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Dim sum in DC?

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MyKitchen Sep 9, 2012 06:45 AM

Wondering where the best dim sum in DC is. Also the best dim sum for including people who don't eat meat, or only eat fish, etc.

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  1. m
    MoCoMe RE: MyKitchen Sep 10, 2012 04:27 PM

    If you can get outofthe city, hong kong pearl in 7 corners and Oriental east insilver spring ( get there at 10:30 to wait in line)

    1 Reply
    1. re: MoCoMe
      monkeyrotica RE: MoCoMe Oct 9, 2012 07:42 AM

      My problem with Oriental East is two-fold: (1) I rarely if ever wait in line for a restaurant and (2) once you're inside, everybody in line is staring at you waiting for you to eat your food and leave so they can take your seat.

    2. p
      PollyG RE: MyKitchen Sep 11, 2012 05:49 AM

      For your dietary restricted diners, your best dim sum will be a place with wait staff who speak English fluently. There is a LOT of pork hidden in dim sum. At Hong Kong Pearl, not all the people who push carts are fluent in English, but the captains are, and could probably arrange an all seafood, no meat meal for you, but that would mean you can't order safely from the passing carts.

      Alternatively, you can go online to one of many dim sum sites and figure out what dishes are acceptable under your dietary restrictions, print out pictures and names if necessary, and go armed.

      1. s
        SandyCat RE: MyKitchen Sep 12, 2012 02:57 PM

        Not to be a Debbie Downer, but does it have to be dim sum? I have lots of friends who have various dietary restrictions and we just agree to not go to dim sum together because as PollyG said, there's lots of hidden pork (and shrimp, and gluten, etc.) in dim sum.

        I suppose if you're familiar with dim sum and doing the navigating, your best bet would be to go somewhere with a LOT of variety so everyone has something to eat, and for that, I would second Oriental East.

        3 Replies
        1. re: SandyCat
          m
          MyKitchen RE: SandyCat Sep 12, 2012 04:15 PM

          I'm asking specifically about dim sum because our group is interested in it. We do brunches, dinners, and everything in between, too, but would love to find a dim sum everyone could enjoy, if possible. As long as everyone can find at least one thing to eat and we know what's in what, we'll be great.

          1. re: MyKitchen
            KWagle RE: MyKitchen Sep 18, 2012 01:16 AM

            Janet at Hollywood East speaks excellent English, as do her sons, and she would probably be quite willing to help you order things everyone can eat, and/or steer people away from the things they can't or won't eat.

            They serve from carts during weekend lunch, and from a menu through the rest of the week, so you could take a copy of the paper menu and mark it up for future reference.

            1. re: MyKitchen
              a
              aaamanda RE: MyKitchen Jan 25, 2013 12:38 PM

              Hope this guide helps for next time you go out:
              http://www.buzzfeed.com/luckypeach/th...

          2. ipsedixit RE: MyKitchen Sep 18, 2012 08:09 AM

            When I think of "DC" and "Dim Sum" my gut reaction is "yuck".

            Like others have said, I'd choose another option.

            Aside from the fact that there is no passable dim sum in the District, the OP's dietary restrictions prevent another hurdle.

            How about just going to a pedestrian place like Sichuan Pavilion and ordering off the menu?

            31 Replies
            1. re: ipsedixit
              Chandavkl RE: ipsedixit Oct 7, 2012 05:00 PM

              Hong Kong Pearl which opened up earlier this year could hold its own in the San Gabriel Valley. First DC area Hong Kong style Chinese restaurant that I can make such a statement about.

              1. re: Chandavkl
                ipsedixit RE: Chandavkl Oct 7, 2012 07:13 PM

                Yeah, but Falls Church isn't technically the "District" ...

                That's sort of like saying DTLA is in the "SGV area" -- as both (FC/DC and DTLA/SGV) are about 10 miles apart. But no one would make that connection.

