deangold

China Garden, Twin Towers Mall in Rosslyn - Weekend Dim Sum with Large Banquet and Tour Bus Facilities Available - Moving to Rockville Pike in July

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It was the kind of meal where the more we ate the less satisified I felt, resulting in eating too much yet still alking away wanting a good dim su meal. The tarts, fresh out of the oven and still hot were a treat. Service was spotty.

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The MontCo Dim Sum Comparo has now morphed into the Metro DC Dim Sum Comparo with this first outing to China Garden in Rosslyn. It was... all right.

As everyone could attest to, finding the place and then finding parking was a wee challenge. The restaurant is very conveniently located about 1 block from the Rosslyn Metro station, in a highly visible building (the Gannett building with the WJLA-TV news ticker). There is free underground parking in the Gannett building's garage. However, this is a very popular restaurant, and there was a lot of stopping and waiting and blocking aisles going on. Once you manage to get past the vehicular mess and park, look for an exit to the shops level. Follow the noise.

rbh warned us to get there early, and this was very wise advice indeed. The +1 and I arrived 45 minutes before our planned dim sum time, and it took a little over that long before there was a large table available. The restaurant looks quite large inside. They can handle banquets of up to 600 attendees, so its size is comparable to New Fortune. However, it's popular with Chinese tour groups - as we drove up we saw a bus unloading its hungry passengers - and parties of all sizes were in for long waits.

The table arrangement at China Garden can be unfortunate. There were some large tables placed with no easy aisle access, and we were (alas) seated at one of them. It took a while before carts threaded their way to our table, and I think some of the food reflected the odd traffic flow. We were quickly supplied with the basic accoutrements, but food was slow in coming by at first.

The cart traffic overall did not seem as plentiful here than at the other places we've sampled - we learned quickly to grab several orders of whatever came by because who knows if that item would ever come around again? Example: har gow and char sui bao are two of the absolute standard dishes that every dim sum place has. I saw each item come by our table just once in the 90 minutes or so that we were there. There were fleeting glimpses and tantalizing rumors of sweet items, but it wasn't until the very end of our meal that the glimpse turned into reality. Some of the items we got were lukewarm, and some seemed to have seen better days (like the string beans). Can't blame the time of day for this - China Garden serves dim sum from 11:30am to 3:00pm, so we were there at the middle of service and the place was absolutely packed. Rapid turnover should have ensured some level of freshness, but it just wasn't there.

But what of the food, you may ask. It was certainly not bad - we're not talking Good Fortune here - but very little was all that impressive. There was a steamed dumpling filled with veggies like chopped baby corn and mushrooms that I rather liked. There was some love shown for the stuffed tofu and the shrimp/chive dumplings. We were lucky enough to get the egg custard tarts while they were still quite warm - the crust was light and flaky, and the filling was custardy with just a touch of sweetness. This was easily the best dish of the meal, and it was certainly the best egg custard tart I've ever had either here or in SF. I thought most of the other dishes were pretty pedestrian - certainly acceptable, but not worth a detour. The har gow wrapper was thick and yet too fragile, the steamed spareribs with black bean sauce were lacking in black bean flavor. Not once did I see my beloved cheong fan making the rounds, but perhaps that's just as well. Tendons and chicken feet were available on the carts (not bad but nothing special), but tripe had to be specifically ordered.

The worst part of the meal was the table next to ours - they had ordered dishes off the menu, and it all looked so good! I spotted a whole fried fish and a whole roast duck. Darn.

With tip, our meal was $15 per person.

I'd rank China Garden next to Silver Fountain - worth going if you're in the area and hungry for dim sum, but not worth a special trip. It may say something that we spent the last half of the meal discussing when we should schedule our next visit to a better dim sum place.

