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Chinese in D.C. that isn't Full Kee

Have been to Full kee three times on a recommendation from someone...and found it underwhelming. loved the shiitake shroom and spinach dish, roast duck was overcooked, and what i went for was the noodle soup, which tasted like the stock was rotten. also had dumplings, which were clearly of the frozen variety.
Can anyone recommend any restaurants in the DC area? looking specifically for some flavorful soup, peking duck, and good dumplings. thanks in advance, and happy eating!

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  1. The best and most famous Chinese restaurants are in the suburbs of D.C. Joe's Noodle House and A & J, both in the Rockville area, are solid. Happy eating!

    p.s. I also find Full Key underwhelming. There is decent dim sum across from the Chinatown Metro station, above a Mongolian Grill place. Forget the name, sorry.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ChristinaMason

      I've been to the place across the street above the Mongolian place and I'm pretty sure it's called Tony Cheng's. It's above average Chinese during regular hours but also slightly above average prices than say for a place like Full Kee. BUT, I've been on Sunday brunch for Dim Sum and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

      Maybe some others will be able to add some thoughts.

      Full Kee Restaurant
      509 H St NW, Washington, DC 20001

    2. Best dumplings in DC proper are probably at Chinatown Express, around the corner from Full Kee. Most of the good Chinese has moved out to the burbs, though.

      1 Reply
      1. Great Wall on 14th is the only decent chinese within the District (in my opinion). Otherwise you have to go to the burbs.

        3 Replies
        1. re: scotcheroo

          I love Great Wall, but I'm not sure it's where I'd order Peking Duck. But the ma la menu is good, and so are the noodle dishes and the pot stickers. I also think their hot and sour soup is sufficiently, you know, hot and sour to make it better than average. Their delivery is also lightning-fast. Also, they have their off days. Just FYI.

          1. re: Raids

            Tony Cheng's has a pretty good Peking Duck.

          2. re: scotcheroo

            Great Wall was once good. It's now very mediocre; even the ma la menu (which is pretty limited) underwhelmed on my last two visits.

          3. Not sure about the items requested but I liked Eat First in DC.

            1. EAT FIRST and CHINATOWN EXPRESS in chinatown are both outstanding

              1 Reply
              1. re: dining with doc

                I second Chinatown Express - I love their vegetable "noodles in soup" with lots of their table-top condiments stirred in, and their dumplings - I also love the fact that both cost $5.00 and their service (at least for these items) is really fast.

              2. I personally love Sichuan Pavilion at 18th and K. It's my go to spot now that I've discovered it. I thought DC had horrible Chinese food until I went here.

                17 Replies
                1. re: Elyssa

                  Sichuan Pavillion is OK. Some of it is very good. It still pales in comparison to the suburbs though.

                  1. re: ChristinaMason

                    Ya but if you don't have a car or easy access to the burbs (like me) it's quite good. :)

                    1. re: Elyssa

                      The system of public transportation could hardly make it easier to visit some of the places in the burbs. A metro ride and a bit of walking will take you to some fantastic places. Now that the weather is lovely, some of those Rockville, Wheaton, and Falls Church places are not that difficult to visit.

                      I went to the big Thai festival out in SIlver Spring last year from my home in Arlington without a car.

                      1. re: Steve

                        What Steve said. Just about every Chinese place we mention in Rockville and surrounding area is 10 minutes or less walk from a Metro station.

                        1. re: DanielK

                          Ahem, let's not exaggerate. Let me tell you, those walks take a while when you're walking along unpleasant highway-like conditions and you're the only pedestrian around, say, White Flint metro. It's a good 15 to 20 minute walk to the Rockville places (even Sichuan Pavilion is a stretch at 10 minutes from the metro station, and I walk fast). Joe's and A&J? And this is after what is a 45 minute to one-hour metro ride from my place in U Street. So let's not exaggerate too much about how easy it is to get to these places.