                1. re: ipsedixit
                  Chandavkl RE: ipsedixit Oct 7, 2012 09:28 PM

                  You noticed I said DC area. I'll agree that Chinese food within DC boundaries is awful. But when talking about Chinese food in a geographic area, it typically includes the entire metro area, e.g., we say Vancouver when really mean Richmond, B.C., Toronto instead of Richmond Hill-Markham-Scarborough, etc. etc.

                  1. re: Chandavkl
                    ipsedixit RE: Chandavkl Oct 7, 2012 09:33 PM

                    Fair enough.

                    But I have hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that Falls Church would be considered part of the DC Metro area when I cannot practice law in the former, but can in the latter.

                    1. re: ipsedixit
                      Chandavkl RE: ipsedixit Oct 8, 2012 08:04 AM

                      What's more important? Getting good Chinese food in NoVa and Maryland or being able to practice law?

                      1. re: Chandavkl
                        ipsedixit RE: Chandavkl Oct 8, 2012 08:07 AM

                        The latter.

                        1. re: ipsedixit
                          f
                          flavrmeistr RE: ipsedixit Oct 8, 2012 12:49 PM

                          I disagree. Further, I would assert that there are many more lawyers in the DC area than there are good dim sum places.

                          1. re: flavrmeistr
                            ipsedixit RE: flavrmeistr Oct 8, 2012 01:45 PM

                            Huh?

                            1. re: ipsedixit
                              f
                              flavrmeistr RE: ipsedixit Oct 8, 2012 04:26 PM

                              You say the latter, I say the former.

                      2. re: ipsedixit
                        d
                        drewpbalzac RE: ipsedixit Oct 8, 2012 05:08 PM

                        ipsedixit

                        You can practice in Virginia if you take the Bar. . . .problem solved.

                        The you can enjoy the Dim Sum and feel smug.

                        1. re: drewpbalzac
                          ipsedixit RE: drewpbalzac Oct 8, 2012 08:21 PM

                          I wouldn't take the Bar just to enjoy dim sum in Virginia.

                          Heck, I don't know if the dim sum in Va is worth the pro hac vice application fee ...

                          1. re: ipsedixit
                            d
                            drewpbalzac RE: ipsedixit Oct 8, 2012 09:34 PM

                            If you had taken the commonwealth's Bar in the first place you could have waived into DC and MD much easier . . .

                            Good dim sum is a hell of a lot harder to find and al lot more rewarding than the practice of law. . .

                    2. re: ipsedixit
                      s
                      Steve RE: ipsedixit Oct 7, 2012 09:42 PM

                      5.6 miles from Hong Kong Pearl to DC, which is something like 6 minutes via I-66. The free parking at HKP can make it quicker to get into than finding a parking space in the District.

                      Arlington, Virginia (right across the street from HKP) was supposed to be part of the 10 miles squared that Virgina and Maryland were to give to create the District. The Potomac was to flow through the middle (designed like Paris, with the Seine separating the two halves). So it is damn close.

                    3. re: Chandavkl
                      DanielK RE: Chandavkl Oct 9, 2012 09:04 AM

                      Back on topic, I'm still stunned by this statement from Chandavkl:

                      "Hong Kong Pearl which opened up earlier this year could hold its own in the San Gabriel Valley. First DC area Hong Kong style Chinese restaurant that I can make such a statement about."

                      Admittedly, I've only been once, but I thought dim sum there was clearly inferior to all of the regular MoCo places mentioned on the board: New Fortune, Hollywood East, Oriental East.

                      1. re: DanielK
                        s
                        Steve RE: DanielK Oct 9, 2012 10:19 AM

                        When I go with people who really know the place, I prefer Hollywood East.

                        1. re: DanielK
                          Chandavkl RE: DanielK Oct 10, 2012 10:20 PM

                          Apparently Hong Kong Pearl is hit and miss. I was there on a "hit" day, you probably got a "miss". . We went with some locals (I dragged them there) and they thought it was much better than what they were used to in Maryland.

