By Matthew Yglesias
A friend of mine alerted me to this post on a food message board by Mark Slater, sommelier at Citronelle, that, in turn, brought my attention to a new quality Chinese food option in DC. The contender in question in New Big Wong on the H Street strip in Chinatown. Apparently, the place has recently been redone. But the real change is the knowledge of what to order—which is to say largely stuff that’s on the Chinese menu rather than the English menu.
Obviously, this would be easier to do if I could read Chinese, which I can’t. But Slater went with a friend who can, and he, in turn, recommends some dishes in English. I had a chance to try some crispy duck and squid in X.O. sauce both of which were quite good. The standout, however, was “dried scallop fried rice” which was absolutely delicious. I hear excellent things about their XO lobster and whole fish both of which I’m eager to try. The cuisine, I think, is Hong Kong or Cantonese.
This seems to be part of a larger trend in some DC Chinese offering being better than they seem. The case of Great Wall Sczechuan, which is good but only if you order from the right section of the menu, is similar to the situation with New Big Wong. Perhaps if DC’s Chinese restaurant proprietors were aware of the fact that American tastes in Chinese cuisine are more sophisticated than they used to be, more restaurants would make a stronger effort to put their best foot forward.
BONUS: When I was in high school, my first favorite Chinese restaurant (later displaced by NY Noodle House and Spicy & Tasty) was Big Wong in Chinatown. Haven’t been there in years, though, so no idea if it’s still good.