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Hollywood East Cafe, Wheaton - Owner Janet Yu Now in Wheaton Shopping Center - STILL OPEN


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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.)

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I haven't heard good reviews of the place from my parents, my friends and my family's friends. I am curious to go to see what it's like but no one in my circle has anything good to say - food's poorly done and overpriced. Tom's review makes it sound pretty decent but I don't know how Sietsema's palate is when it comes to Chinese food.

They should've opened the 2nd place in a different location - it's puzzling that they opened the 2nd one so close. Just 'cause it works for Starbucks (well, that's another thread in and of itself) doesn't mean it'll work for them.

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I agree that it is weird to open a new place so close to the original (and keeping it open). I will say that I have had some great food at Hollywood East. I have found the food to be above the standard westernized chinese. I should note, I have only been to the original location.

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The original Hollywood East is not bad and the reason why it's above standard Chinese food is because it's not your typical Chinese-American restaurant. However, if you judge it as an authentic Cantonese restaurant, it needs some work.

It's been very difficult to find a good authentic Cantonese place here in the DC metro area. Ask most any Cantonese person around here and they'll tell you the same thing. Most of the places here are not consistent w/ their cooking. Good bets are Oriental East for dim sum and Mark's Duck House. New Fortune in Gaithersburg is pretty decent - we're going there tonight for an early Mom's Day celebration and we'll see how the food is.

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post-46-1116869932_thumb.jpg

And now for the close up... Smile! post-46-1116897186_thumb.jpg

Twenty of us gathered tonight for a 13-course Chinese banquet, organized by JohnB (thanks John!) There were some real highlights - the five varieties of dim sum to start were fresh and light, sweet, rich poached scallops with black bean sauce on the half shell, the crispy skin and tender meat of roast suckling pig got tucked inside moist warm thick pancakes, and the seafood "compilation" with dungeness crab, lobster, and clams was bursting with flavor. There were also some misses - particularly the whole fish that was overcooked and swimming in a too-sweet sauce (as were the giant prawns). Since I haven't sampled a lot of the area Cantonese, I will say that I will definitely go back for dim sum some weekend! As these photos will hopefully show, http://share.shutterfly.com/action/welcome?sid=9AcM3Ddo0cMNA" target="_blank">http://share.shutterfly.com/action/welcome?sid=9AcM3Ddo0cMNA

it meant that a lot of work went into the presentations, and the staff did a terrific job of keeping the food and drink coming.

Edited by crackers
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The fish and the prawns seem to me to be a more Northern style of cooking than Cantonese style. It just LOOKS too sweet in the photos.

The presentation and tableware are impressive. Quite fancy. I think I may bite the bullet and try the food one of these days. How much was the banquet, if I may ask?

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The fish and the prawns seem to me to be a more Northern style of cooking than Cantonese style.  It just LOOKS too sweet in the photos.

The presentation and tableware are impressive.  Quite fancy.  I think I may bite the bullet and try the food one of these days.  How much was the banquet, if I may ask?

I was surprised by how sweet and thick those sauces were. I had thought that "sweet and sour" sauces with red food coloring were more of a western invention (I'm sure someone will correct me if that's wrong). But you're right, they have done a very impressive job with the tableware, furnishings and decor. We were seated at two large round tables with enormous lazy suzans at the back of the room, so we had a good view of the entire large dining area. It was interesting to watch as the room was completely full by 7:30pm, then cleared out, and then started filling back up again around 10:30 pm! The banquet, including tea, was in the mid $70 range, plus tip. It was a dry night for me, so I don't know about drink prices (the wine choices offered by the waiter, who was somewhat challenged with English, were "red" and "white"). :lol:
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Nope, it's not really a Western invention. Well, it's been adapted to Western tastes but it's a Northern Chinese thing. (Please excuse my generalization - being Cantonese anything not Cantonese is "Northern" Chinese given our geographical location. LOL!) Especially the fried fish in sweet in sour sauce. What would've been better than that fish is a steam fish in soy sauce with ginger and scallions. Ooooh.

$70 bucks with a whole suckling pig, seafood, scallops, & etc? Hmm. I'll ask the expert about that price.

Oh yeah, don't expect much in terms of drinks in a Chinese joint. *shrug* We pretty much focus on the food - let the French do the wine and food pairing...hee hee.

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13-course Chinese banquet, organized by JohnB (thanks John!)  There were some real highlights - the five varieties of dim sum to start were fresh and light, sweet, rich poached scallops with black bean sauce on the half shell, the crispy skin and tender meat of roast suckling pig got tucked inside moist warm thick pancakes, and the seafood "compilation" with dungeness crab, lobster, and clams was bursting with flavor.  There were also some misses - particularly the whole fish that was overcooked and swimming in a too-sweet sauce

Thanks again JohnB for helping set this up and to Crackers for the visual trip down memory lane. I agree with her food comments, but want to also share the joy of crunching on the fresh snap peas in the XO Chicken and tasting really delicate fried rice (at the end, just before dessert). There was alot of food and while the kitchen did a good job of pacing between courses -- it was dizzying.

I saw what I hope are Dim Sum serving carts parked in an alcove and will definitely go back for a Dim Sum meal. Can anyone rate HE v Good Fortune Dim Sum?

In addition to good food, we had great conversation and I wanted to follow-up on the All-Clad Seconds sale. I just called All-Clad and it's Friday & Saturday (6/3 & 6/4) in the Washington (PA) County Fairgrounds. There are some Pittsburg area shops selling seconds that weekend (Crate), but the biggie will be at the fairgrounds.

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In addition to good food, we had great conversation and I wanted to follow-up on the All-Clad Seconds sale. I just called All-Clad and it's Friday & Saturday (6/3 & 6/4)  in the Washington (PA) County Fairgrounds. There are some Pittsburg area shops selling seconds that weekend (Crate), but the biggie will be at the fairgrounds.

Just for a little info --- That's about 4 hours from the Beltway. Take I70 to I68 (do not go to Breezewood and get on the PA turnpike) to I79 North.

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Had a spur of the moment opportunity to try Hollywood East with Mr and Mrs B and family and the two poorly behaved little Shorters last night. We ordered:

Cuttlefish with lightly pickled daikon Liked this, not sure how other members of our party felt about it.

