There’s a reason you always hear about Thanksgiving cooking disasters - people are trying to do way too many things at once. And when that happens, at least one thing tends to get screwed up. Like a pumpkin pie made with salt instead of sugar, an under-defrosted turducken with an ETA of 11pm, or a gravy grease fire really killing the festive mood. Don’t worry, eyebrows usually grow back.
So when we learned that there was a bar in West Seattle doing skee-ball, karaoke, pinball, tiki drinks, and Chinese food, it seemed like a similar situation: too many different balls in the air for it to actually work out.
But somehow, New Luck Toy delivers on all fronts. Coming here on a night out is like stepping into a trippy, dimly-lit Chinese spy movie dream sequence, and it’ll be the most fun you’ve had at a bar in a while. The whole joint is a bizarre explosion of paper lanterns and golden waving cat ornaments, along with the previously mentioned skee-ball machine, a private karaoke room reminiscent of a woodland sprite’s grotto, barbecued ducks hanging from little harpoons in a display case, and possibly the last thing you’d expect at a such a kitschy place: some truly delicious Chinese food.
There are two dining rooms, and once you get a table and submit your order on a paper slip, the dishes you’ll eat here are excellent, creative riffs on Chinese (and Chinese-American) classics. From salt and pepper spare ribs with an addicting five-spice dipping sauce, to shrimp and pork fat dumplings, to perfectly-fried General Tso’s chicken, just about everything here is memorable and tasty. The cocktails, like pink guava palomas, come in tiki mugs and pair really well with the food.
Come to New Luck Toy with a group, take a number to get in line for a table, and put your phone away. You’re going to need everyone’s undivided attention to eat and accomplish as much as you can, and have an excellent time while you’re at it. As long as you save room for a rice krispie treat soft serve sundae at the end, you’ve done it right. If only this place could cater your Thanksgiving, too.
Minced shrimp dumplings tossed in a smoky-spicy-sesame sichuan sauce and topped with fresh green onion, cilantro, and crispy shallot on top. These are a must-order.
If, for some reason, you black out and forget to check off the spare ribs on your ordering slip, find your server and rectify this immediately. These bite-size ribs are super tender, and taste incredible dipped in the sticky five-spice sauce.
Yes, the pun in the name is terrible. But they’re right. This chicken is amazing, and the batter is fairly light, so you can really taste the sweet, spicy sauce. It’s our favorite entree here.
A valiant effort of an egg roll, with cabbage, ground pork, and shiitake mushrooms - but there isn’t much to the flavor, and the accompanying sweet-and-sour dipping sauce has a weird taste. Skip this.
These are popcorn shrimp on steroids. They’re tossed in a creamy honey glaze, fresh scallions and spiced pecans give the dish some crunch, and oh, would you look at that, they’re all gone.
Another elevated classic: the steak they use is great quality, and the sauce would taste good on an old shoe.
This large side of fried rice has cured Chinese sausage, pineapple, and basil. Great to share with a group if you’re ordering a few other things, but not noteworthy enough to get as an entree.
These crunchy cucumbers with fresno chili, pickled onions, chili oil, scallions, and cilantro, have an awesome sesame flavor and are probably the healthiest thing on our rundown. Just beware: they’re spicy.
No trip to New Luck Toy is complete without this. It’s a giant cup of vanilla soft serve with rice krispies on the bottom, and spiced pecans and a drizzle of honey on top. Do it.