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Dec 14, 2006 01:23 PM

China Garden??

I am craving dim sum this weekend, and we typically head out to Falls Church, but for professional reasons, my boyfriend must stay within a 15 minute distance of the District. Is China Garden worth going to or should I hold out for another week?

How long is the wait usually?

A side note, if I am going to hold out for somewhere farther, Lucky Three or Mark's Duck House?

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  1. This seems to be the most widely discussed topic on this board lately. I like China Garden a lot -- it has the nicest decor of any dim sum place in the area and the food is consistently good. Some on this board note that it's a bit more expensive than other dim sum places, but I believe it's worth it. So I strongly encourage you to go.

    The wait depends on when you go. If you get there between 11 and 11:30, you can usually sit right down. Anytime after that it can be as long as an hour until the rush subsides.

    3 Replies
    1. re: CMACDC

      In a nutshell, this input covers most of what China Garden offers. One more thing that I've noticed is that the portions are generally smaller, which makes the higher prices even more annoying.

      Another dude who surfs here regularly recently had a great dim sum meal at Tony Cheng's Seafood restaurant in Chinatown. If you're hungry for dim sum this weekend, you may want to check it out.

      I'd vote for Lucky 3 over Mark's Duck House. Mark's stuff comes out of the kitchen cold, and they specialize more on dumplings, noodle soups, roast pig, and roast duck rather than dim sum. At mark's, you can order dim sum almost anytime of the day and they'll bring it out of the kitchen for you, or pack it for you to take home to heat up.

      Another close-in option in Silver Spring, near City Place, is Oriental East, which is known as the best dim sum joint in Maryland, although some disagree. It might meet your 15 minute requirement, depending on where in DC you need to be 15 minutes to. Since they open at 11am on weekends, you will need to be there by at least 10:15 to get on line. Otherwise, the first rush probably won't be done until about 12:15.

      1. re: Chownut

        Hi! Thanks for the input. We went to Oriental East once and the food was excellent but the wait was definitely not. This was also on a day when we did not have geographic limits (the 15 mins or so has to be from Georgetown, boyfriend is an MD).

        China Garden might be worth it, depending on how strong my craving gets between now and Saturday. Otherwise I might just hold out till and go to Lucky Three. We usually hit Fortune at Seven Corners, is Lucky Three way better?

        Also, I love the food at Mark's Duck House but the service is abysmal, so thanks for the info, I'll save up my patience and hold out for a peking duck night.

        1. re: caphill2320

          Oh yeah, if you want dim sum from Oriental East, you need to be there by at least 10:15 to get on line.

          Since Georgetown is Ground Zero, China Garden is the closest place. Lucky 3 is way better. In my mind, Fortune is gawdawful.

          Mark's is great for the stuff I mentioned, but they serve cantonese roast duck. If you want real peking duck, try this place:

    2. INTERESTING...thanks for the tip on the duck! I will certainly be mentioning that soon. Honestly, the last time we went to Mark's, the service was so bad it was comical. I wonder if Duck Changs is open xmas day...

      So Lucky 3 is the best of the bunch? Oriental East's food has been the best so far in the area, but I seriously can't tolerate the wait (with all the pushing!) and it's too far to get there that early. I'll definitely start whining about getting to Lucky 3 soon. Do the carts come frequently?

      1 Reply
      1. re: caphill2320

        For the most part, you can depend on Chinese restaurants to be open on Christmas Day. Generally, a lot of people do dim sum on that day also, and if not, then they still remain open for other customers like Jews who don't celebrate Christmas. For the most part, the only day that chinese restaurants are closed is for Thanksgiving.

        Lucky 3 carts move pretty well, but the key is to sit near the kitchen for the fresh stuff to come out. That would be on the left side of the dining area in the back. I must say though, if you want to "gorge" yourself with dim sum, you should stop by on a weekeday when they have their dim sum buffet. That way, you can get what you want when you want. They have the best dim sum buffet in this area, and all of it is authentic for the most part. In addition, they also have other stuff like stir fried crabs, stir fried eggplant, mussels in curry sauce, stir fried tofu, etc. You might want to check with them to see if the buffet is being offered on Christmas day, which is on a Monday.

      2. Just an update, we held out until we could go anywhere (so long as we were home by 1 for the Redskins game) and went to Lucky 3.

        It was REALLY good. Definitely my favorite place in the area so far. We got there pretty early, right after 11 and sat right down. There was tons of good stuff and everything was sooo good. Plus, it was cheaper than Fortune, which is always a bonus. We will certainly be coming back soon. Thanks for all the advice!

        1. Next time do try China Garden. Lucky 3 is good but China Garden is still my favorite! We usually get there 30-40 minutes before they open. They frequently open the doors a little bit before the stated opening time.

          1 Reply
          1. re: TerriS

            China Garden offers pretty good dim sum, but below are a few points that make Lucky 3 a better choice. China Garden is still worth trying though, if you've never eaten there before.

            * Lucky 3's portions are larger and prices are lower.

            * You generally don't have to wait for a table at Lucky 3. Their dining area is larger than China Garden's, and China Garden usually reserves 1/3 of their restaurant for bus tours, which makes the wait that much longer.

            * Lucky 3 has the best dim sum buffet in this area which is served M-F.

            * Both places offer free parking, but parking is easier at Lucky 3 because of the open lot vs. CG's basement level parking, where a lot of the prime spots are reserved.

            * Lucky 3 offers full sized original egg custard tarts, CG doesn't.

            * Outside of dim sum, Lucky 3 offers better authentic cantonese fare compared to China Garden. China Garden is generally favored for parties and banquets because it looks upscale, nevermind the food.

          2. Ahhh...let's talk about the egg custard tarts (or Dan Tat). I love the CG tarts because they, IMHO, are the closest to the authentic. Get them fresh from the kitchen (ask the waiter or waitress and they will bring them out). Nothing beats a hot egg custard tart with the flaky pastry crust and the burnt custard like a creme brulee. Mmmmmmmmm......

            How does Lucky 3 make theirs? I'm leery of trying Lucky 3 because I didn't like its predecesor Maxim, and the idea of a dim sum buffet suggests that quality and variety isn't the main selling point.

            1 Reply
            1. re: dpan

              I like my egg custard tarts like how they're typically sold, with an egg/sugar mixture, not with some sort of burnt coconut mix in it. If I wanted it like creme brulee, I would have creme brulee instead. Same goes for Mark's Duck house. They only offer tiny egg custard tarts.

              As for Lucky 3's buffet, everything on the buffet table and in the steel tins are exactly as they are on regular saturday and sunday dim sum afternoon, with much variety and very good quality.