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  1. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! Yesterday, I joined a tradition that many Americans celebrate - a feast at a Chinese restaurant on Christmas day. I went with my co-worker and his family to this unassuming restaurant in a strip mall deep in Montgomery County. It is quite difficult to get to - if you put in the address into the GPS, it doesn't quite get you there. When you enter the plaza you think you should be entering, you will approach a roundabout. Don't take it all the way into the plaza - head towards the Hilton and then you'll make a left to get to the back part of the plaza where the restaurant is. I sat down with my friend's family and we caught up. Hot tea was delivered to the table. Now, here is the frustrating part. I know this is part and parcel of "authentic" Chinese restaurants, but it really bugs me. They have a Chinese-American menu and an authentic Chinese menu. The part that is really annoying is the Chinese menu is completely written in a Chinese language script. The only thing in English is the headings ("Pork", "Beef", etc.). There is absolutely no way to try to order from this unless you either read Chinese or have the staff translate every single thing on the menu. I was lucky in that my co-worker's mother is Chinese and speaks/reads the language that was on the menu, plus they have been there several times. They ordered a mix from both menus (I think). You look at the menu at table, and then go up and order/pay (like Joe's Noodle House). We started with the pot-stickers (I think, b/c I have no freaking idea what the dish is actually called). Pan fried and deliciously pork filled. We also got what I assume were XLB/soup dumplings. I like these a lot, don't have a great frame of reference for what is good or not, but these were tasty to me. For the mains, we got (and this is based on me asking Barbara and the server what these dishes were called) "shredded pork and beans", "chicken with spicy garlic sauce", "tea smoked duck", "sour fish soup with vegetables". Very, very tasty. I loved all the dishes. The pork dish was slivers of tasty pork with vegetables and beans and a tasty sauce. I haven't had it anywhere before. The chicken was spicier, and the sauce was a little sweet. The duck was fantastic. Crispy fried on outside, tender and fatty duck meat on the in side. It was served with those small white buns and hoisin sauce. The fish soup was good and interesting tasting, but could have been spicier with more hot peppers. I like this place a lot. The food quality is very good (IMO). I liked each dish and it seemed very consistent. My friends mom said she forgot to ask for spicy, so that could have enhanced it, as well. I think asking for it a little spicier and being selective with dishes could make this as good as Joe's Noodle House, but far less crowded and rushed of an experience (I think Joe's is sort of best for take out, but it's 27 miles from my house, so it's not an impromptu option). I'm looking at the Chinese menu now, and hit the "Google translate" button, so now I can see the menu options. I'm just going to print this out next time and take it with me.
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