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  1. Guess some of you will be headed down my way now. http://news.fredericksburg.com/businessbrowser/2013/02/14/broker-new-fredericksburg-restaurant-likely-to-draw-from-no-va/
  2. Update on the Bethesda Fine Dining Location, which reports a May opening (credit--Bethesda Magazine)
  3. Nine hungry Rockwellian dim sum addicts descended upon Mark's Duck House at noon today. After disappointments at our two previous NoVa outings (China Garden in Rosslyn and Fortune across the street from MDH), we were delighted at the consistently good tidbits pouring out of this kitchen. Our feast consisted of the following: scallop dumplings roast suckling pig baked roast pork croissant (flaky triangular pastry filled with char sui) sui mei har gow shrimp cheong fan roast duck BBQ spareribs spareribs in black bean sauce tripe with ginger shrimp in seaweed shrimp/taro cakes baby cuttlefish clams in black bean sauce braised chicken feet sticky rice in lotus leaf potstickers salt & pepper head-on shrimp Chinese broccoli baked char sui bao stuffed bean curd skin tofu with some unspecified roast meat on top some sort of fried shrimp dumpling with a shrimp tail for decoration fried roll with shrimp and fake crab pineapple buns custard tarts sesame seed balls There might have been another dish or two in there as well. There were a few misses here and there, but the quibbles were minor - overall, the quality was consistently good. Service was outstanding compared to other dim sum places. My minor quibbles... The tea was much weaker than its color would have indicated. Perhaps the leaves were a bit stale? Sesame balls are usually filled with red bean paste, but MDH used something we couldn't quite identify. I think shredded coconut was a component. It wasn't really creamy or flavorful, and the balls themselves were loaded with oil. Not horrible by any means, as it still tasted nice enough, but it was not at the same level of quality as the rest of the offerings. The cheong fan sauce wasn't as rich as one normally finds - it was more like lightly sweetened soy sauce. I was surprised that the roast duck was the weakest meat platter we got at a place called Mark's Duck House. The fat wasn't fully rendered, so the skin was a little too limp and the meat a little too greasy. OTOH, the roast suckling pig had wonderfully crisp skin, and the BBQ spareribs were a major highlight of the meal. For me, the best dishes were the BBQ spareribs, the clams in black bean sauce (oh dear, did I really end up eating half the platter?), and the baby cuttlefish. Oh, and the triangular char sui pastry - I think Hollywood East On The Boulevard's version is a touch better, but it's a close call. (MDH had better pastry, HEOTB had better char sui) The restaurant is quite small for a dim sum crowd - I can't imagine it seating more than 150 people. Must be a heck of a wait on Sundays. Unlike, say, China Garden, MDH seems worth the wait. Cost per adult: $18 including a generous tip
  4. China Wok in Tyson's corner (next to Marshalls) hired Chef Wang formerly of Hunan Lion. He is not there every night, but when he is, he makes a mean Peking Duck. Call ahead to see if he is working. Plus they deliver Tyson's Corner 8395 Leesburg Pike Vienna, VA 22182 703-893-4488
  5. Today, after discovering that Myanmar was locked and dark (I'm 0 for 2 on my lunch attempts this week), I remembered this post and set out to find Miu Kee. I ended up at Vinh Kee, on Route 50 at Graham Rd. (same shopping center as Pho 75, but facing 50). We started with steamed dumplings, and although the dough was kind of tough, the dumplings were tasty. I had shrimp with Chinese broccoli and my husband had shrimp with spicy salt. Both were so good my husband is already talking about going back.
  6. 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.
