Cheap Eats 2011: China Bistro

The sign out front translates as “Mama’s Dumplings,” and because good dumplings are a treasured commodity in the Chinese expat community, this storefront in northern Rockville’s new Chinatown is talked about as if it were a hot stock.

Mama makes the dough several times a day, stuffing rolled skins with such combinations as shrimp-and-chive or beef-and-celery, pinching them into bundles, and boiling them to order.

The dumplings are the stars, but for variety and balance you might want to augment your meal with other dishes. Turn to the selection of small, cold plates from the case in front–boiled peanuts, pickled cucumbers–and consider any of the noodle bowls from the voluminous main menu. The cold Szechuan noodles in a piquant sauce of red oil is excellent.

Also good: Mama’s Special Dumplings with shrimp, pork, napa cabbage, and chives; string-bean-and-pork dumplings.

Open daily for lunch and dinner.

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 Logan Circle.