1100 Wilson Boulevard
Twin Towers, Mall Level
Rosslyn, VA 22209
China Garden is hidden away. It's located in a large building in Rosslyn where a lot of big Gannett deals went down. It's an oasis in the middle of D.C.'s crappy Chinese food desert. A couple of carnivorous companions and I chose to go this past weekend for the glory that is dim sum.
The wait was 30 minutes, a standard for the crowded restaurant, which takes reservations for 8 or more. For those of you who have no idea what 'dim sum' is, click here. According to several internet sources, dim sum may or may not mean the following:
touching your heart;
to touch your heart;
a little bit of heart; and,
Draw your own conclusion.
We were served tea immediately:
Just as the arrival of food is ongoing, the supply of tea is endless. When a teapot is empty, the customer need only leave the lid up, and it will be whisked away and refilled. One story told to explain this custom involves a poor student who hid a bird in his teapot. When the waiter came to refill the pot and lifted the lid, the bird flew away. According to his plan, the student made a loud fuss. It was a very valuable bird, he said, and the restaurant owed him recompense. After this, the restaurant-and all others--decided to wait for customers to lift the lid of an empty teapot if a refill was needed. From here.
And now, for the food (outstanding dishes are starred [*] ):
Shrimp-stuffed fried tofu The tofu was gold-seared and soft. It held a tender, coral blob of shrimp on it's fried surface and was drizzled with a light, slightly sweet glaze.
Taro cake I didn't try these. They looked similar to the turnip cakes.
Shrimp & pork rice noodle Ground shrimp and pork encased in a fresh, wide rice noodle; glossy, and as pure as the driven snow.
BBQ Pork bun / Char siu bao* Nothing at all like the frozen buns. This one was freshly made: steaming and delicate with whole, sweet barbeque pork pieces hidden in it's cloud-belly.
Clams in black bean sauce This was a nice change.
Singapore noodles Tumeric-stained noodles with an earthy confetti of shrimp and pork.
Shrimp & pork dumpling / Har gau Again, shrimp and pork. This must be the holy cantonese duet. The dumpling was tender and gorgeous, as a gift would be:
...the dim sum chefs' artistry and ingenuity is astounding, for some dim sum dishes seem to defy all the laws of physics and gravity. Even the standard shrimp dumpling—har gau—is a minor culinary miracle whereby a wafer-thin rice-flour wrapping cloaks a baby shrimp and some minced meat. The skin of rice-flour is so translucent that the ingredients can be clearly seen... From here.
Shrimp & pork shumai The holy Canton duet again... Goes best with the spicy, charred pepper dipping sauce.
Broccoli An ode to chlorophyll: glistening jade shards were topped with oyster sauce.
Shrimp wrapped in cabbage* A cabbage leaf delicate and translucent enough to let the coral color of the most tender, sweet, minced shrimp peek through.
Shrimp and pork fried dumpling* Like the other versions, this dumpling was made bright—and outstanding—with cilantro.
If you haven't experienced dim sum at China Garden, you HAVEN'T LIVED. (Uh...vegetarians can have dessert)