Is Rockville the New Chinatown?
17 of the best spots to find authentic Chinese cuisine in Rockville
If you’re looking for Super Fresh Seafood Try
At the venerable Seven Seas, some of the seafood is so fresh it’s literally swimming right before it’s served. In fact, the waitstaff will bring your order to your table for a pre-cook look. Every Thursday, all day, the restaurant offers two Maine lobsters for the price of one, served with a choice of six sauces (the black bean is timid, so ask for more assertive spicing if you like it hot). The tilapia—from an aquaculture farm in Deale, Maryland—may arrive for inspection at your table in an industrial-size Kikkoman pail, and return steamed, strewn with matchsticks of ginger and scallion. And in case you forgot how fresh the seafood was, the check reminds you, listing your order as “Live Tilapia.”
Seven Seas, 1776 E. Jefferson St. (Federal Plaza); 301-770-5020, www.sevenseasrestaurant.com
If you’re looking for Dim Sum Try
The striking interior at Far East Restaurant
Far East Restaurant
From the outside, the 42-year-old Far East Restaurant looks dated. But once inside the entryway, elaborate doors flanked by stone lions lead to the vestibule, where koi and goldfish swim in a cobalt-tiled pond below etched mirrors. The dining room sports gold and red carpeting, gold chandeliers and a wall-long wooden frieze of Chinese warriors on horseback.
Far East’s popular weekend dim sum, served Saturday and Sunday from rolling carts, is also available Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.—albeit without the carts, so you can enjoy the attractive dining room at a more hushed pace. Best bets: shumai (pork and shrimp dumplings), stuffed eggplant, crispy shrimp roll and chive dumplings.
Far East Restaurant, 5055 Nicholson Lane; 301-881-5552, www.fareastrockvillemd.com
A latticed cornucopia makes a pretty presentation at Peter Chang. Photo by Stacy Zarin-Goldberg
If you’re looking for Fashion Plates Try
Peter Chang knows how to accessorize. The restaurant’s food offerings, which taste as good as they look, are outfitted with lovely props—a mini bamboo raft arrives at the table carrying cilantro fish rolls, a latticed cornucopia overflows with chunks of fried pork belly, a made-to-fit metal cup hugs a giant soup dumpling served with a straw. Beige and brown foods are dressed smartly, livened up with pops of green coriander and scallions or dried red peppers. And the signature scallion bubble pancakes—blistered balloon-like popovers—are a showstopper.
Peter Chang, 20A Maryland Ave. (Rockville Town Square); 301-838-9188, www.peterchangarlington.com
Spicy dry pot at Super Bowl Noodle House
If you’re looking for Just-Right Spice Try
Super Bowl Noodle House
With more than 200 dishes, the menu at the eclectic Super Bowl Noodle House spans much of Asia, covering multiple regions in China, plus Malaysia, Japan and Thailand. Don’t let the wax food in bowls on the window shelves or the modest storefront deter you; the Chinese chefs combine quality ingredients with just the right hit of heat, without overpowering flavors or textures. An appetizer of soft tofu with “special spicy and numbing sauce” comes off silky and hot, and the spicy dry pot, laced with Sichuan peppercorns, is vibrant and well balanced despite its mishmash of ingredients (chicken, cauliflower, lotus root, tofu skin, mushrooms, bean sprouts, corn on the cob, chicken sausage and cilantro). Even the Beijing-style zha jiang noodles—a calming spaghetti Bolognese-type dish with edamame, julienne cucumber, bean sprouts, shredded pork and black bean sauce—telegraph tastefulness.
Super Bowl Noodle House, 785-G Rockville Pike (Ritchie Center); 301-738-0086, www.superbowlnoodlehouse.com
If you’re looking for Simple and Healthy Try
Sandwiched between an Asian bakery and a gun shop in a Hungerford Drive shopping center, the clean and comfortable Mama Wok has an extensive menu of Taiwanese and American-Chinese dishes. For a break from belt-busting stir-fried and deep-fried dishes, opt for one of the five “Special Dietary” entrées, which include steamed vegetables and proteins served with sauce on the side. A few other restaurants list healthy alternatives, but here, the quality of all the components is good—large shrimp, tender slices of chicken and beef, slabs of silky tofu, and fresh-tasting broccoli, carrots, snow peas and mushrooms—so you can’t go wrong with any combination. Then, after eating so virtuously, check out Bread Corner, the bakery next door.
Mama Wok, 595 Hungerford Drive (Rockville City Centre); 301-309-6642, home.mama-wok.com
If you’re looking for Vegan and Vegetarian Try
Joe’s Noodle House
Meals minus meat are usually easy to find at Chinese eateries. For those who want more choices, the long-established Joe’s Noodle House has a lengthy vegetarian menu and also offers tofu as a protein alternative for its lunch specials and popular dinner entrées. The carpet and furniture are showing their age, and even the artificial greenery looks droopy, but the restaurant’s kung pao fried tofu is light and poufy, and the spice level is on target. Ditto for the heat in the Hunan-style pressed tofu, a stir-fried dish packed with broccoli, mushrooms and snow peas in a rich brown sauce.
Joe's Noodle House, 1488-C Rockville Pike; 301-881-5518, www.joesnoodlehouse.com