Taking a wild guess, probably dozens and dozens of Chinese restaurants in Northern Virginia serve up their noodles and wontons, roasted duck and tofu with veggies. And think of all the fried rice dishes that usually glamorize Chinese menus.
With so many choices around, picking the most genuine eatery may seem challenging. But, for the devotee of totally real Chinese eats, one Chantilly restaurant hits it home: Taste @ Hong Kong. For those of us who have actually lived in Hong Kong, finding this little (well, large) gem in Metrotech Center is a culinary dream come true.
According to the new owners, who took over in the past few months, this is true HK food — or rather, Cantonese food plus a mix of other regional fare — which is the basis for the local cuisine in many HK restaurants. The restaurant’s extensive menu is obviously an appeal to a large local Chinese community — which is why reservations, or coming in for an early lunch or dinner, is one way to be sure to get seated. And much of the background chitchat from the crowded tables is in one or another Chinese dialect, for sure.
For Chinese food aficionados, picking out lunch or dinner dishes is not challenging, for the menu takes patrons from the typical appetizers of spring rolls and soups through to hot pot dishes of pork, chicken, beef, or seafood; Hunan and Szechuan specialties, such as Kung Pao chicken and pork with garlic sauce; casseroles, such as the frog and Chinese sausage casserole; and lengthy selections of beef, pork, chicken, duck, seafood or vegetable entrées. Every day midday the restaurant features dim sum service for patrons who love to try out bits of this and that wheeled around in metal carts.
The kitchen also has a special selection of noodle- or rice-based entrées, bowls of congee (like rice soup), and Hong Kong barbecued meats with sides of cooked pork, duck, and chicken hanging from a rack in front of the kitchen.
Lunch choices are much more limited, including clay pot dishes of rice topped with a choice meat or seafood; chicken, pork, and beef entrées; and rice bowls. But whenever you stop by, try the Kung Pao chicken; sweet and sour pork; ma po tofu; and Szechuan shrimp. At dinnertime, you can factor in orange beef, and a whole or half Peking duck. And if you are up for it, though probably few Westerners are, their steamed frog legs with cordyceps flowers.
Portions are large, probably enough for take-home boxes. Good advice: come with one or several friends, and someone will still get some take-home treats anyway. And despite the large portions, many patrons may wish for dessert … chances are you will get a fortune cookie instead.
Taste @ Hong Kong, 13912 Lee Jackson Memorial Hwy., Chantilly, Va. Phone: 703-378-7680. Hours: Lunch and dinner daily.