Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Greater Seattle >
Mar 30, 2012 03:09 PM

Dim sum in Seattle

We are visiting for a few days and want to go with a group of friends for Dim Sum. We are centrally located downtown so are flexible on location. Can anyone give me suggestions to their favorite dim sum places?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. The standard sort of snarky response to this question is that the best Dim Sum in Seattle is in Vancouver BC. I haven't really found that to be true. I think there are plenty of good Dim Sum places here.

    If you are staying downtown you are just a few steps away from the International District or ID, which is like everyone else's Chinatown. You'll probably get 50 replies, each one listing a different ID place that's someone's favorite.

    I live on the Eastside, which is across the lake from Seattle, so I almost never get downtown or into the ID, so I can't be of much help there. If by some chance you get across the lake, the three names that pop up the most are Top Gun (south), Noble Court (Central) and Jade Garden (way North), all east of Lake Washington. Of those, Jade Garden is my favorite. Opinions can be quite polarized about all three.

    11 Replies
    1. re: acgold7

      And of course when I wrote Jade Garden, what I meant was Zen Garden in Bothell/Mill Creek.

      Zen Garden Chinese Restaurant
      16300 Mill Creek Blvd (next to Mill Creek Town Center) ‚óŹ (425) 745-6668

      Old age is a killer.

          1. re: acgold7

            They close and change owners all the time - they seem to have done so almost an average of once every 2-3 years in the past decade. They'll be back in some other incarnation soon enough.

            The trick with places like Zen Garden is to go dine there in the first couple months that they're open - when they try real hard to be good. Around the early 2000s - when they had just reopened the restaurant - the rumor was that they were able to hire a top star chef from either Vancouver or Hong Kong and the food around the time reflected that sort of prowess. But of course it didn't last long being so far away from any major Chinese immigrant enclaves.

            1. re: HungWeiLo

              They existed for many years as the Imperial Garden, then the space was dark for a long time, before reopening and falling into the cycle you describe.

              In the days when they succeeded, there were few dining options in Mill Creek. That has changed drastically in the past ten or fifteen years. The space is large and relatively "upscale" for Chinese cuisine, and I assume it must be a fairly high overhead space to operate, so I think it presents a lot of challenges.

              1. re: Gizmo56

                The overhead must indeed have been the issue, as the sign on the door said they were evicted for non-payment of rent.

            2. re: acgold7

              I just remembered they seem to sell a ton of Groupons and certificates and such. Good thing I wasn't holding onto any of those...

              1. re: HungWeiLo

                Yeah, the wife picked up a Groupon for them a few months ago and the minute she got it I said, "They must be desperate. Better use it quick." Good thing we did.

                Groupon is the death knell for restaurants.

                I'm going to miss them.

          2. re: acgold7

            I can't say I can agree with that. Vancouver locations like Kirin, Sun Sui Wah, Shiang Gardens and Neptune are really on a whole another planet compared to what we have here. There is simply not the critical mass of Cantonese diaspora in the Seattle area to bring it world-class dim sum. Taiwanese / northern/central Chinese are usually the better bet around here.

            1. re: HungWeiLo

              I totally respect your opinion and defer to you on these matters, but I've been to Sun Sui Wah numerous times, and while it was very good, it wasn't any better than Zen Garden or even Noble Court on a good day. Even if some dishes were marginally better, I think saying it's on a whole different planet is wild overstatement and not accurate in my experience.

              But I might not have tried the right dishes.

              I've been to the most highly recommended places in NY, LA, SF and Vancouver and I really think we need to get over our inferiority complex in these matters. The late lamented Sentosa was as good as or better than most of them.

              1. re: HungWeiLo

                I completely agree with Hung Wei Lo. Growing up eating dim sum in the bay area, the places up here just cannot compare to Vancouver, Bay Area, LA. There isn't enough competition to force better quality food or service. Although Sun Sui Wah is not my favorite in Vancouver, it's still in a different league compared to places in Seattle. I'd recommend Fisherman's Terrace or Kirin in Vancouver.

                That said, Jade Garden or Harbour City (across the street from Jade Garden) will do in a fix. Top Gun in Factoria would be my choice on the east side.

            2. In the ID I like Jade Garden. If you go on a weekend during prime hours (11 to 1 or so) there'll be a long wait.

              acgold (or anyone on the Eastside), have you tried Koi's, the new place in downtown Bellevue next to Bamboo Garden?

              3 Replies
              1. re: christy319

                I haven't. I'll have to do so.

                Apparently the name has changed and so has the menu. It's now called Joi's Seafood and the new website makes no mention of Dim Sum.

                1. re: christy319

                  Christy, we frequented Koi's for a while when it first opened. The decline in both food and service was steady. We've since returned to Noble Court because it got that bad. Don't know what the name change means, maybe i'll send my husband to try again. :)

                  1. re: ethereal

                    It's pretty much still the same food and same owner. Apparently someone sued them for name infringement or something like that.

                2. Jade Garden in the ID, as others have said, if you're looking for cheung fan, turnip cake, etc. on steam carts.

                  I've pretty much switched to Din Tai Fung in Bellevue, though, for my Sunday yum cha. Really the only credible xiaolongbao in the area (and I really like their spareribs, braised beef soup, veg & pork wonton in spicy sauce, etc. as well.)

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: terrier

                    The wontons in spicy sauce...i could eat just about anything in that spicy sauce. Such a delicious blend of smoky and sweet.

                      1. re: terrier

                        DTF certainly has finally hit their stride and overcome their growing pains. It was really inconsistent quality for the first year or so.

                        And ipsedixit is correct - DTF is not dim sum or yumcha. (Are you an Aussie or Kiwi by any chance? I haven't heard anyone used that term "yumcha" here in an English context otherwise...)

                        1. re: HungWeiLo

                          I just mean yum cha in the general sense of taking tea with some gao and bao in the morning or early afternoon. I know DTF is not Cantonese dim sum, but it fills a similar place in my day. Just throwing another option out there.

                          1. re: terrier

                            We're thinking of hitting up DTF on our way to Portland so I crashlanded on this thread :-). Looks like dim sum to me:

                            albeit of the Shanghainese variety. The shaomai look like something from Dr Seuss!

                        2. re: terrier

                          We're huge fans of Jade Garden but embarassed to admit we haven't tried dim sum elsewhere in the ID. We visit Seattle a couple of times a year so we don't want a dim sum failure when we love JG so much. We're always there before 10 so, while busy, we've not had to wait.

                          I've read about DTF on other boards and will have to make it up there next time. But as someone said, it's not dim sum. Nor is XLB, I believe.

                        3. Thank you all for the replies. I love the chowhound commuinity!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: mitched5

                            FWIW, we prefer Sun Ya to Jade Garden (which I have never found to live up to its hype). And O'Asian is good if you're downtown.

                          2. Tea Garden was really good when I was there a couple of weeks ago. I used to love Purple Dot but it seemed to have gone downhill.