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Forbidden City opens in old Lieu’s Chinese restaurant space in Parkland

green beans

Walking into Lieu’s in Parkland always was such a treat with the glitzy stuck-in-time decor that few Chinese-American restaurants still carry. 

Old timers will recall when the longtime Tacoma Chinese restaurant closed in 2012, but reopened in 2013. About three years later, Lieu’s closed permanently, which was heartbreaking and also was the beginning of a flurry of closures for Chinese restaurants. Those closures included Imperial Dragon in Tacoma (2017), Jade Palace in University Place (2017), Tea Leaf in Parkland (2017), Emperor’s City in Orting (2018), Royal Box in Lakewood (2018) and Main Garden in Puyallup (2019). Honestly, we still haven’t rebounded from the steady five-year loss of Chinese restaurants, so it’s significant when a Chinese restaurant opens in the area. Find a list of most Chinese restaurants in the area here)

Forbidden City in Parkland.

That’s why I’m happy to report the opening of Forbidden City in the old Lieu’s space in Parkland. They’ve been working on the building for more than a year. Forbidden City opened Thursday (January 21, 2021) with a limited take-out menu.

I’ve left messages with the owners and will update this post if I hear back about a few questions I have. 

Here’s what I know now: 

dining room
The dining room of Forbidden City in Parkland. There’s a new floor, but it still looks like the old Lieu’s Chinese Restaurant in Tacoma.


The dining room is closed for dine-in service due to current restrictions. The interior looks nearly untouched from its days as Lieu’s. There’s a new floor and a few minor decor switches, but much of that fancy decor remained. 

That tray ceiling in the main dining room is still festooned with shiny gold tiles and elaborate etchings ring the dining room. That just-as-elaborately-decorated banquet room just beyond the host station still carries the same ornate decor. 

Wait, what’s that? A small bar has been added to the front of the restaurant, but it’s unfinished at the moment. 

Shumai and shrimp dumplings from Forbidden City in Parkland.


Readers have asked since the sign went up – is this a relaunch of the old Forbidden City that operated in downtown Puyallup until around 2013? I’ve left messages with the Parkland Forbidden City owners to verify, but in looking at the licensing, the Wu family operated the Puyallup Forbidden City. The Parkland Forbidden City that just opened is owned by Shi Yong Xing, according to licensing. 

Also, the menus are vastly different, so I have my doubts the restaurants are related. 

A trio of dishes from Forbidden City in Parkland.


The menu spans several pages and lists a range of classic Chinese-American food, plus Szechuan and other regional Chinese. 

While the menu is enormous, they’re not serving all of it yet. A front counter worker told me when I picked up my order that they’re only serving a portion of the menu for now. He didn’t know the timeline for when they’d be adding more to the menu. 

He very proudly told us they would offer hot pot when the restaurant opens for dine-in service. The menu lists four broth choices – spicy, beef, seafood and vegetable – with customizable lists of noodles, veggies, seafood and meats to add to the pots ($18.99 to $22.99). 

Shrimp dumplings from Forbidden City in Parkland.

They’ll also have tabletop grilling with a seafood menu that looked pretty interesting. 

Here’s a link to the menu, but remember that not all items are available: https://e9583d15-7d39-4562-81c2-3bdcc36ac827.filesusr.com/ugd/c6f0f2_55b168b94c67445683be0726e74df72d.pdf 

Tip: If you go to their online ordering menu at https://forbidencity.menufy.com/ you’ll see exactly what is available right now, just so you don’t get your heart set on something that’s not available. 

back entrance
The rear entrance of Forbidden City is closed for entry.


Please note: you used to be able to enter Lieu’s from the back door, but all customers must come through the front door. That means you might have to park in the back and walk to the front entrance. There’s a lot of parking in the back, but the front is limited to just a few spaces. If you park in the back and walk to the front, be careful while walking to the front because the driveways are narrow.

sesame balls
Find sesame balls on the appetizer menu at Forbidden City in Parkland.


I loved the green beans in  a heavy-on-the-garlic sauce. I spotted dumplings on the appetizer menu so I picked up shumai and shrimp dumplings. They were inexpensive and tasty. The sesame balls were as chewy as I wanted them to be and filled with sweetened red beans. 

pork dish
An order of twice-cooked pork from Forbidden City in Parkland.


12151 Pacific Ave. S., Tacoma; 253-548-8888


Menu: https://e9583d15-7d39-4562-81c2-3bdcc36ac827.filesusr.com/ugd/c6f0f2_55b168b94c67445683be0726e74df72d.pdf

A po’boy sandwich from Verone’s Italian Kitchen & Sausage Company in Fircrest.


Did you catch my story about Verone’s Italian Kitchen & Sausage Company opening? Check it out here!