Xin Nian Kuai Le — Happy Chinese New Year!
It’s the year of the snake, although I’m not sure of the snake’s horoscope characteristics. Please consult your local Chinese restaurant placemats.
To celebrate the holiday, a few friends and I ventured out of the District into the ‘burbs of Rockville for a dumpling lunch at China Bistro. Dumplings (jiaozi) are considered good luck at Chinese New Year because they resemble the shape of gold ingots.
We arrived a little after 11am, before the restaurant had filled up. By the time we left, all the tables were taken and waiting customers were eyeing ours. I’d advise going early to beat the rush.
An order of scallion pancakes. They were okay, nothing particularly memorable.
The same could not be said for the eggplant in a tremendous garlic sauce.
Temperature hot, spicy hot (note the red chili pepper), and with a deep, rich sauce that screamed for rice. This dish was a winner.
From what I’ve read, the main attraction at China Bistro are its twelve varieties of homemade dumplings, with fillings to suit any taste.
Two in our group opted for the vegetarian route, sharing the boiled vegetable dumplings. The other three of us shared two platters of the popular Mama’s special dumplings, filled with ground pork, shrimp, napa cabbage and chives.
Twelve to a platter. In retrospect it would have made sense to order one boiled platter, and one pan-fried, but when they’re this fresh, I almost think boiled is the better way to go.
Mama’s special dumplings lived up to their billing. The tender dough was the perfect thickness, and the tasty filling was juicy with broth (much like a soup dumpling). Dipped into a combo of soy sauce, vinegar and hot sauce, our dumplings disappeared in a hurry.
I don’t think the same enthusiasm was shared for the vegetable dumplings, which were met with a more tepid response. I saw the filling and it did look dry and humdrum compared to Mama’s special dumplings. No broth? Unless you’re a vegetarian, maybe stick with Mama’s.
You know you’re not in DC anymore when the bill arrives. With tax and tip, $10.50 per person. For all that food? Super, super affordable.
Next Saturday is Rockville’s Chinese New Year parade. Go for the parade, and while you’re in Rockville, make a pit stop for a few dumplings.
755 Hungerford Dr.