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Seattle Dim Sum

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So this is pretty much a general Dim Sum topic because I no longer work on weekends and can't wait to start dim-suming. Week day dim sums I found to be rather boring.

Saturday I tried Sun-Ya for the first time and aside from the advantage of having its own parking lot, I found it had a lot of stuff that you don't see everywhere--including barbecue duck!

I am a pretty big fan of Jade Garden, though I don't like the wait and found that their lobster roll dumpling was overcooked to the point of inedibility.

Last week we went to Honey Court, had two dishes, and thought it was so bad we walked across the street to Purple Dot. I enjoyed purple dot, not extensive choices, but all well done and fresh tasting

What is your favorite place? And your favorite dish there? what bad/interesting experiences have you had?

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  1. Interesting. I thought Honey Court was quite good when I tried it about one month ago. The decor of the place is dumpy, but I really enjoyed the items I tried (perhaps 7 things). Maybe the two you tried were botched, or it was a bad day. My background in dim sum is mostly from NYC's chinatown, and I found immediately that the ingredents used here, especially the seafood, are of much higher quality.

    Of course, the only other place I've tried was Noble Court in bellevue, which is higher quality, but significantly more costly than Honey Court. I look forward to trying Jade Garden and Purple Dot. I have heard Imperial Garden in Kent is perhaps the concensus favorite.

    Where is Sun-Ya?

    1 Reply
    1. re: equinoise

      Had a decent (if somewhat greasy) version of shrimp rice paper roll and shrimp-chive fried wonton at Honey Court recently. Their congee is a bit strange though, very grainy, like cream of rice almost.

    2. i like the potstickers (thin skin, light and juicy filling inside, almost like a very plump gyoza), shwei jiao (wrinkled boiled shrimp dumplings that come in an individual yellow crock of broth), and stuffed fried tofu at O'Asian. their pan fried shrimp chive dumpling is disappointing. Their shrimp toast is good if you're in the mood for something really deep fried. pan fried thin egg noodles is a good side (dim sum portion, not menu dish). they do have duck also which is ok. bbq pork puff pastry is good. Ambiance is nicer than most places.

      1. like many, i am a great fan of imperial garden (great wall mall in kent) where my favorites include the curried squid and the black bean ribs. you can trust the seafood in any place with tanks. i have just been introduced to o'asian (5th/cherry) which has the distinct advantage of being close by for me but, much as i have enjoyed the food, am a bit bothered by its cost; dim sum for one at $18 i can handle; when it's $32, i begin to demur.

        6 Replies
        1. re: howard 1st

          you must have eaten a lot at O'Asian to add up to $32; i usually get out for under $20 including tax/tip. (The "large" dimsum plates are $3.25 each, which means you can get roughly 15 dimsum pieces for $16.25, and more if you go for the "small" or "medium" plates)

          1. re: howard 1st

            I also eat at imperial garden whenever I am that far out --not often.

            I'm heading up to Vancouver for the weekend and we were hoping for some dim sum on Sunday. Any reccs? Should I start a new bulletin? Is Vancouver still part of the Pacific NW boards? I would think so. Anyway. If you know of anything fantastic...

            1. re: sophie.

              Sun Sui Wa - Richmond

              1. re: clearskies0810

                Thanks.

              2. re: sophie.

                Imperial Chinese Seafood has the best dim sum I have ever had in my life.

                1. re: sprints

                  I'm a transplanted Vancouverite now living in Seattle. Imperial has never disappointed me. It is excellent quality dim sum, better than I've had anywhere in N.Am. Have never made it out to Sun Sui Wa in Richmond, but I recently had a horrible experience at the Cambie location. Absolute crap. Really disappointing and surprisingly mediocre. I'm going to give Jade Garden a try today....

            2. Jade Garden's my favorite dim sum in Seattle, not least because they're the only place I've found in Seattle proper that has good cheung fun. The wait can be really unreasonable on weekends, however.