Pan fried meat dumplings Good gingery pork filling, but I prefer a lighter dough and less greasiness. Not quite up to the A&J standard.

Salt and pepper anchovies Tiny, tasty, crunchy whole anchovies showered with fresh chilies and ginger. A hit with both my kids, and me.

Razor clams with black bean sauce Good fresh clams and not overwhelmed by the sauce. Emma loved the cool shells and took one home with her.

Oyster and pork casserole Loved the flavor combination, but it would benefit from smaller oysters. These were gigantic, among the largest oysters I've ever seen, and overwhelmed the sweeter pork belly.

Steamed Ling fish fillet with ginger and scallions Tender and fresh, if somewhat bony. Emma had this for breakfast this morning.

The Busboy kids reported that the Chicken Fried Rice and Beef Lo Mein were good but bland. The Shorter kids' chicken with broccoli in brown sauce was reported as "yummy" and nearly finished. :P

We ordered far too much rich food - a vegetable choice would have balanced the meal.

I was not overwhelmed by this place and on the whole prefer the old Hollywood East or New Fortune in Gaithersburg, but must try the dim sum (served Sat and Sun), and a dinner with some of the vegetable offerings before passing judgement.

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The Montgomery County Dim Sum Comparo invaded Hollywood East On The Boulevard today. We had six adults and four kids, and a whole lotta food...

  • abalone dumpling
    sui mei
    har gow
    sticky rice in lotus leaf
    congee (can't remember what was in it)
    chive & pork dumplings
    spinach & pork dumplings
    spring roll in rice noodle
    shrimp cheong fun
    BBQ pork cheong fun
    baked BBQ pork bun
    steamed beef balls
    beef tendon
    chicken feet
    dried shrimp in rice noodle
    spareribs in black bean sauce
    turnip cake
    clams in black bean sauce
    sesame balls
    Chinese broccoli
    some mysterious green dessert substance

This is not an exhaustive list - I know I missed several dishes!

The food, service, selection, and cleanliness were all dramatically superior to Good Fortune. We were offered absolutely everything, unlike at GF. The quality was very high overall, so it's quicker to point out flaws than to highlight all the, well, highlights. The sauce on the Chinese broccoli was very salty, even for me (and I'm a salt addict), and the pieces were too large and unwieldy to eat easily. The turnip cake lacked the fresh crispy edges that you find at New Fortune. I don't recall seeing a lot of pan-fried dishes other than the turnip cake and dried shrimp in rice noodle (which was new to me, and goes on the must-order list for future visits).

I shall allow the other participants to wax poetic (or otherwise) about the dishes at their leisure. I'm still in a pork-induced daze...

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There were a couple of different deep fried things that we had that I didn't see in your list, and the enoki mushrooms. We also got some la mein noodles, though I'm pretty sure my 8-year-old son ate most of the plate himself! I think the ingredients in the congee were preserved pork and mushrooms.

As Perri said, very very superior to Good Fortune. We were there at 1pm, and there was definitely no shortage of quality, fresh dishes coming out of the kitchen. I thought they also had a great way of dealing with the flow coming out of the kitchen. They had not just slow-moving carts circling around, but servers carrying trays that moved small amounts of different selections around quite quickly.

Standouts to me included the very rich and hearty congee, the pan-fried cheong fun (which I've never seen before), the siu mei (you could taste all of the ingredients, which was a huge contrast to the insipid offering from GF), and the BBQ pork cheong fun. I wanted to like the spring rolls wrapped in rice noodles, but it had sat out 2 minutes too long by the time I grabbed a piece, and the crispiness of the spring roll was mostly gone.

Disappointments to me included the abalone (bland), beef balls (likewise), and beef tendon, although that one may just be personal preference. When I order them at Joe's or Tony Lin's they're quite spicy, and there was no heat to be found on the tendons here, until I added chili paste myself.

Overall, this was very good dim sum, and I'm looking forward to seeing how my current personal yardstick, New Fortune, stands up in 2 weeks time.

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Of all the dim sum places the crew have visited so far (see Some Dim Sundays thread), this is the best. Or at least my favorite. Many dishes were better executed than at the other places we've tried, and there were others unique to HEOTB (as far as I know). Like the roasted pork in a flaky pastry (not that puffy white Bisquick-y stuff, which they also had), and an intriguing mushroom dish.

If you like dessert, HEOTB is the place to go. Our group ordered:

the ubiquitous so-called pineapple buns (not my favorite, but the best I've had)

egg custard in a flaky coconut pastry

a gelatinized coconut thing (big cubes, a bit hard to eat with chopsticks)

glutinous rice dough shaped like carrots and filled with something sweet (anybody figure that one out?)

glutinous rice with bitter melon, filled with black sesame seed paste

sweet soft tofu in hot syrup (impossible to eat with chopsticks)

sesame seed balls

Okay, mostly it was me who ordered all of that - thanks, gang, for indulging me. <_<

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The "carrots" were filled with custard, and they were almost too pretty to eat - but boy, were they ever tasty... I enjoyed the tofu in sugar syrup, but we need to ask for extra bowls and spoons next time.

Let us not forget the savory dishes! The tripe was lightly spicy, not at all bland or rubbery. I think Dean and I polished off the whole platter of clams with black bean sauce (were those Manila clams?). HEOTB's char sui is a bit overly sweet (New Fortune really sets the standard for BBQ pork), but it worked very well for the the triangular char sui pastries (we should have gotten more!).

I just wish they'd add more vegetable options to the repetoire. Fake carrots don't count. <_<

Oh, yes, I forgot - another new (to us) dish was hollowed-out squash filled with a shrimp mixture. Or was it a pork mixture? Or both? I didn't get a chance to try it, but it certainly disappeared. To me, the only disappointment was the steamed spareribs with black bean. The ribs themselves were nicely tender, but there wasn't a lot of black bean flavor present.

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I just wish they'd add more vegetable options to the repetoire. Fake carrots don't count. <_<

My +1 and I arrived early, tried to hold a large table and saw some carts roll-by before the others arrived (and the really big table in the far corner w/lazy susan emptied). Before folks arrived we saw: broccoli rabe, salt-crusted prawns, abalone shu mai, and spear-sliced peppers stuffed with shrimp and tempura fried -- but they NEVER rolled our way again!! Next time I'll try to sit closer to the kitchen entrance and (although the place was still hopping) maybe eat before 1p.

