy something like a dozen of the same kind, but the execution is great.