              I've had soggy or mealy dumplings so many places in Seattle that there's no use in trying to name and shame them all. I do have to single out China Gate in the ID as being particularly bad, however. That place is the worst - cold and soggy dim sum, relentless hard-sell by the maitre'd. If you're starving in the ID at noon on Sunday when every place is full, go buy frozen dumplings at Uwajimaya before this place. Bleh.

              I think Noble Court (in Bellevue) is the best in the area. It's really quite good - not quite Richmond or Vancouver good, but better than anything in NYC.

              1. Hands down the very best dim sum in Seattle is New Kowloon in the International District. Even my Cantonese mother-in-law thinks it is excellent and she knows what good Hong Kong dim sum is all about. We eat there often and never is it any less than excellent. If you're looking for outstanding dim sum on the East Side, Sentosa in downtown Kirkland is the place to go. Great quality and I would say that it is a close second to New Kowloon. Jade Garden, Noble Court, Honey Court, Imperial Garden and even Sun Sui Wa in Richmond, BC, do not compare.

                2 Replies
                1. re: WandaBWild

                  UGH! The only time we went to NK we swore to NEVER go back. The service was terrible, there was one or two carts, and there was only like 4 tables and we still had trouble getting anyone anywhere near us. Furthermore, I think the same three items were on both carts, and perhaps they had been there since the previous day. Eventually we gave up on trying to get any dim sum and tried ordering off the menu in the hopes that it would be fresher.

                  It wasn't

                  1. re: WandaBWild

                    FWIW a friend of mine (from Hong Kong) said they were not as impressed, said the food was cold (she prefers Jade Garden, O'Asian or Sun Sui Wah).

                  2. Top Gun in Factoria is great. Worth the trip across the bridge for sure. There used to be one in the ID - but they closed it a while ago. We go to House of Hong off of Jackson sometimes when we want a quick lunch, but Top Gun is MUCH better.

                    11 Replies
                    1. re: sprints

                      Oh how I miss the Top Gun in the ID!!!! I used to go in there all the time, and they would bring 'round the best stuff, even on like a monday morning!

                      I know I'm going to get all these responses talking about what a health violation that place was, but damn was it a delicious one!

                      1. re: sprints

                        I believe O'Asian is the same ownership of the Top Gun restaurants.

                        1. re: ethereal

                          It is.
                          But I don't want my food gussied up and expensive...

                          1. re: dagoose

                            in general, you get what you pay for-- restaurants that have good food will attract more customers, the management can't help but notice that they are onto a good thing, and if they have any business sense at all they will raise prices. Restaurants with bad food can't afford to raise prices orelse they will go out of business. The fun part is finding places that serve better food than other places in the same price range. Restaurants in different price ranges are like apples and oranges, each can be good value for what they deliver.

                            1. re: barleywino

                              Hahaha, thank you barleywino, for the restaurant industry lesson, its not what I do for a living or anything.

                              I'm just saying, with the grand variety of great dim sum out there, I don't feel the need for paying more for the same food but dressed up.

                              Dim sum is, like pub food, something where I am looking for a place where the food is satisfying and good, but won't break the bank.

                              1. re: dagoose

                                Actually, I'm not so sure their dimsum is overpriced: $2.20 for a small, $2.75 for a medium, $3.25 for a large.

                                1. re: dagoose

                                  I'm just suggesting, don't judge a restaurant by its appearance. SOmetimes the extra $.15 (or whatever) per piece of dimsum may be worth it in terms of better quality, freshness or whatever (aside from cleanliness, comfort etc). It's the same with sushi, to get the especially good, interesting or unusual stuff, one generally has to go to more expensive places. Good value isn't only found in cheap places.