Both the savory and sweet dishes were wonderful and may have taken first place (from New Fortune) in my "best of" dim sum list. We also had the slippery rice crepe with either shrimp or pork (one dish of each), sticky rice steamed in leaf wrap, chive dumplings and really good sharkfin dumplings.

Janet, the owner, came over and very nicely explained some of the unique dishes. Another plus, the staff gave us several western-style utensils (including knives) to split the dumplings and sticky yummies into shareable sizes.

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Wow. Wish I had taken the time to read DR before going to Hollywood East last night. I'd read Sietsema's review, and obviously, he is better at ordering off a Chinese menu than we are. It was an extremely disappointing meal.

Appetizers: Spicy Shrimp Wontons. The wontons and the filling were fine, but they arrived in a VERY greasy broth - very unappetizing. Crispy pork was disgusting. Big, room-temperature chunks of pork that were mostly fat with small bits of pork. Mixed in were little pieces of the crispy batter, but it is hard to imagine that this pork was ever cooked.

Main courses: Chicken with scallions and ginger. Allegedly. None of the four of us could taste any ginger whatsoever. Chicken was prepared Chinese style (put the entire chicken on a cutting board, skin, bones and all, and whack at it with a cleaver). Result is chunks of chicken with bits of bone of varying sizes. Not fun to eat. I am no fan of chicken strips, but I am also no fan of having to pick little bits of bone out of my meal (or my mouth in front of others). Together with the very pale skin remaining on the chicken (making me wonder if it had been adequately cooked), virtually all of it remained on the plate. Husband had crispy duck with pineapple. It was like eating candy, it was so nauseatingly sweet. Friend one had chicken and scallops with mango. Utterly flavorless. Friend two had something we think was called crispy chicken with sesame. I didn't try that one. She said it was good.

Result: will never return. Will stick with Fong Li (Bethesda) for sit down and Cheong's (Bethesda) for delivery.

Ellen

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Result: will never return.  Will stick with Fong Li (Bethesda) for sit down and Cheong's (Bethesda) for delivery.

Ellen

It seems to me, even based on your own comments, you should try HE again only order right this time. I don't know about Fong Li, but based on reputation it's hard to imagine you couldn't do better at HE with a little care.

There is no Chinese restaurant I know of where you can get reliable help from the staff, at least not until they know you. Having been burned so many times in the past by non-Chinese ordering the authentic dishes (by accident or whatever) and then rejecting them, they just won't suggest the good stuff to a Westerner they don't know. They assume (correctly most of the time) that Westerners just don't like the authentic dishes. You're only real hope is to do your research before you go, such as here on this board. Otherwise it's hit or miss, and too often the latter.

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I've been to Foong Li in Bethesda twice, and I can't imagine spending money there again. It's mediocre Americanized chinese food at best, but at Bethesda prices.

Try going to Tony Lin's in Rockville, and asking for the Chinese menu.

I've been to HEOTB a couple of times and ordered off the regular menu, and had fabulous meals there - it's not just dim sum they do well.

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I've been to Foong Li in Bethesda twice, and I can't imagine spending money there again. It's mediocre Americanized chinese food at best, but at Bethesda prices.

Try going to Tony Lin's in Rockville, and asking for the Chinese menu.

I've been to HEOTB a couple of times and ordered off the regular menu, and had fabulous meals there - it's not just dim sum they do well.

I SWEAR I DID NOT ADD A SPACE AFTER THE "QUOTE" BEFORE ADDING MY REPLY ON THAT PREVIOUS POST BUT IT STILL LOOKS LIKE A TRIPLE SPACE...? I STARTED THAT ONE (AND THIS ONE) IMMEDIATELY BELOW THE WORD "QUOTE."

Well, I've been here 20.5 years and Tony Lin has gone up and down and up and down and up and down...we miss the House of Chinese Chicken. That place was quite good. And I acknowledge that Foong Li is nothing special, but it is reliable and nothing there turns my stomach.

Ellen

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I've been to Foong Li in Bethesda twice, and I can't imagine spending money there again. It's mediocre Americanized chinese food at best, but at Bethesda prices.

I've been to HEOTB a couple of times and ordered off the regular menu, and had fabulous meals there - it's not just dim sum they do well.

I agree with Dan - I have only had fabulous meals at HEOTB.

But please see my apples and oranges comment on the Foong Lin thread. Foong Lin is across from my office and has nothing in common with HEOTB. I still like Foong Lin's egg foo young.

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OK, so folks have continued to comment about my inability to order off a Chinese menu over in a different thread, so I am going to refer to their comments here. You all seem so dedicated to defending HEOTB that none of you have bothered to respond to the very specific comments I've made about the food.

Even more confusing, some of you have implied that I ordered Westernized Chinese food (as though that's an excuse for bad food) and some have implied that I ordered authentic Chinese dishes that I couldn't appreciate because I don't understand authentic Chinese cooking.

So let's sort it out.

1. Are you all telling me that the spicy shrimp wontons are:

a) only for people who have sophisticated Chinese palates and I should have stayed with egg rolls? - OR -

:) only for stupid Americans who can't be bothered to learn about Chinese food?

c) And in either case, the wontons are supposed to come in a greasy glop, and I'm just too uneducated in proper Chinese cooking to know that and to appreciate a thick film of orange grease all over my plate?

d) Why is Chinese grease good and American grease bad (many of you have commented on grease with regard to American good, and clearly think it is a bad thing).

2. Are you all telling me that chicken with scallions and ginger that has no ginger in it is:

a) only for people who have sophisted Chinese palates and I should have stayed with General Tso's chicken? - OR -

:angry: only for stupid Americans who can't be bothered to learn about Chinese food and know that Chinese ginger has no flavor?

3. Are you all telling me that because it is authentic, you LIKE having bits of bone in every bite of food? Just because something is authentic doesn't mean it is better. Foot binding is authentic, too, but I don't see you running around with mangled feet.

4. If you are all so enamored of authentic Chinese food, why aren't you all at Joe's Noodle House, eating duck tongue?

Authenticity is one thing, and if you like it, regardless of the drawbacks, more power to you. But authentic food can be prepared poorly, and I think that's the case at HEOTB. I would fully expect the Westernized food at HEOTB to be poorly prepared, too.

