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TNR Cafe (Tea, Noodles, Rice Cafe) - Surprisingly Decent Chinese on Wilson Blvd and N. Courthouse Rd, Courthouse


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We tried the TNR cafe the other night, and it was really not that bad. It may be a step up from just your local carry out, we will see in the coming weeks if that's true. The fried dumplings I had were very good. The owner's mother, who was waiting on tables give us a sampling of their ice cream, which was not made in house but very good. The coconut and lychee were very good! As for courthouse there really is no stand out restaurant, come to think of it, the only real star on Wilson Blvd. is Ray's. I do love the area inspite of it's lack of great places to eat, and diversity amoung it's residents.

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Decent Chinese in Arlington is hard to find, let alone getting delivery. In a burst of couch potatoness, we decided not to go out last night and tried to figure out how to get some decent Chiense delivered. After surfing for a while (and wondering why RTS doen't deliver), we took a gamble and ordered from TNR cafe AKA Tea Noodles Rice Cafe. Now there was no website to be found, and we were worried a bit about the translation, but our deliverly came quick and at $25 pretty inexpensive. We started with wonton and hot and sour soup. Both were good, and the wontons were house made. The hot and sour could have used a shot of vinegar. Next we had steamed dumplings, once again house made and very good. The entrees were Ma Po Tofu and Chow Foon, both were very good, and large portions.

What is there not to like, decent chinese, quickly delivered, and light on the wallet.

Tea Noodles Rice Cafe

2049 Wilson Blvd.

Arlington, VA 22201

703-875-0428

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Good to hear- we usually do Hunan Garden in Clarendon (or Hunan something...whatever it's called), which is fine with me cuz I'm not a chinese food snob. But TNR is closer and I've been curious about. Thanks for posting the number. Did you get a menu with your order? What are the entree prices like?

Now only if I could find a good Thai delivery....

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Prices are cheap all over. Entrees were 7-9 dollars and the portions huge.

See if Crystal Thai delivers to you. They have a wide delivery area.

Yentruoc said:
Good to hear- we usually do Hunan Garden in Clarendon (or Hunan something...whatever it's called), which is fine with me cuz I'm not a chinese food snob. But TNR is closer and I've been curious about. Thanks for posting the number. Did you get a menu with your order? What are the entree prices like?

Now only if I could find a good Thai delivery....

---

Crystal Thai (arlingtonkabob)

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Good to hear. We live in Clarendon (soon Va. Square) and the place we have been using on Glebe just north of Rte. 50 (the name of which escapes me) appears to have changed hands and gone downhill. It was ok, now unbearably greasy. Looking forward to trying TNR.

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My husband works across the street from TNR, so I've tried their food a few times. Their BBQ pork tastes and smells a bit odd to me - I can't pinpoint why. Too much soy sauce in the marinade? I've found that the friendliness of the service at the carryout counter is directly proportional to how much food I'm ordering. On my last visit I ordered just a wonton soup, and the atmosphere got rather chilly.

Still, it's decent Chinese in an area that's seriously lacking in decent Chinese, so I'm willing to cut it some slack.

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I recommend the pan-fried noodle dishes, though they fail the second most important thing about delivery food after taste: they don't reheat well the next day, since the noodles aren't crispy anymore. They're still very, very good.

The singapore noodles, however, appear to be lo mein dunked in old bay. Might work for you, not so much for me.

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We tried TNR last week and were really impressed. I couldn't believe how much food they gave for the prices they charged. I had a huge steamed tofu and vegtables for $8. Seriously, if I bought a block of tofu and all those vegtables it would have cost more to make it at home. I also liked that they gave you in almond cookie in addition to your fortune cookie with the check. I have not seen almond cookies since I left Chicago. Everything was fresh and tasty. It was pretty much empty though, so I hope they get the business they need to stay open.

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For anyone planning to go or order from TNR, I would highly recommend getting either the Chicken or Shrimp Ginger Casserole. Really interesting sauce, it tastes like nothing I think I have had before. I also appreciate the fact that they only lightly fry the shrimp or chicken that they give you so you are getting substance rather than breading.

