Thursday, January 20, 2011

Chinatown Express

My brother was in town last weekend. Before dumping him off at the Megabus stop TWSF thought it best not to send him back to Swarthmore on an empty stomach, so we made the short walk over to Chinatown for a quick meal. I wanted to revisit Chinatown Express, the place where they make noodles in the front window. The other blogger, still feeling symptoms of the post traumatic stress caused by her last authentic Chinatown experience, tried to submarine the trip by offering up a slew of lunch alternatives. Undeterred, my brother and I soldiered on and we all were pleasantly surprised by a solid meal at a more than reasonable price.

Chinatown Express has everything you could want in a Chinese restaurant including:
  • a guy making noodles in the front window 
  • smelly aquariums displaying unappetizing aquatic creatures
  • a row of cooked water fowl hanging behind the register (I wonder how long have Huey, Dewey, Louie, Uncle Scrooge and Launchpad McQuack been hanging out there?)
  • menu items written in Chinese on fluorescent poster board affixed to the walls
  • a majority of Asian clientele (always a good sign)
  • decor that can only be described as post-war elementary school cafeteria or Chinese frat basement chic
  • a horrible name (I thought Chinatown Express was the cheap Chinatown bus that I'm too scared to ride)
  • a strange personal AOL email address on the take out menu (slui871809)
  • fast service (nothing beats being handed a check without having to ask for it) 
  • and most importantly delicious and cheap house-made noodles and dumplings. 
TWSF learned our lesson about diving too deep into Chinatown menus so we decided to keep it simple and order the specials listed on the front page. We ordered one plate of steamed pork dumpling ($5.95) and three plates of  fried noodles ($6.50 each). In hindsight someone should have ordered the noodle soup (also $6.50) which looked very good as it was being slurped down by the the guy next to us.

The texture of the homemade noodles is some of the best I have had in DC among any cuisine. However, the fried noodle lacked a little flavor, maybe some more soy sauce, garlic, or MSG could have helped.

Despite my joking, Chinatown Express is like eating at a four star restaurant compared to the abundant and sketchy Chinese 'carryout' places that litter the streets of DC and offer everything from deli sandwiches to pork fried rice to seafood platters. 

So next time you are looking for a quality noodle dish head to Chinatown Express. A $6.50 plate will provide two days worth of lunch, you can't beat that.

Chinatown Express on Urbanspoon

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