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Nov 1, 2006 11:17 AM

NoVa Dimsum?

I'm taking some friends to dimsum. Most have never had it before and I don't think they'd appreciate the hole in the wall quality of Mark's Duck House which is where we usually go. Plus, it's pretty noisy and hard to talk. I've heard China Garden in Rosslyn is good, tried it once and was really unimpressed but we had gone later in the day and it wasn't crowded. I think my friends would prefer a restaurant more like that decor, though. Is it worth taking them if we go earlier? Any other suggestions in NoVa? Thanks!

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  1. China Garden has the best decor in this area, and very similiar in style to top NYC and LA high end dim sum restaurants. Their dim sum is good, but pricier vs. portion compared to other places in this area. Another place equal in decor is Jesse Wong's Hong Kong in Columbia, MD.

    For a step down in decor, but well above Mark's, try Lucky 3 off Leesburg Pike near Bailey's Crossroad. They have great dim sum, and they are large enough where the wait isn't as bad as Mark's or China Garden. In addition, you can get top quality buffet dim sum on weekdays. I was just there on Monday and had a great meal for $9.95/person.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Chownut

      Chownut, are there certain hours when the weekday (or weekend) dim sum is served at Lucky 3??

      1. re: MsDiPesto

        Weekday dim sum is from 11 - 3, but I would get there way before 3 since everything is coming out hot and fresh around 12pm. Weekend dim sum is about the same time.

        The only real difference is weekday is buffet style (dim sum plus many dishes such as eggplant with brown sauce, fried tofu with brown sauce, pan fried noodles, beef chow foon, stir fried crabs, congee, steamed fish filet, stir fry veggies, assorted pastries and desserts, etc.). Weekend time, everything is from the cart and it can add up quickly.

    2. Lucky 3 in Bailey's is currently the Chowpup's favorite. We have not had to wait for a table yet. My one complaint is that they seem to have fewer carts than most other places and it can be a while between carts.

      6 Replies
      1. re: PollyG

        You're right. During the weekends, there are few carts going around and the servers are pretty slow. Based on my experience, there is a heavy set chinese woman on weekends who is extra extra slow, but there's a middle aged man who is pretty quick, responsive, and has good interpersonal skills. Of course none of this matters if you're chowing during the weekday dim sum buffet.

        1. re: PollyG

          Is Lucky 3 where Fortunes used to be, near the old Theismans? Fewer carts would be fine since we'll be chatting mostly anyway. That would be closer for me than China Garden. I always get lost in Rosslyn.

          1. re: chowser

            Lucky 3 is where Maxim used to be. I think Fortune used to be there before they moved and it became Maxim. It's across the street from Dungrats/Rabieng on the same side of Leesburg Pike which is a short distance from Bailey's Crossroads.

          2. re: PollyG

            I haven't been to Lucky 3 in a while, but I've popped in there a couple of times, looked over the buffet, and didn't stay. I'm allergic to shrimp (sometimes, some kinds, kind of odd, so I avoid it in restarurants) and it seemed that about 3/4 of what was on the buffet had shrimp in it.

            Are the buffet dishes pretty much the same all the time? I might have just been in on a couple of odd days. I'd like to give it a try but only if I can find enough to eat all I can eat. ;)

            I was there for a weekend lunch once and we ate from the carts. It was pretty good, but there sure was a lot of shrimp that I had to pass up.

            1. re: MikeR

              Shrimp is an ingredient in a majority of the dishes, but they do have the following now that don't contain shrimp:

              sparerib pieces with black bean sauce, marinated chicken feet, tripe, beef chow foon, pan fried noodles, congee, stir fried crab, eggplant with brown sauce, beef crepes, beef meatballs, steamed fish, roast pork, roast duck, roast pork bun, hot and sour soup, sticky rice, mussles in curry sauce, clams in black bean sauce (extra $1), etc....therefore, you will miss a lot of great dishes that have shrimp, but there are certainly those that don't contain shrimp...

