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Full Kee, Cantonese on Columbia Pike in Bailey's Crossroads - Unrelated to Full Kee in Chinatown and Full Key in Wheaton

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I don't know if I went on an off-night, but I thought Kee was terrible. Or I ordered the wrong stuff - seafood - I felt like I was chewing on rubber.

Grover and I went to the Full Kee in Bailey's Crossroads and I made the same mistake you did. Unfortunately, my memories of the Full Kee in Chinatown made me order the seafood. First, last and only time we've gone there. Shrimp that had obviously been frozen, squid like little whitewall tires...

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For what it's worth, I've twice had the oyster casserole at the Bailey's Xroads Full Kee, and it has been every bit as good as the Chinatown version, which is very good indeed.

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ladle   

Ate at Full Kee in Bailey's with 2 friends over the weekend. I've been now twice and haven't been disappointed. Service was great, even at 3:30 in the afternoon. We ordered three dishes to share - the beef and broccoli, schezwan chicken, and orange chicken. Two of us also ordered wonton soup and the waitress recommended that we share a large bowl of shrimp wonton instead - great rec by her. Everything was great, very flavorful with a good amount of spiciness. I think Full Kee may be my favorite Chinese place in NoVA. It's the closest I've had to date to what I actually ate when in China!

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Pat   

I discovered that I had unexpected errands to run in Baileys Crossroads this morning, so, near the end of my rounds, I stopped into Full Kee to order some food to bring home. (I had, cleverly, remembered to bring an insulated bag with me :P ). I paid and the gentleman at the counter said that it would be 5-10 minutes for the food to be ready, so I said I'd be right back. I walked across the shopping center to get a few things I needed at Trader Joe's and walked back in the door 15 minutes later. I took two steps inside and the gentleman presented me with my carryout bag. He was there waiting for me. That's service :) .

The food stayed hot all the way home, despite the fact that I'm braindead today and made two wrong turns, probably adding half an hour to my trip ;). The steamed dumplings were good but I can't say much more, since I wolfed them down. I was really hungry. I taste-tested the eggplant in spicy garlic sauce, which I love. I restrained myself, because I wanted to eat much more. The rest will be reheated for dinner. The only thing better would have been if I had remembered to ask for extra rice.

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Note to the management at the Bailey's Crossroads location:

If you're going to smoke in the kitchen (and it would be really nice if you didn't) you might want to do it somewhere so that customers in the restaurant can't see you. Oh, and you might also want to let the guy up front - the one who chops up the chicken and ducks - know that if he's going to sneak a piece or two of chicken (it is good), that he might need to wash his hands after he does that. Wiping them on the towel on the counter probably doesn't cut it from a health/hygiene perspective. Or, maybe he could come and eat it in that hidden spot that you find for your smoking.

YUCK!!

I've had decent dishes before (always carry-out) like the shrimp dumpling soup and some of the lunch specials, but the Beef and Chinese Broccoli with Chow Foon wasn't one of them. The noodles were separated from everything else - the everything else was a tasteless, brown gravy with too much corn starch in it along with some overcooked carrot slices, the chinese broccoli and some thick but tender slices of beef. There was nothing remotely interesting about any part of this dish (what little of it I ate).

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chaofun   

Wondering if anybody has been here recently. I walked by waiting for my car getting serviced at Radley Acura and noticed they are open till 2am like their sister restaurant XO Taste.

Last time I went which was over a year ago, I remember it being quite good.

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DonRocks   

Last night, after having nibbled on some leftovers at the normal dinner hour, I put my head down, started working on this website, and poured myself into it. When I looked up, it was after 1 AM! I was hungry, and had no food in the house.

I turned to the Late Night Dining Guide (you need to be signed in to see this) which, thanks to some of our wonderful members such as chaofun, is now up to 66 restaurants which offer service after midnight! I made a couple calls, and on this Monday night, got a couple of "Oh, we closed our kitchen early this evening," which I find understandable but irksome.

But Full Kee was open, and in honor of chaofun's help, I ordered him. I *never* order Chow Foon because it's so often glop, but Full Kee's Dry Stir Fried Beef Chow Foon ($11.95) was anything but - they waited until I arrived to fry it (because it only takes a couple minutes), and it was piping hot (a critical trait), not greasy, was fried in very clean oil, not overcooked, and spiked with just the right amount of dry beef. It was the antithesis of everything I normally detest about Chow Foon, and it was delicious.

