Food

The Best New Chinese Restaurants Where You Can Eat for Under $25

Digging into a Korean stew at Chiko.
Eat Great Cheap 2019

About Eat Great Cheap 2019

This article is a part of Washingtonian’s Eat Great Cheap feature, our annual list of where to eat (and not break the bank) right now. Our food editors put together the best new restaurants around DC where you can find Detroit-style pizza, Japanese egg-salad sandwiches, chicken-nugget-filled tacos, and more—for $25 or less per person.

Chiko

423 Eighth St., SE

Chefs Scott Drewno and Danny Lee recently expanded their Chinese-Korean fast-casual beyond its Capitol Hill flagship to Dupont Circle (and San Diego). High energy and bold flavors, along with cold beer and booze, make both counter-service restaurants worthy dinner destinations. The new shop has longer hours, with lunchtime rice bowls, a mean bulgogi hoagie (think Korean steak-and-cheese), and, at brunch, XO shrimp-and-grits and bloodies. Great any time: fiery lamb noodles and that now-famous chopped brisket with furikake-buttered rice.

Lanzhou Hand Pulled Noodle

3 Grand Corner Ave., Gaithersburg

Few culinary sights are as transfixing as a chef pulling, flipping, and slapping a small mound of dough into what looks like a thousand strands of noodle—in less than a minute. At this counter-service spot, you choose your noodle thickness and protein, then take a place by the counter and watch. Chewy knife-cut noodles paired well with roast duck, while thick noodles were bolstered by a fortifying broth floating with rounds of oxtail, daikon-radish crescents, and bok choy.

Uncle Liu’s Hot Pot

2972 Gallows Rd., Falls Church

Hot pot might be in this restaurant’s name, but it’s no longer the main attraction since the former owners of Tempt Asian in Alexandria took over earlier this year. The best finds are concentrated under the “chef specialties” section of the menu—in particular, the handmade noodles, whether cumin-scented strands stir-fried with lamb and peppers or the wide, chili-oil-soaked ribbons in the “city large plate chicken.”

Henan-style hand pulled noodles with lamb.
Henan-style hand pulled noodles with lamb at Uncle Liu’s Hot Pot.

Yunnan by Potomac

814 N. Fairfax St., Alexandria

Come seeking comfort at this southwestern Chinese noodle house steps from the Potomac River. In a quiet room hung with tapestries from co-owner Zongmin Li’s native Yunnan, you’ll find chrysanthemum tea and the soft rice noodles called mixian. The spaghetti-like strands are the specialty here, either in delicate soups or a homey toss of tender braised beef and its jus (a summery alternative: the refreshing liang mixian salad with marinated chicken and vegetables). Bowls can make a meal, but small plates—tangy cucumbers, steamed lotus-leaf buns with pork belly or tea eggs—are worth the diversion.

This article appears in the August 2019 issue of Washingtonian.

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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.

Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.

Jessica Sidman
Food Editor

Jessica Sidman covers the people and trends behind D.C.’s food and drink scene. Before joining Washingtonian in July 2016, she was Food Editor and Young & Hungry columnist at Washington City Paper. She is a Colorado native and University of Pennsylvania grad.