Do you have a favorite Chinese restaurant? I had 2 until last week, now I have 3! My go-to places are Peking Gourmet Inn in Falls Church, VA and Full Key Restaurant in Wheaton, MD. There was a time when driving the distance to Virginia, DC and Montgomery County was not a big deal, but these days I like to stick closer to home and explore the charm of Baltimore. Don’t get me wrong, I still like going down there, but you can find many of the same shops in Howard County and Baltimore now. That said, there is no place like Peking Gourmet Inn and Full Key around here! So to me, as long as they keep serving up their delicious menu, it’ll always be worth the drive down (please let there be no traffic on 295/95!). It would be nice if there was a good authentic Chinese restaurant closer to home. What? There is? Grace Garden in Odenton you say? Thanks Kat and HowChow! A new restaurant to add to my go-to list.
I remember in high school I used to order so much Shrimp Lo-Mein from Fast Wok on Route 40, they knew me by name (a little embarrassing). I went out to the mall with some friends senior year and I ran into the Chinese guy who worked there and I said ‘hi’ and waved at him. My friends thought I was crazy waving to a stranger. ‘He’s the guy from Fast Wok.’ I said. They laughed so hard, I don’t think they looked at me the same again. Anytime we get together now and order Chinese take out, someone has to bring up this story!
We don’t order Americanized Chinese take out food much these days. Instead, we dine in at proper Chinese restaurants with a more authentic menu. Goodbye General Tso! So the other night we called our couple friends (my best friend and her husband) and met up for dinner at Grace Garden. They are avid readers of food blogs and yelp reviews and came prepared with a list of dishes to order. Take a look at what we had (I wrote the descriptions from the menu)…I feel like you’re going to go out for Chinese tonight! 😉
Fish Noodles – Fresh Noodles Handmade with Ground Fish, Sautéed with Chinese Sausage, Mushroom & Cilantro
Pocket Tofu – Lightly Fried Velvety Homemade Tofu Mousse Mixed with Shrimp Paste, Braised in Choice of Sauce
Crispy Eggplant – Crispy Fried Eggplant Coated with Chef’s Spicy Sweet Sauce
Sautéed Seasonal Vegetables – Garlic Blossoms
Braised Pork Belly with Mui-Choy – Thick slices of Seasoned Pork Belly, Slow-Cooked with Preserved Mustard Cabbage
Spicy Garlic Pork – Shredded Pork and Dried Tofu Stir Fried with Special Spices
Golden Shrimp – Crispy Fried Head-On Shrimp Coated with Salted Egg Yolk & Crisp Garlic
Sichuan Fish Filets – Fish Filets Braised in Hot Chili Broth with Peppercorns, Sichuan Ma-La Style
We were a party of 4, how we ended up ordering 8 dishes is a mystery to me. We told ourselves we’d order the Fish Noodles (as recommended by HowChow) and 1 dish each and share the lot. I guess there were too many good dishes so we just went for it. After placing our neverending order 😉 we watched the table beside us get served their meal. OH NO! WHAT’S THAT DISH THERE?! SHOULD WE CHANGE OUR ORDER?! They had the Sautéed Whole Sole Flounder (Flounder Filets Sautéed with Seasonal Vegetables, Served on Edible Crispy Bones. Looked very impressive. The menu states that you have to order it a day in advance.) and a platter of Lemongrass Spareribs (Deep Fried Spareribs Stir Fried with Lemongrass and Dried Scallions). Calm down lisbeth, 8 dishes is MORE than enough. We’ll come back another time for these.
Everything was really good but my favorite dishes of the night were the Fish Noodles, Crispy Eggplants, Garlic Blossoms and Braised Pork Belly. Who would’ve thought such a delicious and popular restaurant (the place was packed) would be tucked away behind a liquor store in Odenton. Do you have any other hidden gems waiting to be discovered in Maryland? Please share in the comments section below. If you haven’t tried Grace Garden yet, it’s a must eat. Try it out and let me know about your experiences there!
Happy Eating! (More like drooling over the photos 😉 )