Cheap Eats 2012: China Star

Cheap Eats 2012

Many of the dishes on this bustling strip-mall restaurant’s Szechuan menu make liberal use of chilies and peppercorns, but the preparations and flavors are surprisingly varied. Addictive chili chicken, popcorn-size nubbins of fried dark meat on or off the bone, gets a dry rub of hot red pepper, complete with fiery seeds. Dried fried string beans have a slick of oil, the bite of ginger, and the numbing heat of black peppercorns. Tamer is a stew of sautéed flounder and silken tofu in a chili-stoked sauce; try some solo with a spoon—it’s that good. Some dishes don’t have any fire at all. Crystal shrimp sautéed with cornstarch looks like an amorphous jellied mass, but it’s a wonderful counterpoint to all the heat.

Also good: Pork with sour mustard and rice noodles; lamb in sizzling pot; mapo tofu; eggplant with garlic sauce in hot pot.

Get Our Weekend Newsletter

The best DC news, delivered straight to your inbox.
Or, see all of our newsletters. By signing up, you agree to our terms.

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.