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what to order at joe's noodle house???

i have been there twice and been underwhelmed, is there something i should order that i dont know about??

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  1. Snacks: Spicy & Sour Pickled Vegetables & Boiled Peanuts

    Noodles: Dan Dan Noodles - traditional Sichuan street food
    Vegetables: Yu Shiang Eggplant with pork & String Beans Sichuan style with pork
    Meat/Fish: Sichuan Spicy Dry Beef Saute or the whole fish Sichuan style. also good is the double-cooked pork.

    Basically, try things that you wouldn't see on any other menu and you'll be happier!

    1 Reply
    1. re: naschaka

      Naschaka-the Dan Dan noodles, is it Dan Dan Mian or Dan Dan Noodles in a peanut sauce?

    2. No. I'm afraid Joe's Noodle house is REALLY REALLY overrated. I mean, maybe you go for the beef soup noodles and it's ok, but it's really nothing to write home about. I don't know why more chinese food places don't turn for "authentic" on top of the General Tsao's chicken. Anyways.

      3 Replies
      1. re: MFoxM

        The cumin lamb dish is really good. I like most of the food there and always order pretty unique dishes trying not to order the same thing over and over. I dont know how you go about saying Joes not being authentic but from reading other people's posts who are of chinese descent, Joe's puts out some pretty authentic szichuan food.

        1. re: cleveland park

          I'm chinese, moved here 20 years ago. There's a difference between "authentic" and "good." That's all. I'm sure they were once pretty good as I have read many good reviews about them. But the past 3 visits and takeouts left me feeling that they've jumped the shark. That's all.

          1. re: MFoxM

            What chinese (any region) restaurants would you recommend in the dc area?

      2. I love Joe's. So many great choices....

        Wontons in red hot sauce. Shredded radish, Spicy and sour pickled vegetables, Spicy and Tasty fried tofu. Fish filet over vegetables. Rice cake with pork, Szechuan Beef jerky. Peanuts with fried baby smelt, Homemade bacon with leek, Shrimp with scrambled eggs, pressed bean curd with hot sauce, pork leek stem and pressed bean curd, String beans szechuan style, sauteed shredded potato, cucumber salad.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Steve

          The wontons in red hot sauce always get raves. And I do like them as well.

          However, the wontons in hot and sour sauce are better. The sauce is similar; the difference is a hint of vinegar.

          Those of you who rave about the wontons should try the hot and sour sauce version.

        2. Triple Pepper Chicken. That stuff is like crack. I get the craving and there's nothing else that I want.

          Salt and Crispy Squid. Best fried calamari I've ever had.

          Spicy and Tasty Fried Tofu w/ Pork.

          Tibetan Style Lamb w/ Cumin.

          And some others already mentioned: won-ton in red hot sauce; Stir Fried Rice Cake w/ pork; and Szechuan Beef Jerky.

          1. Agree with Steve (though how have I missed homemade bacon with leeks?).

            Anyway, I'd like to add shredded chicken with pickled cabbage, salty and crispy chicken (to take with you as a snack later...), spicy noodle with spinach and ground pork.

            5 Replies
            1. re: Dennis S

              The bacon with leeks is great. The green bean dish with garlic is a must order for me. I really enjoyed the tripe there, too -- a first for me. The only dish there that I have even been seriously disappointed with is the duck tongue -- that was just weird. Not bad, just odd.

              Joe's lost their chef to Peking Cheers in Gaithersburg earlier this year.


              1. re: Pool Boy

                The duck tongues at Bob's 66 are much better!

                I think, right after the chef left, Joe's stumbled a little bit. And even on recent visits, some items weren't as incendiary as I remember them being. But I think the quality of cooking is back to where it was last year.

