Dirt Cheap Eats 2007: China Bistro

Cafes & Carryouts

Forget the standard menu full of decent renditions of conventional Chinese-American fare. You’re here for the dumplings ($5.95 to $7.50 a dozen), which are steamed or fried to order. Rita Lee—the Mama of the restaurant’s unofficial name—makes them every day; the wrappers, thick but pliant, are stuffed with lively fillings.

We’re partial to Mama’s special, stuffed with pork, chives, and Napa cabbage; a version with ground shrimp and chive; and another with minced beef, slivers of celery, and sprigs of cilantro (also known as Chinese parsley). For a bigger, more well-rounded meal, the refrigerator case in the front is stocked with a wonderful array of cold, palate-awakening plates, including marinated cucumbers.

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Petworth.