                                  1. re: barleywino

                                    Right, that is why I specified that it was 'gussied up' as oppose to saying it was actually better food. And on the note by clear skies, I just got this IM from my roommate:
                                    'went to O'asain today since I was by the convention center for work. they've lowered the prices. it was like $28 for the two of us, and that included chef's special. guess they are no longer 7$'

                                    1. re: dagoose

                                      thanks for the tip! I wonder if that discount applies to weekend as well, that's when they seem to have the best selection

                                    2. re: barleywino

                                      Thank you Barley for the reminder that we hounds are about quality in the experience of food, with appropriate appreciation of value. On a good chow day, we might find a restaurant whose food is top-flight, but whose prices have (sometimes unaccuntably) not yet risen to the level the market will eventually suggest. My dreamboat of all time was a tiny Vietnamese place in north seattle whose chef had come from a multi-generational resturant family in Vietnam. His skill with flavors and presentation was a symphony every time, but he got some really bad marketing and management advice along the way and *poof* he was gone. For a shining moment, though, we were in an unsustainable chow nirvana - fantastic chow at bargain prices (oh, yeah, *poof* - some bargain). Food of great quality (great ingredients, flavors, and presentation) do not actually require high-rent venues (... Ray's, Canlis, Palisades...), but high-rent amenities (... great views, locations, attractions...) will require that te rent get paid (there go the low prices), this concentration of quality will attract attention and *bingo* the world is beating a path to the door and pretty soon "nobody goes there anymore, it's too crowded"
                                      To me, a central thrill and utility of chowhoud is the chance to exchange notes with other people who seek-out good chow with peristance and determination and find more of those rare shining moments that can and do happen in the birth, growth, and life of a restaurant.

                                      1. re: mrnelso

                                        Well put, mrnelso!

                          2. Hey, can anyone comment on Jumbo Chinese, Joy Palace, or any other dim sum place in the Rainier Valley?

                            31 Replies
                            1. re: equinoise

                              We like Jumbo. Nothing amazing but solid and cheap and bustling. Havent been to Joy Palace yet but have been to Hong Kong Seafood down on Rainier at rainier beach. It was good. I have been to Imperial Garden 4 times so far and the first time was fabulous. next three times were a let down. Cold food and poor service....never had to wait to get a drink that long ever in a Chinese place, and had to ask for water and tea!! Also felt as if we were being a little bit censored- not being offered all the dishes, and definately feeling like 'foreigners'!! Probably wont go back unless I am in a big group with some Asian people in it.
                              Hope you have better luck.

                              1. re: dimsumfan

                                Many reliable sources are singing the praises of Richmond/Vancouver dim sum and its superiority over Seattle. I haven't been to the exalted sun sui wah, but I went to Pink Pearl in Vancourver earlier this year, and I really enjoyed it. In terms of quality and vartiety, I couldn't say that it is clearly better than Noble Court in Bellevue. Maybe once you achieve that level of dim sum, its more a matter of what is made that day, the fortuity of how long the cart goes around before you get it, and whether those offerings strike the fancy of the diner.

                                I must say I lack the nation-wide experience in dim sum that comes across from your post (and your handle), but I am certain that the quality of the seafood and other ingredients used in the dim sum at the handful of places i used to frequent in NYC's chinatown was inferior to Noble Court and even Honey Court for that matter.

                                1. re: equinoise

                                  maybe it's time for a chowhound excursion to Richmond/Vancouver to have a taste-off!

                                  1. re: equinoise

                                    Well, there's certainly subjectivity in terms of taste. That's what makes chowhounding fun. I'm always surprised that dim sum in NYC is just okay; I want it to be better.

                                    As for Vancouver, I think Sun Wui Wah is pretty good, but not spectacular (the little mango "pillow" desserts are fun, though). I prefer the non-cart places - especially Shiang Garden. Try the har gow (shrimp dumpling) there and compare it to anywhere in the Seattle area. HUGE difference!

                                    1. re: dimsumfan

                                      dimsumfan: I agree that food criticism is of course a subjective task. So, when I get on here to decide what to try, I look for some sort of loose "concensus" (itself a politcally-charged concept in these days of global warming) as to what places are the best, usually weighing more heavily those comments that seem based on more knowledge or experience. So, when it comes to dim sum, I would consider your opinions amongst the most relevant.

