Hong Kong Palace (Seven Corners) - Dramatic Change to Szechuan!
Hong Kong Palace has been a wonderful source of Hong Kong-style Chinese food for the last couple of years. But the restaurant of last week is no more.
In its place is Hong Kong Palace, a place of the same name but with some major changes. The kitchen is now staffed with a pair of Chengdu-trained Szechuan chefs who seem to know what they are doing. Yes, the restaurant has some rough spots that might be expected in any place that has just changed hands in the past week, but it appears to be very promising.
We stopped by tonight expecting typical HK fare, but were surprised by all the new faces for the staff. The real change came we asked for the Chinese Menu, and we were handed a total different menu from the one we had seen in the past. It was brimming with all manner of Szechuan-style dishes. Speaking with our waiter then made things clear. The previous owners had sold the restaurant and the new owners were heading in a different direction cuisine-wise.
As we continued to speak with the waiter we considered that this new place might have promise. We decided to share the Chengdu Spicy Cold Noodles for appetizer and ordered the Ma Po To Fu and Sliced Pork with Dried Bean Curd for dinner.
What we received were very fine renditions of classic Szechuan fare! If there were any complaints they centered around our inability to convince the waiter (and chef?) that we wanted the food spiced authentically. While there was some heat and numbing character in the entrees, it was just a little short of what we had come to expect from the best of the local Szechuan restuarants, such as Joe's Noodle House (in Rockville).
We will be definitely be going back, and I suspect that with a little effort we will be able to get the kitchen to pull out all the stops and make the dishes with the bold flavors that is the hallmark of classic Szechuan food.
I would be interested to hear reports from others.
Steve: Thanks for the tips. I'm glad we were warned away from the Wood Ear Mushroom salad. It certainly doesn't sound "Delightful."
I definitely would have gone for a noodle dish, but for just two of us that would have been overkill.
Finally, I forgot to mention earlier that after I ordered the waiter said "Wonderful order." Always nice to get props like that. He beamed when I told him I had done my research on Chowhound.
Thanks for bringing this to our attention. I tried it tonight and it was great. We tried the scallion pancakes (I love'em). I wanted the Hot and Sour Seafood Soup. The waitress tried to steer me away from it but I insisted. It had no seafood; good but a disappointment. I had the tea smoked duck. I love the deep smokey flavor but it is hard to eat (lots of bones and fat). My GF ordered Kung Pao Chicken. The waitress asked if she wanted it traditional, i.e, Szechuan style. Of course we said yes and it numbed my lips and tongue; not for the faint of spice!
The restaurant seemed very popular (we were the only ones there not of Asian ancestry) and it was full when we left at 7:30pm on a Monday night. We definitely recommend it and plan to go back soon.
re: Dakota Guy
I made it to Hong Kong Palace on Friday night with brother Orson W. Place was packed. There was actually one other table (two-top) of non-Asians.
We pretty much stuck to the CH recs and were well rewarded. I did go off the reservation on the apps and tried to order the Delightful Cold Wood Ear Mushroom Salad but our wonderful waiter told us it wasn't good that night so he recommended the spicy dried beef and of course it was excellent.
We also got the Chengdu Zhongs Wontons (a far cry from the kreplach of my youth; great appetizer choice), Twice Cooked Pork With Garlic (outstanding), Ziran Lamb (ditto -- but you better like cumin), and Golden Corn With Eggs. That was utterly unique and quite good (it came out piping hot and without a drop of grease) but I wouldn't order it with a group of less than four, since it's big and so monochromatic.
We some some very enticing things on other tables, including something with pork and chopped longbeans that I am definitely going to try.
My brother lives close to Chinatown in NYC and he's never had Sichuan food like this. He was very impressed.
re: Bob W
You ordered very well. The only thing you missed was one of the noodle dishes. I swear, they have the best texture I've ever had. Either the Dan Dan Noodles or the Chengdu style - which are VERY spicy.
Dishes I avoid:
Wood Ear Mushroom Salad; Not so much a salad, but a lifetime supply of wood ear mushrooms piled high, with only a hint of sesame oil to make them interesting.
Marinated cucumbers: A Misnomer. They are NOT marinated. Just quartered pickling cukes served with a hoisin sauce on the side. AVOID.
Beef tenderloin in beer sauce. Very tasty sauce, but almost a huge bowl full of sauce with little else. Whatever beef is there, don't expect tenderloin. Even skimpy on the vegetables.
Spicy and Tasty sliced chicken appetizer. Cold boiled chicken tastes pretty much like cold boiled chicken, even if it is swimming in chili oil.
Made a note of this and other recent threads, and finally made it to Hong Kong Palace this weekend for a late lunch. The meal, in a word, was excellent. We immediately told our server that this was our first visit, we'd heard good things, we like authentic, ie spicy, sichuan, etc., so what would he recommend as particularly good specialties of the kitchen? Based on our chatting about this, we had:
Apps: spicy dried beef, tea smoked duck, chengdu(?) dumplings. The beef was nicely dry but not as much as a jerky, with delicious spicing. Duck was nice; if I had any complaint, the smoky flavor almost drowned out the flavor of the duck itself. The dumplings were more substantial, but reminded me strongly of the mini wantons in chili oil from our friends (and many of our past postings) a TemptAsian.
We followed these with the stir fried lamb dish (sorry, blanking on the name) and stir fried snow pea leaves with garlic. both terrific.
We loved it, and will look forward to return visits; lots of interesting and delicious looking and sounding things on the menu.
Thanks for the detailed report. I had just reported earlier this week (after stopping there for lunch) that it was under new management. Since I don't usually have anything esoteric for lunch, all I noticed was a change in the cooking, which was still tasty. I've never been to Joe's but it's nice to hear that we might have something in the neighborhood that has the kind of foods that people enjoy out there in Rockville.
The Chinese menu was all in Chinese when I was there and since I didn't know of anything specific to ask for, I stuck with the English. I'll probalby continue to lunch there every few weeks. If I can share anything useful, I will.
Hey, Mike, if the server or manager seem at all helpful, maybe you could order from the Chinese-only menu with their help. I know I've done that a few times at other places. Just pretend you're in China! Of course, you have to steel yourself to the fact that you might stumble across a surprise or two.
Well, a new owner has to go with his strengths ... it just seems that the local 'hounds were so happy to have a proper Hong Kong place, and at this moment STILL ANOTHER Szechuan place seems like "follow the leader". I guess I'd better head over there (carefully, at the risk of colliding with JamesG)
Re the "does the server or the chef believe you" issue - ask for it "ma la" and see if that helps. ("Numbing" ... I think.)