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Mark's Duck House, Seven Corners - Hong Kong Style with Peking Duck in Willston Center


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The economics of the restaurant business being what theya re, I cannot think of a single great chinese restaurant in the DC area that doesn't ahve a laundry list of dishes that do not fit in their regional style.

A&J? perhaps not "great"... but at least very good.

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I continue to have enormous affection for Mark's Duck House. The dim sum is variable, to say the least, but if you stick with their noodle soups and roast meats, I don't think they'll let you down. I had a mess of their roast pig just 3 or 4 weeks ago, and it was as good as it ever was, and that is very good indeed.

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Ordered something for dim sum that I've never seen before - braised beef tendons, a small plate of hot (as in temperature), peppery (the black kind), soft and slightly chewy tendons that one might mistake for a mound of fat. The picture is from the internet, the version at Mark's is a shade whiter, but fairly tasty. I managed to order $37 of of food by myself, a bargain it is not but everything I had today was pretty good, including black bean clams, turnip cakes, shark fin dumplings, chicken feet, chives dumpling, and a plate of roast pork (which is $12 or $13 by itself, and by far the worst dish - I think there's too much fat left).

braised+beef+tendons.JPG

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Kong Hee Fat Choi everybody! For the traditional Chinese New Year meal, my wife and I went to Mark's Duckhouse this evening. Ordering from the New Years specials we had the steak in pepper sauce (asked for it "not too cooked" and it came out really succulent and tender) a vegetarian mix featuring lotus root and lots of snow peas and meaty mushrooms, which was also quite good, but needed some chili paste to kick up the lotus root which really doesn't have much of its own taste, some noodles with a seafood medley ( I thought this was good, but my wife said it disappointed her because of too much soy sauce) and a really great pigs knuckle with choi sum. All of these dishes are featured during New Years because their Chinese names are double entendres for things like money, long life, happiness, etc.

Anyway, I post this because several of my recent previous visits to Mark's had led me to believe that it had gone downhill since being taken over by new management a couple of years ago. This evening, however, has led me to revise that view. The service was excellent (although we dined early -- before the dinner/New Years crush), the food was fresh and well-prepared and the wine list -- paired down but respectable and at a good price point. I enjoyed a couple of glasses of Bastgen Blauschiefer, an off-dry riesling which was a perfect enhancement to the dishes we had. Mark's will be back on our rotation.

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Four of us had a late dim sum (2pm) today at Mark's Duck House.

We had a yummy feast including shrimp dumpling (great shrip but the dumpling was a bit chewy) sui mei, Roast Duck (quite yummy and tender), bbq pork, fried shrmp ball (more a hush puppy with touch of shrimp) Fried shirmp in seawed, pan-fried turnip cake (one 'loved it', three okay) pan fried chives dumplings, stuffed crab claw (dry), chinese broccoli with oyster sause, steamed roast pork bun, fried pork and shrimp turnover (very yummy)

Once you slow down they bring you a placement of options to see if you want to special order anything you missed - but the things we wanted (baked roast pork bun, scallop dumpling, fried sesame ball, pineapple buns, were all 'sold out' so if you have special wants I suggest going earlier, but be prepared to wait (a friend was there at noon and had an hour wait, by 2 there was a 5 min wait)

Tea was good but non-discript. Tables were tight. Service was friendly and quick.

Lunch for 4 was $78 including tip.

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I keep wishing for a better dim sum place in NOVA then MDH. Its one of those places, where I go because its the best of the bunch but that isn't saying a whole lot and I don't want to make the trek to gaithersburg or HEB. Why can't NOVA produce and support a really good dimsum place?

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I agree with your review but I do want to point out that Mark's Duck House, across the street (Rt. 50) from Fortune does pushcart dim sum on weekends. I personally prefer Mark's over Fortune, but Mark's isn't significantly better.

Last time I was aware, Mark's Duck House did pushcart dim sum seven days a week. Don't they do that any more?

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The Wife and I celebrated Chinese New Year again at Mark's and had a great meal odering from the New Year menu (stuff that has a double entendre -- in Chinese -- meaning for health, wealth, good fortune etc.). This year our choices included pepper steak, walnut shrimp and clay-pot braised pork shank. since it was just the two of us we have plenty of left-overs. Unfortunately our experience was marred at the very end when I asked our waiter for a cork for the bottle of riesling I ordered, so I could take it with me. He informed me that I couldn't take wine out and I said that in VA, I could, then the manager came over and said the same thing. Again I insisted that a wine and beer license for a restaraunt in VA explicitly states that any beverage ordered and begun in the establishment, but not finished, could be taken out by the customer in a sealed bottle. The owner came over and again stated their license was for in-house only. I got exasperated and upended the one third full bottle in the wine bucket and said, I would not be back. Have I missed a memo or something, and we are no longer permitted to take unfinished wine out of a restaurant in VA?

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The Wife and I celebrated Chinese New Year again at Mark's and had a great meal odering from the New Year menu (stuff that has a double entendre -- in Chinese -- meaning for health, wealth, good fortune etc.). This year our choices included pepper steak, walnut shrimp and clay-pot braised pork shank. since it was just the two of us we have plenty of left-overs. Unfortunately our experience was marred at the very end when I asked our waiter for a cork for the bottle of riesling I ordered, so I could take it with me. He informed me that I couldn't take wine out and I said that in VA, I could, then the manager came over and said the same thing. Again I insisted that a wine and beer license for a restaraunt in VA explicitly states that any beverage ordered and begun in the establishment, but not finished, could be taken out by the customer in a sealed bottle. The owner came over and again stated their license was for in-house only. I got exasperated and upended the one third full bottle in the wine bucket and said, I would not be back. Have I missed a memo or something, and we are no longer permitted to take unfinished wine out of a restaurant in VA?

