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Jul 24, 2006 06:48 PM

New Chinese is Arlington (Courthouse)

Last night we ate at TNR Cafe, a Chinese restaurant that just opened this weekend on Wilson Blvd at Courthouse in Arlington (next to Ireland's Four Courts). TNR stands for Tea, Noodles, Rice.

It was quite good. Arlington lacks good Chinese food; this could become one of the best. We had very good fried dumplings, sensational egg drop soup, decent hot and sour soup (not very spicy), and kung pao chicken, which was very good, although it tasted nothing like kung pao chicken normally does.

The place lacks atmosphere and energy, but they are trying, and the service was good and friendly. It might be ideal for take-out. I recommend giving it a try.

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  1. I almost got excited reading your post until I read "egg drop soup, hot and sour soup, kung pao chicken, etc." Not close to being authentic. If you're talking about that General Rosslyn/Clarendon area, the authentic (also selling americanized) joints would be China Garden and Hunan Number 1 (don't know if they're still there).

    1 Reply
    1. re: Chownut

      Kung Pao chicken is excellent and I believe authentic at China Star. Not Chinese-American at all. Made with Sichuan peppercorns. It should be a dry saute IMO and if I'm not sure a restaurant will make it that way, I specifically ask for it dry. The driest version I've had and also excellent is at Peking Gourmet Inn, though no Sichuan peppercorns.

    2. Hunan Number One is one of my favorites. You can't really evaluate a chinese restaurant by the dishes listed, that's basically American food. Not that there's anything wrong with eating it and enjoying it, its just not really a good measure of chinese cooking.

      If you can get away from the chinese-american stuff Hunan Number one has lots of goodies, and its open late. Try that out some time.

      1. I agree with all of the above -- although I don't think Hunan One is as good as it was several years ago.

        I'm just suggesting it's worth a try.

        1 Reply
        1. re: mnadel

          Possible, I haven't been to Hunan Number One in a while and I heard rumors that the family that owned it sold and moved, but not sure if that's true.

        2. The food quality at Hunan one went down about a year ago when their rent and prices raised 20%. Not sure why the quality changed since they did put the extra expense on to the customer, but I don't eat there anymore.

          I wouldn't judge a chinese restaurant poorly for having dishes that people expect. I judge by the dished they have that people do not expect. Hunan1 passed that test, so it is a shame it isn't good anymore.

          I've only been to China Garden for dimsum, and it is good and metro train accessible. I still prefer Fortune in 7 Corners for dimsum.

          5 Replies
          1. re: Foodgeek

            Hunan #1 is not good anymore...Very greasy.

            Kung Pao Chicken and Hot & Sour soup are two of my favorite dishes....growing up in a Chinese household, their existence does not necessarily mean that it's ABC....just that 99% of the time, the restaurant has destroyed both of them. Hopefully some day, everyone will have a chance to taste both dishes homestyle. They can be excellent.

            1. re: microwave15

              Kung Pao Chicken is, I believe, prepared homestyle at Joe's Noodle House, and it's excellent.

              1. re: MartyL

                fwiw, China Star also has many of those "Chimerican" listings, but they are made with fresh veggies and housemade sauces (this was also back a couple of years ago).

                Quite a few years ago I was waiting for pick up at a place in Leesburg and a Chinese restaurant supply catalog was lying on the bar. The sauces, dried veggie mixes, soups, etc are all available for order. Basically like industrial versions of Lipton Noodles and Sauce. Hence, how similar they are, down to the menus.

                And on that note, most chinese restos at least at one time will prepare many dishes not on the menu. These have to be asked for. I've only ever gotten to this point with a couple of places, one being in Missouri since out here we have a few places that don't need to be supported by that other type of fare.

                1. re: Dennis S


                  I'm interested in the luck you have had with ordering "good" chinese food in out-of-the-way places where most everything is chimerican. Does it work?

              2. re: microwave15

                Well, if the best thing that someone can mention about a new chinese restaurant is their "very good fried dumplings, sensational egg drop soup, decent hot and sour soup (not very spicy), and kung pao chicken.." then that's not saying much. I'm sure every corner chinese takeout can do a decent version. Not much creativity there.

            2. Isn't Hunan Number One closed? If it's the place on Wilson between Court House and Clarendon, then it's definetely gone.
              I for one am desperate for chinese and am not a stickler when it comes to authentic or not. Thank you for the report on TNR.

              3 Replies
              1. re: redglass

                I think Oriental Gourmet in the Lee Harrison Shopping Center is top quality for Chinese-American food, the kind of stuff I grew up on as a kid on Long Island. I didn't realize how spoiled I was. You should no longer be desperate. And a surprise: very good Peking duck, too.

                1. re: redglass

                  No, Hunan Number One is still open. It's in Clarendon not too far from the metro. Even though it's listed in the yellow pages on Wison Blvd, it's actually more on the side street, I think N. Garfield. I haven't been in years but just called them today to see if they have peking duck, which they do. Planning to check it out since it's w/in walking distance for me and I'm always in search of good inexpesive peking duck.

                  1. re: tippytoes

                    Back in the day, I thought their rendition of clams w/ fermented black bean sauce was particularly good.