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Random Friday Question: What is the Region's Best Chinese Restaurant?

Where can you find the best Chinese food in the Washington area? Visitors from cities with thriving and densely populated Chinatowns tend to scoff at the District's "Chinablock," especially since the Abe Pollin Arena came along and transformed the East End into a far more varied neighborhood of restaurants, bars and shops.

What those visitors fail to note is that the overwhelming majority of the region's Asian and immigrant populations are in the suburbs, making the food scene here quite different from those in cities with traditional Chinatowns, such as San Francisco, New York, Seattle or Vancouver.

Today's Random Friday Question: Where are the Washington area's best Chinese eateries?

A survey of the top food blogs, foodie sites and restaurant critics in the region quickly narrows the field to a handful of candidates:

Bob's Noodle 66 in downtown Rockville.

Joe's Noodle House in Rockville.

A&J on the Pike in Rockville and on Markham Street in Annandale. Great dumplings and northern Chinese exotica in a tight, but homey setting.

Hong Kong Palace in Falls Church, China Star on Rt. 236 in Fairfax, and Mark's Duck House in Willston Center in Falls Church--all recommendations of the great and fantabulous Tyler Cowen, the bard, seer and grand explorer of suburban ethnic dining. If you do not know and study his astonishing online guide to suburban eateries, you do not qualify to opine on the Washington area food scene.

For dim sum, here's a fine list from Julia Watson's

China Doll Gourmet, 627 H St NW, 202 289 4755
Mr Yung's, 740 6th NW, 202 628 1098
Hunan Number One, 3033 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, 703 528 1177
Fortune Chinese Seafood Restaurant, Seven Corners Center, Falls Church, 703 538 3333
Fortune of Reston Restaurant, North Point Village Shopping Center, Reston, 703 318 8898
China Chef, 11323 Georgia Ave, Wheaton, 301 949 8170
Good Fortune, 2646 University Blvd West, Wheaton, 301 929 8818

Missing from that list are two big places that are very popular spots for Chinese families to hold wedding parties: Good Fortune, a sprawling place in Gaithersburg, and China Garden, in the Channel 7 building in Rosslyn.

Nominations, judgments?

By Marc Fisher |  July 27, 2007; 7:49 AM ET
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Tony Lin's has been at R'ville Pike and Randolph Road for decades. The food is fantastic.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 27, 2007 9:05 AM

Joe's Noodle House is great -- in my experience, they have the best dumplings in the city, hands down -- but I have to say Full Kee in Chinatown is better.

Maybe it's because my parents used to take me there a lot when I was a little kid (I learned how to use chopsticks there when I was four) but there's nothing better than a plate of beef chow foon from Full Kee.

Posted by: Gabe | July 27, 2007 9:09 AM

"best Chinese food"? They're all the same to me...just how many ways can you fry rice or chop an onion???

Posted by: C one, U C them all | July 27, 2007 9:09 AM

Joe's Noodle House is great -- in my experience, they have the best dumplings in the city, hands down -- but I have to say Full Kee in Chinatown is better.

Maybe it's because my parents used to take me there a lot when I was a little kid (I learned how to use chopsticks there when I was four) but there's nothing better than a plate of beef chow foon from Full Kee.

Posted by: Gabe | July 27, 2007 9:10 AM

Please don't include China Garden on any "best" list. It might have the trappings of a nice restaurant, with better than average decor for a Chinese restaurant, but the food is just average and the service is particularly bad. The popular dim sum on weekends is typically cold and you get the feel of being herded in and out, even when there is no wait at the door.

I would certainly second Bob's and A&J, but they should be chosen particularly for their specialisties, namely Taiwanese noodles and weekend breakfast menu, respectively.

In my book, some of the best Cantonese seafood/banquet menus are Oriental East in Silver Spring, and Silver Fountain in Wheaton. For a hole-in-the-wall, but authentic flavor, try Full Key in Wheaton

Posted by: Missing for good reason | July 27, 2007 9:11 AM

There is no Good Fortune in Gaithersburg. There is a New Fortune, which is owned by the same people who own Good Fortune in Wheaton. IMHO, New Fortune is not so great. I grew up in Monterey Park, CA where there are amazing Chinese restaurants and have yet to find anything in the DC area that comes close. The subject of Chinese food in DC is a depressing one for me. A&J is probably the best I've had so far.

Posted by: Gaithersburg | July 27, 2007 9:16 AM

Full Kee in Chinatown is hands down the best.

Posted by: Laney | July 27, 2007 9:17 AM

Hollywood East in Wheaton. Particuraly there specials. Yum!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 27, 2007 9:24 AM

I grew up in New York and went to Dallas of all places for business. The Chinese food there was way better than any I have ever tasted here. You can actually taste the food not the grease.

The guy who said all Chinese food taste the same grew up in Washington DC area. There is suppose to be significant nuance in taste. Everything isnt suppose to be greasy, spices and textures are suppose to be noticeable.

