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Li's Dumpling and Noodle House (Bellevue)

We tried this restaurant last weekend at the recommendation of a family friend. It's in a odd spot, which has me concerned about its future, near the Skate King in Bellevue. I think there's also a Cash and Carry in the same complex and a Dunn Lumber across the street, but not much else to bring you to the area. Needless to say, parking was a breeze.

Anyway, all dumplings are hand/home made. Even the skins. They are served Northern Chinese style boiled. There were I think 4 varieties to choose from. We had a cilantro heavy one (my husband loves cilantro) and a basic pork dumpling. No msg. Both were good, although the skins weren't super thin and the dipping sauce was overwhelming. They just felt home made, which in my mind is a good thing.

We also had stir fried string beans, minus the "hot" because of a child in our party. We tend to have string beans as a staple out at chinese restaurants. These are on par with Cafe Ori. Garlic heavy, but also with some bamboo shoots and other spices to make it complex. Maybe a bit of black bean?

Another staple for us is chicken wings. These were also very good. Perfectly pan fried with good flavor of garlic and peppers. My son (who loves chicken nuggets but rarely anything off the bone) devoured them.

Lastly, we had a bowl of the ma-la (hot) beef noodles. I am a big fan of the beef noodles at Facing East. This was the grown up version of that. The noodles are house made. The ma-la was a bit much (it was a warm day too), I probably should have started with the regular beef noodles for a good comparison, but they were delicious and we polished it off.

The meal wasn't inexpensive (for Chinese) but we didn't walk away feeling like we'd over paid either. It reminded me of when your favorite aunt comes to visit and cooks what she knows are your favorites. Or is that just a childhood thing for me?

Anyway, the place was pretty empty, and I'd like to be able to return for a later date, so maybe go and give it a shot? Options people, options. Let me know what you think. I'll be going back to try the other beef noodles...

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Cafe Ori
14339 NE 20th St Ste I, Bellevue, WA 98007

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  1. Thanks for the review. I'm always on the lookout of dumpling and noodle joints on the eastside. I'll try to check it out soon.

    2 Replies
      1. re: grangie angie

        there really should be more places like this in the seattle/bellevue area. i'll have to take my mother there

    1. So we tried Spicy Talk in Redmond for the first time. I think there are some comparisons to be made. First off the dumplings. Li's are more expensive by a few dollars per dozen. But they also have way more filling. However Li's loses on the texture of the wraps and the dipping sauce. So Li's is probably the better value, but neither has it just right.

      Li's wins out on the hot factor too (in a good way). If you have spicy in your name I expect the default to have some heat. And I'm Chinese (ordered in Chinese) so I would have thought they'd ask if nothing else. Spicy Talk did bring more chili oil when we asked though.

      3 Replies
      1. re: ethereal

        I like Spicy Talk for certain items that they do - like their fried onion pancakes. But I think they're a bit lacking in their namesake spicy stuff. These people used to own Szechwan Chef, so their flavoring does taste familiar. Maybe it's because the chefs are Cantonese - because some of their stuff tastes like what "spicy" food tastes like in Hong Kong or Guangzhou and can explain your perception of a lack of spice - I suspect they use some sort of store-bought spice sauces as a base for some of their stuff.

        1. re: HungWeiLo

          I find the food at Spicy Talk way more spicy than their old restaurant and way more tasty. And thank the lord the tables and chairs are actually comfortable. The chong qing hot chicken is really on point and very spicy, good stuff. I will definitely check out Li's never heard of it until this thread. The more the merrier in the land of weak chinese chow.

        2. re: ethereal

          I tried Li's tonight, and found their dumplings to be superior compared to Spicy Talk's. In hind sight, Spicy Talk's dumplings are suspiciously...store bought? Each dumpling seem a bit too well-put together without large variances in sizes. But in any case, Li's dumplings have more of a peasant-y texture and taste, which I like. We ordered two spicy appetizers with tofu cubes/peanuts and slices of beef. Both went very well with the dumplings. Finally had the spicy beef noodle soup, but it did not feel spicy at all probably due to the appetizers drowning out the spiciness - though the hand-made noodles were definitely well-done.

        3. sounds tasty. Elder pup---who dreams of dumpling feasts--will be eager to try this soon. Thanks!

          1. Just ate at Li's Dumpling and Noodle House tonight. Had two different kinds of dumplings--pork and mushroom and leek, shrimp and pork. Both were great. Filling and wraps definitely homemade. No MSG in any of their dumplings--yea! They are a little hard to find in the shopping center--especially after dark. Phone number is 425-746-4764 so call for directions. Cannot wait to go back and try homemade noodles with beef soup.

            1. I finally got a chance to check this place out. We had 4 adults and a child in our party so we we were able to sample a few different dishes. The owner was extremely friendly and helpful. When he learned we were Korean he brought out a plate of pickled cabbage. It tasted great and was even a little spicy and just what we need with large quatities of noodles.

              First came the shrimp pork & leek dumplings. Wonderful handmade wrappers. Delicious. Definite winner.

              We each ordered a dish, but he brought out small bowls so we could have a taste of each dish. And I was very glad he did.

              We each tasted the seafood noodle soup, spicy beef soup, spicy beef dumplings and eggplant with garlic sauce.

              The noodles are outstanding. Wonderful texture. I could have eaten them plain because they were so delicious. It was amazing how much and how fresh the seafood was. The spicy beef wasn't terribly spicy, but was chock full of beef and topped with pickled vegetables. Be still my beating heart.

              There was definitely a lot of ma la going on in the spicy beef dumplings. I'm still not sure if I'm a huge fan of ma la, but for those that are, this should float your proverbial boat.