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I thought I had posted about TNR since I've been there for lunch pretty regularly, but I guess I never got around to it. I've tried a few different dishes and have liked them all (most of the time). They have several noodle dishes - Cha Jiang Mein (or ja jien mein in the old menu) is one I've ordered several times - it's been different every time I've ordered it, too. I've seen this described as "Chinese spaghetti" and I guess that is a decent description. The dish consists of noodles topped with a fairly dry, dark, dense sauce of meat/tofu, along with bean sprouts. It is pretty mild; I like to add a bit of chili sauce to add some kick. I had one order that was really off - very dry and with a scorched taste, as if it had been on the stove way too long. This was during a transition in the kitchen and a recent order was very good - this is comfort food and hits the spot on a cold day.

I have also had the beef stew noodle soup - which was recommended by the owner. While not as good as the spicy beef soup at A&J, it does the job - lots of baby bok choy, slices of beef and noodles. I believe you can also get the same 'stew' over rice.

Today, I ventured to the 'Over Rice Meals' portion of the menu and ordered the "shredded beef and hot chilli over rice". I was a bit surprised when I opened the container and saw green peppers, having been expecting red chillis. Fortunately, my fear that they were green bell peppers was unfounded and they were a spicy green chilli - adding a nice kick to the tender pieces of beef. This is a very simple dish, with a light, flavorful sauce.

I have also tried the da lu mein - it's been a while, so I don't recall the details. I think it was light in color, had some greens or cabbage and no distinctive/memorable flavor - I haven't ordered it again. Maybe someone else can give an 'insider' description of the dish. Spring rolls are also good - light and not greasy, with shrimp and fresh cabbage, etc filling.

I'll have to eat in and try some of the other soups - it's a little cumbersome to assemble the components back at the office, as they are usually packaged separately (noodles in one container, soup/stew in another). Not a bad lunch spot and the prices are fairly reasonable - lunch portions are in the $5.95-6.95 range, with a few items at $7.95/8.95.

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I went there the other week for the first time, having an egg roll, wonton soup, and kung pao chicken. Very reasonably priced, I'm wondering if I had some kind of a discount in there (I was the only person in there), but it was all rather darn delicious.

I'm going to try to hit there again. That beef and hot chili sounds good...

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I went there the other week for the first time, having an egg roll, wonton soup, and kung pao chicken. Very reasonably priced, I'm wondering if I had some kind of a discount in there (I was the only person in there), but it was all rather darn delicious.

I'm going to try to hit there again. That beef and hot chili sounds good...

Maybe you had one of their lunch specials (there's a board by the door with typical Chinese-American dishes listed) - I think they include soup and (or?) an egg roll.

I forgot to mention that the new menu actually includes a translation of their "Authentic Chinese Cuisine" which had previously been untranslated. These items appear in the "Authentic Chinese Cuisine Meal" and can be ordered as family meals - 2 meals (entrees) and 1 soup are $17.95, 3 meals and 1 soup - $22.95. Dishes include fish fillet in bean paste sauce; sauteed beef and bitter melon; cured pork with garlic sprout; minced pork over spinach; and stewed bean curd. Soup choices include seaweed and egg drop and pork and szechuan pickle.

If anybody in the Courthouse area would like to meet up for lunch to try out some of these dishes, I'm game.

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I forgot to mention that the new menu actually includes a translation of their "Authentic Chinese Cuisine" which had previously been untranslated. These items appear in the "Authentic Chinese Cuisine Meal" and can be ordered as family meals - 2 meals (entrees) and 1 soup are $17.95, 3 meals and 1 soup - $22.95. Dishes include fish fillet in bean paste sauce; sauteed beef and bitter melon; cured pork with garlic sprout; minced pork over spinach; and stewed bean curd. Soup choices include seaweed and egg drop and pork and szechuan pickle.

Well, a light meal before judo turned into the 3 meals and a soup (we're gluttons, yes, but also wanted enough for lunches) that were amazing. I preface this with a caveat that I've never been able to order actual Chinese previously, other than some identically wonderful dim sum at A & J, so your mileage may vary if you've been ordering the real stuff for years.

That said, we had the cured pork with garlic sprout, taiwanese style crispy chicken breast, basil eggplant, and pork+szechuan pickle soup. The cured pork was dry cured slices of thick bacon, a black beanish sauce, and garlic shoots. The chicken involved incredibly tender cutlets, pounded thin, breaded, and fried. I'd love to know how they did it. Comes with a similar sauce to peking duck. The eggplant and basil is close to what you might find in a Thai place, but with a much richer sauce.