When I lived in New York, I liked sesame chicken did not care for orange chicken, here it does all taste the same.

I will try your recommendations on the list, and see if my opinion of the Chinese food will improve.

Next thing to work on the Pizza and bagels. Two words for DC, water softener.

Posted by: FROM NYC | July 27, 2007 9:34 AM

Go to Oriental Regency on Westwood Drive in Vienna/McLean, just off Rt. 7 and the Toll Road. Great Peking duck. Good selection of food, including regional dishes. Not greasy.

Posted by: McLean, VA | July 27, 2007 9:47 AM

Think I've tried most of the finer joints in the Wheaton area and have found China Gourmet, 3739 University Blvd., Kensington (301-946-9400), to be right up with the best I've had in the region.

What's best? Heck, after awhile you're just nit-picking, but places like China Gourmet, where they make fried rice fresh and with fried egg, make them stand out from the standard fare, where most places buy from a food service and all taste much the same--blah.

China Gourmet is a big-time winner, IMO

Posted by: rickNmd | July 27, 2007 9:51 AM

Jade Billows in Potomac.

The food is superior, the service is friendly and accommodating, the prices are reasonable, and there is plenty of parking.

Posted by: gitarre | July 27, 2007 9:52 AM

People who think Chinese foods are just all about fried rice, they have missed out a lot of good foods. Doesn't matter which (big) cities you visit, the Chinatowns always have small shops that look rundown but almost always true that they have some of the best Chinese foods.

In DC's Chinatown, there is one small but good restaurant (sorry, I forgot the name), at the other end of the block, just at the corner, (opposite side from the Chinatown banner).

Full Kee has three shops, one in DC, one in Bailey Crossrood (the same shopping plaza as Best Buy and Trader Joe), and one in Richmond. They do have great Beef Chow Fun (stir fried beef noodle). The dry panfrig one, without sauce, is the best. Their salty-fish chicken fried rice is good too.

About dim sum, I don't find any good one anymore in this area.

On A&J type of noodle houses, they do offer good northern China or Taiwan favored dishes for breakfast. But in all types of Chinese foods, Cantonese foods (i.e.: dim sum, chow fun, fried riced) are all great. Chinese has a saying (meaning translation here...): "Good eating must go to Canton".

On Peiking Duck, don't go to that "Peking Duck" restaurant in Bailey Crossroad. People keep saying they are really good and they hang a lot of pictures with the Bush presidents and government officials (i.e. Collin Powell) and politican on the walls and charge a very high prices. However, I found that the hard way that the duck was no good. Very salty. I guess they only the real chef for the presidents and politican. :)

Peiking ducks at China Cheers in Geitherburg, MD used to be good but they changed owner about a year ago and they are not good anymore.

Posted by: Chinese foods more than just fired rice | July 27, 2007 9:56 AM

I'm seeing recommendations for Rockville, Falls Church, Fairfax... Exactly one rec for Washington DC, and that in the comments. Marc, how about branching out to the city you're supposed to be serving? I'm tired of all this attention to the suburbs. They can get their own papers.

Posted by: WDC | July 27, 2007 9:56 AM

Beijing in Laurel. No comparison

Posted by: Dan | July 27, 2007 9:57 AM

One Fish Two Fish near Washington Circle is the best Chinese food.

Posted by: HSS | July 27, 2007 10:02 AM

One Fish Two Fish near Washington Circle is the best Chinese food.

Posted by: HSS | July 27, 2007 10:02 AM

One Fish Two Fish near Washington Circle is the best Chinese food.

Posted by: HSS | July 27, 2007 10:02 AM

i agree with the poster who said chinese food in dc is no good compared with other parts of the country. if you want to experience really really good chinese, go to Henry Hunan's in San Francisco, in an alley behind the MOMA. it is so good. there is a lunchtime crowd that used to cue up down the alley way. the food is spicy (not sweet) and fresh, lots of vegetarian options. henry hunans spoiled chinese food for me -- i cannot eat it anywhere else. this week we ordered from City Lights of CHina in downtown dc and the food was just terrible, soggy, bland (we'd asked for spicy), and the eggplant was undercooked. it was just gross, actually.

Posted by: ak | July 27, 2007 10:06 AM

WDC, if you read the original post, that was the point - the action has mostly moved to the suburbs. If you know a great Chinese restaurant in DC, go ahead and list it.

Posted by: h3 | July 27, 2007 10:11 AM

My wife and I became violently ill for 24 hours after eating at one of the above restaurants. I can't name it for fear of committing libel, so you'll have to trust me on this one (or ignore this post). One of those places seems really cool and authentic but something was seriously wrong with the food we ate.

Posted by: DCer | July 27, 2007 10:19 AM

I concur with Tyler Cowen's recommendation for Mark's Duck House. The wonton soup, softshell crab, salt baked pork, and roast duck are my favorites. The wonton soup is a meal in itself.

