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New Luck Toy

Salt and Pepper Spare Ribs

Braised and fried pork spare ribs pieces served a sticky 5 spice dip.

Salt and Pepper Shrimp (Head On)

Head on shrimp wok fried with garlic, jalapeno, yellow onions, and scallions.

Tamari, sesame seeds, garlic, and red chilies.

House seasoned and barbecued pork served with hot mustard, toasted sesame, and pickles.

Hand rolled pork and cabbage egg rolls served with a sweet and sour dip.

Maitake Hot and Sour Soup

Scallion, glass noodles, mushrooms, and bamboo shoots.

Spicy Shrimp and Pork Fat Dumplings

House made shrimp and pork fat dumplings, steamed and served with sichuan sauce, fried shallots, sesame, scallions, and cilantro.

Light battered and fried prawns tossed in a honey mayo served with candied pecan pieces and scallions.

Wok'd Mixed Mushrooms

Shiitake and oyster mushrooms, jalapeno, yellow onion, crushed peanuts, and sichuan.

Duck, pork, hoisin, pickles, and cilantro.


Despite its looks, New Luck Toy is not a Chinese ‘restaurant’

On a quiet stretch of California Avenue, New Luck Toy’s gilded front glints like a gold tooth in a pirate’s grin. Inside, under a canopy of tasseled Chinese lanterns, behold a platoon of golden maneki-neko, 120 strong. The cats beckon manically to their mirror image across the front room of this new-spangled West Seattle bar.

I use the word “bar” advisedly. “It’s not a restaurant,” insist co-owners Mark Fuller of Ma’ono and The Rhino Room’s Patric Gabre-Kidan, a front-of-the-house veteran of Book Bindery and various Ethan Stowell restaurants. New Luck Toy aspires to dive-bardom with beaded curtains, Skee Ball, a karaoke room and a jukebox. (Useful tip: The digital jukebox overrides a house playlist that blasts music raunchy enough to make parents glad the whole place is off-limits to minors.)

It’s not fancy, but dive bar — defined by the Urban Dictionary as well-worn, unglamorous and often serving a cheap, simple selection of drinks — might be stretching it. The drinks are far from simple and the food is quite good. Fuller conceived the menu and tapped one of his Ma’ono lieutenants, chef Khampaeng Panyathong, to keep the kitchen humming.

New Luck Toy ★★½ 

Chinese American

5905 California Ave. S.W., West Seattle


Reservations: not accepted; no takeout; 21 and older only

Hours: kitchen open 4 p.m.-1 a.m. daily; bar closes at 2 a.m.

Prices: $$ (plates $6-$19)

Drinks: full bar; frozen, tropical and tap cocktails; local beers on tap; others by the can or bottle; a house red, white and sparkling wine poured by the glass

Service: swift, efficient

Parking: on street

Sound: earsplitting

Credit cards: all major

Access: no obstacles

The menu covers the essential Chinese-American canon — noodles, dumplings and egg rolls, pork, beef, chicken, shrimp and tofu — but, with fewer than 18 items, offers a tiny fraction of the options you’d find at a typical Chinese restaurant, which this is not. Among other things, they don’t do takeout. They tried it for a few days after opening in late October.

“We could tell it was really going to be a disaster and it was going to make it more of a Chinese restaurant,” says Gabre-Kidan.

It certainly looks like one when you walk in the door. Barbecued ducks and pork loins hang in a glass box through which you can peer into the kitchen. By way of a greeting, a hand-printed note directs customers to the bar in the rear, where those who want a table take a number, as you would at a deli or the DMV.

Count yourself lucky to snag one of the 10 cushy swivel chairs at the bar, which juts out like a ship’s prow under more lanterns. House wines are $6 a glass and cocktails are $8-$9, which does make them cheap in today’s world. Brendan McAuliffe, a former cook turned barkeep, created the list of tropical drinks and frozen slushies adorned with paper umbrellas. An adroit multitasker, he can shake a coconut mojito in one hand and pull a $5 draft with the other. His orgeat-sweetened Mai Tai is finished with a splash of dark rum. His apple jack old-fashioned ripples with orange. The frozen “Lucky Colada” sells like crazy, on a par with the “General Oh Tso Good” fried chicken.