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Do you find it infuriating that the Invision Software converts your "b )" to a smiley face with sunglasses on it, thus lessening the dramatic impact of your post?  :)

You mean it isn't some subversive DR programming to make those who disagree with the mavens look like idiots? Man, it is a good thing I love [can't mention other restaurant in this thread, but you all know what I mean - the holy of holies - over in Arlington, soon to be in Silver Spring...]. Actually, I am having a rare streak of good days (two weeks, minus one day - an ALL-DAY faculty meeting this past Saturday canyabelieveit?) and counting, and it is a gorgeous day and I have had TWO good nights of sleep in a row, so Invision wasa probably just sensing my mood!

Ellen

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You asked for specific replies to your points...

1c) And in either case, the wontons are supposed to come in a greasy glop, and I'm just too uneducated in proper Chinese cooking to know that and to appreciate a thick film of orange grease all over my plate?

3. Are you all telling me that because it is authentic, you LIKE having bits of bone in every bite of food? Just because something is authentic doesn't mean it is better. Foot binding is authentic, too, but I don't see you running around with mangled feet.

4. If you are all so enamored of authentic Chinese food, why aren't you all at Joe's Noodle House, eating duck tongue?

Authenticity is one thing, and if you like it, regardless of the drawbacks, more power to you. But authentic food can be prepared poorly, and I think that's the case at HEOTB. I would fully expect the Westernized food at HEOTB to be poorly prepared, too.

It is possible you were at HEOB on a bad night. Maybe you just don't get "authentic Chinese food. Maybe you ordered the "wrong things." But your posts, except for the first, on two threads, seem to me not to just be a recap of your experience but a hostile attack on HEOB for serving the style cuisine they serve. If you don't like it, fine. But when your criticism seems to show a lack of understanding of what they are trying to do at HEOB, then you might get some flack, as you obviously did. In my case, I feel you are attacking them for their authenticity. Nothing you wrote seems to imply they are doing authentic badly. Just that you think dishes which sound mighty authentic in your descriptions are "authentic done badly". To answer your specific points:

Point 1 c)... yep thats exactly how it comes. Schezuan dishes often have a layer of "orange grease" due to their use of hot oil: peanut oil is heated till almost smoking and crushed chilis are tossed in. The chilis are turned almost black and all the heat winds up in the oil. The oil winds up bright orange. Some cooks add sesame oil to this which makes it thicker. More rustic cooking used the oil with the flakes, more refined tends to use just the oil. In a dish like spicy won tons, the usual recipe would call for a tablespoon of hot oil added to the dish. In fact in Schezuan cooking, the typical dish is cooked so the sauce separates into a pool of oil and a thick, intensely flavored sauce. This is a sign of good cooking in that culture.

Point 2... never had this dish so I will keep my mouth shut.

As to your point 3.... authenticty is authenticty. Chinese birds and meats are often served chopped up in small pieces bones and all. So are the ribs. That's the honest, proper, traditional way to do it. If you don't like getting bits of bones in your chicken, you should not order anything but boneless chicken dishes. So in this case, with your repeated insistence that something clearly authentic is bad, yes you are showing off your lack of experience with authentic Chinese food.

Point 4... Duck tongue, to me, has a greasy character that I don't particularly care for. I much prefer the beef tendon. Or the rabbit in spicy sauce. But be careful, because it is served chopped into little pieces with bits of bone. And their spicy wontons come with about a 3/8 inch layer of orange hot pepper oil on top.

Chinese restaurants, especially those in areas that are not predominantly Chinese, have to serve Westernized foods. While I have dined at HE & HEOTB perhaps 50 or more times, I have encountered a few off dishes. Most of the food is equal to what I used to get in Monterey Park in Southern California, an area with more authenticity in Chinese food than any other I have encountered. I put in a lot of time at the table, asking about the food to learn Chinese food. When I go to a restaurant that actually has authentic food, I do not expect the westernized food to be good and do all I can to avoid it.

HEOB to me has some of the best dim sum around: here, Monterey Park, LA, San Francisco, Chicago or New York. Their fresh seafood is spectacular (the razor clams are amazing in black bean and garlic sauce). Their cold meats are superb. They make one of the best pressed 5 spice beancurds around!. They do a fantastic job with greens and Chinese vegetables. I do think you have to be careful when ordering a stir fry... what I do is ask my waiter to recommend a pork or scallop or whatever dish and then I usually get something pretty darned good.

Don't like it... fine. But please don't imply that we are wrong for liking HEOTB.

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It is possible you were at HEOB on a bad night.  Maybe you just don't get "authentic Chinese food.
Actually, I don't know - for most of the items on the HEOTB menu - which items are authentic or not (or more or less authentic). That's why I didn't understand the responses. Some implied that I'd ordered authentic (but shouldn't have) and others implied that I'd ordered American Chinese (but shouldn't have). In addition to the chili insignia for spicy dishes, maybe they should also have a little character for authentic vs. Western. I recognize some of the items as traditional Chinese delicacies (sea cucumber, for instance) but how am I supposed to know if spicy shrimp wonton are authentic or not? And why should I care? It is my mouth. If it is good, great. If not, I won't like it, no matter how many Chinese seals of authenticity it has. This insistence on authenticity over quality smacks of massive food snobbery.
Maybe you ordered the "wrong things."  But your posts, except for the first, on two threads, seem to me not to just be a recap of your experience but a hostile attack on HEOB for serving the style cuisine they serve. 
How could I possibly criticize them for the kind of cuisine they serve, when it isn't clear which of those dishes the experts consider to be authentic/ersatz?
If you don't like it, fine.  But when your criticism seems to show a lack of understanding of what they are trying to do at HEOB, then you might get some flack, as you obviously did.  In my case, I feel you are attacking them for their authenticity.
Again, I can't attack them for authenticity or lack thereof when I don't know which of the dishes we ordered is considered authentic and which is not?
Nothing you wrote seems to imply they are doing authentic badly.  Just that you think dishes which sound mighty authentic in your descriptions are "authentic done badly".
One last time. Whether authentic or not, the food was not very good. That's why I explained in exactly so much detail what we found objectionable. I don't like critiques that don't give details. They are neither fair nor useful. I stated exactly what we didn't like. You are the first one to say, "but that's the way it is supposed to be" as to the properties that bothered us.
To answer your specific points:

Point 1 c)... yep thats exactly how it comes.  Schezuan dishes often have a layer of "orange grease" due to their use of hot oil: peanut oil is heated till almost smoking and crushed chilis are tossed in.  The chilis are turned almost black and all the heat winds up in the oil.  The oil winds up bright orange.  Some cooks add sesame oil to this which makes it thicker.  More rustic cooking used the oil with the flakes, more refined tends to use just the oil.  In a dish like spicy won tons, the usual recipe would call for a tablespoon of hot oil added to the dish.  In fact in Schezuan cooking, the typical dish is cooked so the sauce separates into a pool of oil and a thick, intensely flavored sauce.  This is a sign of good cooking in that culture.

