Cheap Eats 2008: Hong Kong Palace

Why go: This unassuming strip-mall restaurant is overshadowed by Little Saigon in the nearby Eden Center, but it produces some of the area’s best Chinese cooking, spanning the spicy cuisines of Szechuan and Hunan provinces as well as the subtler, seafood-driven dishes of Canton.

What to get: Spicy Szechuan dry beef, crisp, chewy, and electrifying with heat; wood-ear mushroom salad, a refreshing antidote; steamed Chengdu dumplings; tea-smoked duck; cumin-scented lamb; braised fish with silken tofu in a thick, mildly spicy broth.

Best for: Taking friends who think Chinese food is ordinary, or a mixed group of heat seekers and chiliphobes to explore the breadth of the menu.

Insider tip: The staff may take a little coaxing before warming up and guiding you through the menu.

Open daily for lunch and dinner.

See all 2008 Cheap Eats restaurants 

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.