Sitting on the passengers seat of my car was a mixing bowl (which had been sitting on a heated seat) and a fork. Before driving away, I transferred the Chow Foon into the bowl, and by the time I got home, it was gone.

Thank you, Full Kee, for coming to the rescue of a hungry, late-night worker at 1:30 AM.

PS - Full Kee's menu features Cantonese, Hong Kong, Szechuan, and Hunan style cuisine. I asked the owner what he felt they did best, and he said Cantonese and Hong Kong. "Szechuan and Hunan are on the menu because they're easy," he said. I also asked him what one dish he'd order here late at night. "The same one you did," he replied.

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DonRocks   

Full Kee in Bailey's Crossroads is completely unrelated to the Full Kee in Chinatown and the Full Key in Wheaton. It is an independent restaurant that's open until 2 AM, 7 days a week (!), and does not get enough love in this or any other community. I have had it ranked in Italic in the Dining Guide for years, but haven't visited it in far too long; I decided to give it a thorough follow-up, and visited three times.
 
First of all, take note that Full Kee (website) advertises being open until 2 AM, 7 nights a week - that alone puts it in a tiny handful of DC-area restaurants of any quality that can make such a claim.
 
On my first visit, for a consistency check, I ordered the exact same dish I last had here a couple of years ago, from the "Casserole" section of their menu: Beef Brisket with Turnip Casserole (Nồi Bí² Kho Củ Cải Trắng), $14.95. This dish was exactly the same as I remember from before: steamed rice, with a stew-like casserole set into thick, brown sauce (I almost want to say "gravy"), featuring two things, and two things only: large, barely-bite-sized pieces of brisket, with plenty of tendon thrown into the mix; counterbalanced by equally large pieces of turnip, cooked until soft (which is not always the case with turnip). To get the most out of this dish, I recommend managing your bites to include both small pieces of brisket and/or tendon, as well as turnip, in the same bite; rather than alternating between the two. Of course, you can always begin by alternating, but you'll quickly see that the bitterness of the turnip is necessary to combat the rather extreme nature of the tendon, which this kitchen is not shy about adding - I'd say that in terms of the beef portion alone, it's about two-thirds brisket, one-third tendon. It's a rich, satisfying, filling dish that is fully on the mild side, and really isn't all that complex - it features primal flavors of beef and tendon, bitterness and softness from the turnip, and some salt from the brown sauce. It needs to be eaten hot, and is really enough for two people to share (preferably with a green; by itself, it's too much of a good thing, and at $14.95, it's very gently priced for the quantity of food that you get).
 
I remembered the clean fish tanks at Full Kee (and they are still clean), but the hanging, roasted whole ducks and chickens in back, near the pass, had slipped my mind. I made it a point on my first visit to ask my server about their whole chickens, and they serve them two ways: Soy Sauce Chicken (Gí  Xí¬ Dầu) and Ginger Scallion Chicken (Gí  Hấp Muối) are both $23.95, and are the exact same amount of food (a whole chicken, cleaved, with some steamed rice). I knew I was going to get a whole chicken, and would have enough for two meals, so I called it in as a carryout order, and ordered the Soy Sauce rendition. Also wanting to try their seafood, and get a vegetable, I killed two birds with one stone by also ordering the fascinating-sounding Eggplant Stuffed Shrimp Paste in Black Bean Sauce (Cí  Tim Dồn Tí´m TÆ°Æ¡ng Đen) for $13.95, which pretty much left me without a clue as to what, exactly, I would be picking up. Okay, so, how best to describe this? Let's start with the chicken, which comes in a very large, rectangular, aluminum baking pan (with lid) - probably 2 feet by 1 foot in dimension. Inside the pan, I found a cleaved chicken (with the head thrown in, but no feet, so be on the lookout for the head), and also a little plastic tub of ... minced ginger and scallions - I had gotten the wrong order, but I hadn't realized that at the time. So I went rooting around in the paper bag for my soy sauce, which I assumed I'd need to pour over the chicken, and found a surprisingly large container of a thickened sauce which surprised me, as I figured the chicken would just be lying there in watery-thin soy sauce. I decided I'd reheat it in the oven, so I dumped the container of sauce on top, and ... oops ... it was my other entree. What this entree was, is diagonally sliced pieces of eggplant, stuffed *with* shrimp paste (now it finally made sense), and what I thought was inexplicably thickened soy sauce, was the black bean sauce. So now, I had on my hands a giant, ten-pound, cooking tray with everything except the steamed rice. Fortunately, I was able to bore out some space for the stuffed eggplant - then I dumped the little tub of ginger and scallions onto the chicken, added another small tub of soy sauce (which was in the bag) onto the chicken, made sure both dishes were separated, put the lid back on, and heated it in a 350-degree oven for awhile.

