Going out for Chinese on Christmas Day is a time-honored tradition among Jewish people, since Chinese restaurants almost always remain open on December 24 and 25. These days, a lot of other sorts of restaurants serve through the holidays (see our full roundup here), but since the Washington area’s best Chinese restaurants are fairly far-flung, the season presents the chance to travel to a new neighborhood. Inspired by a recent post on New York’s Grub Street blog, we thought we’d share eleven of Todd Kliman’s favorite Chinese restaurants in the area—all of which are open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Enjoy.
Head to A & J Restaurant in Annandale and Rockville for Northern Chinese dim sum.
Dumplings are the star of the show at Rockville’s China Bistro, where the dough is made fresh several times each day.
There are two menus at China Jade in Rockville; ask for the other one.
Hong Kong Palace is the Falls Church spot for Szechuanese dishes.
High-quality ingredients elevate the Cantonese, Szechuan, Malaysian, and Burmese dishes at Jesse Wong’s Asean Bistro in Columbia.
Head to Michael’s Noodles in Rockville for Hainan chicken rice and pan-sautéed dumplings glazed with chili oil.
The dish in question: General Tso's Sweetbreads by Billy Klein. Photograph by Erik Uecke
The Washington Post reports that Great Wall Szechuan House on 14th Street is getting a makeover to become “something more than a take-out,” providing diners more seating room to sample chef Yuan Chen’s fiery Szechuan cooking. But some of Great Wall’s neighbors, among them chef Billy Klein of Café Saint-Ex, are addicted to the Chinese-American fare that the foodies pass over for the more “authentic” menu. In fact, Klein has ordered the same thing at least once a week for the past ten years: General Tso’s Chicken.
The BLT Monument comes topped with bacon, lettuce, tomato, cheddar, and a giant onion ring. Photographs by Erik Uecke.
BLT Steak is a prime haunt for spying politicos, and now you can spot them on the menu, as well. Chef Victor Albisu, a self-proclaimed C-SPAN junkie, just debuted a lunchtime burger menu, and each sandwich is named after players and events in the political scene.
Look away, coffee snobs. While we may not understand the excitement over the return of the McRib (what’s with that, people?), there is one chain restaurant product to which we have an inexplicable, slightly shame-inducing addiction: the pumpkin spice latte. In autumns past, we’ve begrudgingly braved the morning lines that snake around Starbucks more times than we’d care to admit for a hit of that toasty-sweet goodness. But this year, the folks in tents down at Occupy DC have us rethinking where we should spend our hard-earned cash. For those looking to spread the love to some local establishments, here’s a quick rundown of other Washington-area coffee shops ready to satiate your pumpkin spice craving.
Coming up with a good cookbook title can be challenging (remember Cooking With Pooh?), and the same goes for restaurant dishes. While they may be perfectly tasty, here are eight of Washington’s most dubiously named offerings, all on a menu near you.
Sun Drenched Tropical Salad
Where: Pusser’s Caribbean Grille in Annapolis
Remember when you left the salad out during a picnic and it got all sun-drenched—that is, wilted and hot?
Braised Wrinkled String Bean
Where: Spices in DC’s Cleveland Park
The idea of a lone, wizened bean isn’t all that appealing. Even one cooked with Szechuan-preserved vegetables.
Where: Cheesecake Factory (multiple area locations)
Nothing says glamour like a hefty patty that’s topped with pulled-pork barbecue, coleslaw, mayonnaise, and melted cheddar.
The Midas Touch cupcake, a toffee-pear cake with 12 year rum and almond creme, and the Headless Horseman, a pumpkin-walnut cupcake with Blanton's Bourbon and cream-cheese frosting. Photograph by Anna Spiegel
Washington is saturated with cupcake shops, but PS 7’s bartender Gina Chersevani and pastry chef Lauren Whitledge have managed to make a worthy contribution: alcohol-packed sweets they call “cuptails.”
If the Düsseldorf Airport bar had a Facebook page...
Sick of others stealing its raw veal from the fridge, Bond 45 started labeling.
Cafe Bonaparte/Napoleon Bistro
The eerie music and disembodied head following our mouse make us wonder whether these places are French bistros or French haunted houses.
The sung tale of a yak-child who opened an egg-themed version of Friday's.
Hello, Cupcake (book Web site)
Hello, sensory overload!
Clockwise from top left: Marvelous Market's scallion-covered roll; Au Bon Pain's croissant sandwich; Panera's ciabatta version; and Subway's "Seafood Sensation." Photograph by Kyle Gustafson.
Lobster rolls are everywhere, and it was only a matter of time before national and local chains started cashing in on the trend. Sadly, you can't get a McLobster sandwich in these parts, but there is still plenty of crustacean action to be found for those who can't stand the lines at the Red Hook Lobster Pound Truck. We tested offerings from four places, ranking them from best to worst (so you never have to). All restaurants have multiple area locations.
Artisanal ingredients such as house-made bacon and hand-squeezed juices may be trendy, but some chefs are unapologetically hanging onto downscale items.
You won’t get Boone’s Farm Country Kwencher by the glass at Logan Circle’s Café Saint-Ex, but bartender Jonathan Fain freezes the fruity, frat-friendly wine with St-Germain liqueur and lemon for a boozy popsicle. Pabst Blue Ribbon is the choice brew for chef Liam LaCivita’s beer-and-cheddar sausages at Clarendon’s Liberty Tavern—he says it doesn’t overpower the links as a microbrew would. At its coffeehouse sibling, Northside Social, Coca-Cola flavors the soft-serve. Soda also gets creative play at Ballston’s Bakeshop, which pours 7-Up into cupcake batter to give it an airy lift.
Crushed Kellogg’s Corn Flakes add crunch to the crispy soft-shell crabs at downtown DC’s Nage, and pulverized Frosted Flakes coat Saint-Ex’s sweet-savory Monte Cristo sandwich, which is stuffed with ham and pan-fried. At Penn Quarter’s Hill Country, French’s French Fried Onions add crackle to the green-bean casserole when the house-made topping runs out.
Washington doesn’t have a sandwich to call its own, so some area chefs are looking to a neighbor: Philadelphia. The cheesesteak, with its famous—if downscale—mix of sliced beef and Cheez Whiz (“wit” onions is a personal decision) has inspired Washington versions at everything from neighborhood hangouts to a top-dollar steakhouse.
JJ’s Cheesesteaks. What this shop lacks in hole-in-the-wall character it makes up for in efforts to be authentic—rolls come from Amoroso’s bakery in Philly, and Whiz is an option.
Härth. So what if this newcomer’s dining room is lined with shimmery white booths? Its lunchtime cheesesteak—with shaved short rib cooked sous-vide, provolone, peppers, and onions—is as messy as the best of them, albeit on a dainty ficelle with red-wine reduction on the side.
Rustico (Alexandria and Ballston). Chef Steve Mannino’s menu skews toward what goes best with beer, so it’s no surprise there’s a cheesesteak. Braised brisket is tossed with balsamic onions, topped with jalapeño-cheddar béchamel, and stuffed into an Italian sub roll.