Posted by: Paul | July 27, 2007 10:20 AM

North China Restaurant (Old G'town Rd., Bethesda) looks like a hole-in-the-wall...but their food is excellent. Highly recommend the duck, vegetable dishes (shu e, dou miao, kong xing cai). Their chef was at G'burg's Hunan Palace back when it was actually good.

Posted by: anon | July 27, 2007 10:36 AM

Chinatown garden (in Chinatown of course) is my go-to place for garlic bean leaf and kung pao tofu. I am addicted and it's not the same anywhere else.

There is a noodle place around the corner on 6th St. in the same building as Burma (ground floor). The palce is sort of nasty looking -- don't use their bathrooms -- but the noodles, esp. noodle soup, are cheap and delicious.

Posted by: DC guy | July 27, 2007 10:38 AM

One list is out of date - the Fortune restaurant in RESTON (not the other one) has been closed for several months

Posted by: steve | July 27, 2007 10:45 AM

I've always had good food and service at Hunan West in Kingsgate Plaza off Braddock and Burke Lake Rd in Springfield (near GMU in Fairfax). Their lemon chicken is not greasy, always crispy and served with the sauce on the side. Ditto the "yums" for their pork with dried tofu and their prices. They have family style prices where you can feed four for 20 dollars. It's a nice sit down restaurant that you might give a try if you're in the area!

Posted by: CyanSquirrel | July 27, 2007 11:05 AM

I think part of the issue is whether or not the question is about real Chinese food or American Chinese food. They're quite different.

Our favorite is Full Kee in Bailey's Crossroads which has a large selection which includes both types.

Posted by: rockville | July 27, 2007 11:10 AM

I agree that DC Chinese food is very dissapointing, Tony Cheng's is a total rip off, and most of the better places are Rockville and Fairfax. Although Eat First In China block has pretty good bbq pork and duck and I like their bbq soup, they nailed that, and their entrees are usually adequate.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 27, 2007 11:10 AM

The best Chinese food I've had since moving to DC was at Full Kee in Chinatown, which would rate as above average but nothing special in, say, San Francisco. I don't get out to the suburbs much, though, so if you think there's something better out there I can't disagree with you.

Posted by: quaker | July 27, 2007 11:18 AM

I love the Szechuan House/Fusion Grill on 8th Street in Capitol Hill. Very friendly service and great food!

Posted by: Jean | July 27, 2007 11:21 AM

Mr Yung's doesn't exist anymore. I guess you haven't been visiting Chinablock for years.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 27, 2007 11:30 AM

I LOVE the fresh noodles at Chinatown Express on 6th Street in Chinatown.

Posted by: ShawnDC | July 27, 2007 11:43 AM

Good Chinese food in DC is sorely lacking. But I'm not about to drive to suburbia in search of Chinese food. It's a waste of time and gas to do so. It's a shame that people aren't more practical and do it anyway.

Posted by: Gasisnotforever | July 27, 2007 11:58 AM

DC may not be San Francisco when it comes to Chinese food, but it sure beats Chicago, where we just relocated. There may be some good places for Chinese food in Chicago, but the average in my opinion is way below the average in DC. We miss Hollywood East (both of them), Joe's, and A&J. I think they are all better than China Chef, Good Fortune (except for dim sum) and Oriental East. I was raised in New York eating Chinese food every week, and these places did not disappoint.

Posted by: Chicagoan | July 27, 2007 11:58 AM

Oriental East in Silver Spring is consistenly good, tho a friendlier attitude on the part of the management would be welcome.

Posted by: eo mcmars | July 27, 2007 12:00 PM

Ever notice there are no cats in Chinatown?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 27, 2007 12:02 PM

And why did the Asians move to the suburbs? Are they afraid of living among a majority black population? Did they move too late and couldn't afford the city? Do they not realize that people who live in suburbia are afraid of unique and different things and prefer their Red Lobsters and Applebees?

Seems like a poor business decision to me.

Posted by: Neomarxist suburbia | July 27, 2007 12:02 PM

Hollywood East in Wheaton Rocks!

Posted by: Andrew | July 27, 2007 12:23 PM

Bob's Noodle 66 in Rockville, A&J in Rockville, Full Kee in Chinatown, and Hollywood East in Wheaton are all excellent, and have already been mentioned.

I'd like to add: Paul Kee in Wheaton, Mama Wok in Rockville and Gaithersburg, and Yuan Fu in Rockville (an excellent all-vegetarian restaurant).

To Neomarxist suburbia:

Asians moved to the suburbs (Montgomery and Fairfax) because of the better schools, and because of the already large populations of Asians in those areas. The restaurants in the suburbs actually cater to Asian people, not just non-Asian Americans who "prefer their Red Lobsters and Applebees." So in that sense, it was a good business decision.

Posted by: Arthur | July 27, 2007 12:31 PM

Paul Kee in Wheaton. I was astounded at how good it was. I am always impressed with the quality there. We went for Christmas one night and it was like being in Beijing.

