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Apr 17, 2011 08:08 AM

For Chinese-speaking Chowhounds

i know that the food served to westerners at many excellent chinese restaurants is different - more "westernized" - than the more 'authentic' fare available to those who speak the language and can inquire into the best the house can provide. i am anticipating a visit from sinophones who have requested dim sum and i wonder if this ordering anomaly is also true at that level? any recommended places (seattle id only, please) where the language will produce superior provender?

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  1. If you want good dim sum, you're better off going to Vancouver and would be able to take advantage with the language.

    As for getting authentic Chinese dishes in Seattle, I think you can pretty much gauge by the menus and atmosphere when you enter a place. I haven't had any experiences in Seattle where speaking the language got me better food/service except as a result of better communication.

    1. I believe I get better service at Jade Garden, but only because they get to laugh at my attempts of speaking Mandarin. I'm not sure what you may be able to garner that's not normally on the menu, but I'll say I've seen other tables eating things I don't see passing by on the carts.

      Jade Garden Restaurant
      7th S King S, Seattle, WA 98101

      1. Dim sum is the most obvious example. Pay attention next time to which carts are pushed to tables with Westerners and which carts are pushed to tables with Chinese speakers. Carts with lots of fried foods (fried calamari, fried shrimp, fried rice, etc.) will almost never stop at a table with Chinese patrons. They presume (and a majority of the time, they're absolutely correct) that many Westerners are reluctant to eat the steamed dumplings and fearing what possible parts of an animal could possibly be inside those things.

        Even if Westerners are dining with Chinese speakers, they're still not guaranteed immunity to this treatment (unless it's one or two lone Westerners dining with a table-full of Chinese friends). My wife recently took a group of Westerners to dim sum and it was all fried foods. The "Westerner" carts came barging in, despite my wife's protests (and it didn't help that her dining companions turn out to be almost exclusively dim sum virgins who became vocal about their food squeamishness in front of the cart pushers). The margins on fried foods are just too great for the restaurant to resist. But certainly a take-charge person who speaks the language will help things immensely, especially if the whole table is collectively wanting to get the good stuff.

        In the ID, you're looking at either Harbor City or Jade Garden. Maybe O'Asian.

        For those suggesting Vancouver - many places there don't even require language skills, since many of them have gone the cart-less menu-only route now, where you just write a quantity next to the item on your order sheet and hand it to the waiter.

        Jade Garden Restaurant
        7th S King S, Seattle, WA 98101