Nancy Leson offers her favorite spots for dim sum, and we want to hear about your favorites
Food writer Nancy Leson offers some of her favorite places to eat dim sum — Sun Ya Seafood Restaurant, Imperial Garden Seafood Restaurant, Chiang's Gourmet and Top Gun Seafood Restaurant. Now she would like readers to share their favorite spots on her blog www.seattletimes.com/allyoucaneat
Seattle Times food writer
Ask local dim-sum fanatics to name the "best" dim-sum house around and expect a vocal food fight. Its Chinese soundtrack involves the pouring of tea, the click of chopsticks, voices raised around a table in spirited conversation — and no definitive answer. Ask me to direct you to the best dim-sum parlors around, and I refuse to fight. Instead, I'll share the spots where you're apt to find me ogling the sui mai and wu gok, among the shareable snacks collectively known as dim sum.
Where do you eat dim sum? Do tell! Come visit my blog at www.seattletimes.com/allyoucaneat for more on the subject.
Sun Ya Seafood Restaurant
605 Seventh Ave. S., Seattle, 206-623-1670; http://sun-ya.cwok.comDim sum: cart service 9 a.m.-3 p.m. daily with many items available off the menu till midnight.
Years ago, you could call me a regular at Sun Ya — until I threw it over for another, then another of the many dim-sum options in the Chinatown International District. Then, last year, when parking proved tough and Sun Ya's attendant waved me into his lot, I was quickly reacquainted with my old favorite. And when the line for a seat in the dim recesses of nearby Jade Garden proved way too long (again!) on a recent dim-sum foray, I snubbed that local favorite, returning to Sun Ya, where I was swiftly welcomed into a spiffed up dining room to salve my jones for seafood (honey walnut prawns, shrimp-stuffed eggplant); fresh-baked bao and sweet bean-stuffed sesame balls; bright-green gailan; and gravy-soaked bean curd rolls.
The barbecue window off the kitchen and constant parade of trolleys advertise duck, pork and soy chicken, and there's always something special (live shrimp! king crab!) swimming in the tanks up front.
Imperial Garden Seafood Restaurant
18230 E. Valley Highway, Suite 116, Kent, 425-656-0999; www.imperialgardenseafood.com
Dim sum: 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays (no cart service after 2:30 p.m., limited dim-sum menu at dinner).
When the Great Wall Mall made its debut a decade ago, its anchor restaurant swiftly became a dim-sum destination for Southenders. Proximity to Ikea continues to provide devotees of Imperial Garden's cart-attack on a plate, live seafood tanks and Peking duck another excuse to drive to this oversized, elegantly appointed dining room.
Here, the wait (and the waitstaff) is swift, the expansive dim-sum offerings a cut above. A recent Sunday visit proffered fewer of the high-end signatures the kitchen's been known for (lobster dumplings and shark's fin soup) but aced it across-the-board with standouts including salt and pepper prawns (crunched whole in their shell); spice-soaked phoenix claws (you know them as chicken feet) and tender hoisin-sweetened short-ribs sprinkled with sesame seeds.
7845 Lake City Way N.E., Seattle, 206-527-8888; www.chiangsgourmet.com.
Dim sum: 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays only.
My best Chinese buddy insists the city's best dim sum hails from the north, and he echoes the sentiment of many addicted to Taiwanese chef William Chiang's Northern-style dim sum. Get them going and they'll tell you they prefer the bargain-priced weekend-only breakfast served at the utilitarian Maple Leaf location to its Renton sibling (17650 140th Ave. S.E.), and the made-to-order monochromatic starch-fest to the colorful Cantonese fare hawked from rolling carts elsewhere.
I will not argue, having slurped more than my share of chef Chiang's delightfully chewy steamed dumplings and pan-fried Shanghai-style noodles, which, like his barley-green noodles nesting in a delicate broth with an abundance of shellfish, are handmade in-house. I, too, have swooned over twists of fried dough dipped in hot, savory soybean milk (though you might prefer the sweet); flaky layers of rice "cake" sandwiching pork and pickled vegetables; and spare ribs breaded, steamed and flecked with carrot, tasting uncannily like my bubbie's kasha varnishkes.
Top Gun Seafood Restaurant
12450 S.E. 38th St., Bellevue, 425-641-3386; www.topgunrestaurants.com.
Dim sum: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Mondays-Fridays., 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays.
First, you've got to find this low-slung dim sum-ery (off the bend in the road, just north of Factoria Mall). But that's obviously no trouble for the hordes of fans who seek out this low-key, L-shaped kin to Seattle's fussy dim-sum-downtowner O'Asian Kitchen (which you'll find hidden away in the Fifth Avenue Building via www.oasiankitchen.com).
Here in Bellevue, diners take comfort daily in comfort-food classics like shrimp-filled dumplings, pan-fried turnip cake, soft-fried tofu, sweet mango pudding, glazed hom bao. And don't miss the chicken- and egg-laced congee (rice porridge) and the best lotus leaf-wrapped sticky rice I've ever unfurled (starchy, smoky, embedded with ground meat and Chinese sausage).
Nancy Leson: 206-464-8838 or firstname.lastname@example.org
About Nancy Leson
Seattle Times food writer Nancy Leson serves up the best info and tips on Northwest food, cooking, dining and restaurants. Check her latest thoughts in her All You Can Eat blog. Her column appears each Wednesday. Her restaurant roundups appear monthly, on Fridays, in the Restaurants and Entertainment sections.
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When vice president of Sub Pop Records Megan Jasper isn't running things at the office, she's working in her garden at her West Seattle home where she and her husband Brian spend time relaxing.