                          1. re: hamster

                            Joe's is a much shorter walk from, say, Twinbrook metro.

                            1. re: flavrmeistr

                              Well, I only went to Joe's once and walked from the nearest metro, yeah it was Twinbrook. It was definitely just about a 10 or 15 minute walk - it's a half mile according to googlemaps.

                            2. re: hamster

                              Thank you! I appreciated knowing that some of these places are metro accessible, but I imagine it is more of an "outing" which would take some time and planning versus a weeknight dinner.

                              1. re: hamster

                                It's not much easier with a car. DC traffic is one of the biggest things I don't miss after 10 years in Boston. I always think it can't get worse, and then of course it actually does.

                                As for *Cantonese* (not "Chinese") food in the District, I like New Big Wong; though Steve and I have both had some sub-par experiences there in the past year, it was truly great for at least a couple of decades and I would be happy to try it again.

                                In the suburbs, the food isn't going to be much like the fare you get at Full Kee. But, in no particular order and using American names, I like Hunan Taste and Grace Garden near Baltimore, Sichuan Pavilion and Joe's in Rockville, Hong Kong Palace (a Sichuan restaurant and it really sticks in my craw to use the American name) in Falls Church, and for dim sum, Hollywood East or A&Js. Steve, am I missing anything?

                                1. re: KWagle

                                  The Yunnan menu at Mandarin Express in Rockville....

                                  1. re: Steve

                                    The dumplings at China Bistro in Rockville rate a mention.

                                    China Bistro
                                    755 Hungerford Dr, Rockville, MD

                        2. re: ChristinaMason

                          I have to say that I LOVE Sichuan Pavilion. We were visiting DC last week (with all the other tourist families) and we ordered one night from Sichuan Pavilion to have it delivered to our hotel in the GWU/Foggy Bottom area. It was there within 30ish minutes, and it was truly delicious. I grew up in the NYC area (although I can't say I recall much fabulous Chinese food there), spent considerable time in LA, and now live in San Diego where there is much better Asian food than most other places so I feel like I have a decent base of comparision.

                          The dishes we had at Sichuan were child friendly because we were traveling w/our kids and wanted to share everything. We had Orange Peel beef which was not the usual yucky fake stuff but had great pieces of orange rind and had the perfect balance of sweet/salty/tart for me, we had sesame chicken (kids loved it, I thought it was ok), some steamed veggies that were perfectly done, a pork noodle dish that was yummy but I only got one bit because my daughter was scarfing it down, and a combo fried rice dish that was filled w/tasty bits of veggies, eggs and meat.

                          YUM! I'm still dreaming about that orange peel beef and would definitely order again if/when in DC.

                          1. re: carli

                            second to sichuan pavilion-and the dinning experience is much better than delivery in a hotel room. lots and lots of truely authentic sichuan dishes here, incluidng numerous homestyle options.

                            1. re: MTP

                              I ordered sichaun pavillion *once* before I moved out of their delivery area, and, indeed, it was sublime. It was better than Great Wall.

                              Now that I'm in Chinatown, I've tried Full Kee a few times, and damn does it vary. When it's good, it's great, but when it's bad it's really, you know, one-bite-and-straight-in-the-trash bad. I ordered from Ming's, which is kind of newish I think, and it was amazing the first time and just god awful the second time. At this point, I'm not looking for amazing. I'd be fine with reliably edible.

                              Full Kee Restaurant
                              509 H St NW, Washington, DC 20001

                            2. re: carli

                              I finally went to the downtown DC Sichuan Pavilion on K St. It wasn't bad at all. I would say it's definitely better than Great Wall, which had been my District go-to for Chinese. I imagine Sichuan Pavilion has a lot of Americanized Chinese classics, but they also have a page at the end of their menu of "Home style specialties" or some such, and they had some unusual stuff listed there.