Posted by: Dan | July 27, 2007 12:34 PM

I miss the Cantonese restaurants. Since other forms of Chinese food, Szechuan, for one, have taken over the market, I have not found a good place since the Sampan Restaurant changed hands then, I think closed.

They had two locations, one on Capitol Hill on Pennsylvania Ave., SE, on the north side between 7th and 8th streets and one in Franconia, VA on Franconia Road.

The owner, "Brian" closed the Capitol Hill place first. They were only 1/2 block away from Hine Jr. High school so they didn't have an liquor license. They were in business in Franconia until about five years ago.

They had the best fried rice and a stuffed shrimp appetizer that was the best I ever had, outside of Chinatown in San Francisco.

Does anybody out there know of a really good Cantonese place?

Posted by: Michael1945 | July 27, 2007 12:36 PM

HSS, is One Fish Two Fish really three times good?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 27, 2007 12:41 PM

I put in a vote for Grace's Fortune in Bowie. Interesting dishes, impressive decor, particularly the fish tank, and wonderful service.

Posted by: Leslie | July 27, 2007 12:42 PM

I agree mostly with what you all recommended, because I have been to most of them in the past 25 years.
You also have to remmember that great food comes from great chef. Unless the chef is the owner or part owner, there are no guarantees the same chef will be there forever and the food quality will remain the same.
For those who have a favorite one, good for you. For those who want to try a new one, good luck.
As for my recommendation..
After we had crabs in Kent Island for lunch Last Saturday, we drove to Philly Chinatown for dinner. The food there are much better and the price much lower.

Posted by: Good eater | July 27, 2007 12:42 PM

We moved from the area 2 years ago so I do not know if it is still there, but we loved the Szechuan Garden in the shopping center at Georgia Avenue and Randolph Road, near the MVA and Staples. Loved the Mongolian Lamb-- which my wife insisted on getting without any hot spices :-(

Posted by: Steve | July 27, 2007 12:47 PM


Your are probably one of a handful of people in DC who can read. That is why there are so many references to the suburbs. The only things happening in DC, other that federal politics and worth reporting, are homicides, rapes, burglaries, etc.

Ethnic restaurants move to the suburbs because is is safer and cheaper to operate. The clients aren't usually going to rob you either.

Posted by: Fairfax | July 27, 2007 12:48 PM

The old Hope Key in Clarendon was great. They used to stay open until 3 on the weekends. Great food.

Posted by: GusInLeesburg | July 27, 2007 1:01 PM

best chinese food in town from someone who has lived in china - if you are looking for authentic Beijing cuisine go to "House of Peking Choice", 13524 Baltimore Ave. Laurel, MD 20707, tel:3014190088

Posted by: naghma | July 27, 2007 1:09 PM

Mark's Duck House all the way...I remember when I was a little kid decades ago and they actually used to be in the central Eden Center, in a tiny little hole in the wall with two long tables, and literally people were slurping on soups and chomping on roast pork in the same density as a rush-hour train. Yet it was still the busiest restaurant in the center.

I live in London now and while I've eaten at Hakkasan and Yauatcha (both Michelin-Starred)---Mark's Duck House beats them both on the actual execution of the dishes---the wonton shop is fulfilling, the fried dishes are crisp and light, and the duck good enough to chew on the bones, neglecting any sense of propriety.


Posted by: Bea | July 27, 2007 1:15 PM

Ho boy another DC versus the suburbs comment war. Man your battle stations, haul out the tired stereotypes. The suburbs, where 90% of the area population resides, is full of gas-guzzling middlebrow racists. The District, the traditional heart of the metro area, is full of homicidal thugs and decaying infrastructure. Force yourself to ignore the fact that there are incredibly complicated and legitimate reasons for why people choose to live where they live. Because it's far more effective to reassert your superiority with churlish insults. Isn't it?

Posted by: snore | July 27, 2007 1:25 PM

I like the Fu Shing Cafe in Gaithersburg, right next to the county fairgrounds (you have to go the back of the Gaithersburg Square Shopping Center to find it, though.) Also in the same city there's New (not Good) Fortune on Route 355, just north of I-370.

Posted by: MHK919 | July 27, 2007 1:28 PM

Those of you b!tching about the quality of Chinese food in Rockville and Fairfax, you're all idiots. Both counties have some of the best chinese food in the nation, better than anything in California and as good as NYC(I know). But they have two sets of contains the bad choices given to Americans, and the other contains the good choices for Asians. So you might eat in one of the well known resturants, and think the food sucks because you were given the bad menu. If you're white, definitely ask them for the 'other menu'. Or you'll walk out thinking the place is over rated. If you're black, don't even bother. Just hang out where your homies hang out...maybe Ben's hotdog place.