Give it a shot- we enjoyed it immensely, plus bubble tea and I believe free wi-fi.

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We had enjoyed this place for American-style Chinese delivery a couple of times - something sorely lacking in Arlington. But I doubt we will no longer go back to TNR. We had delivery a few weeks ago, and it was so bad it was insulting. I mean, really, really bad. I don't know how they could have let that slop out of the kitchen.

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We had enjoyed this place for American-style Chinese delivery a couple of times - something sorely lacking in Arlington. But I doubt we will no longer go back to TNR. We had delivery a few weeks ago, and it was so bad it was insulting. I mean, really, really bad. I don't know how they could have let that slop out of the kitchen.

Details, please!

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I think I've mostly blocked it. :D

Other than way too much garlic in everything, the thing that sticks out in my mind was the orange beef. Huge, flabby, greasy pieces of meat in a cloyingly sweet sauce. Blecch.

We ate a taste of everything and threw the rest out.

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I eat there regularly - typically, I like what I get and occasionally a dish is a miss. When I post on here, I usually try to focus on the good spots: for instance, they have some of my favorite crab rangoons in the area, and good steamed dumplings.

I got the kung pao chicken and honestly, I'm surprised by my comments from (ugh) 3 years ago? I wonder if it's the same. But I just had to write it down: it wasn't good.

It's way overdone, and as soon as it showed up I remembered that it's that way every time I forget and order it again (which is why I'm writing it down!). The sauce is nearly blackened on the chicken and vegetables, and the chicken itself is quite chewy.

So, I'm writing it down, so I don't make the same mistake again. Hopefully.

But overall, it's still one of my more favorite places to go in the area, and the service is always super friendly, even when it's packed.

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For anyone planning to go or order from TNR, I would highly recommend getting either the Chicken or Shrimp Ginger Casserole. Really interesting sauce, it tastes like nothing I think I have had before. I also appreciate the fact that they only lightly fry the shrimp or chicken that they give you so you are getting substance rather than breading.

7.5 years later and both of these remain excellent dishes.  The casserole cooked in a tasty Hunan sauce, garnished with ample vegetables and mushrooms plus substantive jumbo shrimp or chicken offer tremendous value.  And they both taste damn good.  Order one of those and another dish, partake in a good bit of sake and you will waddle out of there a very content happy camper.

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It isn't as good as it was when it opened 10(!) years ago but they are decent and I will give one more shout out to the pork and szechuan pickle noodle soup over then specials. They actually make decent bubble tea in-house--not the pre-prepared stuff in individual cups that some places sell. The quality varies depending on the day or who makes it. 

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On 6/25/2016 at 4:28 PM, ArlFred said:

It isn't as good as it was when it opened 10(!) years ago but they are decent and I will give one more shout out to the pork and szechuan pickle noodle soup over then specials. They actually make decent bubble tea in-house--not the pre-prepared stuff in individual cups that some places sell. The quality varies depending on the day or who makes it. Their shrimp toast is addicting.

Interesting. I've only every ordered delivery from them and didn't realize they sold bubble tea. Now that I live walking distance away, I'll have to consider some bubble tea. 

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Off and on, after quite a few years, TNR remains my fave takeout/ and sometimes stop by place for quick meals in the Rosslyn/Courthouse/Clarendon area.  Food usually good and better, service very nice, prices still reasonable and better than most.  Going back upthread this place has maintained a reasonably good quality level for the life of this forum.

Got takeout the other week, stopped by in the past week.  TNR virtually never fails.

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I just meandered into TNR.  They took over an adjacent vacant space and finished a renovation about one month ago.  They are now renovating the original space, which will mean an expanded sit down restaurant.  I've tended to either take out or eat a late dinner there at times and our office brings in lunch takeouts.  It remains a local favorite of mine with decent food/not spectacular, excellent prices, nice service and an overall rating of great value.  The new space is clean modern and includes a bar.  I guess they are looking for expanded sit down service.  Chatted with the staff a bit:  I don't think they are making radical changes with the menu.  One favorite more original less non Americanized dish is the ginger shrimp casserole.  It has maintained its quality for a number of years.

Below is one quick view of the new space.

