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Originally published Friday, February 24, 2012 at 5:31 AM

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Dining Deal

Dim Sum King: inexpensive takeout in Chinatown I.D.

Dim Sum King in the Chinatown International District is a takeout place that offers inexpensive food.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Dim Sum King

Chinese

617 S. Jackson St., Seattle

206-682-2823

Hours: 7 a.m.-7 p.m. daily

Etc: Cash only for orders under $10; Visa and MasterCard accepted: no obstacles to access; street parking; no alcohol

Prices: $

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There are no carts in this dim sum joint — just women behind the counter, waiting for you to shout out your order or point to the chicken feet or other morsels on display.

Dim Sum King is a takeout place, open from morning to evening. I'm not anointing it as the best dim sum in the Chinatown International District, but the benefits are many. It's fast and cheap. The line isn't as long as waiting for a table, at say, Jade Garden on a Saturday morning. You can get those popular shrimp dumplings (har gow) at any hour during the day, every day. And did I mention it was cheap? Twenty bucks will take you a long way here.

The menu: It's your dim sum staples: har gow and other dumplings along with barbecue buns, egg tarts and sticky rice, kept behind the counter or warm in giant bamboo steamers. Most dim sum items cost 50 or 60 cents a piece. There are 32 items on the menu, though not all will be available unless you go on weekends or before 1 p.m. on weekdays.

What to write home about: The egg custard tart (60 cents) is the most popular. The crust is thick instead of flaky and tastes like shortbread, only sweeter. If there's a line, chances are good someone will buy all the egg custard tarts before you can get your hands on them. The kitchen can't make them fast enough. The har gow (50 cents) comes in a decent size, slightly sweet, the shell not too thick.

What to skip: The pork dumpling (sui mai) was too salty. They are stingy with the pork fillings in the sticky rice ($1.50), a big starchy blob wrapped in banana leaf. The rule of thumb: Don't order anything that looks like it's been sitting in the steamer or counter too long. It will look shriveled or dried out.

The setting: It's a typical hole-in-the wall in the Chinatown International District. A few tables are available, though it's not pleasant to eat there when there's a rush of people ordering at the counter nearby. The set up was more designed for takeout.

Summing up: It's a good value. Fifteen dumplings, four baked buns and seven desserts including three egg tarts and two sesame balls totaled $23.38, enough to feed four people. It's best to come on weekends and during lunch hour when the dim sum items come out hot and often from the kitchen.

Tan Vinh: 206-515-5656 or tvinh@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @tanvinhseattle.

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