Sichuan Jin River (Formerly Sichuan Pavilion)
410 Hungerford Dr.
Rockville, MD 20850
Cuisines: Szechuan, Chinese
Price Range: Inexpensive
Reservations: Not Needed
Fish with spicy pickled cabbage is a foundational dish in the Szechuan cannon and is a familiar sight in the cafes and restaurants of the new Chinatown in northern Rockville. But you won't find a better version than the one at this gem. Rendered in easy-to-eat medallions--as opposed to being presented whole, with bones--the flounder is delicately steamed, then blitzed with pickled cabbage and green onions.
Szechuan isn't the monolithic cuisine of unrelenting heat it's sometimes characterized as, and one of the pleasures of eating here is the chance to roam across a continent of flavors, textures, and styles. The common denominator isn't spice but pungency: a bowl of garlicky pickled cucumbers, deep-fried slices of juicy smoked duck, crunchy seaweed noodles with sesame oil and garlic. There's spice aplenty, too, most notably in the excellent ma po tofu, its thick sauce so hot it's practically smoking.
Also good: Lotus-root salad; General Guan's chicken, a cumin-stoked stir-fry.
Open daily for lunch and dinner.