It’s no surprise this dish catapults to the top of the charts since Ma’ono is famous for its fried chicken. Here the chunks of thigh meat have the same ruggedly battered exterior that stays crunchy even laden with a sauce that is neither overly sweet nor overwhelmed with chilies. Want more heat? Bite into one of the bird’s beak chilies the kitchen tosses whole into this and other dishes, including a side of wok-seared long beans.

The mustard-like heat of broccoli rabe contributes complexity to Mongolian beef. Five-spice seasoning lends fragrant warmth to half a barbecued duck, chopped into tender, if boney, pieces. The chicken, beef and duck come with pickled cucumber slices and a heap of steamed rice. Don’t let that stop you from trying the deliriously good fried rice, packed with pineapple, basil and porky Chinese sausage. Noodle dishes include the “Chinese Spaghetti Bowl,” a version of dan dan noodles crunchy with cabbage and mung bean sprouts and tossed with an aromatic but mild sauce of pork, cilantro and Sichuan chilies.

About our restaurant reviews

Star ratings:Assigned by Seattle Times restaurant critics  ★★★★ Exceptional ★★★ Highly recommended ★★ Recommended ★ Adequate no stars: Poor Average price of a dinner entree:$$$$ — $25 and over $$$ — $15-$25 $$ — $10-$15 $ — Under $10

The level of chile heat tends to be moderate. A couple of dishes skewed salty. Saline overload kicked in halfway through the pungent hot and sour soup, dense with maitake mushrooms, bamboo shoots and glass noodles.

The menu is a checklist. You mark your choices and hand it to the server. The food arrives rapidly and all at once. Everything is served in shallow platters, cups or bowls that are disposable and compostable, as are the wooden chopsticks and plastic utensils. It’s all meant to reinforce the idea that this is a bar, not a restaurant. When it’s time to pack up the leftovers, they bring you the lids. “Everyone always over-orders Chinese food,” notes Gabre-Kidan. “We know you’re going to ask for [a box], so why not just start with one.” Ingenious, really.

You aren’t likely to have any salt and pepper shrimp or spare ribs to take home. The former are lightly battered with a hint of Old Bay seasoning and smothered in fried garlic, chopped scallions and sliced jalapeños. The latter are bite-sized nuggets, braised into submission, then deep-fried. Both the ribs and the syrupy side sauce deliver strong notes of cinnamon, clove and star anise from the same house-blended five-spice powder that perfumes the duck. Both are compelling bar nibbles, as are fat egg rolls loosely stuffed with shiitake mushrooms, cabbage and pork; and steamed shrimp-and-pork-fat dumplings dabbed with Sichuan chile oil.

“Here’s a million dollar restaurant idea …” has been a running joke between Fuller and Gabre-Kidan for years. Their friendship dates back to their days at Dahlia Lounge. If the crowds taking numbers here are any indication, they may have struck gold with New Luck Toy, whose name commemorates the West Seattle cafe founded by the late Alan Louie of China Gate fame. It closed in 2006 but its spirit survives, even though this New Luck Toy is emphatically not a restaurant.

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New Luck Toy

New Luck Toy

5905 California Ave SW, Seattle (WA), 98136, United States

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Work hours
MO 16:00 – 02:00 SA 16:00 – 02:00
TU 16:00 – 02:00 SU 16:00 – 02:00
WE 16:00 – 02:00
TH 16:00 – 02:00
FR 16:00 – 02:00
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New Luck Toy - Battery Acid for Love (2002 no label)

New Luck Toy

  • Q:

    How do I reserve the karaoke room there? I can't find a phone number....


    Yeah their number isn't something easy to find. I know they have one because I've seen them use it. Im not 100% sure you can reserve it. It's always been a first come f… more

    2 years ago1 person found this helpful

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  • This is our favorite neighborhood place. The food is so good and hot. Their take out during COVID has been even better than normal. The shrimp is our favorite but the beef is becoming a close second! Fried rice is always a staple. I do miss the buns they had before with the duck or as an extra side. Hoping that comes back soon.

