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Help me find good chinese food!

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hey everyone,

new to the DC area, just beginning to chowhound my way across Rockville...

my aunt, uncle, and cousin are coming over to the east coast for a visit. i'd like to take them to a chinese/taiwanese place, given that we're chinese.

only thing is, i haven't seen them for 2-3 years. i'd like to find a nice place, both in terms of taste and atmosphere. i'd have gone to joe's noodle house or bob's but it seems just a tad informal for me.

help would be appreciated!! thankss

-eric

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  1. Well, food-wise, you are not going to do better in this area than Bob's Noodle 66 for Taiwanese...if you can, I definitely want to know about it...

    1. If you're willing to drive a bit, Peking Gourmet Inn in Virginia is excellent! Went there on my birthday, and was blown away.

      1. Great food at Peking Gourmet Inn. And a nice setting. Not a tough drive from Rockville.

        Try to put politics aside for this...
        When George H. W. Bush returned from two years in China (74-76) as head of the US Liaison office (we didn't have formal diplomatic relations yet), this is the restaurant that he and Barbara and the family visited often for their fix of Chinese food. He had been in China well before it had been open to the West so he probably knew a bit about decent Chinese food.

        The restaurant still has a faithful following after more than 30 years in business because it has good food. Your parents should enjoy it. And it's got a nice touch of Washington history. Pictures of famous people hanging on the walls, etc.

        4 Replies
        1. re: MakingSense

          And George and Barbara were at Peking Gourmet for dinner again just a few days ago.

          1. re: MikeR

            I cannot in good conscience as of Chinese ethnicity to recommend this place to take your parents. The staff wouldn't even speak Chinese to me, which I found insulting.

            The food is more American Chinese than authentic and this includes their peking duck. :(

            I was really sad, as I've heard good things about this place...

            1. re: orangemix

              I have to disagree to an extent, I have really enjoyed my dinning experiences at Peking Gourment Inn. As a bit of background, I am Chinese and my family has been in the restaurant business since I was very young. I love authentic Chinese restaurants and I can't stand restaurants that just serve the standard Americanized fare.

              So in terms of Peking Gourment Inn, I think their prices may be a bit high in terms of Chinese, but I find that their quality of ingredients is very high. Their menu may not have as many "authentic" or exotic dishes as some others, but they do offer quite a few dishes outside of the Americanized #1 kung pao platter. The garlic sprout dishes are excellent and the Peking duck is what they are know for.

              I also had a very interesting experience there once. I had asked for a side of fresh chopped peppers with my meal (as I always do). The peppers were wonderful and they where brought out by the chef (who was definitely Chinese). He was very proud of his peppers and explained to my wife and I how he grew them in his garden and how the different variety of peppers have subtle taste and heat differences. He was very genuine and very nice. The peppers were excellent with a wide range of spicyness. Very cool experience.

              I didn't try to speak chinese with the wait staff, so I can't comment on that, and I will agree they may not have all of the authentic dishes as Bob's or Joes, but the dishes that have to do well with good quality. Between that and the interesting historical notes on the placem I would recommend it at least from an experience stand point.

              As a bit of a side note, I would also recommend China Garden in Roslynn in terms of something a little more upscale than Bob and Joes.

              1. re: rcheng

                I wonder if some of the varied opinion is due to the origins of the Chinese who have reported differing experiences with the same restaurants. Are they from Hong Kong, ROC, or PRC?
                The foods are different and the enormous regional variation within the PRC is generally ignored by American generic Chinese. We end up with "noodle shops" or "dumpling places" or Chinese restaurants that serve sushi or pho. The US is such a melting pot that most of us just lump it all together. Everybody knows a few Sichuan dishes, a few other standards, but not the regional connections. Some isn't seen often on menus - who eats Cantonese these days? Then there's chop suey.
                I was told that old style Chinese food traditions were continued in Taiwan but almost disappeared under Mao on the Mainland. Hong Kong was part of the British Commonwealth until 2000.
                So perhaps those born since 1949 or reared in Hong Kong would have different ideas of Chinese foods and restaurants in the US depending on where their families lived.

        2. Good Chinese food combined with a "better" atmosphere can be had at (in MD) Hollywood East on the Boulevard in Wheaton, New Fortune in Gaithersburg, and perhaps Mama Wok also in Gaithersburg (I think), or (in VA) at Jasmine Garden at Rt. 50 and Gallows Road, China Garden in Rosslyn, or possibly Good Fortune near Seven Corners. These are all fairly good places, but in terms of food quality few would put them on a par with Joe's or Bob's, or possibly several others too such as China Star, Sichuan Village, Hunan Palace, etc.

          2 Replies
          1. re: johnb

            Good Fortune in Wheaton used to be good though I haven't been for a few years now.

            "Joes" is Joes Noodle House. Search for it on the board, sit down for a couple of hours to read through and take notes (LOTS of notes - a cheat sheet before you go). Google it to find the menu, and then be ready for some seriously good food.

            1. re: Dennis S

              The OP mentioned Joe's NH (and Bob's) but feels they are too informal for his purpose.

              My mistake on Fortune in Seven Corners; it is just plain "Fortune." Good Fortune is indeed in Wheaton, directly across from Hollywood East on the Boulevard, but lately seems to have slid downhill according to some posts I have read; I too haven't actually been for some time.

          2. there's a really good authentic place near the rockville/gaithersburg border but I totally forgot the name. Peking something?

