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New Sichuan place from Hong Kong Palace people - metro accessible!

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hamster Mar 3, 2011 05:38 PM

Great news, and interesting new food news source:
http://dc.eater.com/archives/2011/03/...

A new Sichuan hot pot place coming, metro accessible near Clarendon/Virginia Square!!
http://www.mala-tang.com/

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Hong Kong Palace
6387 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22044

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  1. m
    MikeR RE: hamster Mar 4, 2011 03:19 AM

    I was eating lunch at Hong Kong Palace on Monday when they were taking those pictures. Too bad I didn't come in an hour later or I could have helped eat all of that food. I asked if the photos were for a new menu, and I learned of the new upcoming restaurant. I was going to leak it but figured then someone would expect me to know more about it and what's on the web site above pretty much says all I learned. The concept is more along the line of "small plates" than Uncle Lui's, which is full meal sized hot pots.

    Mr. Liu was in the kitchen preparing the dishes for the photo shoot, and the young American guy I was talking to was the General Manager, possibly the subject of the recent rumor of a new owner of Hong Kong Palace.

    One thing that didn't register with me until I was walking home, but he said that the new place was Mr. Liu's 4th restaurant in the area. So there's Hong Kong Palace and Uncle Lui's Hot Pot and the new Mala Tang. What's the 4th of his restaurants?

    3 Replies
    1. re: MikeR
      g
      Guy Incognito RE: MikeR Mar 4, 2011 04:54 AM

      The 4th is China Jade in MD.

      1. re: Guy Incognito
        m
        MikeR RE: Guy Incognito Mar 4, 2011 05:37 AM

        Thanks. Not much talk about China Jade here - I guess there's better in Rockville, and I don't go out there at meal times much anyway.

        1. re: MikeR
          DanielK RE: MikeR Mar 4, 2011 07:54 AM

          China Jade suffers from the fact that better Sichuan is available just a few miles away at Joe's Noodle House and Sichuan Pavilion.

          But it's a very good restaurant, and if I didn't have to drive past SP and JNH to get there, I'd go more often. Friends of mine who live around the corner from CJ are there every week.

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

          China Jade Restaurant
          16805 Crabbs Branch Way, Rockville, MD 20855

    2. Bob W RE: hamster Mar 4, 2011 05:06 AM

      Thanks hamster -- I really like their website. Informative, attractive, and user-friendly.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Bob W
        h
        hamster RE: Bob W Mar 4, 2011 07:40 AM

        Yeah, it looks very promising!

      2. alkapal RE: hamster Mar 4, 2011 01:08 PM

        query: if these are the "same owner group," how can this new place's website be very up-to-date tech-wise, but the HKP website be like the "pong"-version of a menu?

        2 Replies
        1. re: alkapal
          Bob W RE: alkapal Mar 4, 2011 01:52 PM

          +1

          1. re: alkapal
            Dennis S RE: alkapal Mar 6, 2011 03:11 AM

            B/c they had to get a new site up and in doing so did it better and then they have a restaurant to attend to so left HKP as-is. Potentially whoever did the new one will re-do HKP, but probably only if it's a family member (as they probably won't pay for the update). Gotta keep costs down.

          2. h
            hamster RE: hamster Apr 26, 2011 06:56 AM

            There was an article in the Washington Post saying it's opening next week.

            It says it's more "upscale" than Hong Kong Palace, which I hope does not mean high prices. Individual hot pots?? Prices are not listed on the menu online as far as I can tell.

            The article says the former manager from Mie n Yu was very involved in helping set up this restaurant, which does not make me feel confident at all about the quality of the food. Or the decor. But we'll see.
            http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/a...

            5 Replies
            1. re: hamster
              KWagle RE: hamster Apr 28, 2011 01:39 AM

              Hah, in the small victories department, that article translated "ma la" as "numbing and spicy" as opposed to the usual mistranslation as merely numbing. I do have to wonder why a savvy diner would go there as opposed to one of the excellent less mainstream options, though, which also offer hot pots as well as a much larger menu overall. Only six hot and six cold options, and missing some of the classics such as pork belly with garlic sauce, fuqi fei pian, and tiny cripsy fish with peanuts.

              1. re: KWagle
                h
                hamster RE: KWagle Apr 28, 2011 06:07 AM

                Because it's metro accessible, perhaps?

                1. re: KWagle
                  Dennis S RE: KWagle Apr 28, 2011 07:06 AM

                  Or perhaps one has to dig deeper. At Uncle Liu's it wasn't obvious to me that they did anything other than the buffet and hot pot. Upon leaving I inquired and lo and behold they have pretty much the full HKP menu as well.

                  I also half think that the site isn't built properly, and that after clicking "starches" or "Vegetables" you're supposed to be able to scroll through multiple selections.

                  1. re: Dennis S
                    KWagle RE: Dennis S Apr 28, 2011 09:06 PM

                    Hmm. I was assuming the starches and vegetables were things that went in the hot pot.

                    1. re: KWagle
                      Dennis S RE: KWagle Apr 29, 2011 07:23 AM

                      Looking again you're probably right on those categories, but based on the Uncle Liu's experience, I wonder if they still have a more complete menu upon asking.

              2. m
                MikeR RE: hamster Apr 28, 2011 07:31 AM

                It should be "softly" open now. Any bites yet?