TNR.jpg.dd081dc1a4e895e84030221efee8fb34.jpg

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On 8/25/2016 at 12:29 PM, DaveO said:

TNR virtually never fails.

When it is good it is very, very good, and when it is bad it is horrid.  My experiences with TNR take-out delivery:

  • 1st time:  pan-fried meat dumplings, beef with broccoli, sweet and sour pork.  Everything top-notch
  • 2nd time:  pan-fried meat dumplings, beef with broccoli, sweet and sour pork.  Pork meat tasted very old and off
  • 3rd time:  pan-fried meat dumplings, beef with broccoli, sweet and sour shrimp.  Rationale:  they can't give me old shrimp.  Guaranteed fresh.  I was so wrong.  Apparently, they had taken some old sweet and sour shrimp, re-battered it and fried it again.  Disgusting big lumps of old shrimp and tons of old and new batter.  Had to throw out.
  • 4th time:  pan-fried meat dumplings, beef with broccoli, sweet and sour pork.  Keeping fingers crossed pork will be fresh.  Pork was indeed fresh but full of gristle I couldn't eat.  Oh well, better than old meat, right.
  • 5th time:  everything good again.

I haven't given up but wish I knew how to get them to give me better consistency with sweet and sour pork.  Dumplings and beef/broc always great.

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4 minutes ago, hopsing said:

Apparently, they had taken some old sweet and sour shrimp, re-battered it and fried it again.  Disgusting big lumps of old shrimp and tons of old and new batter.  Had to throw out.

Eeeeeww-weee! You know, it's not impossible that the old shrimp had been served before (why else would they have old, battered shrimp?) This is one of the nastier things I've heard recently.

I'm wondering just what possessed you to make that fifth order.

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18 minutes ago, hopsing said:

When it is good it is very, very good, and when it is bad it is horrid.  My experiences with TNR take-out delivery:

  • 1st time:  pan-fried meat dumplings, beef with broccoli, sweet and sour pork.  Everything top-notch
  • 2nd time:  pan-fried meat dumplings, beef with broccoli, sweet and sour pork.  Pork meat tasted very old and off
  • 3rd time:  pan-fried meat dumplings, beef with broccoli, sweet and sour shrimp.  Rationale:  they can't give me old shrimp.  Guaranteed fresh.  I was so wrong.  Apparently, they had taken some old sweet and sour shrimp, re-battered it and fried it again.  Disgusting big lumps of old shrimp and tons of old and new batter.  Had to throw out.
  • 4th time:  pan-fried meat dumplings, beef with broccoli, sweet and sour pork.  Keeping fingers crossed pork will be fresh.  Pork was indeed fresh but full of gristle I couldn't eat.  Oh well, better than old meat, right.
  • 5th time:  everything good again.

I haven't given up but wish I knew how to get them to give me better consistency with sweet and sour pork.  Dumplings and beef/broc always great.

And I've been told I need to diversify my meal choices and try different things.....;)   LOL

Possibly I'm not that discerning, or possibly because I invariably pick up take out orders, or possibly both, I don't have problems with their takeout. or its probable I don't order beef with boroccoli and sweet and sour pork. (shrugs)

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1 hour ago, DaveO said:

Possibly I'm not that discerning, or possibly because I invariably pick up take out orders, or possibly both, I don't have problems with their takeout. or its probable I don't order beef with boroccoli and sweet and sour pork. (shrugs)

Can you tell me what you like there?  I'm willing to try different dishes (although it will be a fight with my husband).

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36 minutes ago, hopsing said:

Can you tell me what you like there?  I'm willing to try different dishes (although it will be a fight with my husband).

Some of the dishes I like include:

Some of the noodle soup dishes I haven't tried the pickled one.

From the specials I like the two casseroles, with favoring the shrimp one.  They are both good, and I think the shrimp one was applauded by someone else upthread.  I generally always like triple delight.  Their's is good, not remarkably special.  I'm also favorably disposed to their crispy beef.  For some reason I've never had the Peking duck.   I tend to order chicken rather than other proteins.  I like the chicken with asparagus, with garlic, and the eggplant one.  I order the chicken with eggplant a lot.  Large pieces of eggplant. 

Obviously though it all depends on taste.    It could well be I'm either not that discerning on takeout or the orders for takeout come out fresher when you pick them up.  I wouldn't know.  It is a rare day in hell when I get an order delivered.  I have this "thing" about picking up food.  (call me old fashioned or cheap). 