                                      That being said, it seems alot of people here like Jade Garden, Imperial Garden etc. (i admit I have yet to try these places), and I think that at least some of these have a multi-city experience. What do you think these sorts of places are lacking that your Richmond or LA favorites have? I'm not trying to be contentious as much as curious-I'd really like to know what Seattle places you think are worthwhile, if any.

                                      1. re: equinoise

                                        p.s. I was mistaken in my earlier post: I have been to Flota Seafood Restaurant in Vancouver not Pink Pearl. This dude selling newspapers in the lobby of my hotel told me that in terms of BC dim sum, Sun Sui Wah was #1, Pink pearl #2, and Flota #3. I picked Flota from this group out of convenience.

                                  2. re: barleywino

                                    I used to go to Sea Garden in Bellevue for dim sum - its a little more expensive but the food is great and the place is a little cleaner than Jade Garden or Honey Court

                                    1. re: mlin1

                                      I've only been to Sun Ya (since I was a kid) and House of Hong in Seattle for dim sum. Did go to a dim sum place in Portland that was pretty good. It was East of downtown (across the river) and they had carts with woks on them and they stir fried noodles tableside. Does anyone know what this place was? Are there any dim sum places in Seattle that actually have woks on some of the dim sum carts? Thanks.

                                      1. re: fooddawg

                                        Ocean city has a frying surface on their carts and re-fry things as they give them to you...

                                        1. re: dagoose

                                          I like Noble Court and New Kowloon but I REALLY miss King Cafe. Really miss it.

                                          1. re: allisonw

                                            So, New Kowloon folded and has been taken over by the New Hong Kong Seafood folks (Rainier Beach area, on Rainier, hit by fire). New HK Seafood is rumored to be the family of the New Kowloon owner? Drove by yesterday and saw a banner on the outside of the building, announcing the coming of "LA Cafe", which used to be on King Street?

                                            1. re: smalt

                                              Oh wow, now I'm really confused. Maybe it's time to try Purple Dot.

                                              1. re: allisonw

                                                not a big fan of Purple Dot personally

                                                1. re: barleywino

                                                  Funny. I went to O'Asian for dim sum on Sunday and was disappointed. I commented that the dim sum at Purple Dot was much better. I need to go to Jade Garden - but until then, I'll stick with Purple Dot for my dim sum needs.

                                                  1. re: Lauren

                                                    Lorna and I went to Jade Garden a few weeks ago. We found it to be just as shitty as any other dim sum here in Seattle. She has finally given up on dim sum in Seattle. I, on the other hand, believe shitty dim sum is better than no dim sum at all.

                                                    1. re: hhlodesign

                                                      I agree that shitty dim sum is better than no dim sum at all. I don't think seattle has shitty dim sum. I do think it is sub par, especially in comparison with our neighbors to the north, but with the canadian dollar and gas prices, I think we'll just have to learn to live here.

                                                      That said, I was back at Tea Garden again last week. A few comments, I raved about them in the beginning, but I am still finding, no matter how many times I ask for my favs, that as a white person they only offer me BBQ pork humbao and sui mai. Very annoying, as I watch phoenix claws and tripe and other goodies be served to the chinese people at the next table. Also I was there with a vegetarian the other day, and since the only real options she had were noodles, we ordered chinese broccoli. This was the most over cooked, revolting looking, inedible thing I had ever seen. Very dissapointing. In general their food is not bad. The soup dumplings did even have soup this week (I think this is a first in seattle for me!) however, they were cooked directly on the wood steamer and thus required very careful peeling not to have to watch your sad soup drain on to the table...

                                                      1. re: dagoose

                                                        perhaps instead of chinese broccoli you can order pea leaves ("dough-miao") if they have it that day, these can be very good (unless you get a bad batch which can be stringy)

                                                        1. re: dagoose

                                                          Trust me, I've had Dim Sum in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Shanghai, NY, SF, LA, Richmond, Vancouver, and Seattle. Seattle Dim Sum is crap! As I've said, I have no problem with searching out the best of the crap, but if your frame of reference is only what you've had in Seattle, then you've yet to experience truly good dim sum. BTW, soup dumplings are a Shanghainese specialty, while Dim Sum is from the Canton region. This is the equivalent of ordering a philly cheesesteak at your corner hot dog stand, since they are both "American."