Thank you for the first informative response I've received. I though this place was charactereized as Cantonese?
Point 2... never had this dish so I will keep my mouth shut.

As to your point 3.... authenticty is authenticty.  Chinese birds and meats are often served chopped up in small pieces bones and all.  So are the ribs.  That's the honest, proper, traditional way to do it.  If you don't like getting bits of bones in your chicken, you should not order anything but boneless chicken dishes.  So in this case, with your repeated insistence that something clearly authentic is bad, yes you are showing off your lack of experience with authentic Chinese food.

OK, so here's where it gets confusing again. I know this is traditional. But again, I didn't know or care if it was authentic. All I know is that it is an unpleasant experience for the eater. Well, neither one of us has to worry about it. Sooner or later, someone will choke on the bones (or have a bone perforate the esophagus or the stomach) and will sue. And in this great country that won't let us eat runny eggs or medium rare burgers, a law will be enacted that prohibits serving chicken with small bits of bone.
Point 4... Duck tongue, to me, has a greasy character that I don't particularly care for.  I much prefer the beef tendon.  Or the rabbit in spicy sauce.  But be careful, because it is served chopped into little pieces with bits of bone.  And their spicy wontons come with about a 3/8 inch layer of orange hot pepper oil on top. 

So basically, Chinese restaurants, especially those in areas that are not predominantly Chinese, have to serve Westernized foods.  While I have dined at HE & HEOTB perhaps 50 or more times, I have encountered a few off dishes.  Most of the food is equal to what I used to get in Monterey Park in Southern California, an area with more authenticity in Chinese food than any other I have encountered.  I put in a lot of time at the table, asking about the food to learn Chinese food.  When I go to a restaurant that actually has authentic food, I do not expect the westernized food to be good and do all I can to avoid it.

Still don't understand you. Whether western or so authentic that no one except a native-born Chinese person from one town in China would recognize it, it should be well-prepared. YOu are telling me that with regard to the wontons, they were well-prepared. I acknowledge that you obviously have more knowledge about this and thank you for sharing it with me.
HEOB to me has some of the best dim sum around: here, Monterey Park, LA, San Francisco, Chicago or New York.  Their fresh seafood is spectacular (the razor clams are amazing in black bean and garlic sauce).  Their cold meats are superb.  They make one of the best pressed 5 spice beancurds around!.  They do a fantastic job with greens and Chinese vegetables.  I do think you have to be careful when ordering a stir fry... what I do is ask my waiter to recommend a pork or scallop or whatever dish and then I usually get something pretty darned good. 
I wasn't there for dim sum.
Don't like it... fine.  But please don't imply that we are wrong for liking HEOTB.
You are within your rights to like HEOTB. But don't take what others said - a group of contradictory and confusing responses that confounded authenticity and quality - put those words in my mouth. I explained clearly and carefully what I liked and didn't like about the food. I really don't know or care if it is authentic or not. That's a nonissue for me.
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This thread has become about the most confused (note I said confused, not confusing) I have ever seen. It would be hopeless to try to react to all of it, but I will add a few general thoughts, with great trepidation, only to address the gap which has opened between the main protagonist and the rest of us, and that only for the benefit of any in the future who might stumble on this thread and wonder what it says about Hollywood East, or anything else for that matter.

Drive by seems to think she has been attacked for, among other things, not knowing "how to order from a Chinese menu." However, she herself as much as said that in her original post, and, her protests notwithstanding, for the rest of us to assume she didn't order well seems fair to me.

Just because one group has one bad experience at a restaurant does not indicate that is a bad restaurant. We all know that every restaurant has duds on the menu, and sometimes makes almost any dish not well. We might even accept that Db was served a poor meal. And reporting it is legitimate and useful for all. But the preponderance of experience we have all had at HEOTB clearly shows it is, on the whole, a good restaurant. For her to definitively claim otherwise based on a single bad experience is, at the least, not credible. For us to point this out is legitimate and fair, if nothing else to provide more and contrasting information for someone innocent who reads this in the future.

Db says the dishes were not well prepared. But she has also made it quite clear that she not only does not understand fine Chinese cuisine, but doesn't care that she doesn't understand it, and even actively avoids ever possibly reaching an understanding of it. [sentence deleted]

If Db isn't interested in authentic, fine. But in my view she is placing herself out of the "interest zone" of most here who care about food. Sure it's important that the food be good, "authentic" or not, but good is not the only criterion nor the be all and end all. Many if not most who take the trouble to post here and read this board are interested in understanding the evolution of cuisines, and believe that sampling the true cuisine of a people is an element in appreciating their culture. Cuisine is an art form, and the fine and authentic aspects are important. Judging simply based on what you like is OK, but not very erudite. If I may make an analogy, it's like those who think Rockwell (not Don, Norman) is a great artist. True his stuff is easy to like, but few rank him among the great artists. Similarly, you can have the best sweet and sour pork or egg foo yung in the world, but it's not and never can be great Chinese food.

Bones in hacked chicken is traditional, common, and authentic. On the bone is also the best way to cook any meat. Nuf said.

And by the way Joe's Noodle House is my go to restaurant in Montgomery County, and yes I have eaten duck tongues there.

Edited by DonRocks
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I continue to be disturbed by what I perceive is a pack mentality on the website. I have seen many times in the cases of DR.com sweethearts like Dino, Palena and Ray's that when a member speaks of a negative experience, they are beaten down like a fly with a swatter. Again, it is happening with this thread. DbC had a negative experience. Just because she may be less of a "foodie" or perhaps less sophisticated is irrelevant. She has every right to firmly express her opinion. It is up to the reader to decide the quality/credibility of her comments.

