The Post has yet to review Tony Lin's Kitchen, and I've not seen it mentioned on Chowhound. Last year sometime, I was shopping at the Giant at Montrose Crossing, so I grabbed a takeout menu. Didn't seem to be anything more interesting than the standard Ameri-Chinese food on the menu, so I'd never ventured in. Plus, with Joe's and Bob's Noodles, the hot-and-cold Seven Seas, plus the many Japanese, Vietnamese, and Thai options in the area, I didn't really want for Asian food.
This was a mistake.
Went there on a whim tonight, and had a spectacular meal. See, the trick, as I learned from the Washingtonian review, was that there's an English-language Chinese menu that has all the good stuff, and I must have grabbed the wrong takeout menu.
It's a very pleasant space, with a very friendly and accomodating staff. The dining room at 7:30pm on a Friday was about half full; half of the clientele were Chinese families enjoying a wide variety of foods; the other half seemed to be Potomac senior citizens eating chow mein.
The menu lists, with no exaggeration, more than 250 items. And that's just the "Chinese" menu; the Moo Goo Gai Pan is on the other menu. The focus seems to be mostly Szechuan, though there were definitely some Cantonese items there as well. About 40 items are in the Appetizers section and another 30-40 in the Casseroles, Soups, and Hot Pots; these are the things that seem similar to what Joe's and Bob's serve. But there's another 150-200 entree choices. Some of the things that jump out at me: Buffalo Fish with Pickled Cabbage, Shrimp with Head Szechuan, Sea Cucumber with Shrimp Eggs, Shredded Beef and Dry Bean Curd with Yellow Leeks, oh, it goes on and on. Lots of vegetarian choices, too.
Here's what we had tonight:
Hot and Sour Wonton Soup. $3.25 I was wondering if this was going to be the standard Hot and Sour soup with wontons. Nope. The broth was a rich beef stock with lots of chilis and chili oil, and spiked with more than a few shrimp wontons in rice paper. Very good, though not great; enough for 2-3 to share.
Beef tendon in Red Hot Sauce. $5.50 Excellent dish. Not as spicy as it is at Joe's, but very flavorful, and I think the tendon was more tender than Joe's, which is a little chewy (though chewy is probably more authentic.) Again, a generous portion.
Yuling Crispy Duck (half). $10.95. A bargain price for half a duck, and I think they brought us a whole duck. Not too many half-ducks have two legs... Very tasty, very crispy without being burned, even around the bottom of the legs. The duck comes in a thin but rich brown sauce, which was obviously poured on right as it left the kitchen, as the duck was not at all soggy. We ate the whole duck. Every last bite, and sucked the last of the meat off the bones, too.
Fresh Bacon with Garlic Stem. $8.95. Another heaping platter, which we only got 3 bites into, because we were so full. But this was fantastic; my wife thought this was the best thing we ate. Fatty cuts of bacon, with chopped scallions and other vegetables. Kinda looked like a bright green and red kung pao dish, without the gloopy sauce.
For $35 with tax and tip, the two of us ate very well, and took home enough for lunch the next day.
From now on, when I don't want dim sum at New Fortune, or cafeteria-style at Joe's or Bob's, but a nice, sit-down authentic Chinese meal in Rockville, this is where I am going.