Page 21 of the Virginia Retail Licensee Guide:

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Q. A couple dining at your restaurant order a bottle of wine during dinner and do not finish drinking all of it.

Are they allowed to take it home?

A. Yes. The couple may take the wine home as long as it is still in the original bottle and it has been

resealed. [3 VAC 5-40-30]

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Page 21 of the Virginia Retail Licensee Guide:

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Q. A couple dining at your restaurant order a bottle of wine during dinner and do not finish drinking all of it.

Are they allowed to take it home?

A. Yes. The couple may take the wine home as long as it is still in the original bottle and it has been

resealed. [3 VAC 5-40-30]

Many Thanks for the reassurance! I feel embarrassed for losing my cool, nevertheless. A violation of my code.

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The Wife and I celebrated Chinese New Year again at Mark's and had a great meal odering from the New Year menu (stuff that has a double entendre -- in Chinese -- meaning for health, wealth, good fortune etc.). This year our choices included pepper steak, walnut shrimp and clay-pot braised pork shank. since it was just the two of us we have plenty of left-overs. Unfortunately our experience was marred at the very end when I asked our waiter for a cork for the bottle of riesling I ordered, so I could take it with me. He informed me that I couldn't take wine out and I said that in VA, I could, then the manager came over and said the same thing. Again I insisted that a wine and beer license for a restaraunt in VA explicitly states that any beverage ordered and begun in the establishment, but not finished, could be taken out by the customer in a sealed bottle. The owner came over and again stated their license was for in-house only. I got exasperated and upended the one third full bottle in the wine bucket and said, I would not be back. Have I missed a memo or something, and we are no longer permitted to take unfinished wine out of a restaurant in VA?

Like this place has ever cared about VA wine code?!

Man, you want to talk about thumbing your nose at the law for the past 15+ years ...

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Like this place has ever cared about VA wine code?!

Man, you want to talk about thumbing your nose at the law for the past 15+ years ...

Absolutely true. Not going to violate your rules here, though, with a discussion of concrete examples. Let's just say when the violations were in my favor I didn't mind. Suggest we start an "Alice's Restarurant" movement by having Rockwellians order bottles of wine here and try to walk out with the unused portions. Maybe it will stimulate the management to actually take a look at the basic regulations.

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So, as of the first, Marks is under new ownership; one of the current staff bought it, and the previous owners are retiring. Will be going soon with the parents to investigate.

Good news in that it keeps going with fresh blood. Can you find out the names of key personnel, with correct spellings? Have them call or write me directly if you need to.

And urge them to pay someone $20 to proofread their menu. :)

Thanks for the intel Jenn,

Don

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Went back to Mark's tonight with the family. Because, clearly we hadn't eaten enough yesterday...

The energy level in the restaurant is elevated; staff *and* patrons seem happier. Nearly every dish we ate tonight was the best we'd ever had it there. The snow pea shoots were tender, garlicy, and had no hint of bitter. The lobster on noodles was outstanding; even those of us that inevitably eschew the lobster for the noodles, picked the lobster clean tonight. A fiesty black bass (it took about 3 staff members to catch the wily fish) made a fantastically delicious sacrifice. The tofu was pillowy. The peking duck we inhaled, aided by the fact that it actually *came with enough tortillas.* Dessert was a really airy coconut dish, somewhere between a pudding and a marshmallow, cut into chilled cubes, and served with orange slices.

The new owner was not hiding behind the front desk like the prior owners but walking the floor, chatting with patrons, checking in on how the meals were progressing. Mark's tonight was better than it's been in the 5 years I've been going with Nick's family; John says earnestly that he's working to make it even better in the future, and I think he's on track to do so.

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I went to Mark's to check out how their dim sum is these days. My impression, lots of variety, decent quality, but pretty expensive. A small plate of stir-fried chives was $8. Sticky rice with chicken was $6. They had lots of greens, Chinese broccoli, baby bok choy, and the aforementioned sauteed chives. They had clams as well as sea-snails with black bean sauce. Quality may be slightly lower than Hong Kong Pearl but many many more variety.

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I sadly agree. There two weeks ago and was disappointed compared to a prior visit last year. Mark's went down noticeably (due to ownership change?) & now this once-reliable port.

I concur on Mark's. On Saturday, I was in the mood for a cold Vietnamese salad, but the parking lot at Eden was so full I ended up at Mark's. This is the first time I have been there since the management change and I will not go back for dim sum. Few selections, most items were out too long and past their prime. Prices have gone up too

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Saturday morning 10-11, the restaurant was probably only half full.  Everything was pretty good, better than HK Pearl in any case, but nothing was spectacular.  The har gow and siu mai were decent.  The best dishes were tripe, chicken feet and daikon cake.  My brother enjoyed the roast pork (served room temperature) - very crispy and crunchy skin.  The fried taro dumpling was also served at room temperature.  

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Saturday morning just after 10.  The restaurant was at most half full while I was there.  The dim sum comes out first in trays and then they go into the steam cart.  The same people that ran it that last time I went are still running the place, but they have some very new staff.  I tried some chicken feet ($4.5), spare ribs ($4.5) with black bean sauce, daikon cake (very black peppery, $4.5), shark fin dumpling (no shark fin but lots of cilantro, 4 for $6.5), and spring rolls (3 for $5.5).  The spring rolls' filling is a mystery to me, tastes a little yammy but I couldn't be sure.  The prices may have gone up a little since my last visit.  Quality is good/decent, on par with Vinh Kee (but I like Vinh Kee because you order off a menu).  With the carts, you never know what's available.  They did update the dining room, it's bright and clean-looking now.

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