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New Kam Fong, University & Elkins in Wheaton

Wea have been lamenting the state of late night eating in Wheaton of late. Irene's is great but loud music often makes dining there painful. We don't do Sergio's any more ofter horrendous service. Paul Kee has gotten dingy and the service dingier and the food boring. Full Key can be hit or miss. HEOTB is gone for now. And Wong Gee is all over the palce but basically good at best but it just hasn't made it to our hit parade.

So a couple of nights ago we saw New Kam Fong open and tonight we went by after a drive back from seeing friends in Baltimore.

They had a special of 2 lobster for $23.95 and our server was super friendly. But we were not very hungry and needed soup so we asked about pork and pickled vegetable soup and she came back with the suggestion of duck with pickled cabbage. We took her up on it and then added a plate of BBQ rib, pointing to their BBQ case across the room. She explained that that was different then the rib on the menu and she would have them chop 2 ribs for us and we would pay by the pound.

The rib hit the table first. It was rich, moist, well flavored with a tasty spice ruba nd a good sweet/soy based sauce. The order was nice sized but somehow did not last long. Very good and far superior to any BBQ meats we have had recently.

Then came the soup. It really was overfilled with white round noodles, lots of BBQ duck chopped into slivers, black mushrooms, pickled veggie and slivers of snow pea and fresh greens. The only quibble was that there was so much stuff in the bowl that there was barely enough room for the broth which was outstanding. Star anise and ginger were apparent. We added a splash of soy and red vinegar to balance the soup perfectly. As hard as we tried, we just could not finish the serving. 2 Tsing Tao, the meat and the soup were $26 and included two bowls of tapioca and chestnut soup in a reddish/grey broth. This dessert was one of the best version of a common dish we have ever had.

They have been open 6 days so far, the service is heartfelt and very friendly. They are still testing their hours but they are staying open till 1am for the first 30 days. I was checking out the fish tank and they had eel which they can deep fry, stir fry with black bean sauce or do "any way you want". The lobster looked good sized and there were a few crab as well as very plump looking Tilapia. The water was pristine unlike some places I could name.

If they are still shaking things out this is going to be a serious joint! We will be back to try some cooked foods and report more. We may even force ourselves to sacrifice and eat the two lobsters for $23.95!!!

But now our list for late night eats has two places far out in front on it: New Kam Fong and Kabab 'n Karahi on New Hampshire in Cloverly. These are two places where a couple can eat well, with great service and not drop more than $30.

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  1. Nice! Thanks for the tip.

    1. I ate at Dusit on Tuesday night, but picked up a carry-out menu from New Kam Fong. The menu is huge, and the dining room very nice and inviting. I will be eating there soon.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Mister Big

        Apparently they used to own Kam Fong in Chinatown on 7th which I never even knew existed. Unlike their current late night competition in Wheaton proper, they are really excited to have you in their restaurant and seem to be really helpful. I hope they make it because that was the best late night stop we have made for Chinese in Wheaton for a long time.

        1. re: deangold

          I had seen the signs for 'New Kam Fong' for some time, but did not know that they had opened already. I had been wondering if they were reviving the old Kam Fong in Chinatown. So it seems they are. I remember liking their beef chow foon. I will have to check them out.

          1. re: comestibles

            I had lunch there the first day they were open. I not sure what they called what I had - it was a waitress suggestion. It was narrow noodles stir fried with beef and very tasty. They were very, VERY hospitable and and I will be back to munch my way through their menu. They are a welcome addition to Wheaton and just might get Paul Key to shape up. Now Wheaton needs a good Szechuan place to balance the Hong Kong influence.

      2. So is this the place directly across from Wong Gee on University, on the corner I saw under construction? And what's the deal with late night at Wong Gee-- I had a great dinner there at 8 with the DR packed and noisy, in a happy way, and at 9 we were the only ones there. Is it deserted later, is it worth going back to later?

