King's Land Chinese Seafood at 2200 West Alameda Avenue has been one of the top dim sum restaurants in Denver for the better part of two decades. But with so few options in town for the Cantonese-style weekend brunch, losing King's Land at the end of 2018 put a serious dent in the scene. In fact, there are only a handful of Chinese restaurants left in the metro area that offer full dim sum service, so we've listed them all here — ranked with the best first.
1. Super Star Asian
2200 West Alameda Avenue
Of all the dim sum parlors that dot this part of town, the most consistently excellent is Super Star Asian, a bare-bones cavern whose back wall is lined with seafood tanks. Cart-pushers traverse the dining room, which is full even on weekdays, offering such standards as barbecued-pork buns and shu mai, shrimp har gow and chicken feet. Selections are most plentiful on the weekend, but if you don't see what you want from the extensive list of dumplings and snacks, you can ask for it. We always make sure to get the turnip cakes, crisp-edged and sided with plummy hoisin, and then something sweet from the dessert cart. Nighttime at Super Star gives way to feasts: XO crab or lobster, cod in black-bean sauce, pork belly with preserved cabbage, and roasted duck, which should be ordered in advance.
2. Star Kitchen
2917 West Mississippi Avenue
Star Kitchen is considerably smaller than Super Star, but no less bursting with variety. Fried turnip cakes and taro balls, egg-custard tarts, pork buns (both sweet and savory, baked and steamed) and har gao jockey for space with glazed chicken feet, cubes of mango gelatin and and perfectly spherical sesame balls. It's all a little overwhelming, but come back for a slower-paced dinner to enjoy live-tank specials, an array of noodles from chewy yee-fu to Chou Zhou-style, and an excellent XO sauce smothering shrimp, scallop or coiled rice noodles.
3. The Empress Seafood Restaurant
2825 West Alameda Avenue
The dim sum collection is impressive at the Empress, where servers push trolleys full of such staples as pork-stuffed shu mai, shrimp-filled har gao, crispy turnip cakes and peppery pork buns. You can order other specialties from the menu, including delicate crabmeat dumplings, pork ribs in black-bean sauce, and pan-fried bean curd (i.e., tofu skin) rolls. We never miss an opportunity to eat Empress's custard buns; the doughy puffs crack open into sweet, eggy centers. Like all the dim sum purveyors in this corner of the Mile High, Empress sees huge crowds on the weekends; go on a weekday if you want a more leisurely paced lunch.
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4. China Jade Dim Sum & Seafood
375 South Federal Boulevard
Don’t mistake this China Jade (on the south side of the Far East Center) with the China Jade in Aurora. This smallish version of a standard dim sum hall lacks the point-and-serve push carts, opting instead for sushi-style menus so that guests can check off their favorites in Chinese, English or Vietnamese. (A standard menu is also available, with more of the promised seafood.) We always start with savory barbecued-pork buns in both the baked and steamed varieties. Other must-haves include glazed duck breast in a sweet and fatty jus, gelatinous turnip and sausage cakes and rice-flour crepes swimming in sweet black sauce. Sesame balls with sweet bean centers make a perfect dessert to accompany a pot of green or chrysanthemum tea.
5. Emperor Palace
6700 West 120th Avenue, Broomfield
Emperor Palace doesn't quite rise to the level of the best dim sum palaces in Denver, but it's a handy stop if you live in the northern suburbs and are craving a filling weekend brunch of dumplings, steamed veggies, barbecue ribs and round after round of tea. Rice steamed in taro leaf, pork buns and sugarcane shrimp are all good bets, but service and consistency across all offerings keeps this Broomfield eatery from becoming a mainstay.