There are no dim sum places in Shoreline.
I say that with unabashed confidence because my obsession with dumplings knows no bounds — I make it a point to know every restaurant with dumplings within a five mile radius of myself. I also make it a point to visit every single one at least once.
Some may call it obsession, I just call it relentless fortitude in the face of agonizing adversity — the adversity being the distance between my mouth and those delectable dumplings, of course.
And so imagine my excitement as a beacon of light appeared mere minutes away from the bleak, dim sum-less landscape that is the city of Shoreline.
The 3-week-old “Fashion Dim Sum” has been on my radar for months now. Ever since the sign went up, I’ve been consumed by thoughts of barbecue pork buns — the soft wisps of steam billowing out of a freshly torn, creamy white bao, the char siu filling smothered with rich, savory dark sauce…
Needless to say, I was super excited. Was this going to be my Mecca? My home away from home? Was it going to be the place I would be able to go to feel at peace, without fear of being judged based on my ethnicity, gender, cultural background and oily hair? Surely my questionable hair habits would not be looked down upon by my dumpling BFFs as I shoveled their kin down my throat.
I managed to rope my parents into going along with my latest food venture; they had heard rumors of a “piggy bun” (buns made to look like little pigs) being available at this particular establishment and were curious about what that entailed. No matter that the “piggy bun” rumors were from me and that their sum curiosity level was about zero.
“Fashion Dim Sum” is tucked away in a small shopping plaza along Highway 99. It sits alongside a few other restaurants and shops, and from the outside, it isn’t much to look at.
From the inside, the restaurant is nice. It’s small and sparsely decorated, but the tiled floor was spotless and the furniture was practically gleaming from the bright lights.
My parents and I immediately discovered that this was not a dim sum cart kind of place — there just wasn’t enough room between tables — instead, they opted for the pencil-and-paper method of writing out desired quantities next to menu items on a slip of paper.
We spent several minutes scrutinizing the somewhat confusing menu, trying to figure out what a “koi cake” (no. 59) was, as well as making guesses as to what could possibly be inside a dish that looked to be three fake carrots with the cryptic, yet apt name of “carrots” (no. 8). Perhaps… carrots? We would soon find out.
We eventually decided on several menu items, from the safe (no. 6 “shrimp dumpling” or har gao) to the mysterious “carrots.” (For a full list of what we ordered, check out the side box.)
The steamers found themselves on our table at a slow trickle, with the “piggy bun” (no. 1) and the “salted egg yolk bun” (no. 2) being among the first to arrive.
The buns were good, though we were surprised to see that the “piggy buns” were not filled with pork, as one might be led to assume, but with custard. The bao was warm and soft, with creamy, sweet filling, but as my mom said, the draw would be in the Instagrammable photo op and not much else. Out of the two buns we ordered, I preferred the one with salted egg yolk.
The meal was more surprising than anything: the “chive shrimp dumplings” (no. 48) were made with wonton wrappers (as opposed to the translucent har gao wrappers, which is more commonly found); and the standouts were the no. 69 “pork spareribs rice on lotus leaf” (one of our only non-dim sum picks) and the aforementioned “carrots,” which turned out to be filled with a mix of winter melon and peanut butter.
The spareribs and rice dish was perfectly comforting, with generous chunks of pork, steamed bok choy and fragrant white rice on top of a lotus leaf in a steamer. The “carrots” turned out to be sort of like sesame balls — bulging, crispy, chewy pockets with a sweet paste filling. They were pretty dang tasty, but only after I got the bitter taste of lies and deceit out of my mouth. After all, why have “carrots” with no carrots and “piggies” with no piggy?
Another surprise came in the form of the chili oil, which both my mom and I found to be much spicier than we had experienced at other dim sum restaurants. It left a pleasant burn in my mouth for the majority of the meal, which my fiery and slightly masochistic Thai genes appreciated fo sho.
Ultimately, the experience felt a little bit above average — they get points for creativity and for differentiating themselves from the crowd of dim sum places in the International District, at least to some degree. And while the food itself was slightly underwhelming, you won’t find me complaining beyond my daily quota of Acceptable Complaining™ because, in my honest, humble and always-right opinion, the more dumpling places we have in the area (and the more dumplings we have in the Areeya), the better.
Just watch out, “Fashion,” because the Instagram foodies will be coming for you. Myself, included.
What we ordered:
Salted egg yolk bun *
Juicy pork dumpling
Shrimp noodle roll
Chive shrimp dumpling
Homemade soy milk
Pork spareribs rice on lotus leaf *
Address: 22923 Hwy 99 Edmonds, WA 98026