                          1. re: Chandavkl
                            chowser RE: Chandavkl Oct 15, 2012 11:01 AM

                            This is my feeling, too--it is hit or miss. You have to go when it's really busy. While it is good, I don't think it rivals what I've had, admiitedly in years in SGV or the Bay area, but it is the best in the NoVa area. There have been dishes we've gotten that have been excellent, and some that we barely touch. And, they vary from time to time.

                            I do think they are accommodating and would ask the hostess for a captain who might be able to help on the vegetarian/seafood only option but keep in mind, they'll all be cooked in the same area as meat products so there could be cross contamination. The OP might have better luck at A&J's since you're ordering off the menu, Not dimsum but small plates that might be a change of pace.

                            1. re: chowser
                              Chandavkl RE: chowser Nov 11, 2012 08:17 PM

                              Actually, after going back I would say wildly inconsistent is a better description.

                      2. re: ipsedixit
                        hill food RE: ipsedixit Oct 7, 2012 08:33 PM

                        "yuck" or "good luck! and let us know"

                        dietary restrictions really do suck all the fun out of dim sum. (sorry that's no help, but you gotta play the cards what were dealt)

                        1. re: hill food
                          c oliver RE: hill food Oct 7, 2012 08:51 PM

                          :) And, yeah, it's true. Let me ask. Do har gow have anything other than shrimp? What about those rice flour rolls with shrimp? The green bell peppers with shrimp?

                          1. re: c oliver
                            hill food RE: c oliver Oct 8, 2012 12:13 AM

                            I'm sure pescetarian or even vegetarian dim sum places exist somewhere. there has to be a market segment out there looking for it. but I can't think of one in the DC area.

                            ipse's idea of ordering off the carte and not the 'cart' might be the only way to be satisfied.

                            1. re: hill food
                              Chandavkl RE: hill food Oct 8, 2012 08:13 AM

                              Vegetarian dim sum is only an option in New York, and to a much lesser extent, San Francisco. You can't even get it in LA with its dominant Chinese food scene, and despite the wide variety of other types of vegetarian Chinese food in the San Gabriel Valley. Fish only eaters are out of luck as dim sum items made out of fish are rare--if you're lucky there might be fish balls on the menu, but they often contain bits of pork in them. Maybe one dim sum restaurant out of 10 or 20 will also serve rice noodle rolls made of fish. Pescetarians are probably OK because there are many dim sum items made of shrimp, the only issue being whether animal by products are used in the preparation.

                              1. re: Chandavkl
                                ipsedixit RE: Chandavkl Oct 8, 2012 08:18 AM

                                You can't even get it in LA with its dominant Chinese food scene, and despite the wide variety of other types of vegetarian Chinese food in the San Gabriel Valley.
                                ___________________________________

                                That's not entirely correct.

                                Fine Garden technically serves vegetarian dim sum.
                                http://www.finegardenvegetarian.com/d...

                                1. re: ipsedixit
                                  Chandavkl RE: ipsedixit Oct 8, 2012 08:21 AM

                                  Thanks. Forgot they expanded their menu recently to include dim sum. They didn't have it when I dropped by a couple of years ago.

                                  1. re: Chandavkl
                                    TripleAxel RE: Chandavkl Feb 18, 2013 10:03 AM

                                    What about Ocean Seafood in Chinatown? They've made an effort to create dim sum menus that lists all their vegetarian items together under the Vegetarian heading.

                                    1. re: TripleAxel
                                      Chandavkl RE: TripleAxel Feb 18, 2013 10:10 AM

                                      I wonder how vegetarian those items are, particularly the snow pea leaf dumpling. Lots of apparently meatless dim sum items at large Chinese restaurants include meat broths and fats.

                                2. re: Chandavkl
                                  c oliver RE: Chandavkl Oct 8, 2012 08:30 AM

                                  Yeah. I took a newly minted vegan for dim sum a few months ago while we were both in SF. Turns out the amazing eggplant had shrimp paste in it. She laughed and said "no wonder it tasted so good!" And I generally find that most of the cart ladies English is quite limited so communicating effectively is iffy.
                                  ETA: And my Cantonese is limited to a few food dishes.

