By Assunta Ng
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
Where do you go for great food, fast service, and variety? The Chinatown/International District (ID).
The ID will satisfy any hungry folks on a limited budget. The second alternative is to visit a dim sum restaurant. There are nine dim sum restaurants in the ID alone, within three blocks of each other. This article will focus on four of them.
If you have a large group of family members or friends celebrating holidays together, what better place to dine than at a dim sum restaurant.
Dim sum, meaning “heart’s delight,” is one of the most popular Cantonese lunches in Seattle.
The more guests in your group, the more variety you can experience. There are as many as 30 different dim sum varieties in each restaurant.
If you have a sweet-tooth, you are in heaven — desserts such as sesame seed balls filled with lotus paste, black sesame seed balls, egg tarts, rice cake, sweet buns of all kinds, and coconut cake are available.
While many mainstream restaurants will be taking a break on Dec. 25 or Jan. 1, ID dim sum restaurants never close.
On weekends, they are usually packed. Most dim sum restaurants don’t take reservations.
Because there are nine of them in the ID, you can always find a seat. Even if they are full, you don’t have to wait too long because of the quick turn-around time.
Once you sit down, food carts and freshly brewed Chinese tea will be served. All you have to do is to point to the plates that look appealing to you. If you don’t know what it is, just ask the wait staff. Most speak some English, and can tell you, “Shrimp, pork or …”
Usually, there are three to four items in an order, so it’s good to bring a group of friends. My ideal count of guests is to bring four to 10 people. If your group consists of four people, and there are only three meatballs or hum bows, just ask the wait person to cut it so everyone will get a taste.
For about $10 per person, you can taste as many as six or seven items with four people. Most of the dim sum chefs are owners too, so they are particular about maintaining quality.
How can you tell if a dim sum restaurant is good? Judge it by its freshness and heat. If it is cold, you shouldn’t eat it unless it’s meant to be served cold, like the mango pudding dessert.
Most dim sum has either pork or shrimp. If you are Muslim, you can order beef balls, chicken hum bow, beef stir-fried noodles, and Chinese broccoli.
516 Maynard Ave. S.
Newly remodeled, Honey Court restaurant is often crowded. Eighty percent of its customers are Chinese-speaking, especially during lunch.
It also offers the newest dim sum, featuring many tasty Toishanese items. Each region in China has a slightly different style of dim sum.
Try the delicious chicken pie, and steamed spareribs on top of cheung fun (wide noodles). Also, their steamed rice with spareribs or chicken is excellent. If you are adventurous and bold, try the beef tripe and stomach. They are very authentic.
House of Hong
409 8th Ave. S.
Newly remodeled, House of Hong’s Mr. and Mrs. Po Lee returned a few months ago to run the restaurant themselves. It is one of the largest Chinese restaurants with a seating capacity of over 300, so you need not worry about not getting seats.
The dining area is comfortable and spacious, so you can have an intimate conversation with friends. Since reopening, it has added new items. The owners are working hard to improve its quality and variety to satisfy its new and old customers. My non-Chinese friends give a thumbs-up for the Hong.
Jade Garden Restaurant
424 7th Ave. S.
Jade Garden has been around for more than 15 years. It is famous for its siu mai and meatballs. They are perhaps the most popular items among non-Chinese customers.
Its pineapple bun with bbq pork, bbq pastry, egg roll, and egg tart are exceptional. If you don’t see your favorite dim sum, you can always order them and the kitchen will be glad to make it for you.
If you are vegetarian, ask for the rice roll (cheung fun) with three kinds of mushrooms, Chinese broccoli, and Hong Kong-style fried noodles with veggies.
Ocean Star Restaurant
605 7th Ave. S.
New owners took over the former Sun Ya Restaurant last year and did a thorough job remodeling.
A huge restaurant with a capacity of over 300, seats are always available. Ask for its colorful, bilingual dim sum menu with nice photos of each item, just in case you miss seeing some of those foods in the cart.
Wow! The menu is listed with 56 types of dim sum. Why does it have more items than other restaurants? It’s because it includes many dinner items, such as salt and pepper shrimp, Mandarin ribs, clams with black bean sauce, roast pork, BBQ pork, and roast duck.
Now that’s quite a variety for lunch. And for your holiday celebration, a feast is what you and your family would enjoy.
Assunta can be reached at email@example.com.