    Get take out from here. You can't go wrong and grab a slushee drink too!

  • Unfortunately, I wasn't as impressed with the food as everyone else has written about it. The biggest issue I had with the food was everything was WAY TOO SALTY.

    Although everything came out in a reasonable time, everything was way too salty. Even with the white rice that comes with some of the dishes, it only barely helped mask the salt. The food came out very warm and definitely spicy where it was indicated on the menu, however I really wish that it wasn't so salty. It really tasted like the dishes called for a teaspoon of salt but instead a few tablespoons of salt were added.

    Another thing that I was a little disappointed in was the fact that the karaoke room was kind of an afterthought. Only one mic worked, and it would always score each singer/song that was sung an 80%, no matter how good or bad you sang. There were a couple times people would come in to the room, and leave their drinks on the benches. When I got in there, there was a lot of mess and empty glasses. The song selection was OK, and had a good mix of all these new songs.

    I don't think I would come here again unless someone I knew was really interested in trying it for the first time, and even then I would still be hesitant...

  • Came here for some late night drinks and food. I really enjoyed this place mainly because they were playing 90s R&B music. I also like the decor. The frozen drinks they have were good, as I tried one of the frozen margaritas.

    As for food, we ordered: Mongolian beef, fried rice, and honey walnut shrimp. Each of these dishes were very good. The Mongolian beef has some spice to it and was served with white rice. The fried rice was very flavorful and came with Chinese sausage. The honey walnut shrimp was my favorite because it was very crunchy and was not overly sauced. All in all, I would definitely come back here to try out other food options and drinks. Definitely a fun spot to hang out at with friends.

    Photo of New Luck Toy - Seattle, WA, United States. Mongolian beef & Honey walnut shrimp, forgot to take a full picture of fried rice.

    Mongolian beef & Honey walnut shrimp, forgot to take a full picture of fried rice.

  • Classic West Seattle. You know appearances can be deceiving. NLT is in a tiny little addition behind a larger building with PLENTY of parking next to the restaurant. Here you will find a charming Oriental food restaurant called New Luck Toy. Unlike most oriental restaurants, the menu is very limited. The majority of the food has some heat to it. However, the flavor is fantastic!

    We chose takeout, and while waiting for our order had a Chinese beer and a glass of wine (which was served in a martini glass.) Service at the bar was awesome! Our food came out hot and fast. We served six people for $75. (That includes our drinks at the bar.)

    Excellent flavor, good portions. A very solid four star performance. We did beef and chicken, but were told by regulars at the bar the shrimp is the best thing on the menu.

    Photo of New Luck Toy - Seattle, WA, United States. Barkeep
  • We finalllllly made it to New Luck Toy after talking about it forever. We really love Mark Fuller's work at Ma'ono and figured this would be a great spot as well.

    The space had a pretty cool vibe, but all of the seating in the back was taken so we grabbed a booth up front. It is definitely set up for more of a social outing than a date, so we would definitely bring some friends back with us if we make it back.

    The food was okay, definitely not Ma'ono, but also a lower price point, so that was expected. We just tried the General tso chicken and the honey pecan prawns, and the clear winner for us was the prawns.

    Overall, seems like a cool place to grab some drinks and cheap bites with friends. Will probably be back!

    Photo of New Luck Toy - Seattle, WA, United States. Honey pecan prawns - super good!

    Honey pecan prawns - super good!

    Photo of New Luck Toy - Seattle, WA, United States. General Tso Chicken
  • Our first time here and it was just ok. I was pretty disappointed in fact. The fun noodle dish was so unappetizing.

  • What an awesome little bar in West Seattle. Really chill vibes with very traditional Chinese food (ma po tofu, dumplings, etc.) and very fun drinks. They make frozen, tap cocktails and cocktails while having 8 or so beers on tap.

    I tried the dumplings which were fantastic. They had little fried chives (or green onions?) as well as fresh cilantro and sesame seeds which added nice flavor and ample amounts of crunch. Sauce they sat in was nice as well, not quite DTF but well worth whatever they cost.

    Tried a few cocktails and my favorite was the Lucky Colada.