        7 Replies
        1. re: chowsearch

          Yes, New Kam Fong is right across the street from Wong Gee. Give it at try. My lunch experience was great and I will be back for dinner torrow night. As to Wheaton late dining traffic I am clueless

          1. re: chowsearch

            New Kam Fong is at the south west corner of Elkins and University in the former Schwinn shop.

            We have tended to go there at 10:30 or later and it usually has a large table and a couple of small ones filled. But I have never had what I wold call a great meal there, just a few nice dishes. What did you have at WG?

            1. re: deangold

              To clarify the above post, the second paragraph refers to Wong Gee.

              FOr lunch today I had a bowl of won tom noodle soup. Same reaction as my first meal. the broth was a little undersalted which I corrected with a little soy & hot chile paste, and the noodles were boiled in a meduim lacking in salt which made them a touch bland. But that is a quibble when compared to the incredible shrimp & prok wontons. Not since my last bowl at Kim Chuy's Chiu Chow Dumpling and Noodle Restaurant in LA's Downtown Chinatown has I had wonton this good. Again great service and they had 11 tables of which 8 were speaking Chinese at lunch.

              Not only will Full Key and Paul Kee have to take notice, but I thik that the soups & roast meats at HECOTB did not match up to what Kang Fong is offering up.

              The table next to me ordered the roast pig appetizer and it came out with incredibly crispy looking skin, a thick, succulent looking fat layer and big meaty chunks that looked moist. I restrained myself from hitting the couple over the head with a chair and stealing their plate of pig. Barely. As the waitress saw me drooling over the roast piggie, she smiled and pointed and said very good!!

              1. re: deangold

                Thanks, deangold, for posting. There are so many changes going on in Wheaton restaurants--I feel like all my old favorites have gone or gone downhill. Anybody know what's up with the old Hollywood East space? There's a sign up that says "Pashionfish" (sic) and they have taken the HE space as well as a couple of additional store fronts.

                1. re: shellymck

                  I was there today and it is ll black tinted windows and a faintly seedy look to it from the logo and sign. Not run down seedy, but some sort of club where everyone will be wearing dark sunglasses at 3pm.

                  I agree on Wheaton... I have never been a big EPR fan to begin with, Pollo Sabroso and Sergios are not my favs. Irene's has become so loud with music it hurts my ears to go in when they have it cranked up. If my car shakes out int he parking lot, I just pull out. Paul Key and Full Key are not in my rotatiom. Thai remains good with Ruan in front of Nava for me. Havent been to Dusit in ages but it was mentioned up thread. The New HEOTB is still up for lease. Wong Gee hasn't hooked me. Vit Goel has not been fun of late. So expect to see a lot of me at New Kam Fong if it remains this good and the rest of the menu is as good as the soups. I also love the steam table food at Asian Foods and I lvoe the felafel and Schwarma at Max's. Both are in the same plaza. And Pho Hwa Hiep seems to be on a rise. I had a great bowl of grilld pork & shrimp on noodles and a great spring roll.

                  But if you have not been to Kebab n Kahari in the Cloverly center on New Hampshire, you are missing the best food in the area right now.

                  1. re: deangold

                    After my dallaince at El Plugarcito (which left me satisified and feeling only slightly churlish for cheating on my new found love) I went back for more today. Within a minute or two of my sitting down, all the staff, most of whom know me by sight now} came by and said hi!

                    Roast Pig was better than it looked and it looked great. One waitress, who I never saw before, came by obviously to tell me that the skin and fat was the best part. But one look at the plate told her that I already knew so she just smiled at me. Next up was pork & 1000 year egg congee which, again, was in need of salt. But I usually like to add salt and red vinegar to my congee so this resulted in a perfect balance of flavor/salinity. The pork was richly flavored, chewy and well spiced. It was the star of the bowl, not the after thought.

                    My usual waitress answered a few questions about the menu. One dish I was mystified was beef motsu chow foon and she answered my inquiry with a very high complement: "It beef inside {pointing to her belly}. You order. You like real Chinese food!"

