Sichuan Style Chinese Food in DC?
I spent several months in China this fall and I am craving some good Sichuan Province food! Are there any good places around DC (accessible from metro)?
I lived in China for four years and have also been searching for good Sichuan food. Friends tell me that the best is at Hong Kong Palace in the Seven Corner Center in Falls Church. I've eaten there and had a fair meal -- much better than other Chinese food in the area, but not great compared to Chengdu, Beijing or even Monterey Park. I did enjoy their wontons in red oil. Their number is 703 532 0940. Unfortunately, it is not at all metro accessible.
Have you tried the other places, and if so, what are your thoughts on them? Places like Joes, Temptasian, China Star in Fairfax, Sichuan Village in Chantilly.
I can easily see differences in them (haven't been to SV in Chantilly), but don't have the knowledge to know what's what btwn them.
re: Dennis S
Alas, I don't have a car so have not tried those other places (yet!) But former Beijing expats tell me China Star is not as good as Hong Kong Palace. A&J in Rockville is supposed to be quite good for noodles and dumplings. My Sichuanese cleaning lady says she knows where to get the best wonton in red oil (also in Rockville) but she doesn't speak English, so it's been hard to translate the actual location. But stay tuned!
You were absolutely correct. It was Joe's Noodle House. She gave us the card on Saturday and we lost no time in renting a zipcar and heading over there yesterday.
Overall, my verdict is: very good.
Highlights included: dan dan mian. Very garlicky, good ratio of hua jiao to chili oil, quite a big bowl that will definitely feed two.
--Mapo doufu -- very good. The best mp df I've had since moving to Washington, DC. Good hua jiao flavor. Covered with a layer of red oil, just like I'm used to.
--Cong you bing (onion pancake) -- recommended by our ayi. Very good, though perhaps not as good as cong you bing in Beijing. But far superior to HK Palace's bing. Strong spring onion flavor, crisp on the outside, tender, doughy and slightly flaky within.
--Bitter melon with black bean sauce -- Bitter melon is very divisive -- but I love it. This was great -- strong bitterness, good black bean flavor. Perhaps a touch too salty.
--Hong you chao shou -- IMO, the weakest link. Good wontons, but the red oil lacked depth of flavor. I think this dish might be better at HK Palace.
Joe's definitely had the best Chinese food I've eaten since moving to Washington, DC. Based on one meal at each, I think it's better than HK Palace. I look forward to returning to Joe's soon (whereas, I probably wouldn't go back to HK Palace unless a group of friends insisted).
Thank you so much for your enlightened analysis. We don't get many folks here who have had the real thing regarding Sichuan cuisine, so some of us are just guessing about authenticity.
Joe's is my favorite. I personally find it hard to go wrong there, although the hong you chao shou there is my favorite - go figure.
At HK Palace, it is easier to go wrong. But I have had a few spectacular meals there also, so if you ever get a chance to join us for a Chowhound meal, that might help you (or should I say you could help us). The Chengdu noodles, corn and egg, tiger skin peppers, and twice cooked pork with garlic leaves makes for a formidable meal.
The three major outlets in the suburbs for Sichuan food seem to be Joe's Noodle House in Rockville (yes, great won tons in red hot sauce), Hong Kong Palace, and China Star.
Joe's Noodle House specializes in xiao chi, Sichuan small plates. So many good thing there to eat, maybe my favorite is the shredded radish. Because they have such an extensive list of these inexpensive items, one or two people can taste test a bunch of dishes without spending too much money.
China Star is in Fairfax, and is the most reliably fiery Sichuan food.. They also have some exciting and elaborate specials, so if you go there, make sure to ask. They have a number of well-executed dishes including a killer lamb in sizzling wok (cumin lamb).
Hong Kong Palace in Falls Church does many things quite well. They probably have the best noodles around (Chengdu Noodles).
I went to China Star in Fairfax for lunch yesterday.
Eventhough the look and feel of this place in a big strip mall seems "Americanized" it definitely is not.
Cold appetizer Spicy Peppercorn Beef with Cilantro. Very good, flavorful, and just a perfect portion.
(2) Spring Rolls and Fried Dumplings- Both very crispy and good. Obvioulsy not Szechuan cooking
For entree I had the Shredded Pork with Sour Mustard and Rice Noodle. Also very good.
I certainly didn't get to sample a large variety to sample but by the limited dishes all done well and the spicy Szechuan flavors, I'll add my recommendation for this place.
I've been to China and Hong Kong 50+ times combined and have sampled great food there so I understand your cravings.........Hope you find the one that hits the spot.