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All I Want for Christmas is Dim Sum in Montgomery County

All I Want for Christmas is Dim Sum in Montgomery County

Every year millions of Americans enjoy a Christmas feast, which, depending on where you’re from, might include a baked ham with potatoes au gratin, roast lamb with mint jelly, or even tamales and posole stew. In some places, you might even see a crab cake or two (*wink!) And like Thanksgiving, for those who host a Christmas feast, it’s usually a labor-intensive affair cooked at home.

But for millions of other Americans, many of whom don’t necessarily celebrate Christmas beyond it being an extra day off work, December 25th is for dining out. And where do they go? Why Chinese restaurants of course! This beloved practice dates back to the late 1800s when many Jewish and Asian immigrants in particular migrated to big cities like New York, and found themselves often in adjacent neighborhoods to one another, free on Christmas day while the Christian world around them was home. 

And since Marylanders like to say that this state is “America in miniature,” with its diverse population and growing number of folks like me who just don’t want to cook a Christmas feast at home, it stands to reason that old General Tso will be a very popular chicken, indeed, come the end of the month. But there are many reasons that Chinese restaurants have enduring appeal during the holiday season. The typically more affordable, family-style dining in many establishments is conducive to the communal table for the whole family to gather around, offering a staggering variety as well to cover everyone’s tastes. And when it comes to variety, no Chinese tradition does it quite like a dim sum restaurant. 

Spread of multiple dim sum dished
Photo Credit:

Dim sum is a Cantonese tea house tradition that dates back centuries, which over time has evolved into a dining experience featuring dozens or even hundreds of small plates full of tasty dumplings, egg tarts, cakes, and crepes of endless variety that diners could enjoy with their tea. Dim sum always feels like a little celebration, which may be why it, too, has enjoyed a notable amount of holiday popularity. 

To the uninitiated, Maryland’s Montgomery County has some of the best dim sum in the state. From Gaithersburg to Silver Spring, the concentrated number of Chinese restaurants that offer various iterations of a classic or abbreviated dim sum menu is truly impressive. Still, you’ll want to be sure to call ahead as some of the restaurants may be open for limited hours, only offer takeout, or require reservations for Christmas Day or Eve. That said, here’s the tea on six places to get that dim sum tea in Montgomery County:. 

Hong Kong Pearl Seafood Restaurant

Earlier this year, Hong Kong Pearl took over the space in Gaithersburg’s Walnut Hill shopping center where New Fortune, a previous dim sum restaurant, was.

Dim sum meal with multiple dishes and tea
Photo Credit: Joseph Peterson
Photo Caption: Dim Sum at Hong Kong Pearl in Rockville, MD.

This fan-favorite location for dim sum in northern Montgomery County features truffle shrimp dumplings and fried turnip cakes among an impressively extensive dim sum menu. 

A & J

Head a little farther south from Gaithersburg and you’ll find yourself in an Asian dumpling winter wonderland with so many dumpling houses and dim sum places in Rockville. Among them is

A & J, much adored by the Washingtonian magazine, which has listed it as one of Metro DC’s 100 Very Best Restaurants. This approachable and budget-friendly dim sum house trades frills for flavor and delivers in spades. Bring a postcard because the spicy sesame noodles and smoked chicken are worth writing home about.

Far East

Staying in Rockville, another great dim sum restaurant to try is the family-owned Far East restaurant. 

Spread of dim sum dishes
Photo Credit: Far East

Traditionally a Szechuan and Hunan-style restaurant with a Long Island Peking Duck specialty, Far East started offering daily dim sum plates in 2013. “We follow the traditional Chinese cooking methods that have been passed down from generation to generation in the Wong family,” the website states, highlighting that the restaurant has been “continuously managed” by the Wong family since 1974. 

China Garden Han Gong

Don’t go anywhere because there’s yet another dim sum restaurant in Rockville, well, North Bethesda, that’s been around since 1973. China Garden Han Gong has a massive dim sum menu with about 60 different items, including two kinds of congee, that humble rice porridge that is as comforting as it is delicious.

Exterior of China Garden restaurant
Photo Credit: Joseph Peterson

And true to tradition, where dim sum is primarily small plates to eat with tea, one mustn’t skimp on the tea! Fortunately for diners at China Garden Han Gong, you can choose from not one, but five different kinds of tea. The theme here seems to be as many choices as possible.

Hollywood East Cafe

While there is a Hollywood, Maryland, you won’t find Hollywood East Cafe there. You’ll have to go to Wheaton for your holiday feast at this Chinese-Cantonese restaurant. And while it is open for business on Christmas day, they do note that it is for preorder or take-out only. But the good news is their dim sum menu is absolutely massive, yet it’s hard not to leave any classics like pork buns or shrimp toast behind. 

Wong Gee Asian Restaurant

Essentially across the shopping center on the other side of the street from Hollywood East Cafe is Wong Gee Asian Restaurant. This Hong Kong-centric eatery serves Cantonese-style barbecue as well as 36 different dim sum small plates. If dumplings are what you seek (and why wouldn’t you be?), they have at least 10 different kinds of dumplings on their dim sum menu. 

Merry December 25th!

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About the Author

New to exploring Maryland, Joseph is always searching for that unexpected gem in unassuming places. From forgotten corners in big cities, to hidden historical markers in the middle of nowhere, he wants to find them all, and hit up every small town, museum, craft brewery and point of interest in between.

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