            1. How about A & J? Don't they have a branch in Rockville?

              1 Reply
              1. re: MsDiPesto

                A&J is even more informal than Joe's/Bob's, so I don't think that's really in play here.

                I'm partial to Tony Lin's in Rockville, at the corner of Montrose and 355. They have a separate authentic Chinese menu, though it's not Taiwanese. But they do have excellent service, a very pleasant dining room, and private rooms.

              2. Washingtonpost did a piece on Asian dining in Wheaton. That may be your best bet.

                http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/...

                http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/...

                1. How about Seven Seas (on the lower level on the back side of Federal Plaza where Trader Joe's is). I know a couple of people have said that they think it has gone downhill lately, and I haven't been in at least a year, but it is a nicer dining room, they have live seafood in tanks, and I always had good seafood dishes. (Truly, I haven't been because the ambiance isn't as important as the food to me when it comes to Chinese food for me, and I love Joe's.).

                  Anyone else think it is worth recommending in a situation like this?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Terrie H.

                    Seven Seas is definitely good for seafood, but I don't know if I'd call it a nice dining room. Even after the renovation, it seems old and tired to me.

                  2. Hollywood East Cafe on the Boulevard is definitely worth going to, but it's a solid 20+ minutes from Rockville. There are closer places worth going to.

                    1. I have tried just about ALL of the Montgomery County Chinese restaurants people have referenced. IMHO 7 Seas has gone down hill and the room has gotten run down. Same for Good Fortune in Wheaton. Hollywood East is fairly new and quite fresh with good food - dim sum w/carts on week end. You might also consider Paul Kee in Wheaton on Georgia Avenue - large room, Hong Kong style food and always mobbed with large families. Food is not watered down at all. If decor were not a consideration Joe's and Bob's ...

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: rcooperman

                        rcooperman
                        Have you tried Mama Wok (I think that's what they call it) and if so what did you think? It is the place at the western end of Shady Grove/Key West, up there in the same little area with the Children's Hosp. clinic.

                        1. re: johnb

                          No, but should I. When i get to North Rockville I stop at Bob's Noodle.

                          1. re: johnb

                            Do you like it? I just checked out their web-site.

                            http://www.mamawokva.com/index.html

                            I don't know if I'd take my in-laws to a place that has Chinese Cuisine AND Japanese Sushi without trying it first. It might taste great but in terms of how authentic it is--they'd call it american food (which they have to a lot of chinese restaurants we've tried out)

                            1. re: chowser

                              I do like it. They seem to have some authentic (Sichuan) dishes, but as usual unless you are Chinese you need to emphasize that you want the real stuff. I've only been twice and was either alone or with only my SO, so couldn't try too many things. It's been several months--I recall the little dish of peanuts and dried fish was very nice. If you try the place let us know how you enjoyed it.

                              Note that I am speaking of the one on Key West Ave.---it's address is actually 9900 Key West Ave. The one on Hungerford near the Giant is AFAIK owned by the same folks and it gets some positive comments but I haven't been. The one referred to in the link above is in Reston and I know nothing about it except again it appears to be owned by the same people. All three have the combined Chinese/Japanese approach (one teriyaki, two sushi).

                              1. re: johnb

                                Thanks.
                                It sounds like something my immediate family would like. I might try the one in Reston. But, I probably wouldn't bring my in-laws to it. I'll bring them to American restaurants or Chinese restaurants but not Chinese American.

                                1. re: chowser

                                  There was a posting on Mama Wok in MD quite a while back to which I asked if it was related to the one in Reston. I have my doubts due to the name, and it looks from the outside like nothing special, but there are decent enough crowds that go there. Thing is that the one in Reston is next to Pho Reston 75, a very good vietnamese place with above average Pho. It's hard to take a gamble when there's good certainty next door. Also the owner of PR75 knows me and I'd hate to have him see me go next door.

                                  1. re: Dennis S

                                    LOL, that was one of my doubts, too--the name. From the pictures, it looks like any other place in Reston, like the Big Bowl which also gets big crowds. I'm always looking for a good Pho place so I'll keep that one in mind. Thanks!

                                    1. re: chowser

                                      The web site for the one in Reston says it's their third restaurant and the other two are in MD. So I'm pretty sure they are all owned by the same family---I know the two Mama Woks in MD mentioned above are owned by the same people.

                        2. Long trek from Rockville but consider Jesse's Hong Kong in Columbia (just across the pond from Tomato Palace). I haven't returned since their pre-opening though (not due to food quality but distance)

                          1. thanks everyone. does anyone have links to pictures of any of the places named (bob's, joe's, tony lin's, seven seas, etc etc)?

                            gratefully,

                            -eric

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: eric_chan

                              Best I can do...

                              Joe's Noodle House:
                              http://www.joesnoodlehouse.com/pictur...
                              http://www.joesnoodlehouse.com/pictur...

                              Bob's Noodle 66
                              http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i27...

                              1. re: Lowbar

                                Do they throw their own noodles at either?

                                1. re: chowser

                                  Neither of them is IMO an actual noodle place. In Joe's case at least the name is actually left over from the previous occupant, and the current restaurant has no relationship to than one except the name.

                                  They do throw their own noodles in a place in DC Chinatown---China Express is the name I think, but I haven't been. Maybe someone else can correct/comment.

                            2. Oh man, do yourself a favor and hit Full Kee in Chinatown. Don't miss the stir-fry chive blossoms. And bring cashola to pay the tab, not plastic.