                              We had the dan dan noodles, ma po tofu, and chicken with dried chiles. The noodles were tasty, though almost soupy there was so much sauce. There was a definite flavor of Sichuan peppercorn, but the consistency of the noodles was kind of off (bean thread-esque) and there was too much sauce - so much that I used it to eat with my rice later in the meal.
                              The ma po tofu was alright, but frankly I prefer Great Wall's version. The sauce was kind of gloppy and had a super strong fermented black bean flavor going on. I wouldn't order that again.
                              And the chicken was satisfying, in a fried chicken sort of way. Next time I will try to order the spicy chicken in sauce that I saw headed to another table.

                              Did I mention the prices were pretty good as well? For downtown DC, prices were quite low. I will definitely be back.

                              1. re: hamster

                                the SO brought home a container of hot and sour soup from SP once, reheated 8 hours later, it was awesome. and while I suspect it's an americanized thing (no expert here), probably some of the better I've had in a long time.

                          2. re: Elyssa

                            I second Sichuan Pavilion, best Chinese in DC.

                            Sichuan Pavilion D C
                            1814 K St NW, Washington, DC 20006

                          3. Almost 40 years ago, we found Szechuan Garden at #8 Bowery in Manhattan. A life changing experience , huge shrimp and the only element of the dish that didn't make me tear up was the dried chilis. Made do with Szechuan in DC, a block or so north of H Street, for years until we returned from living in Colorado and found it closed. Also loved a duck spot in Annandale ( Tony Cheng mention made me think of this, that could have been the name). We just missed the Chang era in Charlottesville -
                            Will be checking back on this conversation for your suggestions. DC isn't too far to drive from Richmond for the real deal

                            Szechuan Garden Restaurant
                            11149 Mall Cir, Waldorf, MD 20603

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: chucklehead

                              Annandale? Probably Peking Gourmet Inn. It and Peking Duck (less expensive, run by Chang's son), on US 1 about four miles below the Beltway, are the best Peking duck in the DC area, IMO.

                              Peking Gourmet Inn
                              6029 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041

                              1. re: pltrgyst

                                Duck Chang's in Annandale. Still there and still run by the same family.

                                Duck Chang's Restaurant
                                4427 John Marr Dr, Annandale, VA 22003

                              2. re: chucklehead

                                hey chucklehead (like the pseud btw) you aren't by any chance a pal of Calvin Trillin's are you?

                                I think hat should be a CH parlor game - figure out what name he uses but results/suspicions/conclusions never posted. may have to post this idea on the media board

                                1. re: hill food

                                  thanks again, everyone. i will be re-repoting back this week.

                              3. China Garden is just across the river, right by the Rosslyn metro. They have very authentic Chinese dishes available. Excellent jellyfish

                                1. I too would put in a vote for Sichuan Pavilion on K St. Every now and then we order Chinese food for lunch at work. They used to get it from some place so vile I can't remember the name. After doing some research on CH, I suggested Sichuan Pavilion. We ordered from SP the first time a few months ago. I had ma-po tofu, which was OK, but I was rather disappointed. I was pleased though, that my workmates were enthusiastic about getting delivery from them a second time today. I ordered "shredded pork with shredded bean cake" - extra spicy. This dish was terrific - I just loved it. Everyone else liked what they had as well. I was a bit disappointed in the pork dumpling appetizer though, which was weirdly sweet and couldn't touch a similar dish I had recently at Joe's Noodle House. I won't order that again. But for Sichuan in DC, especially delivery, I would certainly recommend it.

                                  They have some Hunan dishes on their menu - has anyone tried any of them?

                                  Joe's Noodle House
                                  1488 Rockville Pike Ste C, Rockville, MD 20852

                                  1. Meiwah is fantastic and has great Peking (they call it Beijing) duck. I also like Chinatown Express and Great Wall but have not had the duck at either. Peking Gourmet Inn has fantastic duck but it's a hike. Overall I think the suburb Chinese places are overhyped and no better than the restaurants I've mentioned -- except the Peking duck at Peking Gourmet.