  7. I had heard about this place before, as my friend Satellite Will had moved to the neighborhood, but hadn't tried it. My friend, the Booz Consultant, had a hankering for some XLB, and were not going to be able to go to Rock-vegas on a weeknight, so figured we'd check this place out. It's a super cute little restaurant. I like the red brick exterior. The first floor was pretty packed and we were going to sit at a table down there, but then the waitress told us that some old people came in, and it would be hard for them to go upstairs, so she sent us upstairs. I had the feeling no one would be up there, but the upper floor was also packed. And very Chinese. I think all the Asian people got to eat upstairs. So, we sat down. Took a while to get served. They have wine and beer, maybe cocktails, I don't remember. I got a Goose Island IPA. We ordered soup dumplings (they called them pork soup buns or something like that). 8 to an order, they took a while to come. They were small-ish, and not a whole lot of soup in them. Got a Agaric Garlic Salad, that was basically wood eared mushrooms. It was dry, but when you put the sauce on them, tasted pretty good. Then we got to ordering mains. We looked around and saw these metal bowls over burners, and tried to get an idea of what was going on there, but couldn't figure it out. There was two lovely GW students from outside of Shanghai, and we looked at their menu. Different than ours, of course. It was all in Chinese language. We asked them if there was anything on that menu that wasn't on our menu, they said it was basically the same. I was skeptical. So, then the people next to us got the same metal thing, and we asked the server. He said it was a dry pot. TOTALLY NOT ON OUR MENU!! Why do they do this??? Anyway, we got lamb dry pot and pork with garlic sauce. The dry pot came, lamb, chilis, green pepper, lotus root, mushrooms. I liked it, not super spicy. My dining partner wasn't as big a fan. I liked the pork, too, good flavor. Sort of reminded me of the sauce at the Uighur place that they give you on the side. We chatted with those students, and they said turns out the dry pot was on the Chinese menu, but not on the American one. I don't know what else was on there, but I'm sure they are hiding stuff. So, the XLB crave was sort of managed, but not the best I've had. I did like the dry pot, and don't think that's easily available in DC proper. There is probably other good stuff, they seemed to have some Sichuan options, and the beef spicy noodle soup looked good, but we didn't get since I don't eat beef and she wasn't sure if she'd be able to tolerate the heat. I'd go back and try some other stuff.
  8. I go to A&J in Annandale on a sporadic basis, essentially going either when I suddenly get a craving for their stuff, or if I happen to be in the neighborhood, which is rare. But I was there this weekend with my partner's Chinese teacher for lunch, and we wound up talking about something I had noticed for some time--with one exception, any non-Chinese there were accompanied by Chinese people. I am not sure whether this is because of the location, or because the menu is a bit restricted, or some other reason, but there is really no reason for "foreigners" not to go here, since the food is fantastic. For those not in the know, A&J is a Taiwan-based chain, called "Ban Mu Yuan" in Chinese (means half-acre field) with locations all over Taiwan, Beijing, California, Rockville and Annandale. They are specialists in "small dishes", such as dumplings, noodles, vegetable dishes, etc, though they also have more substantial fare, like pork ribs, fried chicken and other meats with rice. It's all very authentic, and on weekends you can even get Chinese breakfast foods like soy milk and "you tiao" (fried dough sticks). Prices are very good, too, though be warned that they only take cash.
  9. This restaurant is in soft-opening mode still with little web presence and a limited menu (not all the items on the printed menu are available yet)...that being said I think it is a game changer for the miserable state of dumplings in Alexandria. We went on a Sunday morning and had the following: Pork Soup Dumplings(XLB) --- I thought these were better than the XLB at all the Rockville joints. Great flavor to the soup--perfect mix of fat and meat. Thin delicate wrapper, yet sturdy enough not to tear when removing it from steamer basket. Steamed shrimp (har gow)--crisp shrimp, well made tapioca wrapper, held up without becoming mushy Scallion Pancake--were fine--Ive had better--less flaky and more flat Pan Fried Buns with egg and Chive--these were deep fried and tasty with fresh chives Pan Fried Buns with shrimp and Chives-- These were in a har gow style wrapper but pan fried with crispy bottoms--excellent Vegetable Stir Fried Noodles--these were a bust--we wanted something with the hand pulled noodles and these were the only veg option--noodles were good but sauce tasted like it had tomato sauce or ketchup in it--very weird This place is a franchise from NYC and is well reviewed there. I am excited for the full menu and will definitely be back. I think this place is going to be mobbed once fully opened and reviewed in the press. No website yet-- so I am grudgingly putting the yelp link here.
  10. Never been, but I am intrigued. Anyone checked out this place? Great Wall - Szechuan House
  11. Tom Sietsema's review. Big fan of the original Hollywood East and excited that they're now doing dim sum. Looks like the new place is right across the street from Good Fortune on University Boulevard, hopefully the competition will spur both to new heights. (It sure it won't make parking any easier round there on weekends, though.)
