eat drink man woman

If you’re unfamiliar with the title of this post, it’s from this popular 1994 Taiwanese film directed by Ang Lee by the same name. I love the opening scene (which I wouldn’t recommend watching if you’re hungry, FYI) and it only increases my love for Chinese cuisine a million times fold.

With that on replay, I thought it’d be fun to craft a post surrounding some of my favorite Chinese restaurants to eat in the Northern Virginia area. I’m Chinese by heritage and growing up, I ate 97% Chinese food and 3% everything else. My parents are phenomenal cooks and they make some of the best Chinese food I’ve ever had. Moving away though, I’ve had to find a few other restaurants to fill that gap.

Homemade beef noodle soup

  • China Bistro (aka Mama’s Dumplings)
    • Located in Rockville, MD
    • Dumplings are the star of the show, especially the Mama Special
  • Sichuan Jin River
    • Located in Rockville, MD
    • Sichuan food! Love their spicy flounder with soft tofu and if you’re feeling adventurous, try some of the Sichuan specialty dishes like double cooked pork!
  • Bob’s Shanghai 66
    • Located in Rockville, MD
    • Great for breakfast/brunch with tried and true dishes like scallion pancakes and sweet soy  milk. Their soup dumplings or XLB aren’t the best I’ve had, but they’re pretty good and they are handmade in the kitchen. They also serve pork and mustard greens noodles, which are a must.
  • Joe’s Noodle House
    • Located in Rockville, MD
    • On weekends from 11-3, you can order dim-sum items like Chinese fried breadsticks, sesame rolls, sweet soy milk, turnip pastries, etc. My go-to entrees are the dan dan noodles, spicy braised fish fillets or spicy braised beef, sauteed triple pepper chicken, and double cooked pork belly.
  • A&J
    • Two locations (Rockville, MD and Annandale, VA)
    • Another great place for breakfast/dim-sum with their Chinese fried breadsticks, egg cakes, red bean pastries, scallion pancakes, sweet rice balls, and salted or sweet soy milk. Also serves small plates like thousand year egg and cucumber salad in hot garlic sauce. Their main attraction is their noodle soup dishes.
  • Shanghai Lounge
  • Dumplings and Beyond
    • Located in Washington, D.C.
    • Sister restaurant to Mama’s Bistro. Like Mama’s, go for the dumplings. Sichuan cold noodles are also very good here.
  • Reren
    • Located in Washington, D.C.
    • Serves la mian or pulled noodles, made fresh (although by machine).
  • Chinatown Express
    • Located in Washington, D.C.
    • Recommend their house noodle soups! I’ve had the roast pork and the roast duck, and they’re both delicious.
  • Panda Gourmet
    • Located in Washington, D.C.
    • The only authentic Shaanxi restaurant I’ve found so far! Order their rou jia mo and their yang rou pao mo or mutton stew with crumbled flatbread to try (these are classic Shaanxi dishes). They also serve Sichuan dishes like cold noodles and mapo tofu.
  • Sichuan Village
    • Located in Chantilly, VA
    • If you can handle spiciness, go for the spicy braised fish fillets and their dan dan noodles.
  • Mala Tang
    • Located in Arlington, VA
    • My favorite hot pot restaurant in the area (which is saying a lot because I’m a hot pot whiz and usually prefer doing it myself at home).
  • Peking Gourmet Inn
    • Located in Falls Church, VA
    • Two words: Peking duck. Ask for the remaining meat and bones to be doggy bagged. The remains can be made into a broth with or without noodles, served as is, or the meat chopped up and stir fried with sauce.
  • Peter Chang
    • Two locations (Arlington, VA and Rockville, MD)
    • The famous Sichuan chef is known for his frequent movements and disappearances from restaurants. He opened two in the DC-VA-MD area. Try the crazy beef with ghost chilies, double cooked pork belly, and mapo tofu.
  • Nanjing Bistro
    • Located in Fairfax, VA
    • The only Nanjing/Jiangsu province restaurant I’ve found in this area! Go for their tiger eye meatballs, pork and bamboo in spicy garlic sauce, dried bean curd shreds and shrimp soup, and Nanjing salted duck.
  • Lotus Garden
    • Located in Vienna, VA
    • Fantastic hand-pulled and hand-sliced noodles. You must get these! I’ve had the hand-pulled beef noodle soup, the hand-pulled beef brisket noodle soup, and the roast pork sliced noodle soup – they are all great! Their barbecued roast pork (chashu/char siu) and roast duck are also very good.

As I’ve been doing with these lists, I created a Google map (see below) of all the restaurants mentioned above. Just like my coffee and matcha projects, this will be an ongoing enterprise as I continue to find all the best Chinese restaurants the DC-VA-MD area can offer.

I’m also thinking about doing a tutorial on how to hand make dumplings. If you’re interested, please let me know below in the comments!

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