                                  1. re: c oliver
                                    hill food RE: c oliver Oct 9, 2012 01:05 AM

                                    it is easier if one can roll with the punches, laugh it off, and eat raw spinach for a week, or pray, or both. and (excepting anaphylaxic shock) the world moves on.

                                    1. re: hill food
                                      c oliver RE: hill food Oct 9, 2012 08:02 AM

                                      A perfect act of contrition would probably do the trick! And, yeah, except for those with allergies, it's just one dish in a lifetime of wonderful meals.

                              2. re: c oliver
                                chowser RE: c oliver Oct 15, 2012 11:03 AM

                                They could contain lard.

                                1. re: c oliver
                                  a
                                  aaamanda RE: c oliver Jan 25, 2013 12:38 PM

                                  Just saw this article yesterday:
                                  http://www.buzzfeed.com/luckypeach/th...

                            2. monkeyrotica RE: MyKitchen Oct 9, 2012 07:41 AM

                              I thought Pingpong Dim Sum in Chinablock was pretty decent, better than the Dupont location. They do a couple veg dishes like springrolls and a few tofu-centric items, but for the price, you're better off hitting Silver Spring/Wheaton (early).

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: monkeyrotica
                                d
                                drewpbalzac RE: monkeyrotica Oct 9, 2012 12:46 PM

                                Oh no - you said something nice about a chain . . . . prepare for the wrath of CH!

                              2. g
                                govmoneynvegas RE: MyKitchen Oct 10, 2012 08:01 PM

                                Dim Sum in DC is dead.

                                Everyone moved to MD and then NOVA.

                                NOVA has China Garden in Rosslyn, which is good. Mark's Duck house is overrated as a dim sum place, but they're cooked pork and duck is the reason to go there, not the dim sum. I haven't been to the new place - Hong Kong Pearl.

                                Maryland has a ton - Red Pearl, Oriental East, New Fortune, etc.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: govmoneynvegas
                                  s
                                  Smokeater55 RE: govmoneynvegas Nov 11, 2012 05:00 PM

                                  11/3/12 Red Pearl in Columbia is closed. Phone does not work. Sorry it had great Dim Sum and was my go to place.

                                2. Bob W RE: MyKitchen Oct 11, 2012 09:14 AM

                                  Just thought I'd throw out the newest NOVA dim sum place -- Golden King in Sterling.

                                  We tried it a couple weeks ago. We got there near the end of dim sum service, so the selection was not what it normally be, but what we got was fresh and hot (not always the case at NOVA dim summeries, even at busy times, if you get the wrong cart). We will be back for sure.

                                  The rest of the menu -- at least the takeout version we got -- looks meh, but perhaps they have the usual secret menu for the cognoscenti.

                                  1. b
                                    Bart Hound RE: MyKitchen Nov 13, 2012 05:58 AM

                                    How about The Source? It's just off the Mall downtown and they only do dim sum on Saturdays but Tom S from the Post loves it.

                                    9 Replies
                                    1. re: Bart Hound
                                      ipsedixit RE: Bart Hound Nov 13, 2012 07:38 AM

                                      Uh ... no.

                                      1. re: ipsedixit
                                        b
                                        Bart Hound RE: ipsedixit Nov 13, 2012 10:30 AM

                                        Uh, why?

                                        1. re: Bart Hound
                                          ipsedixit RE: Bart Hound Nov 13, 2012 10:34 AM

                                          Because that would be like answering "PF Chang's" when asked "What's the best Chinese in DC?"

                                          (Although given the quality of Chinese food in DC, that answer might not be far off)

                                          1. re: ipsedixit
                                            b
                                            Bart Hound RE: ipsedixit Nov 13, 2012 10:50 AM

                                            Really?!? The Source is not a chain, is it? Is the hangup that it's not owned/run by Chinese person or family? Or is it because it's not "real dim sum" vs some sort of Americanized/fusion thing?

