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Ballston area Chinese

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Hi all, I just did a search on Ballston area Chinese restaurants and everything was either pretty old or made the available restaurants sound pretty dismal.

Has the situation improved at all?

I'd greatly appreciate any suggestions. I live near the Harris Teeter on Glebe and would ideally like a place I can walk to or get delivery from. I'm hoping that I won't have to keep driving all over creation for good Chinese food :-)

Thanks!

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  1. It's not exaclty Ballston, but Oriental Gourmet in the shopping center (far end) at Lee Hwy. and Harrison St. (where the other Arlington Harris-Teeter is) is pretty good. A few steps above the typical corn starch and MSG place, anyway. (I prefer Hong Kong Palace at Seven Corners, but now we really ARE getting away from Ballston.)

    4 Replies
    1. re: Gonzocook

      I am with Gonzo, Oriental Gourmet (in Garden City) is fairly decent 'chinese' food compared to the rest of the chinese cafes in Ballston. You have to go further out to Mark's Duck House or to A & J's to get pretty good chinese food. P F Chiangs is rather good food, and the area is pretty nice. That having been said, the worst chinese food in the US is generally better than the usual food I ate in Beijing, Pingyao or Guilin. No comparison. Non-tourist cafes in China, the food is really bad more often than not.

      1. re: Ziv

        That's a pretty sweeping remark about food in China. Can you give some more information about that? What does "usual food" mean in China? I'm not being judgmental, but would like to understand what you're saying.

        1. re: dpan

          Hi dpan, I know it is sweeping but in the two months I spent in China in my two trips there I got to the point where it really irritated me that I would go to recommended cafes and have greasy pork and noodles dumped in a malodorous pile, or a fish half cooked and slimy, slip sliding off my plate. It got so bad that I started going to KFC, of all places, just to have a meal that didn't taste like offal. I also started eating in the modern malls food courts because the food looked similar to what I ordered in the cafes on the houtongs, but it tasted much better. There were good meals, of course, but they were the distinct exception in the medium price range. In Pingyao, even the dumplings ended up being served dry and bland. In Yangshuou, I tried over and over again to get a decent fish, to no avail. Guilin was just a mess, the food was simplyabysmal, peanuts lined up on the side of the plate don't offset an acrid mess of noodles. In Beijing, the best food was at the Sick Duck and the Old Duck, and I liked the yams prepared on the streets but nearly every where else I went the food was fairly poor at best, until I spent more than 90 or 100 yuan. What really shocked me was how mediocre the tourist cafes were, tho, from Sanlitun to the Forbidden City, the food just disappointed.
          The one exception was in the south, from Xishuanbanna to Kunming, the food was much better.
          I really love travelling in China, but I have to admit that it is tied for worst in the food department, in my book, with Indonesia. Which is simply weird, because Indonesia and China both have great dishes, if you eat them elsewhere.

          1. re: Ziv

            Thanks for your thoughts Ziv. I'm sorry to hear that you had such bad experiences with food in China. I had the total opposite experience in my year and a half living there, and again on a recent trip back for business. I would do anything for a really good northern Chinese meal. It ranks right up there with the best food I've ever eaten. But I guess it's all personal preference.

    2. That's funny, actually heard the Chinese place near the other Harris Teeter was awful. Haven't been myself though. The menu looks good.

      Here's a thread from a while back: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/365252

      The comments I made re: Hunan Gate (across from Ballston metro) are still valid. You can find some good stuff there, other dishes just average. Try their special sechuan chicken (not regular, special, which uses sechuan peppercorns). Their Kung Pao shrimp is oddly addictive, to me at least. Singapore noodles are pretty good, usually not overly oily. Other suggestions in my posts.

      Also, while overall I'm not a fan overall, Panda Cafe (about a mile west down Wilson) does a few things really well. I especially like their pork fried rice, which has big chunks of tasty roasted pork. Again, other items on their menu are very average.

      1 Reply
      1. re: tmentzer

        "Awful"? No, "awful" is just about every place left in DC's once good Chinatown, "awful" is the new Asian Bistro by the Arlington GMU campus, "awful" is most of the neighborhood takeout places in Northern Va. Oriental Gourmet will never be mistaken for New York's Chinatown, or even the local Hong Kong Palace, A&J, Lucky Three, or Bob's in Rockville. But for everyday dining it is just fine.

      2. Have you tried Sichuan Wok? I haven't been there myself, but I have friends who live in Arlington who lived in Chengdu, China for 6 months who go there when they want take out - worht giving them a try:
        901 N Quincy St
        Arlington, VA 22203
        (703) 527-0660

        1 Reply
        1. re: pleen

          Chinese food in Ballston is mediocre. Food in Chengdu (in Sichuan province) is much better than anything I've had at Sichuan Wok, though it's been a couple years since I've eaten at Sichuan Wok. I would characterize their cooking as "Central Kitchen" style, meaning that it tastes the same as any other Chinese takeout kitchen's.

        2. I live down the street from Hunan Gate and the food there is decent. Nothing spectacular but it hasn't made us ill, so that's something. Lately, for some variety, we've been ordering from Oriental Gourmet next to the other Harris Teeter and I think it's a little bit better than the Hunan Gate.

          1. Thanks so much to everyone who has posted! I appreciate it.

            1. I'm assuming PF Chiangs doesn't cut it for you. It's within walking distance and can certainly fake good Chinese.

              Other than that, your best best is the Metro to Chinatown.

              1 Reply
              1. re: BigEats

                Thanks for the suggestion. I have tried PF Chang's once as my boyfriend loves their beef & broccoli. It wasn't bad, just not the authentic food that I have been hoping to find in my neighborhood. Also, since they publish their nutrition info online, it is almost too depressing to eat there as most dishes have 1000+ calories. I know "authentic" Chinese isn't health food either, but at least I can pretend. What you don't know... :-)

              2. OK, I know it's not Ballston, but I'm going to bet they deliver to you and I love going there- TNR in Courthouse- right at the courthouse metro stop. Excellent food and very well priced.

                2 Replies
                1. re: jpschust

                  I finally tried TNR Cafe last night, and I was pleasantly surprised. We were not necessarily looking for authentic last night, since I was craving orange chicken. So we got orange chicken, rice noodles sauteed with chicken and veggies, and an order of steamed dumplings. They also threw in two spring rolls for free. All of the food was very good, in that American Chinese food kind of way. The noodles had a very subtle, mild flavor, but were delicious, and even better leftover today. The orange chicken was exactly what I was craving--sweet and tangy. The dumplings were tasty, and the skin was not too thick (though still much thicker than what I got used to in China). And the free spring rolls were tasty as well, containing veggies, shrimp, and pork or chicken. I'll definitely go back again for takeout. Thanks!

                  1. re: julialimei

                    TNR's been my favorite place for the last year or so. Good food and sweet bubble tea to finish off a satisfying meal. Love their portions and even more so, their prices. You can pretty much get enough food to stuff you for dinner and have enough left over for lunch the next day, costing only $10 or so. I think the fact that you can "custom order" makes it different from most any other place. Getting exactly what you want, funny concept, eh? Well, TNR provides that. My family and close friends are pretty much as sold as I am. For my aunt's birthday dinner, we had about 20 people and every single one of them raved about how good the food was. If you're willing to give them a try, I highly doubt you'll be disappointed. I know I'm not!