                                                          1. re: hhlodesign

                                                            hhlo, you re so right. I have not been all the places you have to eat dim sum, but I did go to Food Mecca Singapore in 2005 and yeah, what we have is just so-so. F'in a yeah baby they have the goods on dim sum in Singapore. Well also the goods on Indian, Malay, Indonesian....but I digress (mouth watering).

                                                            That said, considering where we are here on the Pacific Rim, and considering how well we do with some other Asian cuisines, Hong Kong dim sum should be within our reach. We may not have great dim sum now, but I remain ever optimistic. I think that's why it's such a popular topic among Seattle foodies--we SHOULD have it, and someday hopefully it will arrive here!!

                                                            1. re: hhlodesign

                                                              I'd love to know what dim sum you've had in NYC that tops Jade Garden or Noble Court. I never found anything worth returning to when I lived there.

                                                              I still travel to NYC 4-6 times a year and would appreciate the recommendations.

                                                              1. re: terrier

                                                                Sorry, didn't mean to imply that NYC has good dim sum. Personally, I think NYC dim sum sucks too. I was just trying to establish that I've had lots of dim sum all over the world so I have a baseline for comparison.

                                                                Sidenote: I went to some divey places in Chinatown that were OK. Jean Georges' 66 was some of the worst Dim Sum I've ever had. Also, the soup dumplings at Joe's Shanghai came highly recommended on eGullet. We thought they were horrid.

                                                              2. re: hhlodesign

                                                                then again, numerous dimsum places don't seem to care too much about regional distinctions, and will serve both Cantonese dimsum and Shanghai soup dumplings, and be good at both (I'm thinking say places in SF like Yank Sing or Koi palace, or (the now defunct) Harbor Village in Embarcadero). I love this kind of one-stop shopping...

                                                            2. re: hhlodesign

                                                              Agreed (shitty dim sum is better than no dim sum. Nothing I've had here compares to what we had at Kirin. I can't wait to go back.

                                                              1. re: Lauren

                                                                I've never had good dimsum in Seattle or NYC for that matter. The best I've had in the US has been at one of several spots east of LA.; In and around Monterey Park, Arcadia, San Gabriel, etc. Din tai fung falls into that sort of Canton/Shanghai fusion catagory, and is exceptional (if you don't mind the wait).

                                                                1. re: Kim D

                                                                  I'll second the Din Tai Fung, I've had them in Hong Kong and Singapore. Worth the wait to me!

                                                                  1. re: Kim D

                                                                    Din Tai Fung is about as good as you're going to get outside of Asia. I'd fly down there again just for that. And some In 'n Out, of course.

                                                                    1. re: HungWeiLo

                                                                      hmmm, while I like Din Tai Fung, I don't think I'd fly to LA just for to go there---lots of other options in LA for good dim sum and even shorter lines.

                                                                      though I might fly to LA to visit Dong Ting Spring and Hong Yei............

                                                                  2. re: Lauren

                                                                    Kirin is pretty nice, but it's now nothing compared to what it was 5-10 years ago. I feel the quality has significantly declined.

                                                                    These days, I prefer Sun Sui Wah or Kingford.

                                                                    1. re: HungWeiLo

                                                                      where are each of these places? We are getting close to needing a dim sum fix........................

                                                                      1. re: jenn

                                                                        All in Richmond, BC. All on No.3 Road. These places are also excellent for a grand seafood dinner.

                                                                        1. re: HungWeiLo

                                                                          Went to New Kowloon's replacement today, Hong Kong something or other. Seemed pretty much the same as NK, not awesome, but not bad.

                                            2. Other than O'Asian (expensive), I think the best dimsum is onthe Eastside. Try Jeem in Redmond Overlake area, Top Gun in Factoria (I think they also have a restaurant in the International District).