Historically, Washington DC’s Chinatown has been located primarily around H Street NW between 6th and 7th Streets. After the 1968 riots, residents of Chinatown began moving out to the suburbs and subsequent immigrants from China and Taiwan skipped over the city and began establishing themselves in Montgomery County, Maryland and more specifically the city of Rockville due in part to the excellent school system. While you will still find some Chinese establishments and even the “Friendship Archway”, a traditional Chinese gate, in DC, the new de facto Chinatown is found in Rockville mainly along Route 355 or Rockville Pike.
Foodies in the know have been traveling up the Red Line for years to sample authentic regional Chinese cuisines at a plethora of restaurants on or just off the pike.
Here are 5 go-to spots for authentic Chinese dishes:
1319 Rockville Pike, Ste C, Rockville, MD 20852
Stop by any weekend and you’ll be lucky to find an open table, but that’s exactly when you want to be there to try dim sum that’s out of this world. From fiery Cucumber Salad in hot garlic sauce to hearty Dan Dan Noodles, the only problem you’ll encounter is deciding how to not order the entire menu.
Bob’s Shanghai 66
305 N Washington St, Rockville, MD 20850
You come here
and that’s for one thing, Shanghai’s most famous dish, Xiao Long Bao (XLB for short), otherwise known as soup dumplings. The late Anthony Bourdain famously dubbed them as “Pillows of Happiness” and Bob’s Shanghai serves up the best in the DMV. Hit up an ATM before going since the place is cash only.
East Pearl Restaurant
838 Rockville Pike B, Rockville, MD 20852
Order the delightful Peking Duck that’s incredibly tender with a nice crispy skin. Great spot to go for the Chinese New Year, but be prepared to wait as the place gets packed around then. Also, make sure you booze before going because they do not serve alcohol.
Joe’s Noodle House
1488-C Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD 20852
Start off your meal with some deep-fried Chive Pockets loaded with cellophane noodles, chives, and egg before moving on to the Flower Stream Beef Noodle Soup. This dish takes a traditional favorite up a notch with extra chilies and special Chinese herbs to create a flavorful and spicy bowl!
Jumbo Jumbo Café
765 Rockville Pike, Unit E, Rockville, MD 20852
Once you try the Taiwanese fried chicken here you’ll wonder why this place doesn’t have locations at every intersection in every city. The crispy popcorn chicken has just enough kick and is garnished with a few leaves of basil to balance out the flavors. Do yourself a favor and wash down your chicken with one of the numerous bubble teas on offer.