Looking at the opposite of johnb's argument, I would argue that 80% of the reviews for this restaurant have been positive. It is much more important to consider a negative review as "contrasting information" than continued positive reviews.

I also take some issue with the "interest zone" comment. Though it is certainly true that most people that frequent DR.com are sophisticated when it comes to food, what about the casual diner who is looking for quick information? Isn't it Rocks' goal to see membership to the website rise, which would mean pulling in less sophisticated members?

I think someone like DbC should be strong and defend their opinions in light of the attacks that inevitably will come.

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Perhaps this will end up deserving its own thread – “Appreciating Authenticity.” I will be the first to admit I know very little about Sichuan cuisine – never been there – wouldn’t know if what I am eating is authentic or not unless someone who knows from Sichuan assures me one way or the other. Do I know what I like when I taste it? Oh sure. So I was at Joe’s Noodle House not so long ago and ordered several dishes that I had read (right here on dr.com) were particularly good. I gamely tried all of them, but there were some that I didn’t like at all. To me they tasted “bad.” Not rotten-bad, I just didn’t like them. Were they authentic? Who knows? People argue about what an authentic Buffalo chicken wing is, right here in DC – just a few hundred miles from Buffalo. Pity the people in Sichuan trying to figure out if their Buffalo chicken wings are authentic or not! Imagine those chat board threads! “It is nauseating!” cries one. “No, no, in Buffalo blue cheese is supposed to stink like that” replies another, “they like it that way.” “No, impossible!” says a third, “I tasted real blue cheese when I spent six months in Beijing last year, and it didn’t taste like that, and it wasn’t in a sauce either.” So, whether something is authentic or not, prepared well or not, is a matter of perspective. What Drive-by-Critic is saying is that she did not like her food at HEOTB. She is as entitled to her opinion as anyone else, even if she only went there once.

Cuisine is an art form, and the fine and authentic aspects are important.  Judging simply based on what you like is OK, but not very erudite.  If I may make an analogy, it's like those who think Rockwell (not Don, Norman) is a great artist.  True his stuff is easy to like, but few rank him among the great artists.
[Don, I won't be insulted if you delete this] As for Norman Rockwell – JohnB, I have to respectfully disagree with you. The art establishment has been biased against Rockwell’s body of work for a very long time. He was a fine illustrator and a wonderful realist, narrative painter, but he was working in a time when modernism and abstract expressionism ruled the day. His paintings recently toured in a major retrospective at the Guggenheim, the Corcoran, the High and several other bastions of highbrow fine art. More than a few rank him as one of America's great artists (along with Andrew Wyeth, another realist narrative painter whose work has long been derided by many fine art critics.) Perhaps a better analogy would be to those who think that Roller Derby is a great American sport. no...wait... :)
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[Paragraph deleted]

Before leaving this board, I will explain one more time and hope that some of you will actually read it:

It isn't that I don't care to know what is authentic and what isn't. It is that it doesn't make a difference in whether a dish tastes good or not. Judge food by the taste, not the label.

Is that clear enough?

Now, as to the freaking bones. Cooking bone on the meat makes sense if you are cooking slowly. If cooked slowly, flavor and body can be imparted by the marrow. If you throw the pieces into a wok and cook them quickly, that does not occur. So nice try, but no cigar. I'm sure someone knows why the Chinese cut chicken this way, but does it matter? If it doesn't contribute to the flavor of the food, and if it requires the diner to perform surgery on the meal before eating it (or spit bones, or swallow a sharp bone), then perhaps they could try something new?

Don - I can't find an unsubscribe option? Would you be so kind as to perform the honors? I'm going back to eating in blissful ignorance. Thanks for the hospitality and for the time you and HillValley put into this venture.

Edited by DonRocks
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I continue to be disturbed by what I perceive is a pack mentality on the website.  I have seen many times in the cases of DR.com sweethearts like Dino, Palena and Ray's that when a member speaks of a negative experience, they are beaten down like a fly with a swatter.  Again, it is happening with this thread.  DbC had a negative experience.  Just because she may be less of a "foodie" or perhaps less sophisticated is irrelevant.  She has every right to firmly express her opinion.  It is up to the reader to decide the quality/credibility of her comments.

Looking at the opposite of johnb's argument, I would argue that 80% of the reviews for this restaurant have been positive.  It is much more important to consider a negative review as "contrasting information" than continued positive reviews.

I also take some issue with the "interest zone" comment.  Though it is certainly true that most people that frequent DR.com are sophisticated when it comes to food, what about the casual diner who is looking for quick information?  Isn't it Rocks' goal to see membership to the website rise, which would mean pulling in less sophisticated members?

I think someone like DbC should be strong and defend their opinions in light of the attacks that inevitably will come.

I agree with everything you said.

There often is a pack mentality here. Anyone can and should inform others of a bad experience at a "favored" restaurant, and I said so in my piece. But abstracting from that one experience to say that the restaurant is a bad restaurant, and to restate it in numerous posts as if it were gospel truth, is another thing entirely. That leaves the realm of information. Given the preponderance of evidence to the contrary, including my own experiences, I don't believe that taking a poster to task for promulgating such an opinion, as opposed to simply reporting an experience, is at all unfair. This poster made a big big point of her dislike of HEOTB which she characterizes as a bad restaurant not worthy of anyone's business, BASED ON A SINGLE VISIT, and as such opens herself to strong blowback.

There is nothing wrong with casual diners looking for, and posting, information here. To the contrary, the more the merrier, especially contrary information. My "interest zone" comment was directed to a more specific point; that judging food/a dish/a restaurant based only on whether one immediately likes the dish is only part of the story, particularly when going outside of one's native cuisine. The OP seems proud of the fact that she gives no weight to, or even knows, whether that's the way the dish is supposed to come out (i.e. is a sophisticated diner), only that she did or didn't immediately like it. As such, those who read her comments have every right to wonder, and really have no way to know, whether it really was "bad," or whether she just didn't know what she was eating. For example, I would say everyone who posts here likes dishes now that they didn't like the first time they tried them. Taking such a strong position as she has, while simultaneously admitting you really don't know much about what you're eating, seems at best rash to me. And again, I think it's fair to point that out. It goes straight to your point, which is that it is up to each reader to "decide the quality/credibility of her comments."