  12. Had a pre-dinner meal at Sampan Cafe this evening. This place is in the little strip mall where Mediterranean Gourmet Market is located, and whenever I'm in this vicinity, I always eat at Mediterranean Gourmet Market. It's the best Middle Eastern food in northern Virginia, I'm convinced, but it turns out it closes on Sunday evening at 5pm. So, Plan B was Sampan Cafe, a few doors down. I had been going to Sampan Cafe for over 20 years in its original incarnation. It used to be the definition of American Chinese, with big floppy egg rolls and chop suey on the menu, and the waiters clad in red tuxedo tops. Not many Chinese people ate there back then. It closed about 6 years ago and an average-ish Vietnamese restaurant took its place. Then about 4 years ago, it reincarnated as Sampan Cafe, under different ownership. I have raved a bit on this board about Canton Cafe in Springfield. Sampan Cafe is at least its equal, and maybe then some. Aside from a few quirks in the service -- girlfriend's entree arrived about 5 minutes before mine -- the food here is very good and the clientele is mostly Chinese. We started with a whole steamed oyster with black bean sauce that was exquisite (and large). Last night I had the Beef in Black Pepper Sauce at Canton Cafe and labeled it Peking man-food. I mentioned that at $16 it was superior to any beef dish I ever had at Morton's or Ruth's Chris or any other steak house that would charge $40 for a la carte beef. Well, tonight I had the same dish at Sampan Cafe, and it was even better and was only $14. It came out sizzling like Canton fajitas, but the beef was perfect, tender and juicy. Girlfriend had her standard seafood combination, which in this case was off menu. Chunks of scallops, shrimp, lobster, and veggies in a white sauce, for $12.50 (did I mention lobster?). The chef's specialty here is "Hong Kong style" and I intend to come back and taste "Sour Cabbage Stir Fried with Intestine" and "Salt Fish and Chicken Stir Fried with Chive Flower".... Bottom line is that Sampan Cafe in its current incarnation is very good, and at least the equal of Canton Cafe, but at a better value. [but I still have the problem of passing up the best Middle Eastern food in northern Virginia just a few doors down!]
  13. Not sure if this is on anyone's radar, but I discovered this place through another website that shall remain nameless (begins with a Y), but even there, it seems to be flying under the radar except for people of Chinese extraction. Anyway, I decided to check it out last weekend. Here is a synopsis of what I have posted elsewhere: My server seemed eager for me to try some of the Szechuan specialties which are printed in English on both the eat-in menu and take-out menu, rather than the Chinese American menu items (maybe it was because I expressed interest in the crispy pork intestines). Anyway, the menu has a section with "Szechuan and Country Style Entrees" and "Szechuan Chef's Specials, Appetizers and Cold Dishes". I stuck with the appetizers: String Beans in Ginger Sauce, Shrimp with Scallion Sauce, Dan Dan Spicy Noodle with Minced Pork, Steam Dumplings in Red Hot Sauce, and Sauteed Duck Eggs with Green Pepper. I definitely got the lip and tongue numbing sensation caused by Szechuan peppercorns. Personally, I thought the steamed dumplings were the tastiest of the lot. The dumplings themselves were a slightly thinner versions of pot stickers/gyoza. The duck eggs were what are sometimes known as thousand-year-old-eggs, century eggs, etc. and the green pepper was actually jalapenos. Although I didn't try any of the mains from the Szechuanese menu, it included such Szechuan staples as Double Cooked Pork and Ma Po Tofu in addition to more interesting sounding items such as Lamb with Cumin and Shredded Duck with Szechuan Sauce. But, to add another twist, there is yet another menu of specialties (on a separate menu) from Xi'an called Rouga Mo. These are like muffins/biscuits/flat bread split down the middle and filled with pork that's been cooked with five spice powder. According to my waiter this is what a lot of what the Chinese clientele (the majority of the diners) come to order. That and Chengdu Spicy Noodles. He was kind enough to offer me one on the house, and it certainly would make for a great lunch/snack.
  14. Foong Li is not great, but it isn't nauseating. We've been all over the menu at Foong Li, trying the familiar and the not-so-familar and while we have had dishes we didn't like, none were as bad as those at HEOTB. Are you telling me that we shouldn't order spicy shrimp wonton (and if so, why?) or that they are supposed to served in a greasy glop? Are you telling me that a dish that is supposed to have ginger and scallions, but has no ginger is the fault of the Westerner who ordered? Maybe I am supposed to know that authentic Chinese ginger is flavorless? Sorry - I really think this was bad cooking, not bad choosing.
