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First Time Dim Sum Near DC (or even in it!)

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OK, so I confess, I've never had Dim Sum. I'm on this current kick to continue enjoying my fine dining experiences, but I really want to expand outwards to enjoy some more diverse eating.

So.... I want to have my first dim sum experience. Here are my requirements- price isn't an issue, nor is location, but we will go on a saturday or a sunday. We both eat everything, but I'd personally like it if we can have someone who will be welcoming to two very non Asian folks and would like some help getting through the meal- meaning learning what we are eating.

Any help fellow hounds?

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  1. I would go to Hollywood East Cafe on the Boulevard in Wheaton. It's certainly amongst the best dim sum in the area, it's not too large (and hence overwhelming), and I've found the staff to be quite friendly and helpful.

    Just FWIW, consider taking a 3rd or 4th along for the ride. With just 2 people, it's hard to order enough variety of things to really work your way through the menu.

    3 Replies
    1. re: DanielK

      I didn't care for Hollywood East, but that's JMHO. I prefer Good Fortune, which is across the street, and Fortune in Reston.

      1. re: Chocolatechipkt

        IMO, Good Fortune hasn't served food worth eating in years. 10 years ago, that place was my dim sum mainstay, but both of my trips there in the past year were completely inedible.

        1. re: Chocolatechipkt

          I'd have to second that. Hollywood East on the Blvd. has to the be most overrated dim sum joint in this area. The food was mediocre, but the worst thing is the overhype when it first opened because they claimed they brought in 3 master dim sum chefs from Hong Kong. Well, those 3 guys most have been booted out of Hong Kong because the dim sum wasn't that good, and nothing about it was creative.

          Silver Fountain is probably the better option in that general area, but it gets really busy also from locals. Good Fortune or China Chef are decent options when desperate, but China Chef though, is very run down and dirty.

      2. As I've done in other threads, I suggest China Garden in Rosslyn. The setting is much nicer than other dim-sum places, the food is great and I find the staff there to be helpful (I have seen them make a point of describing dishes in advance to non-Chinese who ask).

        People here seem to complain about the prices being higher, though. Just get there early, as it does fill up fast.

        1 Reply
        1. re: CMACDC

          China Garden is probably the most upscale looking dim sum joint in this area. Their prices are higher compared to other dim sum joints, and that's probably b/c of their lease costs. Since they are so busy on weekends though, I must disagree that the waitstaff takes time out to answer any questions, but I do acknowledge that a lot of their dim sum girls are teenagers, as opposed to latinas and middle aged asian women, so they are more likely able to speak English and describe if asked.

        2. I'd echo DanielK on Hollywood East on both the food and bring more people if you can. In addition to the regular dim sum you'll find at most places, Hollywood East also serves some that are unique to them. Excellent quality. As with most places serving dim sum on the weekends, get there early... 11:45am. The place fills up fast.

          1. Are you trying to arrange a get-together? A group can be of GREAT benefit for dim sum. Two or three people can't cover nearly as much territory. If so, I'm sure you would have no problem in getting a few folks interested. Simply choose a place and a date and post it on this board. Direct replies to an e-mail address rather than on Chowhound.

            Sounds like to me that your best choices would be either Hollywood East in Wheaton, MD or Lucky Three in Bailey's Crossroads, VA. Certainly not DC.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Steve

              I agree about going with a group, especially if you can find people who've gone before. You can order a lot more food and try more things. I haven't had nearly as much fun going with just one or two other people. Plus, tables are made for big groups.

              One thing to keep in mind is that dimsum is not about "fine" dining. Great places might not be clean, are hectic and you can be herded like cattle. You could have trouble getting a glass of water filled. You might get quick answers to questions, but they're really busy and probably won't have time to thoroughly answer questions and teach you the nuances of the food. Ask,"what is it?" and they'll give you an answer or show you. If it looks good, go for it. You want to go for dimsum when it's really busy and that will be the problem for you if you're looking for meal learning; they won't have time. If you go when it's slow, the food won't be as good, or as varied. As for welcoming to non-Asians, they'll be as welcoming to non-Asians as they are to Asians. The food is great and it's fun. Have a good time.

              1. re: chowser

                I agree that you must go when it's busy to have it fresh, but the major drawback to going when it's busy is that often times, their dim sum carts will be depleted by the time they get to you. Many, including I, have resorted to walking up to the dim sum carts with my ticket in hand and bringing stuff back to the table. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

            2. Have not been to Hollywood East but I agree with the poster about China Garden.
              In spite of what anyone says ( all those food critics out there) DO NOT go to Fortune in Bailys Crossroads. The Food is Bad, Greasy and, can you belive it COLD on my last few visits in spite of a pretty crowded house.They will take your selection back and nuke it and bring it out again.
              This used to be a pretty good operation but for the last year has been going steadily DOWN. Dont waste your time or money.

              1. If you go during a weekday, Lucky Three has the Dim Sum buffet. I went for the first time last week and I was pretty impressed. It was 9.95 per person and it had all of my favorite dim sum items plus more. Well worth it, but only available during weekdays.

                1. If you go on a Sunday (the best day for dim sum imho) you should try to take a group of at least 4-6 people, and try to get there just before noon. Sundays are crowded and also the days there is the best selection.

                  I'm only familiar with the places in Maryland. Good Fortune has gone downhill lately and I no longer recommend it to anyone. Hollywood East on the Blvd is very good. My favorite, because they have the largest selection, is New Fortune in Gaithersburg. However, it is very large and can be overwhelming at times. Silver Fountain in Aspen Hill is not bad and less intimidating than New Fortune.

                  1. I'd recommend going on Saturday vice Sunday. Sunday usually has the chinese church lunch crowd which can makes things worse. I wouldn't go with more than 4 people because a lot of their tables are either 4 person or 10 person. A six person group may not get seated because they will want to seat the bigger group first.

                    Hollywood East is very mediocre and overhyped, and I'd recommend Silver Fountain instead.