The Best Dim Sum In Seattle
photo credit: Chona Kasinger
Dim sum is just as much of a Seattle tradition as buying your first North Face puffer jacket. And anyone who has spent the better part of an hour roaming around the International District on a Sunday morning waiting for a table knows we have a ton of great options. Whether you’re looking for a takeout counter with endless rows of dumplings and egg tarts, vast dining rooms with platters of entire fried crabs as centerpieces, or smaller sit-down restaurants where lazy susans spin harder than a DJ deck, use this guide to find all those and more.
Looking for more Chinese food beyond dim sum? We have a guide for that, too.
This International District spot has been around since the ‘80s, and for good reason. The food is always fantastic, the service is fast, and you will leave with leftovers that are even better the next day. On weekends you’ll find hungry people under the marquee waiting for their name to be called and watching roasted duck get meticulously chopped through the window. And once you do sit down inside the two-level dining room, prepare to order so much great food you’ll have to play dishware tetris. But it's worth having to be spatially aware on a Sunday morning as long as plates of black bean spare ribs, delicate shrimp dumplings, and crispy bean curd are ordered.
Across the street from Harbor City is Jade Garden—another classic ID dim sum restaurant. From the outside, this boarded-up building looks pretty tame, but inside is a buzzing dining room with live seafood tanks, baskets of some of the city's best dumplings covering every square inch of the tables, and lazy susans working so hard they should be put on the payroll. The tasty rice rolls are packed with soft shrimp swimming in a sweet soy sauce, and the shine coming off the sticky glazed baked BBQ pork buns can be seen multiple tables over. This place is great for a group hang, but wait times can be very long, so plan accordingly.
To complete the trifecta of great dim sum within a two-block radius in the ID is Honey Court Seafood. And while this spot may not be the best of the three, there are consistently great dishes, like corn and shrimp dumplings or honey walnut prawns. Just know that when trying to score a Sunday morning group table at pretty much any one of these three places, you will need an airtight strategy. Ours usually includes sending the least hungover people from our party as representatives to each restaurant, putting a name down, and then rushing to wherever we can get a table first. Work smarter, not harder, people.
Sitting down for a leisurely dim sum meal is undeniably awesome, but sometimes you just want a few pieces of dim sum on the go. That's where Dim Sum King in the ID comes in. At this small counter spot, everything is priced per piece, making this the perfect place for an indecisive person who wants to try a little bit of everything. Choose from parcels of sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaf, sui mai, and red bean-stuffed sesame balls all packed in to-go containers. But make sure to grab a few egg tarts, too. These little delights have an extra buttery crust and perfectly set custard filling that make them some of the best in town.
Triumph Valley is a Renton Chinese restaurant that specializes in both hot pot and dim sum. And while the tables are set up for a broth-based meal, you should come during lunch to eat some of the greatest dim sum in the South End. Order the deep-fried chive, shrimp, and pork dumplings that puff up like dainty profiteroles, and make sure the stuffed Chinese eggplant overflowing with flavorful shrimp paste hits the table. And if you really want to do it big, get their garlic fried crab, which is an entire crispy crab caked in fried garlic.
Whether you’re showing off Pike Place to out-of-towners or just passing through on your once-a-year visit Downtown, do not leave without a quick stop at Mee Sum Pastry counter. The BBQ pork hombow (get it baked or steamed, both are great) at this walk-up window is excellent, while their curry beef puff and green tea sesame ball with black sesame filling come in at a close second. Get here before 11am to avoid sellout and hoards of tourists.
The stir-fried rice rolls from A+ Hong Kong Kitchen might just be our favorite dim sum dish in the International District. These chewy and griddled rolled-up noodles get doused in a tingly XO sauce and topped with sauteed scallions—and they cost under $15. The menu here is pretty long, but a few orders of these stunning rice rolls and a refreshing sago beverage all make for a great spread. We usually take our dim sum to go, but there are a couple of tables if you want to sit down for a quick lunch or casual weeknight dinner.