  15. Yunnan by Potomac is a new place in northern Old Town (according to google maps, it's outside the actual boundary of Old Town), that opened in early February. I went there a couple weeks ago for lunch and enjoyed it for the most part. They are a Mixian Noodle place from the Yunnan Province. Here's the blurb from their website: MIXIAN: SOUL FOOD Yunnan is a beautiful diverse region in southwest China, offering a variety of unique flavors and textures in its distinctive cuisine – not your typical Chinese food. The soul food of Yunnan is Mixian - delicious rice noodles - which are prepared with braised meats, rich broths and sweet, savory and spicy sauces. Mixian bowls are at the core of our menu and are complimented by a variety of unique small plates. They have (or did) a limited menu at this point with promises for more to come. The menu in the restaurant has more options than the one currently posted online. I ordered Pork Belly Lotus Leaf Bun and the Braised Beef Lu Mixian soup (at least I think that's what I ordered. I just asked what's their best dish/specialty). The pork belly bun was good, but not great. The meat was fine, but the bun tasted like a mass produced Wonder bread version. That may be an unfair assessment, as I'm no expert, but I was underwhelmed by taste/texture of the bun. The soup was good, but again I don't think the broth was as deep and rich as my memories of Daikaya or Momofuku's versions of broth. Like I said before, I'm no expert on this, so maybe my memory of those other soups are better than they actually were?!!? I'd love to do a side by side comparison of all the ramen/mixian broths that's probably impossible. The service was understandably a bit rough as they are brand new. When I sat down I was greeted by a server who came up to my table and said, " ". I said, pardon me, and she said, "Drink?". This time it was an audible question. Barely audible, but audible! I asked what they had and she said, "Soda, water, tea" so I just got water. I saw repeat performances of the super quiet interaction with other guests, and lots of repeat questions. The woman working the register and taking the orders was much more on the ball however. Interestingly, I didn't see a single Asian person working there, but I never saw into the kitchen. Also interesting perhaps was my second "visit" to this place. I happened to park in front the other evening for a class, and a group of 4-5 Asian people were entering and none were speaking English. I took that as a good sign, but it's likely that was their first visit (it took them a few seconds to figure out where it was along the block), so who knows if they'll return? I'll definitely go back when I'm in the neighborhood and I'm happy to have a new cuisine on the scene. Photos of the menu and my dishes below.
  16. I wouldn't be surprised if BA is the best restaurant in McLean (I only frequent Palisades), but have you been to the (very small) Fahrenheit for Sichuan? Just had an excellent meal there.
  17. Did a quick run through here for lunch yesterday. They've just opened, so not everything is available, and there's still a bit of chaos in the place. No website yet, but photos of the menu here. Note: this is the location where Lola, the Argentinian cafe used to be. Same shopping plaza as Pita Hut. Parking is limited, and the put up a gate like the RTC across the street (my guess is people were trying to park there and walk across the street.) Two hours free with validation. I had the lunch special with "pork and shrimp" dumplings. Similar in style to China Bistro, but the wrappers were thicker and more doughy. Also, the filling was ground much finer and more dense - it was almost a meatball in the wrapper. Also, for the "cold side" they tried to push a green salad, but I pushed back and they relented with what I think was the chinese-style potato salad, which is shredded potatoes and carrots in vinegar. Tasty, but a strong advantage to China Bistro at the moment. The menu is very extensive for dumplings - almost 40 different stuffings. Also "kabobs" - will have to check that out in the future. Drinks are either bubble tea or sodas from the cooler - they didn't even have hot tea when I was there. Worth keeping an eye on, but nothing compelling yet.
  18. Yes.... He is the son of the famous Duck Chang that started his business in Annandale. I remember going there on occasion as a kid, and the one on Rt1 is actually pretty decent. I had duck from the Annandale location last week... Sadly it was just passable No one in the area can really touch Peking Gourmet Inn for their duck
  19. 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.
