Is Rockville the New Chinatown?
17 of the best spots to find authentic Chinese cuisine in Rockville
Dumplings and kebabs at East Dumpling House
If you’re looking for Beijing Street Food Try
East Dumpling House
A restaurant with “dumpling” as part of its name should be a destination for just that. And the northern Chinese East Dumpling House certainly makes respectable boiled, steamed and pan-fried dumplings. But better yet are the diminutive restaurant’s kebabs (or chaunr), one of the most popular and ubiquitous street foods in Beijing. Here, chunks of moist and juicy lamb, beef, chicken or tofu arrive, tinged with spice and char, on wooden sticks. North Washington Street in Rockville is not exactly Wangfujing Snack Street in Beijing, but it’s certainly closer—and there’s even convenient parking.
East Dumpling House, 12 N. Washington St., Suite 14G (Courthouse Center); 301-762-6200
Soup dumplings shine at Bob’s Shanghai 66.
If you’re looking for Soup Dumplings Try
Bob’s Shanghai 66 or Shanghai Taste
Bob’s Shanghai 66 is the darling of soup dumplings, selling close to a staggering 700 orders a day, according to Ivan Liang, one of the owners. Known as xiao long bao (XLB) and named after the small steamer basket (xiao long) in which they are served, these pleated, purselike dumplings are marvels of edible engineering. At Bob’s, ground pork (and sometimes crabmeat) is mixed with spices and frozen pork and chicken broth. Chefs then encase the filling in delicate rounds of freshly made dough, fold them accordion style, steam them and voilà! The broth melts, and when the dumplings are placed by diners one at a time inside a Chinese cuplike spoon, the hot liquid oozes out with the poke of a chopstick, ready to be slurped. Finally, the dumpling and pork get demolished after a dunk in a vinegar bath. Soup dumpling aficionados are also loyal fans of Shanghai Taste, where the dumpling skins are somewhat thicker and less silky than at Bob’s, and the broth is flecked with pork skin. Save a visit for the weekend, when Shanghai Taste serves unforgettable pan-fried soup dumplings. Crusty and caramelized on the bottom, and sprinkled with scallion bits and sesame seeds on top, the bunlike wrappers are sturdier, fluffier and less soupy than the steamed version, making them easier to eat. They come six to an order—and you won’t want to share.
Bob’s Shanghai 66, 305 N. Washington St.; 301-251-6652
Shanghai Taste, 1121 Nelson St. (Woodley Gardens); 301-279-0806
Pan-fried crispy noodles with seafood at Michael’s Noodles
If you’re looking for Noodles Try
Noodles at Chinese restaurants sometimes tend toward leaden, but not the house-made versions at Michael’s Noodles, home to nearly 20 varieties of noodle soup and about two dozen noodle entrées. The spicy, slow-roasted beef is the most popular of the soup offerings, but manager Wai Wang covets the spicy pork, shrimp and squid. Among the entrées, rice noodles Singapore style—strands of thin cellophane noodles swirled with chicken, shrimp and vegetables—have just the right punch of curry.
The pan-fried crispy noodles with seafood—a pretty pile of shrimp, squid, surimi, whitefish, mushrooms, snow peas, carrots
and Chinese greens atop a crunchy platform of fried egg noodles—is a delicious study in color and texture.
Michael's Noodles, 10038 Darnestown Road (Travilah Square); 301-738-0370, www.michaelsnoodles.com
China Bistro’s dumplings. Photo by Carole Sugarman.
If you’re looking for Dumplings Try
China Bistro or A&J Restaurant
Hands down, China Bistro packs the prettiest and freshest-tasting dumplings on the Pike. There’s not much dead space in these tender, cinched wrappers, whether they’re filled with pork, shrimp and chives (Mama’s Special Dumplings) or flounder and cilantro. The choices are plentiful (16 different filling combi- nations), the prices are right ($8.95 to $9.90 for 12), and the pleasure can be re-created at home, as the restaurant sells fresh, uncooked dumplings for carryout. Runner-up status goes to the well-known, pan-fried pork dumplings at A&J Restaurant. Eight in an order, these hefty, browned rolls burst with juiciness and flavor. The northern Chinese mainstay also does a good job
of pan-frying a vegetarian dumpling.
China Bistro, 755 Hungerford Drive; 301-294-0808
A&J Restaurant, 1319 Rockville Pike (Woodmont Station); 301-251-7878, www.aj-restaurant.com