What emerged was nothing short of spectacular. Even though the chicken - which had been picked up at something close to room temperature - was roasted earlier in the day, it reheated beautifully, and I don't feel the least bit of guilt for reheating a dish that's served "slightly warm" in the restaurant - I like *hot* chicken and I just can't lie. Maybe got back in about 10-15 minutes to unveil my re-interpretation, and everything was just wonderful. I'm glad I kept the two dishes completely separate, because although they were wonderful as compliments to each other, they would be ridiculous mixed together. That said, a little dab of black bean sauce did absolutely nothing to hurt the pieces of chicken; nor did mixing the soy sauce in with the ginger and scallions. The other dish, the shrimp paste-stuffed eggplant, was tailor made to be had alongside (or on top of, if you're a heathen like me) the steamed rice, and these pieces of eggplant were just terrific. You can picture the shrimp paste - it has that same texture as the classic Thai appetizer, Tod Mun (fish cakes), except that it's shrimp paste of course. And I was left staring down a sultan's feast of an entire roast chicken, delicious stuffed eggplant, and enough food for three people. Needless to say, I had this again for lunch the next day, and recommend both, although I personally am not a fan of cold, cleaved, (invariably frozen) chicken, so if you're a white boy like me, I recommend getting this to go, and reheating it for 10-15 minutes in your oven, and with 1-2 other things, such as my eggplant and a green (there's no reason not to round out your meal by getting a green) you'll have a no-fuss dinner for your entire family, and you'll love it, too. Seriously, when it comes to carryout food, this is about as good as it gets.

On my third visit, I doubled down on the roasted birds, despite being sorely tempted by the Scallop Stuffed Shrimp Paste (undoubtedly the same dish I had, but with scallops instead of eggplant). Instead, I went for the Big Daddy, the most expensive dish on the menu, the Whole Peking Duck ($28.95). And a wonderful Peking Duck it was, too, my only quibble being a fairly important one: it wasn't cut as well as a Peking Duck should be. In particular, it relied on uncut legs for much of the crispy skin, as opposed to having it shaved from the body meat (that was there too; just not enough of it). Other than that, it was $28.95 well-spent, and the pancakes were of good quality, albeit in slightly short supply. It would have been more in proportion to get 2-3 more pancakes, but they had a very neutral scent, and that is not always the case with this dish - often you will get pancakes that smell of rancid oil (I'm sorry to tell you that and ruin your next Peking Duck, but it's often true). I want to give this dish another try here, because I think they can do even better - it was an off-night, and I'm unconvinced their "A-List" Duck Cutter was working on this evening. For now, I have to say it's better than average, and certainly in the very good category, but it's not quite at the top level of Peking Ducks that I've had in this town. (Mark's Duck House, in its prime, may get that prize, but I've also had good versions at Duck Chang's and Peking Gourmet Inn as long as twenty years ago - it's time for someone (me?) to do a city-wide Peking Duck evaluation). I adore this dish, I have no clue if it's authentic or Americanized, and I don't care - I adore it, and it's sooo good with Red Burgundy from the Côes de Beaune, like a Volnay or a Pommard (there is a credible rumor that Mark's Duck House "used to" (cough, cough) let people bring their own wine.)

So Full Kee batted 4-for-4 in my three visits, with not a clunker in the bunch, but with some dishes showing greater potential than actual greatness. They remain in Italic in the Dining Guide, and must be considered one of the best, if not *the* best Cantonese restaurant in Northern Virginia right now - granted, that's not saying all that much, but it's saying something. Chinatown in San Francisco this is not, but especially with the whole-chicken dishes, you probably won't go wrong at Full Kee, unless you go to the wrong Full Kee.

---

ETA - I went back again and got another Whole Peking Duck ($28.95), and it was *much* better in terms of having crispy skin that didn't simply come from breakaway leg meat. I seem to remember there's usually more light meat than this duck had (I'm well aware that ducks have darker meat, but isn't the breast meat slightly lighter *relative* to other parts of the duck?). Regardless, for the money, this was really good value, and provided more than two full meals, with plenty of sauce and scallions left over. I also asked for two extra pancakes, and they gave them to me without charge. Count me a fan.

