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Aug 20, 2010 03:37 PM

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...

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 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)