              The eggplant was prepared well, though we thought it might be just a bit on the sweet side. Luckily, the pickled cabbage was there to save the day.

              Learned from a nice chat with the owner that the 'Noodle with Soybean Paste' is their jajangmyun. Can't wait to try it. Oh, and all noodle dishes are $6.99 for lunch. Sheesh. This is officially my new favorite noodle joint.

              Thanks again ethereal for pointing this place out. I owe ya one! :o)

              1. I visited Li's last night after seeing this thread and was very impressed. I had the spicy noodles with beef and it was fantastic. The soup was very flavorful and quite complex. Not too much szechuan pepper and subtle cinnamon and other spices in the beef. Very good and it did have a bit of kick so not for the faint of heart. The noodles were wonderful with a great texture which is what I was really looking for, a great noodle on the Eastside.

                Chris the owner also brought out a sample of his cured cabbage that he referred to as szechuan kimchi. I assume that there is a correct Chinese name for this vegetable. As with the noodle dish, the flavor was very complex and very good. It had all the main points covered at once, spicy, salty, sweet and vinegar in proportion. He explained that he has been developing the brine for this preparation for the last 3 years following his mother's recipe by adding different types of vegetables to a crock and replacing them at intervals over that time period! He can cure about one cabbage a day so ask for some when you are there and you will not be disappointed.

                I am anxious to try the Chong Qing duck and chicken that are on the menu as well but I may not make it past the noodles!

                I will certainly be back soon. Thanks for pointing this gem out and it is great to have a very high quality noodle and dumpling spot for us in Bellevue.

                2 Replies
                1. re: gdt9967

                  We tried Li's tonight after reading this post today (2 adults and 2 kids). Ordered the pork and cabbage dumplings, pork, shrimp and leek dumplings. They were very good. The texture of the wrappers were a little thicker than what my mother in law makes but we didn't mind it at all. Texture of wrappers is a very personal thing I think. Some like it thin and others like it a bit thicker with more texture. We also ordered the zhajiang mein and really liked the texture of the homemade noodles. Our last dish was stir fried green beans. It had good flavor and the kids enjoyed it. We were suprised to see that they actually have a pretty big menu. So we will definitely be back to try some more dishes. Let everyone know about this place. They could use some more customers. Spoke to the owner and they have been open for around 3 months now. The restaurant is newly decorated and comfortable in size.

                  1. re: gdt9967

                    That cabbage sounds like the one you get at Seven Stars, and these are the original owners of 7 Stars, right? I love that cabbage. I could eat buckets of it. I've tried to make it with a Fuschia Dunlop recipe but my/her version was not good.

                  2. We visited again and I actually think they have made some improvements. The dumpling wrappers have a better texture than they did previously. It's smoother, less gritty. Also, the dipping sauce has been refined. It no longer overwhelms the flavors of the food.

                    Also, as someone else mentioned, the menu is greatly expanded. What was previously 1 sheet is now a multi-page booklet.

                    There were 3 other tables when we were there (an improvement), but still not busy. Probably a good thing as the kitchen is not staffed to handle a full house yet. I'm hoping lunch business is better for them, since they are in Microsoft territory.

                    Now if they could pipe in some music to give the place some ambience...

                    1. can someone please tell me a more precise address for this place? I am not that familiar with the Eastside and inept and keep coming up with the wrong address. Woe betide me if I drive around in circles with a car full of starving pups!

                      Thanks!

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: jenn

                        It's in the shopping area on the southwest corner of 140th & 24th (same as Taquera El Rinconcito). The restaurant itself is near the middle of the building closest to the freeway.

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                        El Rinconcito
                        202 State Ave, Marysville, WA 98270

                        1. re: jenn

                          It's on the west side of 140th just north of 520.
                          Look for Baskin & Robbins. It's in that complex.

                          1. re: jenn

                            Across the street from Dunn Lumber. The most visible restaurants in that strip mall are Taj Palace and Taqueria el rinconsito.

                            1. re: jenn

                              thanks all---think we will be going this weekend.

                              1. re: jenn

                                It will be across from the old Skate King.

                            2. They gave us a 10% discount for working at that big software company around the corner, fyi.

                              1. This was elder chowpup's birthday weekend and we finally made it to Li's. It was worth the drive. Elder pup left happily stuffed with dumplings that brought back fond memories of dumpling houses in Beijing.

                                Dumplings can be ordered 12 or 24 of a kind. No mixing varieties. We ordered cabbage-pork, cilantro-pork and fennel-pork dumplings, 24 each. . . . hey, we like dumplings.
                                We also ordered:
                                2 scallion pancakes
                                dry tofu and peanuts
                                dandan mien
                                string beans
                                shredded potatoes
                                mapo dofu
                                some form of fried rice.

                                Everything was very tasty though the scallion pancakes were a bit oily and I could skip them next time however the male pups inhaled them. Dumplings got two thumbs up on all sides. The fennel was a bit more popular with the adults than the pups but that didn't mean people didn't eat the fennel ones if they picked it up. The green beans were fantastic with lots of sichuan peppercorns. The potatoes were also excellent---we first had the shredded potato dish in Beijing and now its a family favorite. Many places, alas, make bland shredded potatoe but Li's is NOT bland and that is an excellent thing. Noodles on the dandan were hand made and very tasty. Topping was the dry cooked pork variety which I liked very much.

                                There were just enough leftovers---including only 9 dumplings--- to cover noshing at night and school lunches for today.

                                So ten thumbs up on Li's Dumpling House--we will definitely come back again.