Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Michael's Noodles

We're always willing to travel for great Chinese food. Particularly, if the place is known for their noodles. When I heard Tom Sietsema telling Kojo Nnamdi that one of his favorite Chinese restaurants is Michael's Noodles, I decreed that we were going to Rockville.

Michael's Noodles is a small place tucked in the back of a strip mall. Manager Wai Wang can be seen darting around the dining room, greeting guests and offering suggestions on the expansive menu. If you're lost or just want to try something new, ask for a recommendation.

The table behind us didn't ask for suggestions and each ordered individual servings (not family style) of kung pao chicken and General Tso's chicken. I have a Barney Stinson-style rule about ordering in Chinese restaurants: never trust a person who refuses to order family style. I'm sure there are a few exceptions to that rule, but not many.

Every review we read told us to try the spicy slow roasted beef noodle soup. We enjoyed every slurp of the thick house-made wheat noodles in a spicy (but not that spicy) broth.

Tom's review steered us in the direction of the shredded pork with bean curd. It had a surprisingly light yet flavorful sauce and a fun, somewhat squishy texture thanks to the tofu.

Our waitress recommended the walnut shrimp. While B would normally press the waitress to recommend something she would order for herself (translation: not such an Americanized dish), we just really like walnut shrimp. We went with her suggestion and we're glad we did. Unlike the white, creamy concoction that normally falls under the title of walnut shrimp, this dish was lightly-sauced and tangy. Definitely a splurge in the calorie department, but worth it.

We left Michael's Noodles with a bag full of leftovers and skip in our step. Finding a good Chinese restaurant is a special event, best celebrated with a high five...and a nap.

Second Thoughts from B

In honor of Valentine's Day, I'm going to write a post emblematic of the love of my life; short and sweet.

Growing up with a Chinese grandmother who was not short of opinions when it came to Chinese food (this is a very good thing), I never had to pick a restaurant and seldom had to open a menu. Then in college and grad school, I was surrounded by friends, colleagues, and mentors who were born and raised in China. Again, no need to drive the Chinese food train. However, when I'm not among either of these two circles, I'm the half Chinese guy who is the de facto authority and culinary tour guide.

As comfortable as I am teaching someone how to use chopsticks, I'm equally tentative about being assertive with my Chinese friends when it comes to picking a restaurant. So the highest compliment I can give to Michael's Noodles is that I would not hesitate to recommend, and even advocate, a trip there... no matter who I'm going to be dining with.
Michael's Noodles on Urbanspoon


Wesley said...

B & J,

I just wanted to say thank you for your blog post. My parents own the restaurant and I always enjoy reading positive comments from customers. I'm glad that you enjoyed your experience and I hope that you will come back again soon.


J said...

Wesley, Please pass along to your parents how much we enjoyed their restaurant. You can tell it is a labor of love. We just wish it was closer to DC, but we will be back!

Nikki said...

Is there a place you like this much in Chinatown in DC? I'll make the trip to Rockville sometime soon but in the mean time my office just moved into a new Chinatown location and we're all stifled about where to try! Love the blog posts and often give things a try based on your recommendations!

J said...

Nikki, Unfortunately there isn't anything as good as Michael's in Chinatown (that we've tried). Full Kee or Eat First are probably the "best" of the group. The noodle soup at Full Kee is good. Eat First is really cheap and does quick takeout. Chinatown Express makes their own noodles so those are a safe bet. I read about China Boy which is only open at lunch and makes noodles. Haven't tried it yet, but want to.


B said...

While Chinatown is ironically not a great place for authentic Chinese food, it does have many other non-Chinese restaurants to choose from. That said, for a modern twist on dim sum, I love Ping Pong Dim Sum. http://twodc.blogspot.com/2010/01/ping-pong-dim-sum.html

J said...

Here's a fun article about New Big Wong vs. Ming's. Haven't tried either one but I'm tempted to do our own side by side comparison.


Kire said...

Try the "salty fish, diced chicken, fried rice" (not on the printed English-language menu) at Full Kee. Fried Good-Dale & Singapore Amoy-style noodles good, too. Or at least they were for many years, been awhile. The chefs in China-block bounce around, I've found Full Kee to be the most consistent. Though w/ enormous menus, some dishes are better than others.