Noble Court Restaurant
1644 140th Ave NE
Bellevue WA 98005
Good Dim Sum and Seafood
By: Grant Y
Noble Court is a popular destination for Eastside residents and is known mainly for its dim sum, which is served during lunch all week. As if to remind their patrons that they also serve fresh seafood as well, upon entering the restaurant the first thing you'll notice is a large holding tank of live crab to the right of the entryway. These crabs were lucky for today though, as our team was here to review the dim sum.
(For those unfamiliar with dim sum, we do have a nice dim sum guide that explains everything you need to know about this Chinese cuisine.)
Located close to the corner of 140th Ave and Bel-Red Road in Bellevue across the street from the Safeway, we arrived at Noble Court at the latter end of the lunch rush. We found the front parking lot packed, but managed to secure an empty spot in the back lot.
There is nothing remarkable about Noble Court in regards to ambiance, though it does have an outdoor creek that runs by the room-spanning window. The tables and chairs were the generic polished black variety, while the walls were painted a light pink and randomly decorated with various Chinese ornaments and artwork. You'll notice the carpet shows wear due to all the cart traffic and when we arrived, was littered with bits of food and paper. The large room environment is good for cart movement, but makes it feel cavernous, impersonal and somewhat loud. Extra dishes, utensils, cups and napkins were stored right in the open and made it feel a bit like a cafeteria.
Dim sum came on two carts: steamed items and baked items. On the steam cart, we picked out the Shrimp Ball (ha gow), Siu Mai, Steamed Hum Bow, Chive Dumpling, Fried Shrimp Balls and Fried Tofu.
Our favorite dishes were the the siu mai and shrimp balls. The siu miu was made with moist pork, shrimp and mushrooms, wrapped in a yellow won-ton skin with an authentic orange-style sauce on top. If was juicy and meaty, if not a bit greasy. The shrimp balls had a pleasant chewy texture, with a subtle sweetness to the shrimp. Most importantly, the shrimp balls were made with a thin translucent rice skin - a sign of fresh made shrimp balls (a flat or yellow skin are a sign of freezer grade dim sum).
The fried tofu is different than what you might order off a regular menu, as the dim sum version wraps thin layers of fried bean curd around a pork filling, topped with a oily, gravy-like sauce. The end result is a rich and savory taste similar to the siu mai. While I could feel my arteries happily clog away as I reached for seconds, Bryan was less enthusiastic, noting that the oil and grease was too heavy for his own tastes.
All of us agreed that the hum bow was probably the worst performer of the meal, as the dough didn't raise well, resulting in a smashed look. The chive dumplings also got mixed reviews, with some liking the strong taste and others not.
The BBQ pastry was crisp and very, very flaky indicating a higher degree of pastry skill due to the layers involved-plus it tasted rich and sweet.
The most interesting dish that we encountered was the relatively rare fried shrimp ball, a deep fried ball of shrimp with flat pasta noodles flowing about the surface. Everyone loved the unique mouthfeel of this dish along with the crispy shrimp taste. Steve later wrote however that it gave him the appetizing impression of eating a "severed gorgon's head".
Through our meal, service at Noble Court was smooth, with no major issues. We were seated very fast after entering and the dim sum cart was brought to us shortly after being seated. If anything, it felt a bit rushed to immediately order food, as we were still waiting for our water and tea to arrive. Our water was refilled and dim sum plates were also taken off the table in a timely fashion. It took a little while for our bill to arrive however, but that was the only minor mishap that occurred during our review. It was refreshingly non-aggressive compared to our last experience at Sentosa.
Though we heard from other acquaintances that Noble Court was a bit pricey, we found that for our party of three, we ended up spending $30 for our meal. While we didn't order as many items as in some previous dim sum reviews, the $10 per head cost still provided for a filling meal and was quite reasonable we thought.
Overall, Noble Court is a good bet and does deserve the reputation as a good Eastside spot for dim sum along with the likes of Top Gun.
Tip: Parking can sometimes be rough during the weekend rush and we recommend going as early as possible for the freshest dim sum and to avoid both human and vehicle congestion.
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