Posted by: Joe Nash | July 27, 2007 1:28 PM

That's Ben's Chili Bowl Joe.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 27, 2007 1:34 PM

BTW, San Francisco is way over rated for chinese food. Not that I'm saying all of the resturants are bad (Most suck though), but SF doesn't even come close to what the Washington area or NYC has to offer.

Posted by: Joe Nash | July 27, 2007 1:34 PM

OK, so my co-worker and I tried Joe's Noodle House in Rockville, based on your recommendation and that of some of the comments, since we're just down the street from it. At $5.99 for a lunch special that includes the entree and soup or a spring roll, it's a great deal. I had orange chicken and my coworker had mu shu port. She really liked her pork. My orange chicken was good (I particularly liked how the rice was nice and moist, not steamed to a dry chalk like at so many Chinese take-outs). But best in the area? I'm not so sure.

There is a new place that opened in Arlington's Court House neighborhood some months back called TNR Cafe (Tea Noodles & Rice). It is located on Wilson Blvd. at the intersection of N. Courthouse Rd. It's gotten pretty good reviews on Anyone been there who can say how it was?

Posted by: Courthouseguy | July 27, 2007 1:57 PM

Peking Gourmet on Leesburg Pike between Bailey's Crossroads and Seven Corners. Papa Bush used to go there often.

Happy Family carry-out in the heart of Falls Church city, not far from the Nigerian Anglican church

Oriental Star in Alexandria, on Duke in the former Hechinger commons

Agreed,, DC Chinatown is WAY over-rated, as is the food in San Francisco

Posted by: bigolpoofter | July 27, 2007 2:10 PM

House of Dynasty on Telegraph Road in Fairfax/Alexandira, VA.

They know what they are doing.

Posted by: JT | July 27, 2007 2:20 PM

the thing I can never forget about these DC vs the suburbs things are:
where is the MS-13 gang located? Northern VA.

Where was my mother mugged? Gaithersburg

Where was my wife's purse snatched? Seven Corners

Where was I attacked by two guys and almost mugged? College Park?

When a friend's parents struck it rich and bought a $2 million mansion, where was it? Georgetown.

When a friend married into money, where did her millionaire husband live? Spring Valley.

Where do all the day laborers work and live and have pick up spots? Loudon, Prince William, Arlington, Langley Park, etc.

Where are the museums, library of congress, the zoo and other places I go to every few weeks?

What are the stereotypes again? I keep forgetting because they don't match the reality I see every day.

Posted by: DCer | July 27, 2007 2:24 PM

Is the animal hospital that was once next door to North China still there? Had an odd tasting pork dish there once.

What goes on at North China...stays at North China.

Posted by: Missing McDonalds Raw Bar | July 27, 2007 2:27 PM

Is the animal hospital that was once next door to North China still there? Had an odd tasting pork dish there once.

What goes on at North China...stays at North China.

Posted by: Missing McDonalds Raw Bar | July 27, 2007 2:27 PM

I ate at China Garden for dim sum once. My car has a V8, let's just say that about 6 hours later I was using every ounce of horsepower in the engine to get home.

Posted by: ugh | July 27, 2007 2:30 PM

I would like to submit Peking Cafe in Annandale on Little River Turnpike. I've never been disappointed.

Posted by: parklane | July 27, 2007 2:31 PM

Try leaving NW and see if the reality you see every day looks any different.

There are nice parts and bad parts of every area, you know that.

Posted by: ugh | July 27, 2007 2:37 PM

If you want really good Chinese food catch the metroliner to Philly and go to Philly's Chinatown - specifically Lee How Fook on 11th Street. Order the salt baked scallops and the pan friend noodles with beef in black bean sauce and prepare yourself for a taste bud orgasm. Other than that - catch a flight to China.

Posted by: DAN | July 27, 2007 2:53 PM

Joe's and Bob's in Rockville are both excellent. Wheaton (where I live) is ground zero for all kinds of great ethnic food, particularly Thai (Ruan, Dusit, Suporn, in that order) and Salvadoran (Irene's III, many others); Hollywood East is IMO overrated for regular Chinese food but their dim sum is great, better than those other places listed in Marc's article. And I second the Tyler Cowen food list recommendation, fantastic stuff.

Posted by: jeff | July 27, 2007 3:01 PM

Fu Mei inside Great Wall Market on Gallows Road in Merrifield. Buffet style, cheap, fully authentic and yummy. Tyler Cowen has hipped to this place as well.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 27, 2007 3:02 PM

Does anyone remember the House of Chinese Gourmet? It was in Rockville on 355 and got bulldozed when they decided to put up one of the big box strips. (For some reason Hooter's was spared.)

Do those folks have a new restaurant somewhere?

Posted by: rockville | July 27, 2007 3:08 PM

Eat First, on H near the corner of 6th, was mentioned in an early post but they forgot the name -- I assume that's the one they meant.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 27, 2007 3:26 PM

For Cantonese food similar to what I remember in London and Hong Kong, Hunan Palace just off Shady Grove Road is good value, with homestyle rice dishes (e.g with roast duck or beef brisket) and congee - and Cantonese-style service (i.e. lackadaisical, rude) to boot!

