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Dim Sum on eastside

Recommendations?

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  1. Noble Court is okay but Top Gun is better. Top Gun is probably the best on the eastside... probably.

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    Noble Court Restaurant
    1644 140th Ave NE, Bellevue, WA 98005

    17 Replies
    1. re: eat.rest.repeat

      Top Gun is really your only option. Some may suggest Macky's in Issaquah or Zen Garden in Mill Creek (that's not really eastside anymore), but those survive primarily due to a lack of competition in the vicinity. Further south in Renton there's Tea Palace, but they're only OK.

      Sea Garden in downtown Bellevue has reopened as Koi, but haven't heard any reviews from any friends yet.

      1. re: HungWeiLo

        Got to try Koi the other day for dimsum. Some hits. Some misses. Items containing shrimp seem to be pretty well done; pork-based things so-so. IMO, they rank slightly below Top Gun, but it's good enough that it will draw some traffic away (i.e. long waits) away from Top Gun.

        Have yet to try dinner fare there. I hear there's a $9.99/lb lobster special...forgot to ask about it last time. According to a waitress there, they're owned by the same people as Joy Palace.

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        Joy Palace
        6030 Martin Luther King Jr Way S, Seattle, WA 98118

        1. re: HungWeiLo

          I went to Koi a couple weeks ago on Saturday and it was surprisingly good (based on what I had read here). It may have been in part due to the fact that they had a pretty full room due to an elaborate New Year performance outside the restaurant, but we started our meal at 11 and it was not yet full. Most everything was pretty fresh-tasting a high quality, and we had a big group and got a big sample--honey prawns, shu mai, har gow, taro cake, singapore noodle, scallop pumpling, sesame ball, etc.. Of course, we are not talking Richmond quality or much outside the repetoire of the ID houses, but maybe there were a couple items that were unique.

          I'd have to rate it better than last visits Top Gun and Noble Court by some measure, though admittedly had not visited those in a while. Equal to best days at Jade Garden and Harbor City. Far superior to Joy Palace.

          1. re: equinoise

            Really? We were talking about how every time we go, it just slips and slips. Quality of food as well as service. What previously could be a matter or working out some kinks has become bad habits.

            From serving food that clearly has been on the cart too long, to heating it up in the microwave (fried tofu does not microwave well) and re-serving to consistently running out of the staple dishes the place has become just another example of a restaurant that started out with promise but failed to evolve or develop.

            1. re: ethereal

              Again, it was clear that the ownership wanted a strong showing on this particular day as he had lions and dragons dancing around his place. Maybe the norm is worse.

              1. re: equinoise

                I agree that the quality at Koi has been going down a bit. But alongside Top Gun and Harbor City, these 3 are still easily the best dim sum in the Seattle area. They're not terribly exciting and altogether highly inconsistent, so it's a good thing Vancouver's not far away.

      2. re: eat.rest.repeat

        I've tried several places on the Eastside, including Noble Court, Jeem's before it was Mandarin Buffet, Top Gun, Macky's, King's, and Tea Palace. I like Tea Palace in Renton the most. We usually go on weekends, so the dim sum has always been fresh, generous portions, and they have items that I don't usually see on the carts at other places. As many people there are eating there, there's always plenty of seating as they have a big banquet facilities. Prices are pretty reasonable.

        Here's my rundown on other places:
        - Noble Court: too greasy, crowded during weekday lunch
        - Top Gun: ok, but also overcrowed, and lines are way too long to be worth it
        - Macky's: overpriced, we had to order from a menu, and not that remarkable given the buzz. Shame, cause it's a lot closer than Tea Palace. Didn't try the soup dumplings, but that's another story.
        - King's: good from what I remember, but not particularly outstanding

        Soup dumplings: I have to say, Din Tai Fung is really good, and it's way too easy to drop lots of $$$ there. However, if you like regular no-frills dumplings for a good price where you're not paying for the decor and cachet, Li's Dumpling & Noodle House in Bellevue is pretty decent. Warning, it's a really small place in the strip mall across from the Skate King. I think they're also cash only under a certain amount.

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        Noble Court Restaurant
        1644 140th Ave NE, Bellevue, WA 98005

        Tea Palace Restaurant
        2828 Sunset, Renton, WA 98055

        1. re: foodAdenturous

          But Li's doesn't do soup dumpling do they?
          They have the thick skinned boiled kind only right?

          And on Macky's (I feel like I have to defend them a little): You may have to order off a menu if you go when it's not busy (ie, a non-Friday), but that helps ensure that you're getting stuff fresh as opposed to something that's been sitting on the cart. And I've never felt they were expensive for any particular item.

          On Ethereal's point that some of their items are "Americanized", I'll admit though that my favorite single item at Macky's is their BBQ Pork, which is basically Pork Candy and trending in that direction, but I think their other stuff holds up pretty well.

          1. re: GreenYoshi

            Yes, I said Li's has regular dumplings, not soup dumplings. Yes, it's the thick-skinned boiled kind. They are still very good.

            Yes, when we were at Macky's they seemed plenty busy with a few carts rolling around, and we still had to order off the menu. I do prefer more authentic items like beef tendon and tripe, which is very very good at Tea Palace.

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            Tea Palace Restaurant
            2828 Sunset, Renton, WA 98055

            1. re: foodAdenturous

              Li's has closed. It's now Little Taipei, with a menu that looks like a slightly less expensive Facing East.

