Grab a group of friends to hunt down an authentic Chinese brunch this weekend -- dim sum for everyone!
Growing up with two sisters, I always dreaded "the chicken foot test." Long story short, my dad would treat the family to dim sum and see if the boyfriend of the month was up for a dish of chicken feet. Braised in a complex sauce, this dish is actually quite tasty.
Dad jokes aside, dim sum is a wonderful opportunity to try dozens of small dishes without breaking the bank. Served tapas-style, the dumplings, buns, noodles, and roasted meats eventually make up an Asian buffet fit for any Instagram account.
What to Try
For a table of four, you can't go wrong by ordering the classic dishes:
- Dumplings (shrimp har gao, pork siu mei, potstickers, or chive dumplings)
- Fried stuff (spring rolls, shrimp balls with sweet and sour sauce, or fried taro root stuffed with minced pork)
- Buns, baked or steamed, filled with BBQ pork or sweet egg custard
- Noodles (chow fun, shrimp rice noodle crepes or Singapore noodles)
- Roast duck or roast suckling pig
- Flash-fried vegetables (snow pea tips, Chinese broccoli, or baby bok choy)
Finish off the meal with egg custard tarts, soft tofu in ginger broth, or just another pot of tea. Argue over who gets which leftovers, and loosen your belt as needed.
Where to Find It
Fortune (6249 Arlington Blvd. in Falls Church, VA) is the grandpappy of all the dim sum restaurants. It has existed in some form or fashion since the 1970s in the same location and is the best for large groups. The entire back of the enormous dining room is full of 8-tops for big family gatherings. Traditional cart service is very quick here, and don't be surprised if they rush you during peak hours (11 a.m.-2 p.m. on weekends).
Hong Kong Pearl Seafood Restaurant (6286 Arlington Blvd. in Falls Church, VA) is quickly establishing itself as the seafood destination dim sum option in Seven Corners. In addition to traditional dim sum, they serve unique seasonal dishes such as giant oysters lightly steamed with soy sauce and chives. Their shell-on salt toasted shrimp is particularly good.
Mark's Duck House (6184-A Arlington Blvd. in Falls Church, VA) is best known for the roast duck and roast suckling pig, but they serve a great dim sum as well. Traditional cart service should be rounded out with a variety of meats and noodles here. Their beef chow fun is truly delicious when ordered fresh from the menu. Mark's also does a heck of a carryout pig roast for your next luau!
Golden Hong Kong (6396 Springfield Plaza in Springfield, VA) has the distinction of being the furthest south that I could find good dim sum in Northern Virginia. While it doesn't have the variety or cult-like following of the Seven Corners restaurants, the basic dim sum dishes are just tasty enough to justify not driving all the way to Falls Church. Do not miss the salt and pepper fried pork chop and make sure you go with people who don't care if you gnaw on the bone.
Do you have a favorite dim sum spot in the DMV? Let us know in the comments below! Have chopsticks, will travel!