                2. re: deangold

                  >> I think that the soups & roast meats at HECOTB did not match up to what Kang Fong is offering up

                  To be fair, the soups and roast meats at HECOTB were never their strong point. From purely a dim sum perspective, roast meats (especially the crispy pig) at New Fortune have always been far better.

            2. My sister and I had lunch there today. Not as good as Hong Kong but definitely the best in this area!

              The roast meats were great. We ordered the trio of roast meats--roast pig, bbq pork and roast duck. I like that there are 2 sizes. We got the small and it was perfect.

              We each got a bowl of beef brisket noodles. I agree with Dean that the noodles were undersalted but afterward, I did not feel super thirsty like I used to at Hollywood East. My guess is that they don't use MSG. We also had stir-fried pea shoots. Tasty but pricey at $13. Overall, I enjoyed it and plan to go back soon.

              1. Another lunch, another find.... Green Leap in egg broth is pea tendrils or something similar in a borth with egg and 1000 year old egg. The egg is just floated into the soup and the white stirred a little into "rags" with the yolk being allowed to form a rather well done nugget. The 1000 year eggs were superb. In all, a spectacular dish. Kay was less enamoured than I was of the Pan Fried Noodle with Seafood. I thougth it clean and tasty, but still a little low on salt as amost everything here is. I should ahve asked for the chili paste and spiced it up a touch. Very filling and very good.

                1. Had lunch there again on Friday. This time, I brought my boyfriend instead of my sister. They greeted me like a regular. Had the roast meats again because I just couldn't resist. Tried the beef chow fun this time. Very good. The beef was tender but not mushy. The noodles were fresh and fluffy. Not greasy tasting. Again, when I was done with the meal, I did not feel like I was dying of thirst. Great food. I will definitely go back to try more dishes.

                  1. We went to New Kam Fong for the first time a few weeks ago... and, have already been back 3 times. We've tried the ginger scallion lobsters, shrimp wonton soup, steamed pork buns, fried good dale, kung pao chicken, pan fried dumplings, and spring rolls.
                    The only dish that was just "meh" was the kung pao chicken. I don't even know if kung pao is considered "real" chinese food.
                    The lobster was really good. A little oily, but, delicious.
                    The buns, spring rolls, and dumplings were all really fresh.
                    And, the shrimp wantons were awesome. I got them in soup - added fresh chilis to the broth... yum. :)
                    I had never tried fried good dale before... it had the same flavor as singapore rice noodles, but, with wide soft noodles, rather than the skinny rice noodles. There was so much that my husband and I were able to split it - and STILL have leftovers!

                    The owners are super friendly, and willing to make good suggestions. Next time we go, we'll try either the sizzling lamb, the chow fun, or one of the casserole pots.

                    All 4 times we've visited, the place has been full of Chinese people - and, the food coming out to their tables looks amazing.

                    Best part? It's cheap. The other day, we ate dinner (totally stuffed, with leftovers) for around $20 - and that even included the tip, and a steamed pork bun for the baby!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: daphy

                      Kung Pao Chicken is real Chinese food, but it is a Sichuan dish that is best served dry-fried and very spicy. In the US, it is usually sauced up, spiced down, and sweetened at least a little.

                    2. Last night a new dish for us: Xishi Tofu: little footballs of soft tofu breaded & deep fried, then stir fried in a white sauce with egg white & a goodly amount of Dungeness crab meat. Couldn't stop eating it.

                      The sour cabbage & roast duck wor mein was a huge order and also very good. We took home about 1/3 of each dish as leftovers. There were no leftovers on the roast rib. Just teeth marks on the bones. The toatal for our meal was under $30.

                      11 Replies
                      1. re: deangold

                        Anyone knows if they serve dim sum? I've generally been disappointed my last five or six times w/the dim sum in the MD/NoVA area the past two years or so.

