Longtime owners of dim sum restaurants take their specialties east and north
Macky's Dim Sum, run by the longtime owners of China Gate in Seattle's Chinatown International District, is now open in Issaquah. Bamboo Village, operated by the former owners of House of Hong, opened this summer in North Seattle.
Seattle Times food writer
Hey! What's the big ID? After plying the dim sum trade in Seattle's Chinatown International District, two families have taken their show on the road, opening a pair of far(ther) flung restaurants showcasing daily dim sum while tending to your other Chinese-food needs. I hit the road to track them down, and here's what I found.
Macky's Dim Sum
317 N.W. Gilman Blvd., No. 43, Issaquah; 425-391-7200
Hours: 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Mondays-Fridays; 9:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays.
For 20 years, Sonny and Macky Wong ran one of the Chinatown ID's most happening dim sum palaces: China Gate, where the clatter of dim sum carts rose in concert with the cacophony of spirited conversation and Seattle converged under the grand red facade on busy weekends.
By the time they sold the place in 2008, business had declined and the late-night bar scene all but drove the Wongs to drink. Today China Gate — shuttered in March under new ownership — is a sad reminder of bygone days. But turn that frown upside down! Late last year, the Wongs leased and refurbished the long-running Issaquah bakeshop Sweet Addition, making this sprawling green house one sweet addition to Gilman Village. The city's de facto ambassadors to dim sum dining have hired the friendliest cart-jockeys around and as a team hawk the handiwork of the talented "Mr. Fook," who spent 15 years cooking for crowds at China Gate.
Together they woo dim sum neophytes with sweet pork-filled hom bao, chubby shrimp-filled har gow and deep-fried eggrolls, suggesting pan-fried turnip cake, bright-green gailan ("It's Chinese broccoli!") and steamed Shanghai soup dumplings that weep broth when you bite through the chewy wrappers.
"Try this!" tempts Sonny, rightfully convincing all comers that Mr. Fook's succulent roast pork, thick-sliced and glistening, is every bit as impressive as his roast duck, whose heads no longer hang from a hook in the barbecue case behind the front counter ("people complained!").
Issaquah residents, the Wongs provide this pretty pilgrimage-worthy setting for old fans who knew them when, offering made-to-order dim sum at dinner, along with a day-or-night menu of cross-cultural favorites like Holy basil beef and fried rice in fresh pineapple.
4900 Stone Way N., Seattle, 206-632-8888 Hours: 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays; 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays (cart service till 3 p.m. daily).
If you discount Chiang's Gourmet in Lake City, where Northern Chinese-style dim sum has made the place a weekenders' mecca, it's slim pickin's for Seattle dim sum devotees north of the Ship Canal. Enter Po and Amy Lee, who owned the House of Hong for the better part of two decades before selling it to business partners in 2008.
These days you'll find the Lees and son Daniel catering to neighbors from Wallingford, Fremont and Green Lake in a spacious, brightly lit dining hall decked out with faux bamboo and a big-screen TV, a pair of carts making the rounds by day.
Come evening, dim sum is a la carte — that other "carte" being a shortlist on a table-tent. Then, fleets of families with soccer-cleated kids show up to delve into family-style combos and Cantonese classics with familiar names that rely on descriptors like "happy" and "delight."
On three dim sum-centric visits, I delighted in bright-green spinach-filled dumplings, Shanghai steamed dumplings, chicken feet in black bean sauce, egg custard tarts, challah-like baked onion twists, sesame balls, roast duck and the best (special-ordered) sautéed pea vines I've ever eaten.
Yet I'm apt to wonder whether local dim sum aficionados will be as lukewarm as I was over lukewarm offerings served just after noon during a weekday lunch. Among them: over-sauced and over-sweet honey walnut prawns, rubbery fried squid and two sets of dumplings whose flavorless vegetable innards (green peas, diced carrot and corn) tasted like frozen product.
Nancy Leson: 206-464-8838 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To read her blog, go to seattletimes.com/allyoucaneat
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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