Lotus Garden, Vienna, Va - 12/12 report
I'm down in the Rockville area for a family visit. Usually, we eat in the various Rockville/Gaithersburg/Germantown Chinese restaurants and never venture out of Md for food. But, my parents in law were in town and were staying in Vienna with a sil and her family (got it?). Anyway, they wanted to get together for lunch and I was torn as to what to do. My parents only eat Chinese food but they will sometimes branch out to Korean or Japanese food. My in laws have maybe had real Chinese food less then half a dozen times. Three of those times were with me. We had no reservations and the meeting time was going to be iffy. And it was a holiday weekend.
My inlaws were willing to try Chinese but since Va is kind of foreign territory for my parents in regards to Chinese food. So, we looked in the Chinese paper for ads in the Tyson's area. I had done a quick search off chowhound and not much came up, other then the food was better in Md. Anyway, we found Lotus Garden and there was a discount coupon as well. A quick yelp search yielded mixed results but the big draw for me were the hand pulled noodles and I knew my mil would get a kick out of the technique.
The food, overall, was excellent. Oddly enough, the noodles were the weaker part of the meal.
Noodles - we ordered three different kinds, beef noodle, lamb noodle, and zha jiang miang. The noodles were a tad overcooked and the broth was slightly underseasoned. The beef was delicious but the lamb was tough. The zha jiang was just not good. Overcooked noodles with a too sweet sauce.
Dishes - these we're very strong. Of note, was the special garlic chicken. This was amazing. The skin was very crispy and flavorful with fried garlic bits sprinkled on top. I would go back just for this dish. The other stand out dishes included salt and pepper short ribs, pea pod stems with tofu and mushrooms, cured bacon (really Chinese sausage) with Chinese broccoli, and the duck from the BBQ platter. We also ordered the twin lobsters with ginger and scallion and a few more items for the BBQ platter. I'm not a fan of chau sau but my mil loved it. The jellyfish was also very good. A tad too sweet but the consistency was perfect.
The restaurant also does knife shaven noodles for the soup noodles. I'm partial to hand pulled ones so I didn't order these.
I wish they would fry the noodles or improve the soup base. The broth tasted like canned broth and the bowls weren't piping hot. Just warm. But whoever works the fryer is an expert since the garlic chicken and the pepper salted short ribs were both perfect.
I'm not sure it's worth a special trip from Rockville. But my parents, spouse and I were still talking about that chicken at our dinner at mama wok.
Thanks for your post. Some of those dishes sound great. I hadn't heard of this place before.
Too bad about the zha jiang mian, though I'm not surprised Not sure if the Cantonese 'get' this dish. I get regular cravings, and aside from making it myself (eh) only A&J can partially satisfy me.
Do you have a rec for zha jiang mian?
What are your favorite dishes / places in Maryland?
No recommendation for zha jiang mian in the area. I had hopes here, despite the regional difference, solely bc of the hand pulled noodles. I don't really like this dish at joes either. But there is a noodle dish that is superior at A&J that I am blanking on. My dad and my husband kind of fight for the last bit of sauce from this dish. I haven't been on this trip yet but will do so before we leave.
I come down a few times a year for parental visits. Places on the regular rotation include Sichuan pavilion (water cooked fish, wontons in chile oil/hong hou chau shou, dan dan noodles), A&J, Michael's Noodles, Mama Wok (both branches even though they have different owners), Joe's shanghai and a new place I have to post about - Shanghai Taste. There are a few places in Gaithersburg as well. But we mostly stay in Rockville.
The one Korean place that is in the rotation is Lighthouse something for soon dubu. Mushroom is my favorite.