                        The one that I thought was pretty good, Oriental East, was a bit of a hike and hard to get into on weekends. Of course, the last time I went was about 3 or 4 years ago, so maybe that's changed.

                        1. re: ffxjack

                          They have a very limited dim sum menu on the weekends. You order from a menu; no carts. Not sure if they have it at all during the week.

                          When I ate there, I ordered chow foon from the dim sum menu. It was served in a way I've never seen before. The noodles were rolled up and carefully placed, standing up, on the serving plate, with the meat on top. Care was obviously taken in preparing this dish.

                            1. re: Lori D

                              I have ordered their sesame balls and their baked pork buns late at night when they are obviously not at their best and they are good (the sesame balls) to pretty wonderful (the pork buns). They also offer pineapple buns. Also, their roast meats are very good.

                              1. re: Lori D

                                Didi the noodles stick together at all? Even a little? Did the 'standing up' noodles form a sort of honeycomb pattern if you looked down on them?

                                1. re: Steve

                                  The noodles didn't stick together. The rolls were simple circular roles, with two or perhaps three layers of noodles. They had some similarities to that picture, but not an exact match.

                                  I went there on Sunday night, and part of our order was seafood chow fun from the regular menu. The serving style was the same as one normally sees. It was a massive amount of food, and we had a lot of leftovers after ordering one main dish per person.

                                2. re: Lori D

                                  Here is a picture from a restaurant in China of the 'standing up' noodles:

                                   
                                  1. re: Lori D

                                    We went there three times after reading it on this board. The first time was very impressive. We tried the Dim Sum the second time and I would have to say you can taste the freshness in their Dim Sum. We pretty much never ate leftovers, but the stuff we brought home were still very tasty. I had no bowel problems afterwards, unlike almost all other Dim Sum places. That says a lot for me. For us, the food is the best out of all the Chinese places I've tried between Rockville and Columbia. The quality is delicate, and the stuff is fresh. We went there again last night. The place is empty (like it usually is). The food was excellent again, including their minced beef soup...I would get it again. I like their roasted pork the best. Light crunch skin, juicy meat. Mmmm, I should go there right now....

                                    In my opinion, the best Chinese I've had so far in Maryland. I drive at least half an hour each way to eat here and gladly do so. If you have better recommendations, please let me know.

                                    1. re: cfoodie

                                      For the sixth time in the last three weeks, we went to NKF again. As I relate to starting a new business, I was extra supportive of them. The people seemed to recognize us, and we made our usual order for more food than both of can handle. When we finished today, I realized I forgot my wallet, and as usual, my wife had forgot to bring her purse either. We were a bit embarassed apologetic. Then my wife went to the car and gathered about 23 dollars in loose bills, about five dollar shy of the total. At this point, the formerly courteous owner hid in the back, the usual waitresses disappeared. Only one lady with a big frown was there expecting the full amount to be paid. So my wife went to the car again and gathered all the parking change and we made the bill with an extra dollar for tip.

                                      What pissed us both off was that we went to this place twice a week, often the only diners in the whole place, in support of this new establishment. We spent at least $300 dollars over the last three weeks, leaving at least 20 if not 30% tip when business was slow. We didn't do this to rip them off. They knew that we go there often, but we were treated like thiefs when I make an honest mistake. The waitress at the table made sure every penny was accounted for (and counted all the loose change twice at my table to make sure I didn't shortchange them). What an about face. Talk about taking care of your very loyal customers who drive half an hour each way to support your new business.

                                      Both my wife and I agree that if the owner would have came out and said "pay us the five bucks next time." We would have driven another half hour back tonight and ordered a hundred plus dollar meal with a 50% tip. Then spend twice as much as we usually do and shift our daily dining out routine towards this restaurant. Now I can see where this place is going once business gets good. I guess this place is used to dishonest /short change artists as diners and it's very clear that regular honest generous folks like us don't fit in there.

