Many - especially B - lament the lack of good Chinese food in the District. I don't disagree with those lamenting types. However, we've discovered that Meiwah serves up respectable Chinese cuisine and generally has a very speedy delivery team making them our go-to Chinese delivery joint. We also like dining in at Meiwah, but that's partly due to the fact that we've become buddies with one of the owners who looooooves to chat with B. I think he just tolerates me so he can talk to B.
Anyway, on one steamy Thursday evening we called Meiwah as we trekked home from Dupont Circle. The takeout lady isn't the most patient person we've ever dealt with and she wasn't thrilled that B didn't have a menu in front of him and couldn't remember the exact names of the dishes he wanted to order. On the upside, she did understand the handful of Chinese words that he has in his repertoire. After some negotiating, he placed the order and we walked home to wait for it.
Normally, the delivery driver shows up so quickly that we aren't really sure if there is some Meiwah kitchen tucked in the basement of our condo building. This time, we waited for about an hour before I called our favorite takeout lady and she sharply barked "he already left here!" So, about an hour and 10 minutes after the first call, the friendly driver showed up at our door with a piping hot bag of tastiness.
My favorite Meiwah dish is the jumbo shrimp with spiced salt. They take jumbo shrimp and flash fry them in this tempura-like batter and lovingly douse them with spicy salt. B ordered them without the shell, but purists like him would tell you to order them shell on. I'm not a fan of crunching my way through the shell or picking it off with my fingers, so I recommend asking Meiwah to serve these puppies naked.
We asked for a vegetable dish and ended up with Shanghai bok choy with black mushrooms. It was packed with giant meaty mushrooms and plenty of bok choy, but the sauce was a bit oily for a veggie dish.
Because a meal with J wouldn't be complete without a noodle dish, I asked B to order the chow foon. Nothing unique here, just delicious big fat noodles, veggies, and beef.
B's family introduced me to spicy tofu and I've been in love ever since. Ladle this silky yet spicy dish over steamed rice and you've got yourself a meal (and great leftovers for days).
Overall, Meiwah's food is a little on the pricy side and a little on the Americanized side, but it suits our takeout needs perfectly. All we had to do to get yummy Chinese food was get up from the couch and answer the door. One of us may not have been wearing pants....
Second Thoughts from B
Let me just go out and give Meiwah my stamp of approval. And in honor of the militant lady on the other end of the phone, let me bark out several reasons why...
- There is a semi-intelligible, no-nonsense (read: efficient) Chinese lady taking delivery orders. I know we've mentioned this a few times but let me be clear, like the cockroach theorem,* this is a good thing.
- Unlike every other Chinese owned and run business that makes respectable Chinese food in the area, Meiwah isn't located an hour or more north of downtown.
- We were introduced to Meiwah, and one of the owners, by a Chinese co-worker of J's whose family owns a Chinese restaurant in West Virginia. OK, ignore that last part. They own a Chinese restaurant. Seems like this guy would know what he is talking about...
- For what it's worth, I've been led to believe that frequent deliveries over the last 20 years have been made to some guy at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. I can't say that folks from Arkansas or Texas are known for their expertise in authentic Chinese cuisine, but you never know (see point #3). And if that's not enough, they have a comically long (~300?) list of pictures of celebrity guests on their website. So if you don't want to take our word or that of the President, how about Don King or Craig T. Nelson?
- And finally, if my Chinese grandparents were still alive, this is where I'd take them. Need I say more? It may not be what you'll find in San Francisco, and maybe not even Rockville, but when a pilgrimage isn't in the cards, this is your best bet.