                1. re: DanielK

                  I just ate there yesterday and had some of the best food I have ever had there. Spicy & Tasty tofu was incredible, order it with the pork. Leek & bacon is a must. The dry fried beef is very hot too. I always tell them to use extra scezuan peppercorns and make it hot. THe latter is no problem, the former can be difficult. But not yesterday. Its always better if you order from Audrey but she isn't there 24/7. What's up with that? :-D

                  I kow a ot of people rave about dish H-20 but it is not a favorite of mine and I don't think it particularly hot. The rabbit appetizer and the fattty pork in garlic sauce appetizer are both really good too. There is a chopped long bean and pork dish that is wondreful in a group but way to strong flavored (not too hot) if ordered when you are by yourself. I love the spciy tofu appetizer as well.

                  They ahve various bean noodles with hot sauce that I think are really great. Their wonton soup is pretty damned good as is their pork & pickled veggie soup. The Cumin Lamb is another good one, its sneaky hot and comes on strong as you eat more and more of it.

                  1. re: deangold

                    thanks for the suggestions! I got the double cooked pork, the spicy pickled cabbage and wonton soup. it was decent, but i definitely dont "get it" like a lot of people do.

                    1. re: elegantelliot

                      Did you order one of the special soups from the Sichuan menu, or the plain old $1.75/bowl wonton soup? Because if it's the latter, then you got the American stuff, not the authentic soups. The soup they do well is the Beef Noodle Soup Sichuan style. And I think the double-cooked pork is one of the weakest items on the menu.

                      There are definitely less-than-great items, even on the Chinese side of the menu. But everything in the "Soup", "Lunch Specials", and "Popular Dinner Entrees" sections of the menus should be studiously ignored.


            2. Pickled long bean with beef (I think it is beef, not pork, but I could be mistaken): the long bean will be sliced into 1/8 to 1/4 inch segments and the beef will be ground beef in chunks about the size of the bean chunks. This isn't an eye-catching dish, either on the plate or on a menu, but it is delicious.

              Ask about greens sauteed with garlic. It will be whatever the green of the day is, something seasonal, with braised garlic cloves.

              1. I just returned from an early lunch at Joe's Noodle House in Rockville and my first reaction is: What is it about this place that people say is so great and that everyone recommends?
                This place is a joke. If this is the best that this area has to offer, I will need to fly to California or drive to New York to eat.
                I was one of 3 tables, very quiet. My order was large for one person as I wanted to sample many things and if good enough I could always take home with me.
                I ordered the following 8 plates:
                1. Cucumber Salad
                2. Sesame Balls
                3. Sticky Rice
                4. Shredded Pig Ear (As recommended by someone on this board to me)
                5. Cold Pasta Noodle with Sesame Sauce
                6. Turnip Cake
                7. Steamed Pork Dumplings
                8. Beef and Onion in Black Sesame Pastry

                I will rate each dish

                1. Cucumber Salad-Tasty with just a little heat flavor and nice garlic: 7 or 8 but it's almost impossible to screw this up
                2. Sesame Balls-They had a very nice crispy exterior and a good amount of black bean paste inside. My only complaint would be that they were a little too big but if a table orded them, it would work. 8
                3. Sticky Rice-This look like it was going to be real good, especially with the little sweet/hot sauce on the side. I found the rice and the meat flavorless and the only part I really liked was the crunchy nuts inside, I believe they were some sort of chestnut type. Give it a 6
                4. Shredded Pig Ear (As recommended by someone on this board to me) Now not many people are going to order this so it is more of a novelty to try it out. The first thing I noticed was that the plate had way too much on it and the pieces were big about 3"x5" sheets. The chewy texture was more like a rubberband than jelly fish and although it did have a unique flavor, after eating two or three of them, that was more than enough. Didn't need 20 pieces of pig ear. 4 for flavor and 7 for originality and uniqueness to try once.
                5. Cold Pasta Noodle with Sesame Sauce-Once again this has been touted by a few bloggers as a "go-to" dish. The noodles were light but no flavor and the heat overwhelmed any sesame flavor. This was average at best I give it a 5 or 6
                6. Turnip Cake-This is something I order at every true Chinese restaurant and this one actually was really good. It had the crispiest exterior I've ever had, the inside had lots of flavor, they were a little thicker than any I've ever had and inside stayed warm and not mushy like some bad ones I've had. This gets an 8 or 9
                7. Steamed Pork Dumplings-This is where I differ from many traditionalists. I know that the traditionla dumpling has a wonton wrapper that is usually thick in China for being hearty on cold winter days and because dough is cheaper than meat but I do not like a bid soft wad of wonton wrapper. This dumpling was poor and tasted like so many you get at Chinese buffets or bad Chinese Americanized restaurants. The dumpling I had at A&J's was 100% better than this and even the dumplings at PF Chiangs and Big Bowl are better than this. The pork filling was lackluster as well. I tossed most of the wonton wrapper away. These get a 3 or 4
                8. Beef and Onion in Black Sesame Pastry-This was a nice simple appetizer with two flaky nice sized buns coated with black sesame. The filling was EXTREMELY hot tempature and needed lot's of time to cool down. The flavor was nice and balanced. I give it a 7 or 8