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[i just read through this thread, deleting the most recent post, and removing all references to a very poor choice of words.

Everyone is welcome and encouraged to both praise and criticize restaurants here.

Their opinions are fair game for scrutiny as long as there is no attempt to discredit the person.

Please direct any further issues regarding the progression of this thread to me via PM. This is not the place to discuss them.]

Aside from all this, I agree about the meat-cleaver method of chopping. It's often a lazy technique primarily used for speed, especially when whacking an eel.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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Seriously though, isn't that crumb stuff essentially the same as the stuff that makes Lake Windless prawns Lake Windless prawns?  Hollywood East also uses something similar for a clam dish they serve which is very tasty.  IIRC they also have a chicken dish with it, and I think they may do it with shrimp too.

They do and we leave that behind too.... actually their razor clams with black bean & garlic sauce.... mmmmmmmmmmmm

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Went for DimSum with adventurous daughter in tow and had mixed experience like at any other restaurant-all shades between excellent and truly bad. Ordered all of below, and without getting in any controversy must state that have spent 3 months in Shanghai and learnt to love authentic food of that area at least.

Steamed Shrimp dumpling--Good

Steamed pork dumpling-- A little bland for my taste

Steamed Spare ribs/BB sauce-- too much fat,Blackbeans non existent, should change the name of the dish

Pan fried turnip cake--humongous portion size; should have been more crisp

Steamed roast pork bun--too sweet and doughy for us

Pan fried chives/shrimp/pork dumplings--EXCELLENT, light, flavorful

Spring rolls--I think ticked by mistake and regretted it, dripping with grease and over fried

Shrimp rice noodle crepe--good, tasty had never eaten that before

Steamed vegetable crystal dumpling--very good, a must order for us on next visit

Service flags--saw a large group occupying the 4 large round tables and requested to bring atleast

two-three of our orders out and then take their own time for the rest, but NO, all 9 things landed on our

table after 35 minutes. Was suggested Kirin with the food and quite enjoyed it. From now on am going to mix and match beers irrespective of the cuisine.

Tea was poured the moment we sat down without our asking and then we were billed 0.75 each. Not a big amount but the server showed us the fine print on the card where they total the dim sum prices at the end. Like I wrote not a huge amount but the practise looks shady.

Overall will go again on a weekend to try more from their cart service.

Lucky the daughter is a light eater, I polished off everything; the only thing left was a plate of 2.5 greasy spring rolls.

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Overall will go again on a weekend to try more from their cart service.

Lucky the daughter is a light eater, I polished off everything; the only thing left was a plate of 2.5 greasy spring rolls.

On weekends, in addition to cart service, they bring out many special items on trays. It is worth keeping an eye out for these; they seem to appear at random intervals.

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On weekends, in addition to cart service, they bring out many special items on trays. It is worth keeping an eye out for these; they seem to appear at random intervals.

The only way to truly enjoy dim sum is to go when they have service from the carts. I fondly remember dim sum from the old SF days when you would point to what you wanted and at the end of the meal they would add up the number of plates on the table and give you the bill.

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The only way to truly enjoy dim sum is to go when they have service from the carts. I fondly remember dim sum from the old SF days when you would point to what you wanted and at the end of the meal they would add up the number of plates on the table and give you the bill.

For those of us who grew up in the SF area, the lack of circulating carts is anathema to our Sunday dim sum ritual. However, in Hong Kong, and many places in NYC Chinatown (including my favorite, Dim Sum GoGo) dim sum is ordered off the menu and the selections are freshly prepared and delivered hot from the kitchen. This obviates the need to situate oneself strategically close to the kitchen to get the best stuff off the carts, or to arrive at a particular time so as to not miss the highlights of the day. They still go through the ritual of stamping the card and adding things up at the end. And it's still enjoyable - yum cha and dim sum are about sharing time with family and friends.

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I went to HEOTB today at noon. I am just back from a week in Vancouver where I had Dim Sum twice so I had a fresh memory. HEOTB was very disappointing. I sampled a variety of steamed dumplings and they were uniformly thick and a bit gummy, not at all like their delicate cousins on the West Coast.

Nothing special at all.

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I went to HEOTB today at noon. I am just back from a week in Vancouver where I had Dim Sum twice so I had a fresh memory. HEOTB was very disappointing. I sampled a variety of steamed dumplings and they were uniformly thick and a bit gummy, not at all like their delicate cousins on the West Coast.

Nothing special at all.

There is a new thread on Chowhound about big declines in quality at HEOTB. If they are to be believed, it is hard to believe Janet Yu could still be there overseeing what is going on. Does anyone have any hard information?

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Given its location on our way home and late hours, we often stop off for a cold plate and some soup. We ahve noticed a fall off in consistency even though Janet and her husband are still both there. Given that service was never their strong suit, it is easy to go to Full Key or Paul Key as well. We ahve nto cut off HEOTB but our appearances are far fewer. For now.

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We were there for a Sunday dim sum back in January, and noticed the quality and variety wasn't quite up to the usual levels. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't "normal". We chalked it up to a one-time blip, but now I'm concerned and am anxiously awaiting Daniel's report.

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We stopped off for a late night dinner Saturday. We had a pretty typical for us order: Pork & watercress soup, Seafood tofu soup, baby bok choi with garlic, cold pressed 5 spice tofu. Everything was as good as we have ever had these dishes at Hollywood East OTB. The food was lighter and cleaner tasting, and the restaurant looked like it had been spruced up for New Year. We had a new server who was quite nice (ie asking us if we needed a fork instead of throwing one down at us as is usual there)

My impression is that maybe there had been a bit of burnout that caused a short lived down spike in quality & effort, but that seems to be over. I am looking forward to my next visit.

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[Paragraph deleted]

...

Now, as to the freaking bones. Cooking bone on the meat makes sense if you are cooking slowly. If cooked slowly, flavor and body can be imparted by the marrow. If you throw the pieces into a wok and cook them quickly, that does not occur. So nice try, but no cigar. I'm sure someone knows why the Chinese cut chicken this way, but does it matter? If it doesn't contribute to the flavor of the food, and if it requires the diner to perform surgery on the meal before eating it (or spit bones, or swallow a sharp bone), then perhaps they could try something new?

