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Heather

China Bistro, "Hunger"ford Drive in Rockville - Rita Lee & Jian Tan's Homemade Dumplings

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Ugh, I wish I could make it out here more often. Even on a lazy Saturday afternoon, it took me 45 minutes to get there from Woodley Park. But, it was worth every second of the drive. I absolutely think this is a destination restaurant, IF you are in search of delicious dumplings. If only the Rockville Pike wasn't so hellacious :mellow:

Take the Beltway from Connecticut Avenue to 270, exit at route 28 east, then after a mile or two make a left at Washington Street, which merges into 355 right before the restaurant. In theory, this route should cut the drive down to about 30 minutes.

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Take the Beltway from Connecticut Avenue to 270, exit at route 28 east, then after a mile or two make a left at Washington Street, which merges into 355 right before the restaurant. In theory, this route should cut the drive down to about 30 minutes.

Thanks, I'll give this route a shot! (but not during rush hour :mellow: )

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Take the Beltway from Connecticut Avenue to 270, exit at route 28 east, then after a mile or two make a left at Washington Street, which merges into 355 right before the restaurant. In theory, this route should cut the drive down to about 30 minutes.

Actually... easier... go to River Road and get onto 495E to 270. River Rd. is almost always clear, as is the section of 495 going to 270. I find that going from Ct. Ave to 270 on 495 can also be a PITA. I can usually make it to Rockville in 20-30 minutes even on a weekday.

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Upon recommendation from DanielK, we tried China Bistro for the first time Friday evening and came away extremely pleased. It's a small restaurant (4 tables), but seems to move fairly quickly so we waited only a few minutes for a table. We had the pork and dill dumplings and the mama's special dumplings, both steamed this time (pan-fried next time). These are big orders of dumplings--10 or 12 good sized dumplings--and so flavorful. Those, and a side of pickled radish, made a nice meal. We look forward to going back to work through the rest of the menu, focusing primarily on the dumplings, but the noodles looked pretty good, too.

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How thick are the dumpling skins? It seems that I am finding more and more places that are using insanely thick dumpling skins.

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How thick are the dumpling skins? It seems that I am finding more and more places that are using insanely thick dumpling skins.

They're thick enough to stand up to pan-frying, should you order them that way, but not overly thick. They're one (large) bite dumplings, and I think the ratio of wrapper to filling is pretty spot on.

FYI - there are actually 8 tables - 4 more in a side room behind the counter. I've never seen all 8 tables taken - they do a big carryout business.

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This place has many flavors of dumplings to choose from. Best bets are the typical pork dumplings, either with chives or napa cabbage. The more esoteric includes fish dumplings and pork with dill. The dumpling wrapper is home made but a little on the thick side. They're tasty but not elegant or delicate (far from the best dumplings in the world but maybe as good as it gets in DC, A+ for variety and a B for actual quality). This time we tried 10 out of 12 flavors. Next time I'll try some of their hand made noodles.

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Seven years later, and this place is still in my regular rotation - at least once a month.

They've been closed for the last two months for a renovation, and re-opened tonight. Food was as good as always, but they've graduated from hole-in-the-wall status. New floors, walls, paint, etc. Bathrooms are now off the dining room rather than behind the kitchen, and the combined the front and side rooms to increase the overall seating capacity.

Still (among?) the best dumplings in the metro area.

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I have never been that great a fan of their dumplings, think that the dough was too thick. But the other night we went to Bob's 66 and, finding that it was cash only, headed out for somewhere that would take our plastic. We tried China Bistro ordering 2 small plates {fish & peanuts - meh, and bean curd skin ` really good, caramelized skin which was improved by dunking in a combo of chile oil and dumpling sauce} and 2 sets of dumplings. The veggie dumplings came steamed. We ordered the "triple" but I think that we got something else. The steamed dumplings were a touch watery but really great flavor. But the dough was much thinner than on previous occasions {still on the thick side, but in no way doughy. The real rock star was the pork & squash dumplings pan fried. AMAZING. The squash was more of a textural element adding a richness to the pork filling and maybe a hint of sweetness

The dumpling skins seem to be rolled out to a larger size and with a different shape that makes for a better texture IMO. We could not finish all the food, taking home 6 dumplings which made for a superb snack the next day cold. China Bistro is now on our list of places we wished were open late at night when we typically dine. We will be back much more often.

