Best dim sum in DC
Like many of the area’s most popular dim sum depots, Hong Kong Pearl is located in the Seven Corners neighborhood of Falls Church. The venue seems to inspire the most devoted fans, who flock to this no-frills dining room—despite the dicey parking situation—for dim sum served all day, every day until well after midnight. Focus on the seafood, of course, but you’ll also want to try the Singapore curry noodles and spicy pork chops.
Most Washingtonians don’t know that A&J is actually based in California. Never you mind: they will defend it to the death as one of the very best dim sum restaurants in the DMV. With two DC locations—Rockville and Annandale—this is an absolute must-visit. Try anything with house-made noodles, plus the spicy, garlicky cucumber salad and the scallion pancakes.
Don’t want to leave DC proper? Wolfgang Puck’s The Source in Penn Quarter has got you covered with flavorful dumplings. The luxe dining room and brunch cocktails bring the entire experience to the next level and, while the full dim sum menu is only available during Saturday brunch, you can always opt for dumplings throughout the week.
With more than 20 years under its belt, this perennial favorite is regularly packed during prime dim sum hours at lunch and brunch. Pass the glistening, crispy ducks hanging in the window and take a seat in the vast dining room, where you’ll want to order pan-fried chive dumplings, stuffed crab claws and shrimp dumplings. Weekends and holidays bring a roster of specials, including steamed jumbo oysters and abalone dumplings.
Landing a table at this longtime Silver Spring favorite on weekends should be an Olympic sport, but smart diners arrive here before the restaurant opens at 11am to secure a spot. Carts roam the dining room on weekends and holidays with such delicacies as radish cakes, shumai and sweet rice with Chinese sausage. On weekdays, you’ll have to forego the cart experience since the dim sum is only offered from the menu.
Chef and restaurateur Erik Bruner-Yang’s beloved Atlas District hot spot puts its own twist on dim sum with its Sunday brunch, offered from 11:30am–3pm. In true modern-chef fashion, the menu changes and only about 20 items are offered weekly, but devotees love the turnip cake with XO crumble, the mala cucumbers and the pork steamed bao. Adventurous souls will want to try the anchovy peanut brittle. We love anything made by the resident baker, so definitely save room for an egg custard tart (or two). Note that the restaurant takes reservations for dinner but not for brunch.
It’s a little strange to find some of the area’s best dim sum in a shopping mall, but that’s exactly where Hollywood East ended up when it moved from its previous location nearly a decade ago. No matter to all of owner Janet Yu’s groupies, who happily sit in the black and red dining room ogling dishes on carts during weekends and ordering dim sum from the menu on weekdays. Try the glutinous rice dumplings with shrimp and pork and the Hong Kong shrimp dumplings in XO sauce.
The waits are already long at this new ode to Hong Kong cuisine tucked in Shaw’s Blagden Alley, with diners willing to stand by for up to two hours for the chance to try chef Irvin Van Oordt’s kowloon buns and crispy sour potatoes. Van Oordt, who grew up in Rockville, cooked his way from Peru to Singapore to Hong Kong before settling here to sling clams with black bean sauce and Hong Kong-style barbecue. Be aware that the restaurant is currently only open for dinner Tuesdays through Sundays but will likely open for brunch down the line.
If you’re a dumpling maven living in the DMV, chances are very high that you’ve hit this cavernous dim sum den in Seven Corners. More solid places may have emerged since its heyday, but crowds still turn up on weekends vying for a spot beyond the fish tanks full of sea creatures in the entryway. If you’re lucky, you might see a wedding reception happening in the back while you chow down on pork buns, shrimp dumplings and fresh, local crabs in season.
For a relatively new place along one of DC’s most gentrified corridors, it’s heartening to look to your left and right and see diners nonchalantly taking down piles of chicken feet and Chinese broccoli. This eatery brings the homey, casual dim sum parlors usually only found in the suburbs to the bustling 14th Street NW, allowing city denizens the luxury of daily dim sum from 10am–3pm.
You won’t find carts here, perhaps because of its relatively small size, and dim sum is only available all day on the weekends. But this Rockville storefront enjoys a rabid following for its xiao long bao—aka, XLB or soup dumplings, which are extremely difficult to find in this area. (It’s even harder to find them done well.) Add the sheng jian bao, or pan-fried soup dumplings, and the chili wontons to your must-try list.
Available daily from 11am–3pm, dim sum aficionados come here for metal steamers and plates filled with gorgeous renditions of char siu pork buns, shrimp dumplings and sesame balls. Turnip cakes are also popular, arriving at tables via carts tricked-out with built-in griddles. The busiest day of the year here is the kick-off to the Chinese New Year, when the restaurant hosts a lion dance celebration with musicians and costumed dancers.