Restaurants & Bars

Washington DC & Baltimore

The Great Wall on 14th St., NW - Report


Restaurants & Bars Washington DC & Baltimore

The Great Wall on 14th St., NW - Report

Steve | | Aug 11, 2008 04:01 PM

Four Chowhounds finally took the advice of Tom Sietsema, other reports on this board and from to try the Sichuan food at this hole-in-the wall in an up and coming neighborhood.

Despite the very limited Sichuan choices on the menu, this place is really worth seeking out for some excellent chowing. Most of the menu appears to be average (if that) Chinese-American food, but the final section of the menu is entitled MA LA SPECIAL, both appetizers and entrees.

We ordered:
Ma La Wonton, Ma Po Tofu, and Ma La Kung Pao Chicken from the special section. In addition, we ordered off-menu some baby bok choy sauteed with garlic and from the menu, the Double Cooked Pork.

Ma La Wonton here is very thick, hand cut dough wrapped around a tiny bit of filling. This was exceptional. If you look in my profile, you will see that Hong You Chao Shou (aka Ma LA Wonton) is my favorite comfort food, and this really hit the spot. Impressive stuff.

Carrying through with the theme of "lack of delicacy" were the thick blocks of tofu with minced pork and hot, hot oil. If you insist on silken tofu, you might be disappointed. But I think this is the best version of ma po tofu I've eaten. Also the most fiery.

We made a mistake in forgetting to order the Ma La Kung Pao dry-fried. It came with a sauce - and a gloppy, overly sweet one at that. Not sweet from sugar, I don't think, but from a seasoned brown or mature vinegar, like the Chinese version of balsamic. A little goes a long way, and they used about four times the long way.

The baby bok choy, which can be a bit stringy elsewhere, was a gorgeous plate of food, thoroughly delicious and satisfying. I cannot stress enough how important it is to always order a simple green vegetable with a Chinese meal, and you probably have to go off-menu to order something this fresh and delicious.

The last item was the Double Cooked Pork, a thankfully dry-fried mess of pork belly, served ma la (hot andd numbing). This was surely the most powerfully salty dish I have ever eaten. One Chowhound agreed with me, but the other two weren't so sure about that. At any rate, everyone enjoyed it immensely. Be warned, though, if you are limiting your salt intake to a kilo per day.

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