...

I might be late to the party but...

Yes, HEOTB is a Cantonese restaurant. I don't particularly care for Szchuan style food as it's way too spicy for my liking but I admire their use of peppers. To deangold's point, I believe it's peanut oil and not sesame oil that is heated to the smoking point and poured over food. Sesame oil has a low smoking point and turns bitter and acrid when heated to a high temperature. That's why it's added last to stir-fries and the like.

In regards to the chicken with the bone on it: yes, that's the authentic way and yes, we've been doing that way for centuries. Why? Well, if you had a small rice bowl that was about 3"-4" across and chopsticks, would it make sense to have a 1/4 chicken on the serving platter? How else would you eat the chicken if it wasn't hacked (proper term) into bite sized pieces. Here's the catch - if the seifu (master) is good and has a sharp blade there will not be any bone fragments. Alas, more often than not, that is not the case in restaurants. So bone fragments are a sign of a lazy chef who hasn't sharpened his cleaver in ages and doesn't know what the heck he's doing. Hacking is not the lazy chef's way out, it's just the way it's done. I think you'd get laughed out of a traditional-style Cantonese restaurant if you requested the chicken to be deboned and served. :o

And for the tea service charge at dim sum, that is standard practice at the majority of dim sum restaurants. It's not shady, it's just the way it's done. Like a corkage fee at a restaurant, a tea service is standard business practice for a dim sum restaurant. Usually at dim sum there are a greater variety of teas offered that go beyond the standard Chinese "oolong" (really a tea base) tea that's served during lunch/dinner service. Your choices, depending on the restaurant, usually range from (below in Cantonese):

-Gook Fa Cha (Chrysanthum tea, really a tisane) served w/ rock sugar on the side.

-Boo Nei Cha (I don't know the translation for this but it's a stronger, "red" tea. I think it's semi-fermented or fermented. But not like oolong)

-Gook Bo Cha (1/2 Gook Fa, 1/2 Bo Nei - a good compromise) served w/ rock sugar on the side

The less common ones (hard to find in the DC area):

-Hung Pen Cha (Jasmine)

-Tet Kun Yum Cha (Iron Goddess of Mercy - semi-fermented tea, fragrant)

-Kung Fu Cha (only found in upscale dim sum places in NY. I've not found it in the DC area. It involved a little cermony and a very expensive tea. There's a place up here in Flushing, NY that has a reserved dim sum ROOM for those who order the kung fu cha. At $5 a head, I'd better get my own freaking room.)

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-Kung Fu Cha (only found in upscale dim sum places in NY. I've not found it in the DC area. It involved a little cermony and a very expensive tea. There's a place up here in Flushing, NY that has a reserved dim sum ROOM for those who order the kung fu cha. At $5 a head, I'd better get my own freaking room.)

Sadly I've never seen this at any restaurant in the DC area, only at Ching Ching Cha in Georgetown which is primarily a tea house. But with my sweet tooth, I usually opt for the chrysanthemum tea with dim sum anyway.

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After a lng run of only having late night takeout from HEOTB, we stopped in for some Dim Sum. The experience was excellent in a strange way. All of the dim sum we had was pretty damned good except that it was stangely & very slightly bland. The dumpling skins were superb- thin when they should be thin and tichk when they should be thick. The meat balls were juicy and rich tasiting. The veggie fillings were jiucy and strongly flavored of the veggie. But it all tasted as if it needed a bit more ginger, a bit more garlic, a bit more green onion and a biut more salt or soy. Nothing was even remotely bad tasting or remotely pedestrain, just the tinyest bit bland. Not bland enough that we did not stuff our grubby little faces, just bland enough to make it a less than perfect experience. An 8 of 10 on a day when it could have easliy been a 10 of 10 experience. The service continues to be excellent, a welcome development at HEOTB since around the Chinese New Year.

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You mean it isn't some subversive DR programming to make those who disagree with the mavens look like idiots? Man, it is a good thing I love [can't mention other restaurant in this thread, but you all know what I mean - the holy of holies - over in Arlington, soon to be in Silver Spring...]

What? What?! Who? When? aargh

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We took our grandmother to the original location for her birthday last week. Our meal consisted mostly of items listed on the wall and not the regular menu.

My favorite dish by far was the shrimp balls (which were a good two to three inches in diameter), filled with scallops and came in a thick black bean sauce. The sauce was so good, that I mixed it with all the leftover rice to take home. The second-best dish was their special fried chicken, which translates literally to "hundred flavor wind cooked chicken" -- from what I can tell, the chef takes a whole chicken, cuts it into small pieces (including the head), and fries it with tons of herbs and spices in a loose breading. Unlike anything I've had before.

We also ordered some noodles, a hot pot casserole with shrimp, tofu, and rice noodles, and sauteed lotus root. No stinkers here either. The server overheard that it was our grandmother's birthday and decided to comp us a large bowl of ice cream with a candle. An unexpected and very kind gesture.

The food here is undoubtedly pricier than most other Chinese joints, but I will gladly pay a few extra dollars for dishes that are difficult to find (and prepared well) anywhere else in the area.

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One of my top meals in 2007 had to be the dinner last night at Hollywood East on the Blvd. After a looooong day a the restaurant, Kay & I got there at a little after 11 and expected to be turned away. But they welcomed us warmly. The wiater was new and very concerned that we enjoyed ourselves. Here is what we had:

Pork & watercress soup- incredible flavors if a little lukewarm temperature wine.

Baby clams in black bean sauce. Kay wanted to take home the sauce poured over rice after we were done eating the huge number of small, briny, fresh tasting clams. The sauce had hot peppers, soy, black beans and dried tangerine peel slivers! Great!

Baby bok choy with black mushrooms and garlic. Simple perfection. Black mushrooms stirfried in a thickened sauce of the mushroom liquid, soy, ginger, garlic atom lots of steamed baby bok choy with browned garlic slices.

5 huge scalpos on the half shell steamed with ginger & green onion. Chewy bands, nice row and incredible fresh scallops. They could have used 2-3 drops of soy and maybe 1/4 tsp of sesame oil each, but they were so simple, fresh & stark.

We left fat, dumber & happy for $76 including 3 beers.

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