          2. re: foodAdenturous

            I'll have to try Tea Palace-- sounds good! When we get dim sum on the Eastside, we go to Macky's. It's never done us wrong, though I will admit we go there primarily because it's convenient and there's plenty of parking :)

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            Tea Palace Restaurant
            2828 Sunset, Renton, WA 98055

            1. re: foodAdenturous

              Re: ordering off the menu - Dim sum in many places in Hong Kong, Vancouver, SF, LA, and Toronto have more or less gone cart-less. People prefer steaming hot and fresh items rather than getting them lukewarm off a cart.

              I wish Seattle would catch on eventually.

              1. re: HungWeiLo

                ah nooo! I was just talking to a friend about going there tomorrow. sigh, at least this news saves me a trip.

                1. re: munkeech

                  See HungWeiLo's response below. Looks like they still have dumplings, but with the lower price is a lower quality also, though not terrible:

                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7958...

              2. re: foodAdenturous

                Top Gun's wait is pretty bad, but is mostly mitigated by getting there before 11:30 or so.

                Has Tea Palace improved their kitchen throughput issue? For the longest time, they were seating 200-300 people for the dimsum hours while only having one steamer in the kitchen.

                We live close to King's, so we go there for convenience on a regular basis. I noticed that certain higher-end ingredients were removed from certain dimsum items after the owners got a new BMW...

                DTF is $$$, but I find it also difficult to leave from Li's for less than $40 for 2. (They're closed now, BTW - see my other message).

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                Tea Palace Restaurant
                2828 Sunset, Renton, WA 98055

                1. re: HungWeiLo

                  I haven't noticed kitchen output issues at Tea Palace, but we've only been going there the last couple of years.

                  Yep, I just learned that Li's is now Little Taipei. They said they still have dumplings, but no clue how good or the price. I'll have to swing by and see.

                  1. re: foodAdenturous

                    Tried them tonight. Generally you can order many of the items that were previously available at Li's. The prices are about 25%-30% lower, but the quality is proportionally lower as well. Not terrible, but not a special destination either.

            2. As with many Dim Sum places, Macky's is alot better on busy days (Fridays) when they're busier and the items don't sit around as long. They do pretty good Soup Dumplings and that alone puts them on my list.

              Top Gun is good, but I don't think it warrants the high praise that some folks give it. They do a couple of dishes that are uncommon and that's always appreciated, but there's nothing there that's specifically puts them a cut above.

              Went to Koi's, a new place where Sea Garden used to be, a couple weeks back. Pretty good, but still a little bit disorganized. Took forever to have carts come by, and I'll admit that that distracted enough from the experience that I may be judging their food for it.

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              Sea Garden
              509 7th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98104

              1. Our family prefers Noble Court. I think their food and Top Gun are at a similar level as far as quality and variety. But Top Gun somehow makes the experience even worse through their truly terrible service. It's worse than acceptable even by the very lowest of bars.

                We had a very poor experience at Mackeys. Maybe as Yoshi said, it wasn't busy enough. But everything we ate was the americanized version. We won't go back even though it is by far the most convenient.

                We wish Sea Garden had never left that location. May have to try Koi, but for now Noble Court is our go-to.

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                Noble Court Restaurant
                1644 140th Ave NE, Bellevue, WA 98005

                Sea Garden
                509 7th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98104

                1. I don't claim to be a real expert on Dim Sum but I certainly love it and at the moment I have to say our favorite spot on the Eastside for it has to be Zen Garden. Everything comes out fresh and hot although perhaps less salty than you might be used to. Do not miss the Szechuan String Beans. While I originally missed ordering from the carts going by, the layout of this restaurant makes having carts impossible so you quickly adapt to the order-from-pictures method and the freshness of the food makes it worth it.

                  We also like Noble Court quite a bit. While not mind-blowing, it's proven quite reliable over the years and is never a long wait if you go early enough, say before 11:30 or so.

                  I've been to a few of the most highly-regarded and recommended places in the ID and have to say that, for me, it just isn't worth the drive and the hassle of finding parking and the wait for food that isn't really any better than on the Eastside.

                  We've been lucky enough to live all over the country and have eaten at the most highly recommended Dim Sum places in LA, NY, SF and Vancouver, and I just don't get it when people say you have to go to Vancouver to get good Dim Sum in the Northwest. You can get perfectly delicious Dim Sum here without any effort at all.

                  Also, we tried Li's/Little Taipei last week and it was pretty good. Ironically, the signature items -- the boiled dumplings and the noodles -- were just okay. The dumplings reminded me of pierogi -- thick skins and sort of bland, but the dipping sauce was great. But the wonton in chili sauce were terrific and the salt and pepper chicken wings were the best I've had anywhere. We'll be back for those. Note: The sign outside still says Li's.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: acgold7

                    I have to second that the wontons in chili sauce were good, and the dumplings were less good than they used to be, and smaller too. Too much skin for my taste.

                    1. re: acgold7

                      Update: Sign now reflects their new name.

                      Wonton, potstickers and wings still very good. Service continues fast and friendly. Tea tends to come out not very hot, a situation which is immediately remedied if you ask for "very hot." The pot is immediately whisked away and replaced by one that is screeching hot.

                      Impressive: Even thought we've only been in once before, the waitress (owner?) remembered me as the guy who wanted more hot chili sauce for my wontons ("You like very spicy!"). Or maybe she just says this to every fat white guy who walks in.

                      Once again we were the only non-Asian faces in the place, although the more I think about it, maybe this doesn't mean anything anymore. I mean, the majority of Anglo-Americans don't know what good food is; why should we assume any differently about anyone else?

                      All in all still a pretty good place.