                                            I've never been there for their dim sum lunch but I've had a couple dumpling dishes which I thought were very good.

                                            1. re: Bart Hound
                                              ipsedixit RE: Bart Hound Nov 13, 2012 12:53 PM

                                              Really?!? The Source is not a chain, is it? Is the hangup that it's not owned/run by Chinese person or family? Or is it because it's not "real dim sum" vs some sort of Americanized/fusion thing?
                                              +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

                                              It's because it's not real dim sum. It barely qualifies as fake dim sum.

                                              The Source is part of Puck's (ever growing) empire. It's about as close to a chain as one can get without technically being called as such.

                                              The hangup is not that it's not Chinese, it's just that it's not dim sum.

                                              I've sampled Puck's Asian-inspired dim sum offerings at WP24. They taste ok, but given their price point, they become less than ok.

                                              It's one thing to say that The Source has good tasting food (which is debatable); it's entirely another thing to say that The Source has the best dim sum, or *any* dim sum, in the DC area (which is laughable).

                                              1. re: ipsedixit
                                                monkeyrotica RE: ipsedixit Nov 14, 2012 03:36 AM

                                                Second this. I tried the "dim sum" at Puck's Five Sixty in Dallas. It looked far better than it tasted. And for what I paid for the privelege, it really should have tasted like something. It was like crawling behind the steering wheel of a Maserati, turning the key, and nothing happened.

                                                1. re: ipsedixit
                                                  Chandavkl RE: ipsedixit Nov 14, 2012 07:39 AM

                                                  You'll appreciate my WP24 story. I ordered some kind of chicken dumpling and my first thought was that "Hey, this isn't bad." My second thought was "This tastes familiar." My final thought was "This tastes just like Trader Joe's frozen chicken siu mai"--at probably 20 times the cost.

                                                  1. re: Chandavkl
                                                    ipsedixit RE: Chandavkl Nov 14, 2012 07:44 AM

                                                    Yeah, but the extra cost was for the view, no doubt.

                                              2. re: ipsedixit
                                                Chandavkl RE: ipsedixit Nov 13, 2012 11:46 AM

                                                Unfortunately the truth is not that far away from what you say. I think Ping Pong might be the best dim sum within the city limits. (Shudders.)

                                        2. d
                                          DCDOLL RE: MyKitchen Nov 17, 2012 05:07 AM

                                          i like Fortune in bailey's crossroads VA. there are always lots of chinese people in there and my friend who goes with me is half chinese (her mom is from Taiwan) and she's been there several times and says it's authentic. i especially like the dumplings and noodle dishes and yummy turnip cakes, broccoli and pea shoots. if you go for lunch during the week it isn't too crowded. i understand weekends are slammed.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: DCDOLL
                                            monkeyrotica RE: DCDOLL Nov 19, 2012 03:36 AM

                                            Fortune, Mark's Duck House, and XO Taste are all within a half mile of eachother. Some dim sum items are better at one, but lousy at another. The last couple times Fortune has been such an ordeal, I usually opt for the other two places. Smaller but I can usually get a seat without waiting 45 minutes.

                                            1. re: monkeyrotica
                                              d
                                              dpan RE: monkeyrotica Nov 19, 2012 03:54 AM

                                              Just a note. XO Taste does not serve dim sum Hong Kong Pearl, right across the street from the Eden Center off Wilson Blvd, is a large HK style banquet hall with pretty good dim sum.

                                              1. re: dpan
                                                alkapal RE: dpan Nov 20, 2012 11:19 AM

                                                ditto on hong kong pearl post. we're going for thanksgiving!

                                          2. f
                                            flavrmeistr RE: MyKitchen Nov 17, 2012 05:08 PM

                                            Has China Bistro reopened? Seems I heard it was closed a while back for renovation.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: flavrmeistr
                                              DanielK RE: flavrmeistr Nov 18, 2012 07:47 PM

                                              They were closed from roughly mid-February to mid-April. Complete dining room renovation, but no changes in the kitchen - dumplings still great as ever.