                There really was not a sinle dish I ate that jumped out at me or really made me say "wow". The turnip cake was the highlight of the meal and that isn't saying much.
                They did have an incredible variety of items but 200 decent things aren't better than 50 great ones.

                I drove about 20 miles to try this highly rated restaurant and I will not drive back here again. Not even close to top shelf. Except for the large portions, this is highly, highly overated.

                Definitely underwhelmed just like elegantelliot.

                6 Replies
                1. re: LoveFood2Much

                  All I can say is that I listed fifteen dishes to try in my post above, and you only chose one, the cucumber salad.

                  In addition, your ordering is a bit ridiculous. of the eight dishes you ordered, I have to say that six of them I put in the category of pasty/starchy. I don't order those dishes in general there, but if I did I would only order one per meal.

                  Joes' Noodle is my single favorite restaurant in the DC area. Everyone has their own tastes, of course, and I'm not expecting everyone to like it. But your meal is hardly a list of the type of food they do best. You did not order even one Sichuan dish!

                  1. re: Steve

                    Steve, I'll agree that I went here more for a brunch type meal with dim sum ordering habits and mini plates rather than one or two entrees. Maybe a dinner with specific focus on Szechuan meals would be a better choice. I would expect a good restaurant to be able to do even the pasta/starchy dishes at a better than average level.

                    1. re: LoveFood2Much

                      It has long been noted on this board the unfortunate irony that noodles are not the thing to order at Joe's Noodle House. I think it was a name left over from the prevoius owner. Anyway, I can tell you that the xiao chi (small plates) at Joe's are divine, but not the ones that are available on dim sum carts throughout the Washington area. I mean, it's perfectly alright to order one of those for a table, but you'd be missing the allure of JNH if you ignore the Sichuan items.

                      Even though I have a yummy and respectable Sichuan menu just five minutes from where I live in NoVa, I will sometimes travel from my peaceful home in Arlington to treacherous Rockville Pike and JNH, where dishes of shredded radish, spicy and sour pickled vegetables, tender bamboo shoots, and wontons in red hot sauce await.

                      1. re: LoveFood2Much

                        "I would expect a good restaurant to be able to do even the pasta/starchy dishes at a better than average level."

                        But why? Joe's is a small, neigborhood, hole-in-the-wall Sichuan restaurant. They have combination plates with beef and broccoli as well, and I have no idea if they're any good, nor would I care if they were terrible. The chef in the back is great at traditional Sichuan dishes, and that's what we go there for.

                        If this was a 3-star place downtown, then I would agree that they should either have other dishes up to the same standard, or not offer them. I believe their location restricts them, and they do have to offer them. I feel sorry for the people who wander in there not knowing, and order the wrong things, but as long as the good stuff is available to the rest of us, I'm fine.