                6 Replies
                1. re: MikeR
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                  bougouni RE: MikeR Apr 28, 2011 12:40 PM

                  I stopped by today for lunch with a fellow chowhounder. Very unfortunately, it was very bad. We had the Zhong dumplings, dan dan noodles and mala hotpot with lamb, watercress and mushrooms. The dumplings were first too hard and then overcooked, sticky and mushy when they came out a second time; the noodles had minimal flavor and were overcooked and the hotpot was pretty blah. And the hotpot alone cost $20, for what was supposed to be an indivdual serving (it was plenty for us to share). They comped the noodles. Maybe it will get a lot, a lot better over the next few weeks . . . I won't go back unless some of you out there go and love it!

                  1. re: bougouni
                    m
                    MikeR RE: bougouni Apr 28, 2011 01:22 PM

                    That's too bad. Hopefully they're just learning how to work the stove and the cooking will improve. It's disappointing that the "individual" hot pot is that expensive. That sort of detracts from what I thought was the original idea of the place.

                    Thanks for taking the plunge. Sorry it didn't work out better. .

                    1. re: MikeR
                      b
                      bougouni RE: MikeR Apr 28, 2011 01:26 PM

                      We were very sad. The hot pots really add up because they charge separately for broth, meat etc., noodles and vegetables. We had meat+2 veg, no noodles, tofu, etc.

                      1. re: bougouni
                        m
                        Marty L. RE: bougouni Apr 29, 2011 04:22 AM

                        The hot pot was fine -- nothing to write home about, and without much ma la sensation. It starts at $3, and a protein and vegetable (which is plenty) can be added for between $10 and $20 total. So it's not a cheap meal. Unfortunately, it seems you're paying as much for the faux-upscale decor as for the food.

                        1. re: Marty L.
                          h
                          hamster RE: Marty L. Apr 29, 2011 05:55 AM

                          This is exactly what I feared. Thank you for your review!

                          1. re: Marty L.
                            d
                            dpan RE: Marty L. Apr 29, 2011 06:26 AM

                            Hot pot is one of those experiences where (at least for my family) it's much better do to at home. We went to Uncle Liu's once and was not impressed. I could buy the chili oil next door at Great Wall and do my own ma la hot pot for a lot cheaper and with better ingredients.

                  2. b
                    bob_s RE: hamster May 19, 2011 08:01 PM

                    As a long time and ardent fan of Hong Kong Palace I've been meaning to try Mala Tang for some time. Overall I was very pleased. This is a very bold step for the Liu's, a huge step out of their comfort zone and I admire their audacity in going after a hip younger and non-Chinese speaking clientele. Alkapal's astute comment about the difference between Mala Tang's website and HKP's captures this exactly. Likewise the decor of Mala Tang and the obvious effort they've made to recruit young and hip looking servers (I must say service the evening we were there was absolutely first rate). To the food. I love Hong Kong Palace. Having lived in Beijing and prowled it's Hunan, Szechwan, and Guizhou restaurants I can certainly attest that HKP is the closest you're going to come to those places absent a very long flight. Mala Tang's food (based on a single visit) is very good but sometimes lacking the complexity of seasoning and incredible flavor dynamics you find at HKP or in China. I refer here particularly to the Dan Dan noodles and Ma Po Tofu, two classic dishes. While I'm fairly sure that Mala Tang's versions are the best one is likely to find in Arlington, they don't stack up to the mothership. For whatever reason, I don't really dig on hot pot. Didn't when I lived in China and am not highly jazzed by Uncle Liu's or other hot pot places here. That said, I really liked the broth at Mala. Plenty of ma and la but not the a-- kicking one takes from the spicy broth at Uncle Liu's. All in all my wife and I really enjoyed Mala. It's a very young place trying to execute a bold new concept for its otherwise experienced owners and I suspect will get even better with time. The food on our visit was quite good and the service impeccable. I’ll certainly be back.

                    -----
                    Hong Kong Palace
                    6387 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22044

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: bob_s
                      s
                      Steve RE: bob_s May 20, 2011 05:47 AM

                      The website menu looks very, very limited. Unless there is a convenience factor involved, is there any reason for me to go here instead of HKP? Do they have any specials? Even (especially) if they are just in Chinese posted on the wall?

                      On another note: Overall, I could eat happily at HKP only ordering off the specials on the wall. Two of my favorite dishes at HKP are not on the menu: the "mouth, mouth" chicken (the one with the stuffed, dried peppers), and the other is the "100 flavor chicken" (they have made this for me even when it is not posted), which is a chicken salad served sliced, cold, and on the bone. The last time I had this dish was the most serious use of huajiao I have ever experienced. Even too much for my friend, KWagle, who brings his own grinder filled with it into restaurants. Maybe they were trying to punish him.

                      1. re: Steve
                        b
                        bob_s RE: Steve May 20, 2011 04:45 PM

                        For me, Mala is about a quarter of the distance from me that HKP is. Don't know about specials, weren't any the night we were there. Could not agree with you more about the chicken with crunchy chilies. That my friend is a dish of pure magic.

                    2. w
                      Worldwide Diner RE: hamster Dec 31, 2013 06:40 PM

                      Not sure if there's still a partnership at this joint. The full HKP menu is now offered, as well as the hotpot option. I went for the hotpot - a la carte. The a la carte portions are too much for 1 person, better off sharing. With that said, I'd go to Uncle Liu's because I know that's more to my taste, and I'm Chinese. This post is about Mala Tang.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Worldwide Diner
                        alkapal RE: Worldwide Diner Feb 5, 2014 04:40 AM

                        Do they have the HKP specials?

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