Edited by perrik

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While the dim sum may not have been all that good, we were in good company. I believe I spied a table of restaurant folks from the likes of Tallula, 1789, and Restaurant Eve

I enjoyed the combination dumpling the most - it had a lot of fresh cilantro in it, which gave it some good flavor. Of course the one thing I didn't get to try was the custard tart! I did try the chicken feet (my first time ever!) and they weren't bad. I'm not sure how other 'connaisseurs' of chicken feet would rate them, but to me it seemed to be all about the sauce, which was tasty if a bit thick. Not sure if I'll be ordering them on my own, but at least I tried 'em.

<moved from the DimSum Sunday thread>

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I hadn't heard anything about China Garden in awhile, dim sum or otherwise. I'm always impressed at the sheer size of this place - they have banquet facilities for up to 600 people (i.e., they cater to large tour groups, not that there's anything wrong with that).

A lunch order of Szechuan String Beans ($5.95, ordered spicy, with no pork and no MSG) was sub-par, even for this type of homogenized restaurant. There was just too much salty oil in the somewhat wrinkled, but not quite dry-fried, sauteed beans, and it was a thick oil, the kind that leaves a margarine-like film on your lips, and has you running for the sink when you're done. It had a good kick from the pepper flakes, however, and wasn't terrible (I don't think it's possible for such a simple dish to be terrible).

One bite of the chicken in the Moo Goo Gai Pan ($6.95) - which was so white it looked like a scallop - gave me a twinge of guilt regarding my mom, who has this in store for her later today. Then again, she told me she's been craving Chinese food and I know she'll love it. :D

Cheers,

Rocks.

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Had dim sum at China Garden on Sunday for the first time in many years. It was very good. In fact, I was checking it out in order to plan a group outing in a few months for about 30-40 people. I need to pick a brunch/dim sum place that is metro accessible. However, when I called to make a reservation, I was told that it's first come first served, and that the only way they would accommodate us if our entire group showed up at the same time. That just ain't gonna happen -- There is no way a group of 30-40 people is going to show up "on time." Maybe they are used to accommodating bus tours. I'm going to try again and see if I can speak with someone else, but if anyone has had an experience going there for dim sum with a group, I'd love to hear about it.

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However, when I called to make a reservation, I was told that it's first come first served, and that the only way they would accommodate us if our entire group showed up at the same time.

Did you ask to have it in the banquet facility?

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Anyone been lately?  We have a dim sum Sunday coming up later this month and am hoping the current fare is better today than it apparently was in 2006!

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Anyone been lately?  We have a dim sum Sunday coming up later this month and am hoping the current fare is better today than it apparently was in 2006!

I've never been for weekend dim sum but the quality I've experienced from occasional lunches there would not make me very optimistic.

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I've never been for weekend dim sum but the quality I've experienced from occasional lunches there would not make me very optimistic.

Anyone been lately?  We have a dim sum Sunday coming up later this month and am hoping the current fare is better today than it apparently was in 2006!

I'm pretty sure they still rely on the tour-bus trade. I don't want to say for sure, but I *think* they do.

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A bunch of us were just there last weekend for a Big Chinese Anniversary Banquet. The food was ... well, good enough for a banquet hall full of old Chinese people, anyway. Usually if you screw up, they let you know. Mercilessly.

All the hits. Deep-fried crab balls. Shark-fin soup. Roast duck. Yi-mien noodles (which they CUT, WTF?!?!?) Okay, THAT part I had a bit of a problem with. Is anyone paying any attention back there?

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A bunch of us were just there last weekend for a Big Chinese Anniversary Banquet. The food was ... well, good enough for a banquet hall full of old Chinese people, anyway. Usually if you screw up, they let you know. Mercilessly.

All the hits. Deep-fried crab balls. Shark-fin soup. Roast duck. Yi-mien noodles (which they CUT, WTF?!?!?) Okay, THAT part I had a bit of a problem with. Is anyone paying any attention back there?

There was something about this post I loved - not sure what, but I loved it.

Could be because it's 4 AM and I can't sleep, but regardless, I loved it.