                        A friend of mine who managed a brewpub told me that they barely broke even on the house-made stuff, but that they made a killing on every bottle or draft of Bud that they sold. And, believe it or not, they sold about twice as much of the majors as they did their own house made stuff. Again, same reaction. Sad that others didn't get the fine product, but happy for the business model that made it available to me.

                        1. re: DanielK

                          As much as I'm the first person to say that Joe's is overrated, I'd have to agree that poster really didn't order to the "strengths" of Joe's. But still - some of you make Joe's out to be the second coming. IT IS NOT.

                          Not to mention that last time I ordered take out they completely messed up my order (gave me the wrong thing) and when I called back to ask about it they basically said, "what do you want me to do about it?"

                          No sorry, no nothing - basically the attitude is that we've got lots of customers so go f yourself. I was REALLY offended that a customer would be treated this way. The person who make the mistake on the phone wouldn't even admit she make a mistake!! Um. I think I know what I ordered. (I ordered squid and got beef).

                          Anyways, I know that chinese places aren't "known" for their services, but at some point it crosses the line.

                          JOE'S is OVERRATED. Period.

                          1. re: MFoxM

                            I think one of the absolute best ways to explore Joe's' menu is to go with a large group and order a pantload of stuff and share it all family style. People all have their favorites and people avoid certain things, but in a group setting, I think you tend to order more things and try new things more often. I am already an adventurous eater and even I had some new experiences in this type of setting with some dishes being fantastic (I tried tripe finally and LOVED IT) and others just 'Meh.' (like Duck Tongue....not sure f it was just bad or just not worth the trouble, for me).

                            Short of trying a large number of dishes, it's really hard to call a place overrated and know what you're talking about. That said, I've called places overrated before for the same reasons and on a single experience at a given place (perfect examples are both CityZen and Restaurant Eve -- I think both places are decent, maybe even good, but I think they are overrated, on single experiences only). We're all human and we all base our opinions on our own experiences (and maybe opinions of those other folks whose opinions we respect...).


                  2. We went to Joe's yesterday and won't make the trip to central Rockville again for it. I read all of the posts so I would know what to order(it sounded like depending on what you got it would either be amazing or terrible). A couple of you liked the Wontons in Hot Sauce, so we got it. We each ate one and left the rest untouched. The wonton skin was extremely thin. So much so that it took on a slimy texture. The meat inside also had an off taste. The red sauce was very, very oily but I tried it anyway and didn't find it tasty at all. I have heard here and other places that boiled peanuts are really good so we ordered some. They are definitely an acquired taste, like pate, you either like it or don't. We didn't and left the plate untouched except for maybe 6 peanuts. The Kim Chi was fine, but I can make it just as well at home with jarred KimChi base from the international market. The Spicy and Sour veggies were fine. We were going to order the Triple Pepper Chicken that one poster said was "like crack" it was so addictive and good. We didn't though because of the daunting phrase "numbing" which was noted by it on the menu. I asked the woman about it. I thought it just meant really hot, which usually doesn't bother us, but she said it will actually make you not be able to feel your lips or tongue. For us, that was not good eats. We got the Mongolian beef with cumin which was good, but again greasy, and not worth another trip to Rockville.

                    I would recommend only those who know what Sichuan food really is and know they like it give this place a try. I don't want to say it is not good because I didn't try any of the challenging dishes(I want good food, not a painful adventure for adventure's sake). If you want good Chinese, though, this is not the place.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: PJ4

                      Just to set the record straight on a few things:

                      Numbing comes from Sichuan Peppercorns, which can numb your lips and tongue. People who like Sichuan peppercorns don't do so because the are looking for a painful adventure. I have a jar I keep at home to liven up otherwise dreary take out. Some people actually enjoy hot foods because of the complexity of flavor. Of course, with the numbing, spicy food will seem less hot than without it.

