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Restaurant Review: The Divine Dumplings of Chinatown Express

Clara Janzen

Clara Janzen

Clara Janzen, Co-Editor-in-Chief

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Whether I fell in love with Chinatown Express for my fond memories of steamed pork dumplings or for the restaurant that it is, I cannot say. It’s probably both. What I can say with absolute certainty is that this family-run DC restaurant offers some heavenly dumplings and soup, and a great way to spend your lunch money.

Made right in front of passers-by through a large window at the front of the restaurant, the xiaolongbao, (小笼包), steamed pork dumplings taste accordingly fresh and delicious. Although the fresh noodles in the soup are also amazing, these bundles of culinary joy are my personal favorite, especially with the cost of only $5.95 for eight. If only I could get them delivered! I would scarf down those dough pockets of pork like bonbons.

On a cold winter’s day, and when combined with the hot tea I have been automatically served upon arrival, the xiaolongbao will leave you feeling warm and satisfied. Plus, they are served very quickly, leaving more time to explore Chinatown and its shops later. (Zara! H&M!)

Like many Chinese restaurants, Chinatown Express also offers some Americanized basics, such as Beef with Broccoli and Orange Chicken. To get a true taste of what makes this restaurant special, resist your urge to fall back to these basics, and opt for one of the more authentic options.

To those eager for a cultural adventure or looking to practice Chinese, search the walls for listings of items not on the English lunch menu. This includes youtiao (油条), a fried bread stick that my friends agreed was like a Chinese churro, and what I think was doujiang (豆浆), a type of soy milk. Both dishes arrived on colorful red plates that make typical restaurant plates look drab.

I have too little experience eating youtiao and doujiang to grade their quality. I also made the mistake of ordering the two separately and not eating them together. However, the ever-present crowd in the restaurant attests to the deliciousness of the food.  The excitement of ordering these new and foreign items far outweighed any cons.

If you’re looking for traditional American service and atmosphere, this is not the place to go. It was difficult to flag down my waiter, despite her being very friendly and eager to help me practice Mandarin. The place is often crowded but the food comes quickly.

For the best experience, go with a few friends, order different things, and share all of your dishes. And when you’re there, don’t be surprised if you see me in the corner with my friends, eating dumplings, drinking tea, and looking satisfied.

Journalism-Chinatown-Express-Restaurant-Review-Pic-1 Journalism-Chinatown-Express-Restaurant-Review-Pic-2

Left: Doujiang; Right: Youtiao

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Eleanor Roosevelt High School's Student-Run Newspaper
Restaurant Review: The Divine Dumplings of Chinatown Express