                                      We are going back to Full Key, as we know the food is excellent there and the folks there won't make us come up with the last five bucks in parking change if we forgot our wallet.

                                      Sometimes it's about a lot more than the food.

                                      1. re: cfoodie

                                        I can empathize w/ your frustration, but I also know too many people who have worked in the biz to not be able to empathize w/ NKF as well; from what I understand, it's not uncommon for even regulars to try to stiff an establishment, intentionally or not. Sometimes, people leave promising to pay the difference, and by the time they come back, they've forgotten (or "forgotten") the incident and get outraged when asked about it. (There was a time when I was working late nights and was having dinner probably 4-5 times a week at Hope Key in Arlington, so they clearly knew me and my friends pretty well; then one time one of us accidentally picked up the signed credit card receipt with their credit card when we left, and despite the LONG history we had of being good customers, they were still pretty incensed the next time we came back. I think the only thing that kept them from getting actively angry was that we had an excuse for being a little distracted on the day when we accidentally grabbed the wrong receipt, as it had been Sept 11, 2001, and Hope Key was where we had gone for comfort food after confirming that the folks we knew at the Pentagon were safe.)

                                        1. re: sweth

                                          I agree. I also work in the service industry and believe that a litle understanding goes a long way. My customers get away with tens if not hundreds of dollars worth of service regularly, but they are all happy and sends me more referrals. My customer relationship is worth more than 20 or whatever dollars that will take to bicker over and destroy the relationship. Obviously, I don't run a dollar store. Sticking to my service philosophy has worked very well for me, even in these economic times. Our conclusion, the trust and relationship we have (imagined) formed at NKF is worth less than 5 bucks. That kind of service doesn't inspire us to go out of our way to eat at or promote NKF. We are not the type to conveniently forget our debts, and it appears that we don't belong among customer of NKF if some of them stiff the restaurant intentionally or unintentionally. I don't think discerning diners like to be treated like thieves at NKF, especially those who spend good money dining out every night.

                              2. I had the fried "Good Dale", wide rice noodles stir-fried with roast pork (the default is shrimp, but you can ask for something else) along with small hot green peppers (which I asked for) and beansprouts, a smaller amount of onion, a few scraps of hollow-stemmed vegetable, and either a green vegetable that wasn't actually a green bell pepper, or a bell pepper so thick-walled as to be unidentifiable (I consider this a plus since I don't like overcooked green peppers.)

                                This dish is one I've eaten at the canonical Cantonese restaurant, New Big Wong, for many years. I think the NKF version is almost as good, perhaps even equally good. NBW has *never* disappointed me with anything on their menu, over the course of more than a decade, and that's a hard record for anyplace else to match. (Wing's Kitchen in Boston did so until it closed last year, and Lao Sichuan in Framingham has been doing well also.)

                                It'll be hard for NKF to match NBW's record, but based on my single carryout order, I'm anxious to try more of their food. As of 2/20/10, they're open till midnight on weeknights and 1AM on weekends.

                                As an aside, I often see negative reviews (particularly on Yelp) of Chinese restaurants, such as NBW, that I consider worth travelling long distances for. I find that most of these reviewers ordered what someone once described as "swill for the white trade."

                                If you come to a place that has items on the menu that strike you as bizarre or unappetizing, such as frog, or duck's blood, or jellyfish, or deep-fried pork intestine (all of which are quite good if they're well-prepared) and you actually want something like General Gau's Chicken, I'd recommend you go somewhere else; you'll probably be disappointed. Why? Because the food they put their passion and energy into is the very stuff you were afraid to try. On the other hand, if you come to a place with unfamiliar items on the menu, and actually *try* them, you might just accidentally begin a life-long culinary adventure.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: KWagle

                                  Grab a quick dinner again at NKF last night and loved it. We shared the sizzling lamb (the meat had real lamb flavor!) and the deep fried tofu stuffed with shrimp (served with a sauce). Both were lovely. The staff was great and this place is really starting to become a regular haunt.