Can someone PLEASE tell me why Chinese food can't be considered gourmet food in this region? I miss the fantastic 5-star restaurants in Tsim Sha Tsui and Wan Chai that my family used to take me to!

Posted by: ccalgreen | July 27, 2007 3:27 PM

Marc, your colleague Tom Sietsema speaks highly of China Star in Fairfax City.

Posted by: Discman | July 27, 2007 3:30 PM

House of Chinese Gourmet in Rockville. OMG will I EVER forget it. They had BY FAR the most potent (and I ain't complainin') Zombies in the country. Man I miss that place. Only tropical drink resturant that actually used LIQUOR in the drinks, not just the jucie-juice everyone else passes as "cocktails".

Posted by: Tipsy | July 27, 2007 3:30 PM

OK, I got spoiled growing up in Philly 50+ years ago. Maybe we were eating Chinese-American food, not the authentic real deal, but it hooked me on Chinese food for life. Then, basic stuff like egg rolls had real, identifiable vegetables, bbq pork, shrimp, water chestnuts for crunch. OK, to do it right today might cost $5 each (or more) -- but I'd rather spend the money for a quality egg roll than $2 for cabbage and ground pork in a greasy wrapper. Won Ton Soup - same deal. Leaden won ton skins with a blob of mystery meat in watered down broth doesn't compare to the delicate wrappers and rich broth with slivers of bbq pork and scallions of my youth. This stuff is basic. Clichéd even. But if a restaurant can't do the basics well, why trust them to do the exotica? Please name one restaurant from your "best" list that does them right and I'll go there in a heart beat.
The saddest commentary I can offer about the state of Chinese food in the DC area is that PF Chang's Americanized, mall oriented "Chinese" is better prepared, with better quality ingredients than 98% of the Chinese Restaurants I've found in and around DC in the 20 years I've lived here.

Posted by: Capcooks | July 27, 2007 3:31 PM

Mei-wah in the West End. Best veggie dumplings in town.

Posted by: Moose | July 27, 2007 3:35 PM

What is up with the hangup with grease? The greasier, the tastier is what I always say. If you're afraid of grease you might as well boil all your food.

Posted by: Fred | July 27, 2007 3:36 PM

Far East on Nicholson Lane, also New Fortune on 355 in Gaithersburg for dim sum Sunday mornings, and, as a bonus, when you've OD'd on Chinese, go to Roy's Place in Gaithersubrg for the wildest, most original sandwiches you'll ever dream about.

Posted by: joe c | July 27, 2007 3:49 PM

to the guy who ate at joe's and ordered mushu pork and orange chicken... if it tasted so-so it's probably because you ordered the most boring, standard fare. go live a little. try some tripe and other weird stuff.

Posted by: olivejuice | July 27, 2007 4:09 PM

As a Chinese and dim sum fan, I've got to say that A&J in ANnandale was a massive disappointment. I've had far better at Mark's Duck House and Fortune in Falls Church, and at Good Fortune in Gaithersburg.

For regular Chinese, my 2 area favorites are China Jade in Rockville and Meiwah Chinese in downtown DC.

Posted by: David | July 27, 2007 4:15 PM

Marc and readers,

I enthusiastically second CyanSquirrel's recommendation of Hunan West in Kings Park Shopping Center (Trianagle of Burke Lake Road, Rolling Road and Braddock Road), Fairfax.

The restaurant has been in operation at least 20 years, and underwent a major renovation about 5 years ago. If you dine there three times, Alan, the restaurant owner, will know you by first name. About 75 % of the patrons are long time customers. All ingredients are first rate, with very little fat or gristle. They use the classic recipe for Hot & Sour Soup: black pepper, NOT red pepper. Hunan and Szechuan sauces are excellently done. And you can get ice cold Sam Adams in a chilled mug to accompany your dinner for around 3 bucks or so. But don't drink too many. The Fairfax County Police are regular patrons of the place. Believe me, cops do not patronize eating establishments that serve crappy food or are overpriced.

It's first rate quality at a bargain price.

I continue to try out Tom Sietsema's recommendations for new bargain Oriental restaurants, but I have yet to eat at one that meets or beats Hunan West.

For the record, I patronize Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai or Japanese restaurants in every city I visit. And I've visited most major cities in North America and quite a few in Europe. So I know what I'm writing about. best Oriental restaurant I've eaten in the past year or two: Typhoon in Seattle.

Posted by: Mister Methane | July 27, 2007 4:28 PM

"I patronize Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai or Japanese restaurants in every city I visit. And I've visited most major cities in North America and quite a few in Europe."

Is that by chance the reason you're called "Mister Methane"?

Posted by: Dr. Poot | July 27, 2007 4:54 PM

Try leaving NW and see if the reality you see every day looks any different.