    Will definitely be back to hit the karaoke room which is open all day.

    Photo of New Luck Toy - Seattle, WA, United States. Pork fat and shrimp dumplings - do it

    Pork fat and shrimp dumplings - do it

    Photo of New Luck Toy - Seattle, WA, United States. Lucky colada

Number toy new luck phone

New Luck Toy

There’s a reason you always hear about Thanksgiving cooking disasters - people are trying to do way too many things at once. And when that happens, at least one thing tends to get screwed up. Like a pumpkin pie made with salt instead of sugar, an under-defrosted turducken with an ETA of 11pm, or a gravy grease fire really killing the festive mood. Don’t worry, eyebrows usually grow back.

So when we learned that there was a bar in West Seattle doing skee-ball, karaoke, pinball, tiki drinks, and Chinese food, it seemed like a similar situation: too many different balls in the air for it to actually work out.

But somehow, New Luck Toy delivers on all fronts. Coming here on a night out is like stepping into a trippy, dimly-lit Chinese spy movie dream sequence, and it’ll be the most fun you’ve had at a bar in a while. The whole joint is a bizarre explosion of paper lanterns and golden waving cat ornaments, along with the previously mentioned skee-ball machine, a private karaoke room reminiscent of a woodland sprite’s grotto, barbecued ducks hanging from little harpoons in a display case, and possibly the last thing you’d expect at a such a kitschy place: some truly delicious Chinese food.

There are two dining rooms, and once you get a table and submit your order on a paper slip, the dishes you’ll eat here are excellent, creative riffs on Chinese (and Chinese-American) classics. From salt and pepper spare ribs with an addicting five-spice dipping sauce, to shrimp and pork fat dumplings, to perfectly-fried General Tso’s chicken, just about everything here is memorable and tasty. The cocktails, like pink guava palomas, come in tiki mugs and pair really well with the food.

Come to New Luck Toy with a group, take a number to get in line for a table, and put your phone away. You’re going to need everyone’s undivided attention to eat and accomplish as much as you can, and have an excellent time while you’re at it. As long as you save room for a rice krispie treat soft serve sundae at the end, you’ve done it right. If only this place could cater your Thanksgiving, too.

Shrimp & Pork Fat Dumplings

Minced shrimp dumplings tossed in a smoky-spicy-sesame sichuan sauce and topped with fresh green onion, cilantro, and crispy shallot on top. These are a must-order.

Salt & Pepper Spare Ribs

If, for some reason, you black out and forget to check off the spare ribs on your ordering slip, find your server and rectify this immediately. These bite-size ribs are super tender, and taste incredible dipped in the sticky five-spice sauce.

General Oh Tso Good Fried Chicken

Yes, the pun in the name is terrible. But they’re right. This chicken is amazing, and the batter is fairly light, so you can really taste the sweet, spicy sauce. It’s our favorite entree here.

Shiitake Pork Egg Rolls

A valiant effort of an egg roll, with cabbage, ground pork, and shiitake mushrooms - but there isn’t much to the flavor, and the accompanying sweet-and-sour dipping sauce has a weird taste. Skip this.

Honey Pecan Prawns

These are popcorn shrimp on steroids. They’re tossed in a creamy honey glaze, fresh scallions and spiced pecans give the dish some crunch, and oh, would you look at that, they’re all gone.

Mongolian Beef & Bitter Broccoli

Another elevated classic: the steak they use is great quality, and the sauce would taste good on an old shoe.

NLT Fried Rice

This large side of fried rice has cured Chinese sausage, pineapple, and basil. Great to share with a group if you’re ordering a few other things, but not noteworthy enough to get as an entree.

Spicy Pickled Cucumbers

These crunchy cucumbers with fresno chili, pickled onions, chili oil, scallions, and cilantro, have an awesome sesame flavor and are probably the healthiest thing on our rundown. Just beware: they’re spicy.

Soft Serve Rice Krispies Treat Ice Cream

No trip to New Luck Toy is complete without this. It’s a giant cup of vanilla soft serve with rice krispies on the bottom, and spiced pecans and a drizzle of honey on top. Do it.

New Luck Toy - “Battery Acid For Love”


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