When I walked in the other day the guy (I think one of the owners sons) and I started chatting.  I didn't recognize him but he had taken our bartending class a couple of months ago  (I guess he was preparing for their new bar).  He knew I ordered the shrimp casserole dish.  Imagine that!!!

For a local Chinese takeout I favor it.  OTOH I wouldn't travel miles to go there.  I'd go to Rockville for far better and more special Chinese or Falls Church

 

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4 hours ago, hopsing said:

I don't know.  Desperate for a good Chinese carryout, I guess.  It worked that time, but every order is a crap shoot.

Why don't you Grub Hub Hunan Gate?  I think they likely have a better record.  The Chinese menu has some interesting things, but Hubby is always pretty satisfied with the beef and broccoli and etc.  I have never had off pork or re-used shrimp.

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We tried them a couple of times (long ago, right after Hsian Foong closed).  I liked it (esp. beef/broccoli) but my husband didn't like it.  Don't remember why and he probably doesn't either. Perhaps we ordered the lemon chicken which we loved at Hsian Foong and it was not good.  I think it is time to give them another try.  Thanks!

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Never had the lemon chicken, so it could be a bust.  I like the dumplings with sour napa, the other dumplings, the hand pulled noodles (soup or entree), mapo tofu.  Over the phone they aren't great with giving me actually spicy stuff, but they recognize us sometimes when we go in, we will have to work on this once we move.  I never order off the American Chinese menu, but Hubby has had hunan something, kung pao chicken, cashew something, cumin lamb, general tso.  He gets their egg rolls, I am not crazy about those either, I would rather have the pan fried dumplings, but he seems to like it well enough to go back somewhat frequently instead of getting delivery from other places.  It's right next to our house so he goes a lot when I am gone.

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22 hours ago, hopsing said:

We tried them a couple of times (long ago, right after Hsian Foong closed).  I liked it (esp. beef/broccoli) but my husband didn't like it.  Don't remember why and he probably doesn't either. Perhaps we ordered the lemon chicken which we loved at Hsian Foong and it was not good.  I think it is time to give them another try.  Thanks!

Ah, I still miss Hsian Foong a lot. Especially the Hsian Foong chicken and the sesame broccoli. Haven't found another place with sesame broccoli.

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Since it expanded into the adjacent space and built out a new restaurant TNR has added more authentic dishes to its menu.  The additional menu is printed in both Chinese and English.   A local foodie raved about the expanded menu and I tried the Shrimp with two spices (Shrimp with salt).  I thought very tasty.   Additionally, having been going there for years either to eat in or take out, they do treat me very well as a regular and it is appreciated.   I still think TNR is an excellent local takeout option...and its expanded menu and more attractive decor make it a better dine in choice.   Lastly it is remarkably inexpensive for good quality food.

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TNR as an excellent neighborhood joint

I've enjoyed TNR as a local Chinese restaurant and an excellent take out alternative for many years.  Now that it has doubled in size, completely redesigned the restaurant and added a bar it is additionally a fine neighborhood joint.  On Sunday I met a friend to eat Chinese food, drink a bit, while watching some of the football on TV.

So there we were;  two locals somewhat breaking in the bar (which had certainly seen many customers in the last two months) with a wide screen TV and some sound, and a variety of dishes and drinks.

Hot and sour soup, egg rolls, moo shu pork, salt and pepper seafood, a couple of beers;  a competitive playoff game, and very few customers in the late afternoon.  The game went into overtime and so did we.  TNR added some Americanized desserts plus coffee...and that is where we "broke in the bar";  adding a sampling of Irish Coffee type drinks:  Coffee and Jamesons, Coffee and Kahlua, Coffee and Bailey's with some of their desserts.  We christened the Bailey's which had yet to have been opened.  The Irish coffee drinks were completely new to them and we gave them simple directions:   Coffee and 1.5 ounces of the booze,  Skip the lump sugar and whipped cream, but add some milk or cream for the coffee. 

Admittedly the desserts and coffee were incongruent, but the liquor negated the incompatibility and we got to mutually enjoy a game while eating good food in relative peace and quiet, with we being the "noise makers", not some other yokels. 

Oh yeah...The Saints were robbed.

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