There are nice parts and bad parts of every area, you know that.


of course I know that, I was pretty much joking in response to an earlier poster, but NW is also the biggest section of the city in population and land area. I certainly have driven all over the city. I'm so tired of people forgetting how weird some parts of Fairfax, Arlington or Alexandria are. I'm tired of people forgetting how cool some parts of DC are. Has anyone been to the new bars along H ST NE? Talk about a total change from the era where we'd drive to Horace and Dickies and drive back out. I was at a party in Arlington the night of a machete attack where police were prowling up and down the streets for what seemed like hours. MACHETE ATTACK!

The DC bashers are really tired here, particularly after the real estate boom made Barry-era situations history. Half of what they say is straight out of Fox %'s "City Under Seige" circa 1989.

The thing about DC's Chinatown is that it was never, ever the epicenter of Chinese life in DC. It was always an artificial tourist trap created by developers. the original Chinatown was someplace else (Landsburgh area? Southwest?) but it was bulldozed 50 years ago and the Chinese population moved to Rockville and NoVa before I was born.

Does anyone remember The Smiling Buddha in Bethesda? I loved to talk to the daughter of the owner of the restaurant who did homework every night in the back booth. She was a studying machine.

Posted by: DCer | July 27, 2007 4:57 PM

Addition/Adjustment to the list below:

Chinese Restaurant - Mui Kee in Falls Church (great roasted duck and
steam fish, Cantonese style).

Dim Sum - The best dim sum ever is actually Silver Fountain in Aspen
Hill, 13533 Connecticut Ave Silver Spring, MD 20906 (301) 460-1200 who
has been taking a relatively low profile approach in its marketing...but
very good words of mouth from customers... Fortune of Reston Restaurant
is no longer in business (or at least they closed down the location in Reston and no one knows its new location).

Posted by: AZEITLIN, SZE-KEI JORDAN | July 27, 2007 5:09 PM

No, Dr. Poot, my moniker comes from the aftereffects of my other favored cuisine: Mexican.

Oops, there goes that lunchtime burrito.

Posted by: Mister Methane | July 27, 2007 5:32 PM

"to the guy who ate at joe's and ordered mushu pork and orange chicken... if it tasted so-so it's probably because you ordered the most boring, standard fare. go live a little."

Seriously. Anytime someone orders Americanized fake Chinese food, the terrorists win.

Posted by: silentbob | July 27, 2007 5:33 PM

TemptAsia on Duke St. (just before Beugregard) in the small shopping center behind the KFC on the left from 395) - try the Spicy Beef roll on the "Chinese" menu - mind blowing. We've eaten there many times and we are the only "Westerners" there. Very spicy stuff - and we like it hot - but also great variety.

Posted by: wil | July 27, 2007 5:43 PM

Courthouseguy: I've enjoyed everything I've ever gotten at TNR Cafe in Courthouse -- the salt and pepper squid and hot & sour soup are especially notable -- but the folks should weigh in, too. They're right across the street and must eat there a bunch.

Posted by: courthouseguy2 | July 27, 2007 5:52 PM

My wife and I have been looking for a restaurant that serves decent kung pao chicken. The following restaurants in NW were all below par:

Meihwa - 1200 New Hampshire Ave., NW
Banana Leaves - 2020 Fla. Ave, NW
City Lights - Dupont Circle
Eddie's - 2600 Conn. Ave, NW
Panda Cafe - Penn. Ave/GWU

The best we had was from:
Great Wall Szechuan - 1527 14th St, NW.

Every restaurant has good and bad dishes. The Ma Poa tofu at Great Wall is drowned in red greasy hot sauce. The orange beef from Banana Leaves had large chunks of orange peel that were disguised to look like more protein. But the sushi is great at Banana Leaves.

Eddie's and Panda Cafe are awful. They cater to people who don't know what good Chinese food is.

The most authentic Chinese/Taiwanese-style restaurant we like is Bob's Noodle House. Most of their dishes are great - except for the fish dishes. Bob's fish purveyor doesn't provide the best catch of the day. But everything else on the menu is worth trying.


Posted by: Chinese Max | July 27, 2007 7:07 PM

The discussion IS NOT about Chinese in New York.

The discussion IS NOT about Chinese in San Fran.

The discussion IS NOT about Chinese in Philly, Dallas, Atlanta, Nashville or New Orleans. It's about Chinese here in the Washington area. Plain, simple, within means.

But somehow, things like this become a pissing match about non-issues such as city vs. the suburbs, or Cantonese vs. Taiwanese, or missing cats or animals hospitals.

It's simply about what's a good place to get good Chinese food. Not very hard. Why do some of you always have to make things what they are not? The only shock here is that Red State vs. Blue State didn't break out into a duel of derringers.

Posted by: rickNmd | July 27, 2007 8:30 PM

That necks, ahem republicans, are too unsophisticated and uneducated to try something like foreign cuisine. One reason why there are NO decent chinese resturants in any red city or state.

