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Dim Sum Disaster

Looked around for someplace both close and rated as good or better. Came across Fortune Banquet at Seven Corners in Falls Church.
Went this past Sunday at noon with an incredible craving for good to great Dim Sum. It was a huge disappointment. The sticky rice was served out of a plastic clear mold and tasted bland. It was cold. I ordered nearly 9 plates and everything was cold and bland. The only thing served hot, or shall I saw warm, was the Beef in Rice Noodle that had to be ordered because it was not on the cart
I left a lot of food behind, which I NEVER do anywhere especially dim sum. The lack of Asians and a large crowd on noon on Sunday should have been my first hint.
Never saw any congee served either. The vegetable dish, Chinese Broccoli was huge but again lacked much flavor. I would strongly avoid this place. It also felt like their was a competition from the people pushing the carts to push plates in your face like salespeople getting a commission.
I've eaten at Ming's in Palo Alto and Yank Sing's in San Francisco, numerous places in Hong Kong and China as well as the Kowloon Seafood Dim Sum in Toronto, so I know dim sum.
Sorry to post a negative review.
I better go to one of the top few that keep getting mentioned here, most seem to be in Maryland.
Any recommendations on the best Dim Sum, preferably ordered not cart service, in NoVa?

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  1. "The lack of Asians and a large crowd on noon on Sunday should have been my first hint."

    Yeah, though I'm surprised about the lack of Asians - Fortune has had many critics in recent months, but now maybe even their regulars are jumping ship?

    Lucky Three has expanded its dim sum buffet to evenings and weekends - you may not get 'spectacular' but in my experience you can count on 'perfectly adequate' (certainly nothing like you experienced at Fortune).

    4 Replies
    1. re: wayne keyser

      I know Lucky Three has its fans but I didn't like the lunch buffet. Is it a good deal for the money? Probably, for $7.95 but I made only one pass through the buffet and that was enough for me. Odd assortment of food--french fries at dimsum? There was nothing I wanted to eat again. And, I hate having to fight others to get a turnip cake! By no means does it compare to Yank Sing. But, though Yank Sing has its share of complaints on the SF board, no place in No VA comes close to even that.

      1. re: chowser

        Another chowhound turned me on to Lucky 3, and I have been very pleased. The key is to go on weekends and sit near the back where the carts come out. I've eaten at Yank Sing in SF, and yes, it is not as good. Still, I thought Lucky 3 was quite good (and consistent) the times we have been - but that is always cart service (not buffet) on a weekend.

        1. re: baconjen

          I haven't been for the carts but only for the buffet. I wouldn't discount a place because it didn't have good buffets, though. I've yet to find a great buffet. FWIW, the current owner of Lucky Three is one of the original owners of the original Fortunes, back when it was next to Theismans. It changed ownership a few times and is back to one of the original three owners.

      2. re: wayne keyser

        You know, I loved Lucky Three when it had the carts - we used to go almost every weekend, but now that it's moved to the buffet on weekends, I'm not sure I'm going to go back. The food was not nearly as good. The xia jiao (shrimp dumplings) and sao mai (shumai) were fine, as was the congee, but everything else seemed to be sitting in congealed grease - a by-product of the steam table, I guess. They do have steamed whole female crab but I didn't feel like getting all messy, so I passed. Overall, I was pretty disappointed that they no longer have the carts.

      3. The only place I can think of for ordering in No VA is A&J's--not your traditional Cantonese dimsum but northern style. They have some great dishes and some that aren't so good but they're relatively inexpensive and fun to try. The ones I'd recommend are cucumber salad (spicy), noodle soup w/ fried pork and greens (I think the noodles are house made, nice and thick--you have a choice of three shapes), thousand layer pancakes, scallion pancakes (one of my favorites though it's so simple to make at home), hot soy milk. Pass on dumplings, scallion buns, the five spice steamed ribs, sticky rice wrapped crueller. It's a small place and there's a good wait for tables. But, as you're waiting, wander around Kam San grocery store--it's always fun.

        1. yes, i have to agree that DC area dim sum really isn't all that fabulous. A popular place in NoVa where you will find lots of Asians is China Garden in Rosslyn. So i would suggest give that a try. probably not as good as the places in SF but most likely better than Fortune. also, everyone raves about Oriental East in Silver Spring. i can't vouch for it myself personally, but the Asian crowds are a good sign (get there by 11!); or else i would echo Chowser and say that A&J is the only place that i can think of where you can get non-cart ordered dim sum, though not Cantonese style. but then, you are probably already familiar with A&J since they have a few in the Bay area (and their dishes are the same week long, not just on the wknds). Also, Oriental Regency on Rt 7 near Tyson's also sometimes does a la carte northern style dim sum on the weekends. but i'd recommend giving them a call to make sure they still have that, b/c it's been a while since i've visited.