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naxos   

So glad to read your report! Full Key is a neighborhood place for us. We had stopped going regularly for no particular reason and recently started going again. We always enjoyed the soy chicken but have never tried the duck. Their greens and clams in black bean sauce were regular dishes for us. A change I noted last Sunday were the shrimp dumplings in the Hong Kong noodle soup- they used to be mostly shrimp and now taste mainly of garlic( not usually a problem but I was expecting the dumplings we had enjoyed for years)Maybe an aberration that night, but I will give it another try.

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rbh   

When I was there with a group a few weeks ago, when I asked which chicken to get, the wait staff immediately said the ginger scallion chicken..... the flavor is much better than the soy sauce chicken and they were absolutely right.  One of the usual dishes I get at Cantonese places is the seafood tofu casserole.... which didn't disappoint here.  The fried tofu with vegetables was also tasty as was the har mon vermicelli noodles (like the chow fun that Don described.... not greasy at all).  The one stinker in the lot was  the sizzling scallops in black pepper sauce.  the scallops were a little overcooked and then the suace just made them rather goopy.

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hopsing   

Based on Don's review, I am re-motivated to pursue my quest for ç‚¸å­é›ž (crispy fried chicken).  This is a popular dish in NY Chinatown but hard to find here.  I made my mother year's ago write down the Chinese characters so I could show it to a waiter and see if they had it because on menus it can be called many things.  Years ago, I made that request at Full Kee.  They said they would make it if I ordered it a day in advance.  I've never done so but will try to do so soon.

If Don is going to survey Peking Duck places, don't forget China Wok on Route 7 in Vienna (TJ Maxx strip mall).

My favorite chicken dish  ç‚¸å­é›ž  looks like this.  Usually served with shrimp chips, which are also addictive when not stale.

zzj.jpg

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jasonc   

I remembered the clean fish tanks at Full Kee (and they are still clean), but the hanging, roasted whole ducks and chickens in back, near the pass, had slipped my mind. I made it a point on my first visit to ask my server about their whole chickens, and they serve them two ways: Soy Sauce Chicken (Gí  Xí¬ Dầu) and Ginger Scallion Chicken (Gí  Hấp Muối) are both $23.95, and are the exact same amount of food (a whole chicken, cleaved, with some steamed rice). I knew I was going to get a whole chicken, and would have enough for two meals, so I called it in as a carryout order, and ordered the Soy Sauce rendition. Also wanting to try their seafood, and get a vegetable, I killed two birds with one stone by also ordering the fascinating-sounding Eggplant Stuffed Shrimp Paste in Black Bean Sauce (Cí  Tim Dồn Tí´m TÆ°Æ¡ng Äen) for $13.95, which pretty much left me without a clue as to what, exactly, I would be picking up. Okay, so, how best to describe this? Let's start with the chicken, which comes in a very large, rectangular, aluminum baking pan (with lid) - probably 2 feet by 1 foot in dimension. Inside the pan, I found a cleaved chicken (with the head thrown in, but no feet, so be on the lookout for the head), and also a little plastic tub of ... minced ginger and scallions - I had gotten the wrong order, but I hadn't realized that at the time. So I went rooting around in the paper bag for my soy sauce, which I assumed I'd need to pour over the chicken, and found a surprisingly large container of a thickened sauce which surprised me, as I figured the chicken would just be lying there in watery-thin soy sauce. I decided I'd reheat it in the oven, so I dumped the container of sauce on top, and ... oops ... it was my other entree. What this entree was, is diagonally sliced pieces of eggplant, stuffed *with* shrimp paste (now it finally made sense), and what I thought was inexplicably thickened soy sauce, was the black bean sauce. So now, I had on my hands a giant, ten-pound, cooking tray with everything except the steamed rice. Fortunately, I was able to bore out some space for the stuffed eggplant - then I dumped the little tub of ginger and scallions onto the chicken, added another small tub of soy sauce (which was in the bag) onto the chicken, made sure both dishes were separated, put the lid back on, and heated it in a 350-degree oven for awhile.

