I’ll be in DC for a few days next month. I wouldn’t mind trying some Chinese food that’s a little different from the generic eggroll and vegetable fried rice fare. Any recs?
There’s a small Chinatown around 7th and H Streets, NW. Get off at Gallery Place/Chinatown Metro and walk around. There are a variety of Chinese restaurants there that are Chinese owned but I’m not sure how “authentic” their cuisine is. I’ve only been to a few so I can’t give you any recommendations. There is a Mongolian Barbeque there which I’m particularly fond of, but that’s about it.
Well here are my two favorites…
Mr. Chen’s in Woodley Park (just a few houses down from the metro stop) - it’s an unassuming hole in the wall but they serve ‘organic’ chinese food. Very yummie, especially the royal purple fried rice
Paul Kee in Wheaton (extreme end of the red line, Maryland) - it doesn’t get more authentic then his place. 95% of the clientele is chinese and I have seen some bizarre dishes on his menu (marinated pork intestines, sea urchin, tripe soup, fried duck tongues, etc, etc). And all of that for dead-cheap prices. So you 'l have to leave town but it’s worth the trip if you’re looking for truly authentic chinese cuisine opther then egg-rolls and fried rice
An Arky, Mr. Moto and I had lunch at Lei Garden in Chinatown. If you like dim sum, you’ll want to pay this place a visit. Do try the beef tripe; it was delicious.
Full Kee, Full Kee, Full Kee. Get the roast pork with noodle soup. Thank me later.
I’ve always been partial to Peking Gourmet Inn, near Bailey’s Crossroads. There’s a place in Chinatown that has the best wonton soup ever, but for some reason I can’t remember the name.
I’ve never had anything less than a great and fresh Chinese meal at P.F. Chang’s. There are a few locations in the D.C. Metro area so technically it’s a chain restaurant and therefore some purists will be offended at the mention. However, I heartily recommend it. Get the lettuce wraps for an appetizer. You’ll not regret a single mouthful.
Gah! I’m hungry now…
I’ll second that place. The Szechuan Beef Proper is delicious.
It’s not strictly Chinese, but the East Street Café in Union Station is delicious Asian food that runs a long lap around the whole Pacific Rim. The green curry is just slightly hotter than I can tolerate for a whole meal, but delicious; the gyoza are a nice appetizer; the house special is a Korean ginger pork dish that gets raves from all of my friends. I also recommend getting Thai iced tea (strong with sweet cream added) to complement the spices.
The atmosphere is great for people-watching, since the restaurant sits on the top floor of Union Station and one “wall” of the dining area is a balcony railing – you can watch tourists mill around the second floor while you eat. Whichever way your politics lean, take note: I once saw Tom DeLay eating there. That doesn’t change my recommendation of the place one iota, because I didn’t get his opinion of the food. One of his secret service guys had the ginger pork, though, and also liked it a lot.
Full Kee, by the way, is cash only – but so worth it. Regarded by many people as the best Chinese food in the area.
If you like sesame chicken, find a Charlie Chang’s. It’s a small chain and they have the best sesame chicken I’ve ever tasted. I think their main restaurant is the one in Shirlington (28th & S. Randolph Streets, Arlington - 1 block from 395); their newest satellite restaurant is in Crystal City (23rd & S. Clark Streets, just off Route 1). They also have some fast food places inside malls, like Tyson’s Corner I.
City Lights is quite good. It’s on Connecticut Ave, I believe between R and S streets.
Definitely Full Kee! And there’s also a little place on the corner diagonally across from Full Kee that’s excellent. I can’t remember the name, but it’s small and white, and in the window you will see ducks and strips of pork, and sometimes a chef making noodles. All of their roast meats are excellent, except for the barbecued duck tongues which I have not yet worked up the nerve to try.
Putting on my “I’ve lived in China and I know what real Chinese food tastes like,” there are only two places that scratch my itch: City Lights at Dupont Circle is pretty good, and there’s one place on H Street in Chinatown that is a hole in the wall – unfortunately, I have no idea what the name is. Most of the rest of the places I’ve been to, especially the ones in Chinatown, have disappointed me, if for no other reason than they refuse to make simple dishes that every Chinese would know how to make, but that just don’t happen to be on their menu.
However, my strongest recommendation goes to a Korean restaurant: Woo Lae Oak, which is right near the Pentagon City mall. It is the most authentic Asian food in the area, IMHO.
If you care to try Vietnamese food instead, there are several excelent Pho resturants around town (Pho 75 in Adelphi and Rockville is fantastic-and cheap), and if you’d like a more complete Vietnamese menu, there’s a place called The Green Papaya on Elm St. in Bethesda that is truly outstanding.
That’d be Chinatown Express.
…And I’m pretty sure that’d be Full Kee.
If you find yourself in the suburbs, namely Columbia, try Hunan Manor. They have a regular “American Chinese” menu, but they also have a “Traditional Chinese” menu. It’s blue and in Mandarin. It’s so good that we drive there from Pennsylvania a few times a year. We make reservations there for the Chinese New Year every year as early as possible because the wait is often an hour or more. I recommend the Spicy Beef Tendon as an appetizer, and their soups are all very good too. Reguardless of where you go, if there are a lot of Chinese speaking customers, chances are the food isn’t going to be that bad.
I will second Chinatown Express and Lei Garden. Or you might try some of this blokes recommendations.
If this is the chinese restaurant that you enter by going down the stairs into a basement kinda place, then I’ve been there. Can’t remember exactly, but it was a peace offering on warring factions - one wanted sit down italian. two didn’t care the other didn’t want to waste time actually eating during their only 4 hours available to them in the city… - the last one was me.
It was outstanding and, we found out later, a 5 star zagat place.
Woo Lae Oak is excellent, but I heard they shut down the Pentagon City restaurant and are moving to Tyson’s Corner. I don’t know when the new restaurant opens, but the sign is already up (it’s on Route 7, just east of 123).