              1. re: Chownut

                Thanks for the rundown. I could probably find a lunch there. I'll have to give it another shot one day when I'm hungry enough to eat all I can eat. ;)

                Yup, the original tenant (and the one for which the building was constructed) was a Seattle chain, Sea Galley. They were OK when they first opened (or maybe I didn't know what fish really tasted like back then) but it did seem to get less interesting and more fishy as time went on. Good riddance.

          3. Fortune has two locations in NoVa. The one in Falls Church has good food, but you're rushed through--you can find all your favorites and find yourself on the sidewalk 20 min. later, lol. The location in Reston seems a bit darker, but the food was very good.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Chocolatechipkt

              I must say that Fortune in Falls Church, based on my experience, is really bad. The food is cold, and they know this, so they offer to microwave it for you. Also, the decor is tacky and the room is dark.

              1. re: Chownut

                I agree about Fortune in Falls Church. It use to be good, but the last time I went, all of the food was cold. One of my co-workers had a similar complaint as well.

              2. re: Chocolatechipkt

                We usually go to the Reston Fortune, and you can be in and out, having had plenty to eat, in 30 minutes or less at that one too.

                If you go after the morning rush, the food can be less than hot, and the number of carts less than optimal. So, it's not perfect, but the food can be really good, and the variety of items in their repertoire is huge. I have gotten something new on almost everyone of my dozens of visits over the past ten years or so.

                1. re: Chocolatechipkt

                  Fortune's in Falls Church was good about 10-15 years ago...It's gone downhill and I once got chowfun with a cigarette butt in it.

                2. Did I go to China Garden on a bad day? Because my takeaway from the experience was pretty awful. I live within walking distance and I don't even bother. I also went to another place in Silver Spring-ish area and that was pretty poor also.

                  I just hold out and wait till I visit my mom in L.A.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: tdonline

                    I haven't been back to China Garden in years since my last experience there. They cater (or did) mostly to tour groups and couldn't care less about the regular customers. We had the same 2 carts go round and round for 20 minutes and the dragon lady manager/owner there didn't seem to care about anyone else except her bus loads of people. I used to go there in it's old location and thought it was wonderful and then when it moved to the new building it went downhill. I generally go to Fortune in 7 corners. I know the food can be cold but if you get there between 11:30 and 12, it's not bad. If anyone knows if it's changed, let me know and I'll give it another try. My sister was there a few months ago and wasn't impressed.

                    1. re: mlatt326

                      Dragon lady? C'mon....that's a low blow! :D Her job is only to seat people, but if you ask one of the waiters, I'm sure they will bring over dishes for you.

                      Well, the tour groups at China Garden at least have their own partitioned area, so that makes it not as bad. Also, those people get a pre-set meal, and usually have staff dedicated to them. In general, those dim sum girls take their sweet time to get around. Key again, as someone said, is to sit near the kitchen.

                      I've always found Fortune to be piss poor. Dark interior, cold food, indifferent staff, bad parking (ie. next to home depot, a big bookstore, and many other stores..).

                      1. re: mlatt326

                        Yeah, the word from a friend who frequented CG a lot was that there is one Dragon Lady hostess there, while the other one is pretty nice. My one experience with DL was when I requested the tea while being seated, she wagged her finger and said she didn't take tea orders...with attitude. Maybe not, but you're in the food service industry, maybe you can pass the word onto someone that works with you?

                        I've eaten at many dim sum restaurants in a handful of countries and generally there is an air of informality. When busy, I've seen the managers in suit and tie clear dishes, attend to a request by a customer, or at the very least, direct a busboy or waiter to take care of a customer. I have NEVER had a manager or host say "I don't do XYZ, ask someone else". And I spoke to her in Cantonese.

                        Writing this just reminded me why I won't go near CG.

                    2. You can't expect DC metro area dim sum to compete with LA in either price or food quality.

                      I think China Garden is one of the better places in Virginia. But keep in mind some of the dishes are hit or miss, and you have to make sure you get there when the food is still fresh. Sometimes strategic table placement alone will help noticably.