Spring Garden's unassuming exterior and no-frills decor don't hinder it from being a neighborhood staple. That's because the restaurant prefers to let its food do all the wowing. In the kitchen, chefs whip up more than 100 different dishes that are sure to satisfy almost any craving—whether it's for something spicy, something sweet, or something vegetarian. They simmer tender scallops in garlic sauce, and they tuck slices of beef into bowls of red curry. Sweet-and-sour sauce slathers pork, and noodle get pan-fried, stir-fried, or sautéed with hot chili peppers for an extra kick.
As the most populous city in the world, Shanghai has been shaped by travelers and settlers from all over. This is particularly evident in the city's food, which has been influenced by the culinary styles from both the northern and southern regions of China, as well as dishes from throughout the entire continent of Asia. This cultural integration holds true at Shanghai Café, where the chefs use recipes the Hu family has spent the past half-century perfecting. These recipes follow various Shanghai cooking principles—for instance, the original flavors of meats and fish are allowed to shine through rather than being drowned out by heavy marinades or sauces that are too sweet or salty.
Though the recipes are traditional, they respect modern, healthful eating habits by incorporating natural broths and stocks and limiting the use of oil. Some of the restaurant's signature dishes include boiled dumplings, steamed pork buns, and dim sum—a Shanghai staple. In the spirit of Shanghai's pan-Asian tendencies, the menus also include Thai dishes, such as pad kee mao (drunken noodles), nigiri, sashimi, and maki.
Many American Chinese restaurants serve exactly that—Americanized Chinese food. But not Sichuan Pavilion. Okay, so the menu does feature a seemingly endless list of the usual suspects––kung pao chicken, mongolian beef––but even the least discerning eye will catch a difference on this menu—specifically, a section labeled “Authentic Entrees.”
It's from this corner that DC restaurateur Casey Patten orders his favorite Chinese dish in the city: chicken with hot dry peppers. As he told Eater, Sichuan Pavilion's chefs punctuate this flash-fried, predominantly dark meat dish with Chinese chili and Sichuan peppercorns, creating a potent punch that, like a kiss from an exceptionally handsome jellyfish, "leaves the best tingly burn." Coincidentally the website did some investigation of its own at Sichuan Pavilion a month or so later, when contributor Mary Kong left with one important takeaway: order the mapo tofu. A spicy black-bean, tofu, and pork dish, Kong dubbed this Sichuan classic one of DC's "10 Chinese Dishes Real Chinese People Eat".
Meiwah is a distinctly Chinese American eatery found in downtown Washington DC. This highly-rated restaurant consistently ranks among the city’s best, thanks in part to a huge, eclectic menu that features all of the classics. But unlike the typical Chinese place, Meiwah also has a wide range of fresh seafood and lamb dishes, as well as “Atkins-Friendly” chicken dishes that are bread-free. Food is served by attentive wait staff in intimate dining spaces on two levels, with design details that include colorful, themed murals and paintings as well as a set of 19th century wood and metal doors. These features give some Asian character to the restaurant, which is otherwise modern and sleek.
Every year, Ching Ching Cha founder, Ching Ching, spends several months exploring different tea regions in China, Taiwan, and Japan. The resulting bounty keeps Ching Ching Cha stocked with more than 70 different kinds of tea, as well as various products, including tea-related accessories such as teapots, teacups, and tiaras. Inside the Chinese teahouse, sunlight streams from skylights onto rosewood tables and chairs that provide a cozy setting for prolonged sips during daily tea times, when customers can enjoy the drink with tasty tea snacks including homemade dumplings, coconut tarts, and almond cookies.