                      Thin wonton skins are prized, in general, more than thick. I don't agree that the ones at Joe's Noodle House are particularly thin, but if they were that would be a good thing. if they seem slimy to you, that's because they are served in red hot sauce, which is basically a very spicy oil.. Yes, it's true, Sichuan food can be highly oily and salty. All those things that you have been taught all your life are not good tasting and are bad for you.

                      There was a time when most of us did not know what Sichuan food is like, including those of us who are big fans of Joe's Noodle House. Being unfamiliar with something is not a good reason to keep away. I'm glad you tried it, and I'm sorry it was not to your liking.

                      1. re: PJ4

                        I am the author who compared the tripple pepper chicken to crack, which I have no experience with but must assume tastes, or feels, as good as the tripple pepper chicken. As Steve pointed out, the numbing comes from the Sichuan Peppercorns. I think that the three different kinds of peppers in the tripple pepper chicken, including the Sichuan Peppercorns, give the dish a unique depth that is one of the reasons I like it so much. I admit that I can only take so much of it and I try to avoid eating several SPs at once. I think it would be unfortunate, though, if people saw the Sichaun Peppercorn as a novelty, like those insanely hot buffalo wings that you have to sign a waiver before eating. It deserves more serious consideration and I hope more people try it.

                      2. My extended family and I just went to JNH this past weekend. I love the small dishes there that everyone's posted about, and their soy milk (both sweet and salty) is very good. My parents think it's housemade -- they say that they can tell from the texture.

                        One thing that's hard to find in the DC area is good xiao long bao/soup dumplings. We were all pleasantly surprised at JNH this time. Unlike a previous experience there, the dumplings were full of flavor and broth. Does anyone know if something there has changed, or did we just luck out?

                        1. Okay, I have a question. I do not know much about Chinese food, but my general understanding is that Sichuan food is supposed to be spicy, and since Joe's is (by most) considered to be authentic, I imagine many offerings are spicy as well.

                          Now, I can't handle spicy food. Don't hate me; it's not that I'm afraid to try it, but I just can't handle things that are spicy -- they hurt and make the experience unpleasant for me, and I think most of you will agree that pleasant eating experiences is what Chowhound is all about.

                          That said, I have been craving good Chinese lately, and am looking for a place in Rockville to go to. I've heard a lot about Joe's and would happily go there, but what should I order that won't be too spicy for me? I can handle a little bit, but not a lot. I want really good food, but if all the good Sichuan items are too spicy and not for me, then I'll find somewhere else.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: kallisti

                            There are plenty of good non-spicy items at Joe's, but that would hardly be focusing on the place's strengths. Better you should go to Bob's 66 or Bob's 88, both of which specialize in Taiwanese food. I think the key to 88 is to skip the shabu-shabu (which is fine but uninspiring), and order from the family menus. Lion's Head is a must. There are discussions of both, with specific suggestions, here and on donrockwell.com.

                            1. re: MartyL

                              *nod* We ended up at Bob's 88 and were very happy. Thanks :)

                            2. re: kallisti

                              Haven't made it to either Bob's yet, but I have found a couple of dishes to suit you at Joe's.

                              F29, Chicken and pickled cabbage.

                              N36, Spicy noodle with spinach and ground pork - yes the title says spicy, and it is a dish where the noodles start out like warm chengdu noodles, but the spinach and pork blend well with it - I really doubt it'd be too spicy (you say you like some).

                              Salty Crispy anything (I like the chicken or shrimp)

                              Cucumber salad (actually a bunch of apps, like turnip cake, the non-spicy wontons, seaweed)

                              The pork and spinach dish is in regular rotation for us. Especially when going with multiple people, we order as many as I've listed, in order to balance the meal both with spice and veggies.

                              1. re: Dennis S

                                I would also recommend:

                                Fried baby smelts w/peanuts
                                Scrambled eggs with shrimp
                                Snowpea shoots w/garlic
                                leekstem w/pork, black beans and garlic
                                Orange beef
                                Squid w/basil sauce and, of course, crispy salty squid

                                That's only what comes to mi