                                              1. re: DanielK
                                                f
                                                flavrmeistr RE: DanielK Nov 19, 2012 07:34 PM

                                                Good to hear. The chive, shrimp and pork dumplings are the best.

                                            2. w
                                              wholefoodie315 RE: MyKitchen Nov 20, 2012 04:24 AM

                                              China Garden in Rosslyn (NoVA, just outside the city) has dim sum brunch on weekends and is some of the best.

                                              1. p
                                                pgm123 RE: MyKitchen Dec 31, 2012 09:24 AM

                                                Does anyone have an opinion on the Dim Sum at Tony Cheng's? I went there during the week, so it wasn't a real dim sum experience (no carts, for example), but it said they do the full service on the weekends. Is it any good?

                                                12 Replies
                                                1. re: pgm123
                                                  monkeyrotica RE: pgm123 Dec 31, 2012 09:46 AM

                                                  Even by Chinablock standards, Tony Cheng's dim sum is pretty meh. I'm pretty sure they don't make it inhouse but get it trucked in from Fortune. I haven't had much luck having anything there that wasn't mongolian bbq.

                                                  1. re: monkeyrotica
                                                    p
                                                    pgm123 RE: monkeyrotica Dec 31, 2012 01:50 PM

                                                    The Mongolian bbq was the downstairs restaurant, if memory serves. I'll avoid Tony Cheng's, though. I had my suspicions it was poor, but the photos of famous people enticed me. I had a solid tripe dish, but most of the dumplings were not very good. This was a few years ago and nothing was good enough to inspire me to go back.

                                                    Is there any good Chinese food in Chinatown (it doesn't have to be Dim Sum).

                                                    1. re: pgm123
                                                      monkeyrotica RE: pgm123 Dec 31, 2012 01:57 PM

                                                      China Boy is still a seedy, hole-in-the-wall guilty pleasure.

                                                      1. re: monkeyrotica
                                                        Chandavkl RE: monkeyrotica Dec 31, 2012 02:13 PM

                                                        +1 and the only place I could recommend.

                                                        1. re: monkeyrotica
                                                          alkapal RE: monkeyrotica Jan 4, 2013 01:52 PM

                                                          i think china boy is where i used to buy fresh rice noodles there in chinatown.

                                                          1. re: alkapal
                                                            ipsedixit RE: alkapal Jan 4, 2013 02:26 PM

                                                            Yup, fresh rice and flour noodles. Sheets if you prefer.

                                                        2. re: pgm123
                                                          d
                                                          DCDOLL RE: pgm123 Jan 15, 2013 09:39 AM

                                                          i like the shrimp dumpling soup at Full Key...yum! but that's all i ever get there...i think one time i got some stir fried veggies that were good but those are hard to screw up...

                                                          1. re: DCDOLL
                                                            hill food RE: DCDOLL Jan 20, 2013 11:37 PM

                                                            Full Kee's dumpling soup - yes, I felt guilty once when I turned a co-worker onto that place (he walked to work from his home on North Capitol and it's on the way) and he reported back he was addicted to that soup.

                                                      2. re: pgm123
                                                        ipsedixit RE: pgm123 Dec 31, 2012 11:19 AM

                                                        No. It sucks. In fact, the entire restaurant sucks. Even the ice water there sucks.

                                                        1. re: ipsedixit
                                                          Chandavkl RE: ipsedixit Dec 31, 2012 01:39 PM

                                                          Which actually describes Chinese food in DC Chinatown in general except for China Boy on Sixth St.

                                                          1. re: Chandavkl
                                                            ipsedixit RE: Chandavkl Dec 31, 2012 02:57 PM

                                                            DC has the worst Chinese food of any major city with an actual Chinatown.

                                                            1. re: ipsedixit
                                                              Chandavkl RE: ipsedixit Dec 31, 2012 04:21 PM

                                                              Probably explain why Jean-Bertrand Aristide was exiled there before he returned to Haiti.

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