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I have never been that great a fan of their dumplings, think that the dough was too thick. But the other night we went to Bob's 66 and, finding that it was cash only, headed out for somewhere that would take our plastic. We tried China Bistro ordering 2 small plates {fish & peanuts - meh, and bean curd skin ` really good, caramelized skin which was improved by dunking in a combo of chile oil and dumpling sauce} and 2 sets of dumplings. The veggie dumplings came steamed. We ordered the "triple" but I think that we got something else. The steamed dumplings were a touch watery but really great flavor. But the dough was much thinner than on previous occasions {still on the thick side, but in no way doughy. The real rock star was the pork & squash dumplings pan fried. AMAZING. The squash was more of a textural element adding a richness to the pork filling and maybe a hint of sweetness

The dumpling skins seem to be rolled out to a larger size and with a different shape that makes for a better texture IMO. We could not finish all the food, taking home 6 dumplings which made for a superb snack the next day cold. China Bistro is now on our list of places we wished were open late at night when we typically dine. We will be back much more often.

So glad to hear this -- have not frequented it because also have always found the dumpling skin to be too think for my taste. Will definitely give it another go now. Thanks for this update!

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[i'll delete this and any follow-ups, but does anyone know the ethnicity (i.e., province) of China Bistro? I took my best shot and called it Taiwanese, but I really don't know. I'd love to have a Chinese Dumplings 101 thread which highlights dumplings of the various Chinese regions and Taiwan. Also, as with all Asian restaurants, I'd love to have the native character set in parentheses in the title. Joe's Noodle House, for example, I learned to pronounce in Mandarin, and it means *nothing* resembling "Joe's Noodle House." It's called (forgive my spelling) Uhr May Shao Gwan, and translates to something like Holy Mountain from Mars.]

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China Bistro serves "Bejing-style" dumplings, for whatever that's worth.

Joe's inherited the sign from a previous operator, and just never changed it. Hence, go there and order the Sichuan stuff, but don't expect homemade noodles.

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China Bistro serves "Bejing-style" dumplings, for whatever that's worth.

Joe's inherited the sign from a previous operator, and just never changed it. Hence, go there and order the Sichuan stuff, but don't expect homemade noodles.

Interesting. Wikipedia for "Beijing Cuisine" says "As Beijing has been the capital of China for centuries, its cuisine is influenced by culinary traditions from all over China, but the style that has the greatest influence on Beijing cuisine is that of the eastern coastal province of Shandong."

Shandong is the province that influences A&J.

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The fish and cilantro dumplings on the hand-written sign as a "new item" are surprisingly wonderful. I got a tip from a Chinese friend and took a chance (since I hate the texture of fish balls) and was very glad at the result.  The slices of fish in the dumpling are mild but tender and still juicy and work oddly well. Pan fried, of course. That and a plate of pork-chive dumplings and I was set for 2+ meals.

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Welp, I know where I'm going to lunch on Friday.  Thanks for the heads up.

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When eating one's weight in dumplings--which two-yeah old may have, literally, accomplished--the fish and chive dumplings are an excellent choice to break up all the ground pork you'd typically consume.  Chives also make the dish accessible to the cilantro-averse.   Varying the skin between fried and steamed is good for textural contrast, though steamed is likely advisable for high-volume "sessions."

The scallion pancake is also above average here, the very crisp external layer could be pulled off and eaten like a pita chip.  A gratis winter melon soup had a wonderfully mild flavor with a bit of thickness.  Lots of potential missteps on the menu, but a dumpling/pancake/soup-focused meal is a likely winner.

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Yeah, any of the cold vegetable plates are good (as well as the scallion pancake and chive cake), and the dumplings are outstanding, but after that it's pretty average. We almost never order any other dishes, though occasionally we'll get a special that sounds good. I'm there at least once a month.

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Went to lunch here last week with my colleague who is Chinese-American.  She said these are the best dumplings around.  I let her order for us - two cold tofu skin appetizers that grew on me, two kinds of dumplings (pork and egg/veggie) that were delicious and scallion pancake that was excellent.  My son devoured the leftover dumplings so I'll have to make it a regular stop on my way home. 

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Their fish dumplings have haunted me for five years and I live near flippin' LA! Granted I'm 1.5 hours from the San Gabriel Valley, aka both the self-proclaimed and possibly actual center of all Chinese food in this country, and I don't exactly order fish dumplings every time I'm in the area / they are on the menu, but the times I have ordered them it has always been a disappointment by comparison.  The reason is very simple - none have them have been filled with sliced fish.  While a ground / mashed / fish meatball filling makes a lot of sense and can even be quite good (as long as they aren't packed too tight), it's not even in the same ballpark as tender, mild, flaky fish.  I'm not sure why fish dumplings have caught my imagination so - I actually prefer pork / pork and chive / beef / lamb dumplings - but maybe the fact that they are so unusual and I haven't had the like since...that's probably why I can't stop myself from trying them every so often, only to have my hopes dashed time and again. Anyway, this all is to say that y'all are lucky to have China Bistro, I wish them a long and prosperous restaurant life, and I hope to return someday.  Eat some Lenten dumplings for me!!!

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