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Random Rockville eats (mostly Chinese) - 12/13

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I'm down here in the area for my annual family visit. As usual, we've been eating a lot. So much that we are rarely hungry. My parents mostly only eat Chinese food but occasionally will stray to Korean or Japanese food. With the odd Wednesday holiday, I fear that I may not get to all my favorites since we are running out of meals and also have other food obligations.

Here's what I've eaten so far.

Shanghai Taste - I first posted about this place last year. I was anxious to re-try this place since I really loved it last year. So far, this place is my favorite in the area, and to me, that is saying a lot. Service has greatly improved and the food is just spectacular overall. I give Bob's Shanghai the very slight edge for XLBs but everything else here is just slightly better then anywhere else.

We had XLBs, Hong You Chau Sau (their version is just perfect. Each dumpling is beautifully wrapped and seasoned, and most importantly, they are not sticking to each other), lamb with leeks, snow cabbage with pork noodle soup, scallion and oil dry noodles, fish and snow cabbage soup, giant bread with beef, shanghai stir fried vegetables. The vegetables were assorted vegetables that Shanghai is known for. These include shanghai bok choi and a bunch of different mushrooms. I loved it. Also of note is that fried pumpkin/red bean paste dumpling that I order for dessert. Hot, savory and sweet.

The giant bread with beef is an excellent rendition of this dish. The bread is a big shau bing (called da bing). It's probably baked in a long loaf and then sliced into pieces. There are some scallions in it to give it a bit more flavor since it's undersalted. It's served with the sliced cold beef that you can make into sandwiches. It comes out really hot and I prefer stuffing the lamb with leeks into this. This is a huge dish and it's even too big for four. We had a lot of leftovers.

Post from last year:
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8834...

Bob's Shanghai

First time here. I was impressed. I first inquired whether a Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao opened in Rockville. A few days later, this post came up with the answer.

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/896996

When I got there, I saw where the confusion was. The sign in english is Bob's Shanghai, but the chinese is Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao.

I also really loved this place. Best XLBs that I've had in the area. We were there early enough that the batches that we received were made and then steamed immediately. This made a huge difference and why it had the slight edge over Shanghai Taste. Here, the XLBs didn't have the slightly hard/dried top and the dumplings were filled with broth.

The bamboo shoots with chili oil, snow cabbage with pork noodle soup, pork with stir fried rice cakes and longhorn peppers beef noodle soup were excellent. Slightly disappointing were the noodles with ground pork and soy egg. It needed a tad more oil since it was a bit too dry.

While I really enjoyed Bob's Shanghai, they could have tied Shanghai Taste but for one thing. The overuse of MSG. I don't have issues with the use of MSG and generally don't feel anything from it's use. But, after, I had the slight sensation where everything seemed slightly fuzzy and had a killer headache. I was also wicked thirsty the whole day.

East Dumpling House
We drove past this place and I convinced my parents to try it out. I saw the kebab sign and was instantly intrigued. I love food on sticks.

This place was packed. Crazy packed. Dad was a bit put out at having to wait 20 minutes especially since we never have to wait anywhere in the area. Later, he admitted that it was worth the wait.

The best were the lamb kebabs. Slightly cuminy and red peppery. these were fantastic. down the the fatty ends at the bottom of the stick. The chicken thigh kebabs were also great but not as good as the lamb.

Also fantastic were the homemade noodles. We got the Zha Jian mien and those were quickly finished.

Less successful were the dumplings. These were huge and the skins a tad too thick. Too much meat and too much skin for me but C kept commenting about what a nice flavor they were. I think they should cut down on the number of offerings and focus on technique. These were the messiest wrapped dumplings I've seen in a restaurant.

Lighthouse tofu.

This is a favorite and we go here every Xmas eve. My favorite is the mushroom soondubu. We also have an order of kalbi to share. Soft flavorful tofu, spiced just the way I like it.

Taipei Cafe

New place that we checked out. This is on the Rockville Pike, near China Canteen and the huge chinese supermarket. This place had ups and downs but potential.

Big down - the chinese hamburger. This is the pork belly bun. But, the pork belly was too palty and the bun was too big. But, the worst, they used that peanut sugar powder that I loathe. So much peanut powder. yuck. We also got the longhorn pepper rice plate, dried tofu and pork rice plate and the chicken leg rice plate. The chicken leg rice plate is the traditional one (you can also get chicken breast or pork chop) where the chicken is fried. It's served with a minced ground pork over rice (lu rou), yellow radish, soy sauce egg and napa cabbage. The chicken was really well done, nicely crispy although slightly overfried. What stood out was the soy egg. This was perfectly cooked with no hint of green around the yolk. These were so good that we ordered 10 to bring home. They packed it in the sauce and they made for delicious breakfasts for the next few days.

Bob's Noodles - this was good but nothing really stood out. The only dishes I remember eating were the pea pod stems, three cup chicken and a tofu/napa hot pot. I don't even remember which protein was in the hot pot.

I still want to get to A&J, Joe's, Sichuan Pavilion and Michael's Noodles. I suspect I will only have time for A&J before I head back up north.

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  1. I love Shanghai Taste, and wanted to mention that their prices are probably the lowest of any on your list. You can also order small or large on many of their dishes.

    1. The dumplings at East Dumpling are awful. I should've gone with kebabs.

      1. Thanks for your informative post. Shanghai Taste is now at the top of my list.

        I like the zha jiang mian at A&J much better than at East Dumpling House. Still, it's not great, and their sua la main is a better order.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Steve

          I think we've had this conversation before… I love that sue la mien at A&J. Unfortunately, I couldn't fit it in before we left.

        2. Sichuan Pavilion is now Sichuan Jin River (same owners and menu, name changed to avoid confusion with the unrelated place in DC.) A few things worth trying include a dry chicken gizzard appetizer, lean pork with lotus and pickled peppers, twice cooked fatty pork with crispy bread, and ground chicken with steamed buns. And Pacifica Cafe in Gaithersburg does a wonderful steamed boneless duck with sticky rice stuffing, but you have to order it several days in advance.

          Next time you visit it's probably worth going east to Grace Garden and Hunan Taste if you haven't already checked them out. I might be inclined to drive down and join you if you want to spend a week or so eating at each of those places.

          3 Replies
          1. re: KWagle

            Sichuan Jin River- Other dishes worth a try include: Pork tripe or shredded pig ear with hot chili sauce, smoked duck, duck blood curd in Sichuan sauce, flounder and soft tofu in spicy soup, beef chow-fun and when in season their special sausages. Agree the double cooked pork with crispy bread is very good. For desert sesame rice balls with rice wine sauce. They have an extensive menu and you can't go wrong.

            1. re: KWagle

              I've been really curious about Grace Garden. Unfortunately, if I'm dining with my parents, they don't see the need to leave the Rockville area. And, if I'm not, then I'm with in-laws who don't really eat Chinese food. The in-laws like the chain restaurants. At least it's the local chain that includes Coastal Flats.

              I know one of the waitresses from Sichuan Jin River relocated to Bob's Shanghai. we asked her during our meal where we had seen her before.

              1. re: beetlebug

                Hi Beetlebug, I have the solution for you.......get yourself some other dining buddies. Or do they always pick up the check?? Just kidding.

                What do you think of Bob's Shanghai and what dishes do you recommend?? We were so disappointed the last time we were there so haven't been recently but willing to give it another try.

                Our favorite waitress is still at SJR. They have taken on some male waiters who know nothing about the menu.

            2. If you ever get to Wayne, Pa outside of Philly check out Ping Pong. Talented Szechuan chef from China. He really knows how to excite your taste buds in many ways.