The Best Chinese Restaurants In Seattle
11 spots for great dim sum, hand-torn noodles, almond chicken, and more.
Seattle is home to the eighth-largest Chinese population in the United States. That means there's a lot of great regional Chinese food to be had, like dim sum, twice-fried pork, cumin-y shaved noodles, and battered chicken whose crunch could feasibly break the sound barrier.
Dough Zone Dumpling House
There are more than a few restaurants in Seattle that serve a wide variety of dumplings, and Dough Zone is our favorite by a hair. They run a speedy operation, and the large windows make people-watching a breeze. A meal here is especially excellent after a blustery morning walking around the International District, because nothing warms us up much better than steamy sesame dan dan noodles, pork q-bao, chicken wontons in hot and sour broth, and potstickers with a brittle cornstarch skirt. We even love the plain broccoli dunked in seafood sauce. If you’re impressing out-of-towners or just feel like popping a dozen xiao long bao in your mouth like you’re playing a game of Hungry Hungry Hippos, Dough Zone will always be waiting for you.
photo credit: Chona Kasinger
Tai Tung Restaurant
Tai Tung was Bruce Lee’s favorite Chinese restaurant in town. That’s not the only reason this place is steeped in history—it also happens to be Seattle’s oldest Chinese restaurant. Here, you’ll find nods to Bruce around the dining room, including cardboard cutouts and a memorial booth. Bruce’s favorite dish was the beef with a rich oyster sauce, and while that’s delicious (especially spooned on top of pork fried rice), Tai Tung also has some standout wonton soup, noodles, and our personal favorite: battered almond chicken that crunches like a heap of October leaves.
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Chengdu Taste is a Sichuan staple in SoCal that made its way to Seattle, and we’re a better city for it. After a few bites of outstanding mung bean jelly noodles tossed in tingly chili and roasted peanuts, it’s easy to whole-heartedly understand why our California colleagues love this place so much. But then you’d be ignoring the juicy wontons in pepper sauce, morsels of cumin-rubbed lamb on toothpicks, spicy dry-fried chicken pieces, and boiled fish soaked in a green pepper stew that lights your mouth up like delicious (and very safe) dynamite. This isn’t the first time Seattle has inherited a new location of a Los Angeles spot, but Chengdu Taste is the first one to really get excited about.
Din Tai Fung
At Din Tai Fung, you might wait anywhere from 45 minutes to a couple of hours for a table while a vortex of small children shriek around you. Luckily, the legendary pork soup dumplings are worth the wait. The rest of the lineup including boiled wontons in spicy sauce, potstickers, pork buns, and sesame noodles are great too, but we all know you’re here for those xiao long bao—so get several orders, and don't forget to add the dry-fried garlic green beans, a.k.a. the best way to consume vegetables that we can think of.
Call up Sunflower Garden for a quick little order, and don't be surprised if you're quoted an hour wait. But this Greenwood spot is worth it for the best Chinese takeout in town. Their wontons in chili oil have a white pepper kick, burst of sweetness, and juicy pork that fuses to each dumpling wrapper. We could eat a tub of those alone and call it a meal. But that'd be ignoring the General Tso's chicken, complete with huge thigh pieces that involve more meat than crackly breading. Or the steak in their beef and broccoli, which chews like it's been tenderized by Glinda The Good Witch wielding a sledgehammer. (The Wizard Of Oz would have ended a lot differently if that were part of the book.)
photo credit: Nate Watters
While the atmosphere at this dim sum institution—accented by boarded-up windows, small nooks, and a lack of carts rolling around—doesn’t exactly hold a candle to the grand dining room at other spots in town, the lineup of Chinese food is Jade Garden’s main attraction. Here, you don’t need any pomp and circumstance. You just need to order a lot of stuff. From overstuffed potstickers and honey BBQ pork hand pies to smoky seared turnip cakes and rice wrappers plump with pink prawn filling, dim sum at Jade Garden is great plain or completely drenched in your own custom blend of hot chili sauce and soy swirled on the plate.
The first time we entered Little Duck, the dining room was silent—nobody spoke or looked at each other. Of course, we initially assumed this was due to a cyborg invasion. But then we ate the Northern Chinese food at this University District spot and suddenly understood. Nothing anyone has to say could be more interesting than dishes like crispy double-cooked sweet and sour pork slices, sauteed corn and pine nuts, spicy dry-fried chicken, and pickled cabbage dumplings that are so flavorful they don’t even need any sauce. In a neighborhood full of speedy counter-service places, Little Duck is the comforting, sit-down restaurant we’re glad exists in the U-District.
If you don’t have any friends but you’re in the mood for dim sum, you either have to order very selectively, or go home with a ton of leftovers that may or may not reheat well. At Dim Sum King, everything is priced per piece, so you could get a potsticker, two siu mai, three rice rolls, a chicken bun, and call it a day. But the best things here are the superb egg tarts. The greatest way to use this place is to swing by in the morning, grab a dozen of those, and be the hero of your brunch party.
The best Chinese food on the Eastside is at Best Wok in Bellevue. The crunchy wonton noodles with duck sauce are perfect, the portions of classics like Mongolian Beef and General Tso’s chicken are pretty big (and excellent for next-day leftovers), and the owners will probably give you a complimentary jello with whipped cream. The most important task while you're in there is to get the salt and pepper chicken wings or simply get out.
Much like pretty much everyone in the entire city, we’re fans of these homemade noodles, especially the famous cumin lamb ones that used to be so spicy that they could probably kindle a bonfire (and are a little calmer now). Regardless, you’ll also want to spend some alone time with the stewed pork burger soaked in drippings and an order of dumplings.
photo credit: Chona Kasinger
Kau Kau Barbeque Market
If you don’t feel like waiting for a table at another Chinese spot in the ID, you’ll be in good hands at Kau Kau. This spot is perfect for a huge family-style meal involving a spinning lazy susan. They’re most famous for their barbecue pork, which we especially endorse with some potstickers, but the lemon chicken is the best dish here.