Posted by: Joe Nash | July 27, 2007 8:40 PM

Why would i post my favorite Chinese restaurant which is undiscovered and not that crowded?

Posted by: D man | July 27, 2007 8:52 PM

Why would i post my favorite Chinese restaurant which is undiscovered and not that crowded?

Posted by: D man | July 27, 2007 8:52 PM

I'll second the recommendation for House of Dynasty on Telegraph Road in Alexandria.

Posted by: Alexandria | July 27, 2007 9:30 PM

TNR - too greasy, seriously. but it's the best chinese restaurant in courthouse.

Posted by: courthouse | July 27, 2007 10:37 PM

have you eaten at Hope Kee in Chinatown for lunch? Awful. Tasted like leftovers. But on event nights they've got the best food.

Posted by: hopeless kee | July 27, 2007 10:39 PM

Asian Grill on rolling rd. in Springfield. Yes, Springfield. West Springfield, to be precise. Family run by terrific people. Food is fresh and excellent. I've been going there since 1997.

Posted by: Kate | July 27, 2007 11:34 PM

Asian Grill on rolling rd. in Springfield. Yes, Springfield. West Springfield, to be precise. Family run by terrific people. Food is fresh and excellent. I've been going there since 1997.

Posted by: Kate | July 27, 2007 11:34 PM

Where can one get Almond Chicken? I've yet to find a place that has it. I grew up eating that at China Star Palace in the Detroit area. Since moving here I haven't found the same anywhere. I miss my Almonmd Chicken!

Posted by: Hungry for chinese | July 28, 2007 8:34 AM

I agree with D Man. I might not want to list my favorite place since I still want to get a table there.

People need to remember that China is a really big place. There are many regional styles that end up lumped together on a typical American Chinese menu. (Seriously, no more jokes about cats and dogs! Not funny.)

I personally favor Cantonese food, since I am from Hong Kong. I sometimes get a craving for northern/Taiwanese style eats but there is a significant difference between northern small plates and Cantonese dim sum. I get the feeling that a lot of people do not realize that there is a difference. That would be comparing apples to oranges. Each has its merits.

My favorite restaurant in Chinatown is Eat First. I have other favorites in the suburbs but as another poster indicated, chefs change often. A good rule of thumb is to see if there are a lot Chinese people eating in the restaurant and see what they are eating.

In the Chinese community, food is a great topic of discussion. Everyone likes to talk about their new finds. I get the best tips on where to eat from my hair stylist and my various Aunties.

Posted by: Chinese Foodie | July 28, 2007 12:53 PM

It's a bit of a drive from DC, but don't overlook Hunan Manor off Snowden River Parkway in Columbia. Terrific food (which does NOT "all taste the same"), very nice ambience, and friendly help.

Posted by: Bill near Baltimore | July 29, 2007 11:34 AM

To "Hungry for Chinese" - Oriental Gourmet in the Harrison Shopping Center in Arlington has chicken with almonds. I've seen it on the menu of at least one other place in the Ballston area of Arlington.

Posted by: Ballston | July 30, 2007 9:41 AM

D man and Chinese Foodie - The reason you should post your favorite Chinese restaurant which is undiscovered and not that crowded is for those two very reasons. Not-that-crowded restaurants tend to close due to lack of business.

Posted by: Tony | July 30, 2007 10:39 AM

Another request: I love the Cantonese dish that used to be referred to as Butterfly Shrimp. It was pan-fried shrimp with a piece of bacon on top of each shrimp. It came with a pungent sauce with spice, not heat. It was served over grilled onions or bean sprouts. I've also seen it called War Hip Har (I think that's right).

The last place I could get this around hear was at the Rickshaw on 355 in Rockville which closed about 7 years ago.

Anyone know a place I can get this dish??

Posted by: rockville | July 30, 2007 3:55 PM

As long as you're asking for old school: does anyone remember Wor Shu Opp? Boneless duck fried crunchy in an almond flour crust.

No place around here has ever even heard of it.

Posted by: Capcooks | July 30, 2007 4:39 PM

I remember the Rickshaw! They had the best egg rolls - like you were back in the 60s or something. Fat ones about 2 inches in diameter.

the good ole days!

Posted by: Bethesda | July 30, 2007 5:01 PM

I second Grace's Fortune in Bowie. Simply one of the best - even Michael Jordan enjoyed a meal there.

Posted by: Chris | July 30, 2007 8:21 PM

House of Dynasty in Hayfield.

Posted by: vajent | August 2, 2007 4:24 PM

TNR has great food, large portions and great prices. They also serve bubble tea, which is a huge plus, especially in these hot summer months. I find their food to be less Americanized than most other places. The food is probably some of the best Chinese I've had in the area. According to the staff, they've only been open a little more than a year and are still in the process of perfecting things. I'm happy that there's finally a good Chinese food restaurant in the area.

Posted by: SKD | August 10, 2007 3:07 PM

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