I don’t get down to the Penn Quarter/Chinatown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. very often, but the last couple times I’ve been, it’s been well past my regular dinner hour and I was hungry! Being of Chinese descent, I am ordinarily very picky about the quality of Chinese food that I eat, and I’m often leery about restaurants that look like they cater to "Western" diners. So, I was a big doubter on the night I walked into Chinatown Express. It looked and felt like the stereotypical Chinese-American restaurant—the kind that has more a dive atmosphere.
I was just about to turn around and head out when the man behind the counter, with the roast ducks and slabs of roast pork hanging on hooks, called out to me Cantonese, “What do you want?”
“What’s good?” I replied.
He handed me the menu. Yes, it had all the typical Chinese-American dishes—dumplings, noodles, egg-drop soup—but the roast duck hanging on the hooks called out to me. I ordered half a duck and a carryout container of rice. It may not have been the best roast duck I’ve ever had, but it was surprisingly good. You may not get the same quality of food as NYC’s Chinatown or Beijing but, all in all, the food at Chinatown Express is not bad and the prices are very reasonable. If you come in the daytime, a man (whom I call the human pasta machine) will be at the front window churning out handmade noodles. If you see him, be sure to order a bowl of noodle soup.