          1. "The sticky rice was served out of a plastic clear mold and tasted bland."

            What you probably had was the La Mei Fan, which is sticky rice with smoked meats (usually sausage and pork belly). You might have been thinking of Lo Mei Gai, which is the sticky rice wrapped in a lotus leaf and steamed, with smoked sausage, chicken and roast pork inside.

            As a Cantonese and a dim sum purist, I can never get myself to refer to northern style food as dim sum, as much as I like it.

            1. Mark's Duck House in Falls Church, virtually across the street from Fortune, is 100x better.

              2 Replies
              1. re: msr3017

                Hey, let's repeat this thread again!

                MDH may be better than Fortune, but none (including China Garden and Lucky 3) are in the same league as New Fortune (Gaithersburg), Oriental East (Silver Spring), and Hollywood Cafe East on the Boulevard (Wheaton).

                1. re: DanielK

                  Thanks everyone for the recommendations.
                  I am not sure if I am jinxed these last few weks but the new Il Fornaio in Reston is having a tough first month delivering food that isn't cold or entree plates that couldn't pass for an appetizer. Been there 3 times and will wait a few months before I go back. I'll post where appropriate. Thanks again.

              2. If you are willing to travel a little further, to Wheaton, MD, Hollywood East is pretty good. They have carts on weekends only, but you can order it other days. And there are TONS of Asians! LOL

                1. Lucky Three commoditizes dim sum Great American Buffet style. In fact, it should be considered as an alternative to GAB; if you can't stomach GAB-style food, you probably won't like the dim sum version either. After having dinner buffet recently there, I realized that I probably can't bring friends there on a special weekend outing. The quality isn't good enough -- but it's good enough for me when I need quick inexpensive fix. Fortune and Marks Duck house are better -- and not buffet style -- but still fall short of the mark. I would make the trek to the restaurants in Montgomery County.

                  My last great dim sum experience was savored at Royal China (Bayswater location) in London. Very yummy. I need to go back ala Ferran and refresh my taste benchmarks.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Minger

                    I'm SO disappointed that Lucky Three has changed to a buffet on weekends! I only like Dim Sum when it is cart service so probably won't go back.

                    1. re: Minger

                      So harsh! I say that because, for the first time in years (don't ask why) I went to GAB today.

                      I think I'm gonna die ....

                      Lucky Three may be fraught with compromises, but really, it ain't quite on THAT level.

                      1. re: wayne keyser

                        i truly love food -- i like GAB! bamboo buffet offers more variety and flavor.

                        btw, i went back to lucky 3 for dinner buffet. i stuffed myself silly.

                    2. New Fortune in Gaithersburg works best in the area, and I live close enough to go there on a bike. Ask to sit near the center of the room so you get the carts when fresh out of the kitchen.

                      1. The best dim sum that I've had was at China Garden in Rosslyn. I've tried Fortune and Mark's Duck House and have found that China Garden has by far, superior dim sum than the rest. It serves traditional Cantonese dim sum so the shu mai and cha siu baos are excellent. Also,there are a ton of Asians eating there so that's always a good sign!

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: chasiu

                          i agree with this guy. thats the authentic shit

                          1. re: hungry.hungry.hippo

                            I third that... went there on Saturday and had some great stuff - and as a person of Chinese heritage, I think I have a leg to stand on... :)

                            1. re: scotcheroo

                              I reduce your third to a second. I've been twice, and both times I had some good things but plenty of bad as well. But between the PITA parking, and the lines at peak times, this is not worth the drive unless it's your local place.

                              I remember a lot of cold, gummy things that should have been hot and fresh, and several off-tasting seafood dishes.

                              Though I will agree that it's probably the best in NoVa, this place pales in comparison to New Fortune (Gaithersburg), Hollywood East Cafe (Wheaton), and Oriental East (Silver Spring).

                              1. re: DanielK

                                my infrequent visits to china garden didn't prove to be so great either. i feel like we are having a longstanding family argument where we debate the same things over and over. haha.

                                1. re: Minger

                                  I think one key issue is when you go. If you get there promptly when they open at 11:30, everything is fresh and hot and plentiful. I can see how as the afternoon goes on, the food becomes less tasty. You also have to be prepared for the "true" dim sum experience and be willing to agressively flag down your favorites.

                                  1. re: Minger

                                    "Are not!"

                                    "Are too!"

                                    "Are not!"