Wednesday, May 4, 2011

China Wok

Rating: Great!
Genre: Chinese, Peking Duck
Neighborhood: Tysons Corner

UPDATE (05-22-2011): I went back to China Wok and ordered some more stuff this time around, so now I can safely say this place really does deserve the "Great!" rating judging on items that is not limited to the duck. I ordered a plate of their Chinese Spinach flavored with garlic, and it was probably one of my favorite Chinese Spinach dishes I've had (and I've had A LOT). I also ordered a bowl of their beef broth noodle soup. Now this is a dish I've had many time in my life, and it's a rare occurrence I actually think a restaurant did a superb job at it. The noodles were hand made and real good! The broth was beefy and flavorful! Ask for it spicy! Again, duck was amazing and only $28, so it's a more-than-great buy!!
If you were a Chinese kid growing up in the 90's in the Northern Virginia area, you are bound to have gone to Oriental Regency at least once during that time to get Peking duck prepared by the ever-so-famous Chef Wang. As a local favorite of mine as a kid, it was a sad time in my life when my parents stopped taking me there. Something about the owners splitting. About 15 years later, my long urning memories of duck flooded back to me and I had a sudden urge to go back. One look on Yelp however confirmed my fears that they had indeed closed down...sob. I figured I could always go to the made-famous-by-George-Bush spot, Peking Gourmet, but I shrank back after learning that a duck from them will cost you $40. When all seemed lost, my bff tells me about a restaurant close by called China Wok, of which, the beloved Chef Wang continues to carve duck at.

It didn't take me long to gather enough people who wanted to eat Peking duck at a fair price. Turns out the duck there is only $28!!! We called ahead the day we were going in and told them we would be needing two ducks that night. Good idea to call at least 30 minutes ahead if you want duck so you won't be left waiting in the restaurant. The restaurant itself is small and clean and hidden in a shopping center off of Route 7 by Tysons. I had a party of seven people, and their small, narrow space wasn't quite designed for a party that big. The waiters ended up pulling some tables to attach to the end of a booth and created an obvious fire hazard in the middle of the restaurant for us. The menus were sealed in the table tops and were hand written in both Chinese and English. The waiters were all very nice and spoke to my mostly in Chinese even though my Chinese is embarrassingly broken. On top of the duck, we ordered a dish of eggplant and spicy fish.

Duck was the first thing that came out. I got giddy in my seat as a saw Chef Wang rolling out his good ole cart with the ducks on top. On top of frantically snapping photos of him, I watch him meticulously carve the duck the same way I remember him doing as a kid. Ah, memories. Duck slices were sliced finely to perfection and Chef Wang carefully removes most of the fat. We got a good four plates full of duck slices from the two ducks we ordered. I wasted no time to assemble my first roll. A bit of hoisen sauce, scallion, and viola!

Mmmmm! Duck tastes exactly the same as I remember. Skin is juicy and crispy. The meat is dense and soft at the same time. It's all incredibly flavorful! My friends and I easily wolf down a few of these til we ran out of skins. We ordered more and apparently it's $.35 each extras- meh....I don't remember that in Oriental Regency, but whatev. After drowning the duck, we realized we hadn't received our other dishes yet. The fish came out maybe 10 minutes after we finished the ducks. It was spicy and soft. Not bad but not the greatest spicy fish I've had either.

After finishing the fish, we began waiting on our eggplant. After about 20 more minutes of waiting, I asked our waiter about it's whereabouts. Our waiter assured us it was coming out soon. 'Soon' probably wouldn't have been the word I would have used because it took about another 20 minutes of waiting til we got it. Total wait time since we ordered the eggplant was certainly more than an hour. Non of us really minded because we were already happy and full on duck by then, but it did seem kind of odd. I wondered if they purposefully stagger you meal so you can stay in the restaurant longer? Who knows. I'll be going back soon for more Peking duck to find out. The eggplant was pretty good but I've had much better Chinese eggplant at other Chinese restaurants. I would certainly like to come back to China Wok to get a better assessment of their other dishes besides the Peking duck, but just looking at their Peking duck, I'll give it a "Great!" Kudos to Chef Wang for continuing his delicate craft!

8395 Leesburg Pike
Vienna, VA 22182

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