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You know, if you measured this place among the echelon of dim sum places across the DMV area, I'm certain it would not end up anywhere near the top. However, if you put it up against any of your choices in the direct, very easily metro-accessible DC area, this is the place to be for a real dim sum experience. Is it excellent in any regard? Probably not. But if you're craving dim sum, it will absolutely make you smile. From the discourteous bully of a hostess, to the shiny red and gold decor, to the alternatingly pushy or disinterested cart ladies, this immediately rang my bell. It felt like home.

You could do far, far worse than China Garden, and frankly, I never leave unhappy.

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I completely agree with belowparallel!

I've felt that way exactly, and was always surprised at the number of bad reviews here and elsewhere.

It really does hit the spot for a place that is very accessible. It's a pain getting to Silver Spring for DS...

S

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China Garden for dim sum on Saturday morning.  We got there just as they opened, so there was no worry getting a seat.  In fact, there were tables available the whole time we were there.  

When you arrive early, you are almost inundated by carts.  We had four different carts a the table before we could even take our seats.  We were seated at the side of the room along a wide aisle, so there was always a flow of carts by our table.  Once a few more tables showed up, it was easier to pace ourselves.  One benefit of getting there early is scoring egg custard tarts.  I saw one cart with a few of these on it as we came in and I snagged an order to eat later.  It was the ONLY time these ever went by and my guess is they sold out of these yummy treats early.  

China Garden had all the usual dim sum dishes you would expect to see.  Everything we tasted (too numerous to mention) was fresh, hot and good to very good.  They also offer full menu service during dim sum, which was nice for the member of our group who isn't a dim sum fan.  I noticed up-thread a number of posters indicated there are better options in the 'burbs.  I found the offerings at China Garden to be as good as those at Silver Fountain, New Fortune and Hollywood East.  

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According to an article in Arl.now today, China Garden may be terminating it's lease at the request of the property owner who wants to convert the space to two more television studios. Permission is being sought from the Arlington County Board. 

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I had lunch here today. They indicated that they are moving to Rockville Pike in July....but please don't hurry to get here before they leave!

I chose the scallops and shrimp sauteed with Chinese broccoli off the daily specials menu. It was bland as bland can be, and not very substantial. This place strikes me as a tired, old, Americanized Chinese restaurant that isn't trying very hard.

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13 hours ago, Kibbee Nayee said:

I had lunch here today. They indicated that they are moving to Rockville Pike in July....but please don't hurry to get here before they leave!

I chose the scallops and shrimp sauteed with Chinese broccoli off the daily specials menu. It was bland as bland can be, and not very substantial. This place strikes me as a tired, old, Americanized Chinese restaurant that isn't trying very hard.

They're going to be (and currently are) working tour buses with Chinese touring groups. This is a hidden, but high-dollar sector of the restaurant industry.

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I was once invited to a client's Christmas party here.  He was a native of Hong Kong.  It was a multi-course meal that was very memorable, both because of good company, and good food.  

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11 hours ago, pras said:

I was once invited to a client's Christmas party here.  He was a native of Hong Kong.  It was a multi-course meal that was very memorable, both because of good company, and good food.  

What decade was this?

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I wonder what the Chinese tourists think of their food.  I certainly didn't like it.  Maybe they cook differently for them.

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42 minutes ago, hopsing said:

I wonder what the Chinese tourists think of their food.  I certainly didn't like it.  Maybe they cook differently for them.

I suspect they know when the Chinese tour buses are arriving, and have the appropriate personnel on hand - I doubt it's anything revelatory, even at full-throttle.

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I wouldn't think them capable of Peter Chang-quality cuisine, but I thought it would be possible for them to cook more authentically but simply for the Chinese.  Maybe home-style cooking which would be a yawn for the tourists but revelatory or at least nostalgic for me.  Why do many restaurants relegate tofu to only the vegetarian section of the menu.  Tofu tastes great with pork!  How about beef with cauliflower (like my mother used to make) instead of beef with broccoli all the time.  How about more Chinese vegetables like bok choys, daikon, and gai lan instead of American broccoli and snow peas all the time.:rolleyes:

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On 4/21/2017 at 7:01 PM, Rhone1998 said:

What decade was this?

It was this decade, a couple of years ago.

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