Saturday, January 2, 2010

Chinatown Express- Chinatown DC

I will never get this blog updated. I won't, I have pictures in a file, I do I promise. The thing is half the time I forget my camera anyway. So here we go, Chinatown Express is a little place in Chinatown in Washington DC. An easy walk from the metro, I guess depending on what stop you get off at. You see that guy up there hand stretching noodles? He's fast, efficient, good at what he does and ... well he's got a lot of noodles to make and dumplings to fill so he doesn't really smile or interact with the crazies standing out front gawking- me being one of those crazies. I suspect one can only handle so much of that. It's amazing to watch him stretch the dough and dip it ever so slightly in water so it doesn't stick together and stretch some more finally cutting the ends when the noodles are the perfect thickness. Watching him take a ball of dough and quickly rolling it out to fill and form dumplings make you think it might be easy. It's an art he's made look like child's play.
This is the second time we visited this restaurant. It's not exactly little but it's cramped. And it's three stories high. The first time we went we sat on the second floor and it was so crowded, which is good because lots of turnover (usually) means fresh food being prepared constantly. Or so I tell myself. This last time DH carried our not so light Vibe up to the third floor, which was (thankfully) less crowded. But the stairway is narrow. It's pretty typical hole in the wall joint, you go for the food not the atmosphere. The noodles and most of the offerings are inexpensive. The noodles, Bao and Potstickers are $5.95.
Diva my oldest (5 year old) had seafood noodle soup, she had that the first time we went also. She loves it, hot broth with fish, shrimp, squid and I think scallops and fresh noodles topped with green onions. The noodles are tender and there is more than enough seafood in there for an adult to enjoy. The broth is flavorful.
Piglet (3) had wonton soup this time. We thought it came with noodles but it didn't. It did have bok choy in it, and YUM.No biggie on the noodles, we put some of Diva's noodles in there, and there was still plenty to go around. I didn't taste the wontons, no chance. We did have the pot stickers the first time we were there and they were flavorful, the filling was a good balance of pork and vegetables. They were a little greasy but not overly.
Pixie (14 months) shared Pork and Preserved Egg Congee with me. The congee was wonderful, made with rice and millet. The grains weren't over cooked. If you haven't had preserved egg or thousand year old egg it's good, perhaps an acquired taste. I remember having it as a little girl with congee with my grandfather, it's comfort food. Pixie is on a congee kick latley so I've  been making it at home too, so she ate well. She also had noodles, which at the end of the meal I was on the floor picking half of them up.
DH had the noodles stir fried with vegetables and chicken. He had it the first time also. So it must be good :-).
My dad had the fish congee, he said it was very good. No one else had a chance to taste it :-).
My mom had the noodle soup with Peking duck and pork. It was very good. More on the duck later.
We also shared a full order of Peking duck, served with a crepe type wrap, lettuce, cilantro, green onion and hoisin sauce. Personally it wasn't worth the 20 something bucks. It was just a big plate of lettuce with a little duck on top. On the other hand the duck was de-boned and the skin was crispy, not soggy.
There was more than enough food to go around and as cheap as the food was (aside from the duck) It's a place we'd go to again.
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