While walking around D.C.'s Chinatown, Charlie and I came across a dingy looking restaurant with a woman making dumplings in the window. This dumpling display turned out to be highly successful marketing because the next day we decided to hit the place up for lunch. It turns out that Chinatown Express has been given much praise by D.C. publications and even the New York Times, and they proudly display many raving reviews on the walls along side menus written in Chinese and English. We ordered steamed pork buns, fried vegetable dumplings, and homemade, fried hand-pulled noodles with chicken.
Here you can see our friend making goodies in the window on the left and tanks of fish, huge crabs and lobsters on the right. They brought green tea to the table and our food came out very quickly. A waitress took initiative and suggested that we try a homemade, green condiment that was on the table, and she spooned some out for each of us and dressed it with a little soy sauce.
We thought the pork buns were really nicely done. The filling was hot and juicy and the wrappers were not too thick. I really liked the vegetable filling in the fried dumplings, it was fresh and green instead of non-descript and gray. They were perfectly crisp and browned. The wrappers on the veggie dumplings however were a bit thick and could have done with a little less dough -- not the worst I've had though. We both thought the noodles were just alright. I liked knowing that they were pulled in-house, but besides that nothing was too special about the dish. There was a lot of sliced garlic and the chicken was cooked nicely.
If in D.C. again I would go back to Chinatown Express but I would try something different -- something more terrifying from the laminated pages of the decrepit menu. Our meal was fast, hot, cheap and tasty. It was everything we expected; no more, no less.
Chinatown Express: 746 6th Street NW, Washington D.C. (202) 638-0424