  20. "Curry Mantra 4" is called London Curry House and is now open at 191 Somerville St, Alexandria, VA in Cameron Station (see attached screenshot of Curry Mantra's website identifying it as the Curry Mantra 4th location). According to this Windsor at Arbors Apartments blog post, London Curry House opened during the week of August 17.
  21. Sooner or later when hanging out on the Upper West Side, one of our group (usually someone who grew up there or used to live there) will always suggest we head over to La Caridad 78 for some sustenance. It is a Cuban and Chinese restaurant founded by Chinese immigrants to Cuba who later fled. This is not a fusion place. Oh, no, this is old school. Half of the menu is Cuban, and the other half is Chinese, and that is really how it should be. This is not a trendy place. It just pumps out solid food in extraordinary portions for the hard working folks (as well as the overpaid) on the Upper West Side. The small dining room could charitably be described as unadorned, but who really cares. The place bustles with local families, cab drivers, and everyone else who passes through the area. The tables are generally filled, but turn over quickly. I tend to favor the Cuban dishes, such as the Chuleta En Salsa De Soya (Pork Chop In Black Bean Sauce). Sure they were not thick, but there were at least 5 pork chops on this plate. Other dishes were similarly abundant. Do not be put off by the menu. Believe me, it looks odd. Almost jarring. Go with some friends. Order some plates to share with a few beers (very limited beer menu). This food is good; not great, just simple, generally well executed, plentiful, and affordable. Do not forget to check out the handwritten specials on 8 1/2 x 11 paper taped to the wall. We tried the Homemade Fried Dumplings and were glad we did. There are some pictures on their Facebook page (in addition to their website), if you are interested. Cash only.
  22. I don't remember how I heard about this joint. It could've been Tyler Cowen, or it could've been Chowhound. We ordered from the Chinese menu, which has pretty pictures and English translation. We had some mapo fish with tofu ($14), cumin lamb, ($14) pot stickers ($7), and hand scratch pan cake ($4). The cumin lamb arrived first, along with its body odor-like smell. Luckily it tasted much better than it smells. The lamb had some gaminess, but the cumin and chili peppers did a good job of covering that up. Other than 1 particularly chewy piece, the lamb was tender and plentiful. The mapo fish with tofu arrived on a plate rather than a bowl. The tofu was tender and the fish was not the least bit fishy. The more I ate of it, the more I enjoyed it. At first it was just spicy and salty but I detected more flavor as I continued shoveling the stuff down my throat. The pot stickers were nothing special, the dough being rather thick. The pan cake didn't have any flavor. A decent authentic Chinese joint (which makes it 10x better than any American Chinese restaurant in my book). They also have a buffet but I didn't see what was on there.
  23. What are you supposed to order from Mr. Chen's organic in Woodley Park? I have heard nothing but great things about this place. We FINALLY ordered from there the other night and were just, well, whelmed. I feel like I'm missing something. BF had string beans with pork, which was supposed to be spicy. Not only was it not spicy, but it was really sparse on both pork and flavor. I had beef teriyaki. While the dry spices on the beef were really great (kind of aromatic), the veggies it came with were overcooked and flavorless. With health-conscious options and organic meats and veggies, I want to like this place, I really do. Has anyone been there? Can you recommend something that is great? Many thanks!
  24. I wanted to post this in case anyone had a chance to check this place out tonight and report back. The advertisement and initial report in the Chinese newspaper made it sound wonderful and a great replacement for what Bob's 88 Shabu Shabu could have been. The newspaper reports that this place is opened by Mr. Liu of Chengdu Xiaoguan (Cheng du little cafe), but I can't recall if this is the chinese name of Hong Kong Palace right now -- could someone verify? Anyway, the newpaper reports that all the stocks are homemade and there are various stock options to choose from (chicken, fish, red meat-based). Also lots of spiciness involved. The hot pot is from 3:00pm onwards, but no price is given in this report. The newspaper also reports that the owner went back to China last year for two month and ate at various hot pot place in Chengdu and Chongqing. Chinese name: Old Liu's Hot Pot City (Lao Liu Huo Guo Chen) English name: Uncle Liu's Hot Pot 2972 Gallows Road Falls Church, Virginia 703-560-6868 Buffet from 11:00am to 3:00pm Hot pot from 3:00pm to 12midnight *Don - if this is posted anywhere, could you merge it? Thanks.
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