Dim Sum is a fancy Chinese tapas-like cuisine popular in Hong Kong and Southern China. According to fellow Examiner Prairie, dim sum is a brunch-lunch food that features small bites of food, dumplings, and even chicken feet (which are delicious, if you get the braised ones).
I remember eating a few dim sum dishes when my family lived in Hong Kong, and I re-discovered dim sum when I was in college in L.A. There used to be a small deli along the main drag of L.A.’s Chinatown, and Josh and I liked going to that deli to get our dim sum. We actually ate most of our dim sum from that deli, rather than sitting at a dim sum house. I found that I had to blurt out my order as quickly and loudly as I could in order to be served, but it was totally worth it. Usually for about $6, we enjoyed some of my favorites and a few new dumplings each time we went. The challenge was more in finding a seat somewhere in Chinatown upon which to sit to enjoy our food.
When my husband and I visited Seattle, we always went to Jade Garden, a popular dim sum house in the International District. Jade Garden is a whirl of blustery business and busy diners, and it is a great time. We have taken different family members and friends to dim sum, and it’s always fun to eat as much dim sum as we could.
However, sometimes I’m not in the mood for waiting for a table and for pointing at different steam baskets (okay, that’s a lie, I am ALWAYS in the mood for dim sum houses, but sometimes I don’t have the time).
Just that situation arose the other day, after a day at Uwajimaya and Viet Wah grocers, and my husband and I were hungry and in a hurry. Good thing we wandered down Jackson, because we walked past Dim Sum King and decided to poke our heads in.
Dim Sum King drew me for a few reasons. First, you could tell that it was a deli from the storefront. I knew that it would be a quick matter of ordering a few items and we’d be on our way. The other is that King is my maiden name, and I always look twice at places with “King” in the name.
This delicatessen style storefront offers a wide variety of dim sum items that are hot and ready to be placed on a plate or in a to-go box. The menu is written in English and Chinese, so there’s no guesswork required. The items are sold a la carte, so you order just as many dumplings as you want, no more or no less.
Dim Sum King has the classic favorites of Har Gao (50 cents) and Siu Mai (50 cents), and they also offer congee ($1.50), fried sesame balls (60 cents), Chinese donuts ($1), egg tarts (60 cents), and sponge cake ($1). In addition, you can purchase a few different flavors of Mochi for just 60 cents each. The most expensive single item on the menu was the Spareribs with Rice at $2.50 per serving. We ordered 4 items, 2-4 pieces each, and one bowl of congee, and we got away for just under $10. Pretty good bargain, if you ask me.
The dim sum at Dim Sum King is decent. It satisfies your craving at least. The food was hot and fresh, and the line at the counter rarely went shorter than three customers-long. It is not artisanal dim sum at all, but the dumplings were light, flavorful, and traditionally folded or shaped. For a quick dim sum craving, Dim Sum King definitely fits the bill.
Side note: If you are expecting a cheerful welcome when you step into (many) Chinese eateries, you should probably try a different cuisine. American restaurant staff is taught to cheerfully greet customers, but those rules don’t apply in ethnic restaurants. Dim Sum King staff is swift and efficient, but they’re not cuddly and friendly until you get to know them.