What emerged was nothing short of spectacular. Even though the chicken - which had been picked up at something close to room temperature - was roasted earlier in the day, it reheated beautifully, and I don't feel the least bit of guilt for reheating a dish that's served "slightly warm" in the restaurant - I like *hot* chicken and I just can't lie. Maybe got back in about 10-15 minutes to unveil my re-interpretation, and everything was just wonderful. I'm glad I kept the two dishes completely separate, because although they were wonderful as compliments to each other, they would be ridiculous mixed together. That said, a little dab of black bean sauce did absolutely nothing to hurt the pieces of chicken; nor did mixing the soy sauce in with the ginger and scallions. The other dish, the shrimp paste-stuffed eggplant, was tailor made to be had alongside (or on top of, if you're a heathen like me) the steamed rice, and these pieces of eggplant were just terrific. You can picture the shrimp paste - it has that same texture as the classic Thai appetizer, Tod Mun (fish cakes), except that it's shrimp paste of course. And I was left staring down a sultan's feast of an entire roast chicken, delicious stuffed eggplant, and enough food for three people. Needless to say, I had this again for lunch the next day, and recommend both, although I personally am not a fan of cold, cleaved, (invariably frozen) chicken, so if you're a white boy like me, I recommend getting this to go, and reheating it for 10-15 minutes in your oven, and with 1-2 other things, such as my eggplant and a green (there's no reason not to round out your meal by getting a green) you'll have a no-fuss dinner for your entire family, and you'll love it, too. Seriously, when it comes to carryout food, this is about as good as it gets.

I think you got the right chicken dish. Soy sauce chicken often comes with ginger scallion oil on the side.

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DonRocks   

I think you got the right chicken dish. Soy sauce chicken often comes with ginger scallion oil on the side.

Interesting, so do you think my two tubs of 1) minced ginger and scallions and 2) soy sauce constituted the proper accompaniments for the Soy Sauce Chicken, and if so, how should I have used them?

I wrote hopsing a PM, but I'll say it here as well: The roast chickens at Full Kee do not really have crispy skin; in fact, it's neither floppy nor crispy (she already knew this, but I want to make sure everyone else does also - she wrote me back and said the ç‚¸å­é›ž isn't on the regular menu there (I hope it's okay that I'm saying this? I don't make it a habit to repeat Private Messages, but in this case, it seems totally innocuous)).

I like *hot* chicken and I just can't lie. Maybe got back ....

And nobody appreciates my humor. :(

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jasonc   

I typically use the ginger-scallion oil to dress the chicken and rice, trying to get a bit of all three in each bite. I've never ordered it to go, but there is usually a little pool of soy on the plate with the chicken (I've never ordered a full chicken, usually just a half), so I suspect that's what was in the other container  - the leftover soy from cooking the chicken.

This more or less corroborates my account

"Soy Sauce Chicken" on thewoksoflife.com

We didn't show it here but some folks like to have this chicken with Scallion Ginger oil from our Cantonese Poached Chicken recipe but personally, I like the purity of the stewed soy sauce for this chicken,

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DonRocks   

I typically use the ginger-scallion oil to dress the chicken and rice, trying to get a bit of all three in each bite. I've never ordered it to go, but there is usually a little pool of soy on the plate with the chicken (I've never ordered a full chicken, usually just a half), so I suspect that's what was in the other container  - the leftover soy from cooking the chicken.

This more or less corroborates my account

"Soy Sauce Chicken" on thewoksoflife.com

Okay, but the tub of minced scallion and ginger didn't have any oil in it; it was just minced scallion and ginger unless I'm completely forgetting (and it was just last week). And the tub of soy seemed just like a tub of soy; the chicken itself didn't seem like it had any soy in the roasting process. Maybe I'm just forgetting, but I'm remembering this as just a plain, roast chicken, with a tub of minced ginger and scallion, and a tub of soy sauce - no oil other than whatever came out of the chicken, but the chickens had probably been hanging all day so they weren't greasy at all. My impression was that the cook yanked one off the wall, cleaved it, threw it into the pan, and closed the lid. You have me doubting myself, but my first impressions are usually correct. There certainly could have been some light spicing before the bird was roasted.

On the other hand, the recipe you link to uses only two teaspoons of oil for an entire chicken, so it's absolutely possible it was in there, somewhere, and I just didn't really detect it (remember, I had an entire second entree thrown into the pan, and the two were heated up together).

Regardless, this sounds really darned good right about now.

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DonRocks   

Do they have any good lunch specials, like not the typical Chinese-American stuff? Gonna stop by today after buying ski boots...

-S

I wouldn't call these "lunch specials," but they have hanging birds that they'll cleave up for you. Have a look at the menu here - you might enjoy one of the $7.95 soups.

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