Get caught up with the food scene in Montgomery County and adjacent Washington, DC, neighborhoods with "1 Meat, 3 Sides." This week, Hong Kong cuisine takes center plate:
One of the newer additions to Rockville's lineup of Chinese restaurants received high praises from Todd Kliman in the July 2012 issue of Washingtonian Magazine.
East Pearl (838-B Rockville Pike, Rockville—between Edmonston Drive and Wootton Parkway) is "the vision of Sue Li, previously owner of Wheaton’s China Chef," a forgettable restaurant, Kliman wrote.
But East Pearl—which Kliman calls a "Gem of the Pike"—was anything but forgettable for Kliman, who—after puzzling over why there were always so many people clamoring for a parking space outside the restaurant—recently visited the place, and "after popping a shrimp dumpling into my mouth, its perfect pleats of noodle encasing shrimp and tree mushrooms, then slurping the rich, consommé-like broth it floated in—I understood what the excitement was about."
Opened in February, East Pearl specializes in Hong Kong cuisine—"a cuisine that revels not in the bold stroke [of Szechuan cuisine] but in the subtle effect, in the delicate interplay of texture, the unity that comes from the deft integration of flavors into a whole," Kliman wrote.
Both the elegant, banquet-style foods of Hong Kong and the "quick, casual dishes that pack patrons into the food stalls and dash-and-dine cafes along the streets of Hong Kong" are represented at East Pearl—the former coming from a larger, four-cook kitchen, and the latter prepared in a smaller kitchen staffed by two cooks.
"I wouldn’t ignore the work of the bigger kitchen, but you’d be wise to regard the smaller one as your primary supplier—building your meal around orders of roast meats, shrimp-dumpling soup, and congee—and accessorize according to appetite and interest," Kliman advised.
Of the "best spots for the freshest oysters on the half shell around"—an 11-restaurant list prepared by DC Eater—Black's Bar and Kitchen was the only one not located within the Washington, DC border.
"The raw bar is right in front of the door at Black Restaurant Group’s zen, pale wood-paneled Bethesda seafood outpost, serving up Chesapeake Bay oysters, premium oysters varieties like Skookum, Pacific Orchard, and Stellar Bay, and boutique oysters including Stingray, New Point and Hog Island," Eater DC reported.
Northern Montgomery County's Red Rooster restaurant (10005 Damascus Blvd., Damascus), was recently burgled.
"...For iron-stomached criminals, the greasy dregs translate to easy cash. Demand is high for recycled oil," The Post explained. "Once treated, 'yellow grease,' which can net $3 per gallon, is used to fuel biodiesel fleets and as a key ingredient for feeding poultry in Delmarva and pigs in China."
Red Rooster's owners, Kevin and Pat Miller, can sell a full dumpster of used cooking oil to a Pennsylvania recycler for $160, The Post reported.
"One industry group, the National Renderers Association, estimates that 190 million pounds of used cooking oil—about 25 million gallons—is stolen each year. For comparison, the Exxon Valdez spilled about 11 million gallons of crude oil into Alaska’s Prince William Sound," The Post added.
The Millers "tallied losses of several hundred dollars from a pair of [such] thefts captured on surveillance video," The Post added.
Truly adventurous diners might wish to head out to Rockville's A & J Restaurant (1319 Rockville Pike) for the "thousand-year-old egg" dish (also known as the "century egg")—an egg that's been cured for about 100 days, and served on a bed of fluffy tofu and spring onions.
"Like a hand grenade, this cured duck egg is smooth and glossy as black marble with a creamy, silver yolk inside. The snowflake patterns on the outside are nature's attempt to distract you before you get ambushed by the smell," Washington City Paper's "Young and Hungry" blogger Mary Kong-DeVito reported.
"The aroma is that of 100 hipsters trapped inside a hot Metro train in August. Yet the taste is earthy, creamy, and slightly mineral, like a fine Époisses de Bourgogne," Kong-DeVito added.
Chinese cooks have been pickling eggs for centuries, as a way to preserve eggs in the pre-refrigeration era. This dish is priced at $4.55 at A & J, Kong-DeVito noted.