Full Kee – DC

A Chinatown spot for Hong Kong-style soups and Cantonese noodles.

From June 2005 Cheap Eats

This fine Chinese restaurant was closed for remodeling, and when it reopened, its fans were delighted to find it as good as ever. Now another uncertainty looms: The restaurant has new owners. The first several months have seen no change in the quality of the cooking.

Some dishes at Full Kee are so good that it's hard to visit there without ordering them. One is the Hong Kong style shrimp-dumpling soup–thin wrappers packed with shrimp and floating in a bowl of rich broth. A bowl is plenty for a light meal, but it's also almost impossible not to order the oyster casserole with ginger and scallions. Other good dishes include clams in black-bean sauce, snow-pea leaves stir-fried with garlic, chicken-and-eggplant casserole, and tofu stuffed with shrimp.

From March 2005 “Best of Chinatown”

By Robert Shoffner

For regulars, a meal at Full Kee is centered around one of the Hong Kong soups assembled to order in the open kitchen. There are noodle soups with garnishes ranging from Cantonese roast duck to fishballs. And there is jook, a soothing rice porridge lent interest by the last-minute addition of mixed seafood or pickled vegetables or slices of preserved eggs.

But the real treasure among these meal-size bowls is the Hong Kong shrimp-dumpling soup, first served in Chinatown by Full Kee in the early 1990s. Now it's on several other menus in the neighborhood, but none matches this one for the remarkable flavor of its dumplings–diced shrimp and slivers of dried shiitake mushroom sheathed in tissue-thin dough. The secret of their intense flavor is that they are made fresh in small quantities in the regular kitchen and delivered to the soup station several times during meals.

The quality of the dishes on the regular menu has fluctuated over the years but is on the upswing. And Full Kee's floor staff is receptive to requests from non-Chinese diners for dishes not listed on the menu. Asked if the kitchen would prepare roast pork chow mai foon, the waitress replied, "Dry or with sauce?" Ordered dry–as it should be–the result was the Cantonese classic of thread-thin rice noodles stir-fried with a julienne of roast pork, scallions, bean sprouts, and just enough soy sauce to lend a brown tint to the noodles. When asked that the Singapore-style rice noodles be cooked the way the dish is in Hong Kong–with a small amount of shredded fresh green or red chilies rather than sliced green bell peppers, as it usually is here–the server brought a delicious stir-fry of rice noodles with curry powder, roast pork, tiny shrimp, egg, scallions, and just the right amount of green chilies.

Full Kee was the first Chinatown restaurant to feature stir-fries with Chinese chive blossoms. Students of Chinese cuisine will enjoy chicken and salty fish with Chinese chives, but diners who shudder at the thought of a pizza topped with anchovies should avoid it. For diners with mildly adventurous palates, a good introduction to this wonderful vegetable is a stir-fry of Chinese chive blossoms with shrimp, a dish not listed on the menu but available on request.