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Sep 28, 2012 10:19 AM

Anyone know where these chefs, or the owners went?

Our favorite Chinese restaurant, the Hunan East in Bailey's Crossroads, VA closed some years ago, and we are wondering if anyone knows where the chefs from this restaurant (or the owners) are now?

We're asking because we've never found any other restaurant that makes vegetarian steamed dumplings like the Hunan East. We've eaten a lot of them since then in other restaurants, but never found any that come even the slightest bit close to the ones from the Hunan.

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  1. Not sure if they are the same style as you are looking for, but the dumplings at China Bistro in Rockville are sky-high in quality and several levels above any other Chinese restaurant in the area. For a dumpling fanatic it's worth a trip around the beltway.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Steve

      Hi Steve - thanks for the recommendation. I hadn't heard about China Bistro since we're in Virginia, so I checked it out on the Internet. Don't know if their vegetarian dumplings are like the ones at Hunan East, but the next time we're anywhere near Rockville we're going to stop into China Bistro and try them.

      The most noticeable difference between the vegetarian steamed dumplings at Hunan East in Bailey's Crossroads and every dumpling we're had in dozens of other Chinese restaurants was the sauce that came with the very fresh, made to order dumplings. Most places serve them with a one-note savory sauce, whereas Hunan East's was more complex - both savory and sweet. I've tried to guess at what the difference was and thought that maybe they used more ginger and some sweet rice wine vinegar -- or maybe they used a Thai sweet soy sauce instead of the traditional savory soy sauce. Wish I knew, and wish I could find out where the chefs work now or find dumplings and sauce just like them.
      Thanks again for the recommendation. From the sounds of it, China Bistro's dumplings are worth checking out even if they aren't just like Hunan East's.

      1. re: jmdey

        At China Bistro, the sauce is certainly not the most notable difference. These dumplings are a whole 'nother item compared to most other restaurants around here.

    2. Funny, my FIL owned it. Let me ask him where his chefs have gone, although it's been a long time. I'll also ask him about the sauce the next time I see him.

      Have you tried Miu Kee in Falls Church? They have good dumplings. I haven't had the vegetarian ones, though.

      5 Replies
      1. re: chowser

        Hi Chowser,

        I'm so glad you saw my post. I would be very appreciative if you'd ask him where his chefs work now, and about the sauce for their terrific vegetarian steamed dumplings.
        And one other thing, if you would please, pass along to him. We didn't know before it happened that the Hunan East would be closing, and so we never got a chance to tell everyone there what they and the restaurant meant to us. It was our favorite area restaurant for many years. We used to say that for us, it was just like Billy Joel's song - except with the lyrics changed from Italian to Chinese - "I'll meet you anytime you want, in our Chinese restaurant." We went there for birthdays and so many other celebrations. We brought our friends and our colleagues there. We went to the Hunan when we needed to lift our spirits, and when we just wanted to relax. It was one of our cherished traditions each Christmas Eve to have dinner there for many, many years. The staff at the Hunan was always so warm and welcoming, and we loved the food and the atmosphere. We were such regulars that our favorite waiter had memorized our order and would ask if we wanted the usual and then recite it - "Vegetable Steamed Dumplings, Mixed vegetables - spicy, Broccoli in garlic sauce, and a half carafe of white wine." We just loved that place. Right before Christmas the year it closed, my husband was at the mall across the street from the Hunan doing a little Christmas shopping. He was going to stop in and make our reservations for Christmas Eve, and was stunned to see that it had closed. We consoled ourselves that night by eating half a tin of those Nyakers ginger cookies from World Market, and hoped that all was going well for everyone who had been a part of the Hunan. We've been looking for the restaurant to reopen somewhere else, or to find out where the chefs went, and to thank the owners and the staff ever since that night. Please tell your father-in-law how much we appreciate the wonderful times he provided for us and for so many, and that we wish him and the staff from the Hunan the very best.

        Sorry I disappeared for a while - we've been at Nats Park experiencing the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.....Hunan East is surely where we'd be tonight, if only it were still open.

        1. re: jmdey

          What a nice thing to say. I've printed it out and will show him when I see him next. Although he owned other restaurants, including Fortunes (early on, sold it in the mid 90's), Hunan East was his heart and soul and he put a good part of his time into that so I know he'll be thrilled to hear about your experiences/memories of it. Haha, if you want, he still have boxes of plates, bowls, chopsticks, serving platters with he logo on it, all in his garage. I probably won't see him until next week at the earliest and I'll ask him about the dipping sauce then. Thanks.

          Lucky you for being there for the Nats!

          1. re: jmdey

            Sorry it's taken me so long to get back to you. I normally see my in-laws every week but I haven't had a chance to talk to my FIL until yesterday at Thanksgiving. He was very touched about what you said. He's not an emotional person but he read it several times and tucked it away to take home. I think he's touched that, though the restaurant closed long ago, someone remembers it so fondly. As the vegetarian dumpling goes, he said he knows it has oyster sauce and worcestershire but didn't know what else. His brother was the chef and he's in China. My FIL said they talk weekly on the phone and he'll ask the next time they talk. That said, he is getting older and more forgetful so it's likely he'll forget. I remind him in a few weeks if I don't hear from him. Thanks for your kind thoughts! It really made for a nice Thanksgiving for him. He did pour his heart and soul into that restaurant over the years. As I said, even though Fortune's got the acclaim, Hunan was his baby, so to speak.

            1. re: chowser

              what a nice thought to carry as we're launched into holiday season madness.

              far better than the stories of shoppers gone wild.

              1. re: chowser

                Chowser, I couldn't have wished for a more perfect time for your father-in-law to have received my note - Thanksgiving was the most appropriate time of all. Thank you so much for taking it to him on that day, during your celebration. It does my heart good to know that he knows how he and his staff touched our lives and are part of our cherished memories. Ours is only one story of so very many, I'm sure.

                I would love to have the recipe for the vegetarian dumpling sauce and dumplings or whatever his chef brother feels comfortable sharing about them.

                Thank you so much for your part in making our holidays even brighter. Merry Christmas to you and your family, and our best wishes for you all in the new year!