March 22, 2006


Compare a Stouffers brand french-bread pizza to a pizza you get in Italy. Which is better? Well what you buy in the street in Roma is more authentic and tastes wildly fresher than almost any pizza you buy at restaurant here in DC. But I still like the french-bread pizza.

Well, the food at restaurants like Hong-Kong inspired restaurants like Meiwah or even the rustic Full Kee are like that french-bread pizza. But Mr. Chen's Organic Chinese Cuisine in Woodley Park is like what you get on the street not in Beijing, but in some small rural town (minus the sizzling dog hearts and other delicacies.)

First off, the food has not absorbed what feel's like is a gallon of peanut oil from the wok that most Chinese restaurants seem to specialize in. Compared with most chinese food it is light and airy.

The spices are applied much less liberally too. You can really taste the food because it is not overpowered by the hoisin or the kung pao whatever. To some who like it hot, the food may seem wimpy, but its still very flavorful and you might find you don't miss the extra spice.

Many ingredients too are obviously not from a can. The bamboo shoots, for instance, look like they once grew somewhere. Unlike the uniform canned shoots we are used to. Many dishes also have a fragrant sesame flavor that is lost in most food prepared in chinese restaurants. Oddly, the pancakes for the moo shu dishes we tried seemed more like flour tortillas.

Visit. Or call for delivery, Mr. Chen's has great food that you will find yourself unexpectedly craving.

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