                                  1. re: foodslut

                                    After Cfoodie's report, who I respect, I wanted to stay away, you think it was an aberration and they are nice now?

                                    1. re: chowsearch

                                      We have been a number of times and have never got anything but very nice service.

                                2. Deangold -- you are the god of wheaton! Thanks for turning us on to Nava Thaiand now New Kam Fong. We ate there for lunch today, and had, as suggested by you and other chowhounds, the wonderful mixed barbecue (duck, crispy pork and bbq pork-- the small portion is quite huge), the fried dale (noodles -- truly huge portion, soft noodles, soft shrimp, very satisfying) and a board special -- SALT AND PEPPER SOFT SHELL CRABS--freshly and cleanly fried with lots of chopped, brown garlic and jalepenos-- excellent. The $2.25 order of Pineapple buns (2) were huge and nicely warmed us for us by the waitress, who held them for us as they were going fast. The board now lists 2 lobsters for $29.95 with ground pork sauce (didn't try it). As for the rude treatment to the regular customers who forgot their wallets, in all fairness, this is a "ducks hanging by their necks" place, not a restaurant with a maitre de. Obviously, the management wasn't thinking long term and was foolish in handling the matter. But what little I know of Chinese culture suggests there is a side that can be as in your face as the worst New Yorker (I know from New Yorkers, being one of them), and just try that trick in New York and see if you walk out alive!

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Marissa

                                    Marissa, I also grew up in New York and I have to tell you that the many places I went to in New York don't forget their regular customers. We frequent the same places a lot and places would offer to let me keep a tab from Chinatown to the Italian Deli down the corner. Even though I never had to use them, I appreciate the gesture and measure my relationship with the place by this trust. After a long absence, we went to Full Key a few weeks ago. Both my wife and myself were asked about our move and the long absence as all the servers remembered us. I felt like I was home and there was no question about owing an entire tab there for me, not just five lousy bucks. The food was good and the service, wonderful and you know they are not faking it. The Full Key people even recommended us to try NKF, and guess what we both said.

                                  2. Went there with my folks for lunch today. They are offering a great weekday special--3 dishes + soup for $18.95. We had the watercress and pork soup, black pepper steak and beef chow fun. All were delicious. What a deal!

                                    They only offer this on weekdays. If your travels bring you to the area, it's worth checking out.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: DCDeb

                                      Are any of the "authentic" dishes part of the weekday special?

                                      1. re: DanielK

                                        Yes, there were authentic dishes on the menu. The soup was "home-style" and the folks both thought it was good.

                                    2. I went back last night. Kenny remembered me after over a year. On their specials board for the New Year, they had "preserved meat with potato." I saw it at another table and from a distance it looked somewhat cary, so I played it safe and got an order of fried "good dale" which is what I wanted after HWE told me they had run out of chow fun. Almost immediately I started kicking myself--how could I not take the opportunity to try something new, which was the very reason I came to DC for Chinese New Year.

                                      So today I went back with Jon Singer, and we tried it. It was excellent, a pile of, according to the waitress, river potato (shi gu or chi goo, a vegetable I don't really understand) with cured pork in a slightly sweet sauce. Kenny says they'll have it for a couple more weeks, and I urge you all (well, except for cfoodie I guess) to go try it.

                                      We also had another special, "golden mushrooms with egg tofu and pork." The tofu was not the boring pap you get at the supermarket, but cylindrical portions that were indeed egg-like in their delicacy. The mushrooms were what I know as enoki mushrooms, and were unimpressive, but the excellent delicacy of the tofu made up for that.

                                      Rounding out the meal we had a small order of crispy pig. They asked us if we wanted lean, or a mix of lean and fat/skin, and we foolishly asked for the mix instead of insisting on all fat and skin, which was marvelous.

                                      And they're open past midnight on weeknights. I'm definitely going to be investigating the rest of their menu.