Thursday, May 31, 2012
Mark's Duck House
Falls Church, VA 22044
Ever since the gentrification of Chinatown/Penn Quarter in DC, (I lived in NYC for 6 years, Penn Quarter is still new to me! Shush) you've had to go to the suburbs to find good Dim Sum. My favorite Dim Sum is a joint in a strip mall in Falls Church right near Seven Corners. You'll find a million good things online about their Dim Sum and I had planned to go about a month ago but those plans fell through. But, I found myself in the general area this night (my computer is on the fritz so the shop I took it to was just a few miles away) and decided to try out their regular menu. My plan was to order a ton of dishes and then take them home with me for the rest of the week and the weekend. After all, there's nothing better than Chinese leftovers for breakfast.
When I order Chinese food, I like to keep it simple. I mean, who is this General Tso anyway and why is he in every single Chinese food restaurant I've ever been to? So, I had to dry some Dim Sum with an order of Pork and Shrimp Dumplings. My absolute favorite Dim Sum dish are these long and very wide sort of thick rice noodles with beef stuffed in them. Unfortunately, I have no idea what it's official name is so I tried to explain it to the waitress and she kept responding back that "Oh, that's breakfast" which I think means, you will not be allowed to order them now. Drat. For the mains, I ordered Crab Meat Fried Rice, Pan Fried Seafood Noodles and some Roast Duck on Rice. This is one of those places with the Roast Meat hanging in the window, you can't not order some.
They brought out the crab meat fried rice next and I'm usually used to what I think is thai style crab meat fried rice where the crab meat is like picked blue crab meat similar to what you would find in a crab cake or crab salad. At Mark's, however, the crab meat was big honking chunks of crab legs. They weren't shy about how much they included and it was definitely different take. The rice had a beautiful yellow color which also included peas and egg. While fried rice isn't necessarily difficult to make, it is difficult to not have it be oily and heavy. This rice was neither of those. It had a surprisingly light taste all around and the crab gave it an added dimension of chewy texture and flavor. The waitress tried to convince me to order the seafood fried rice since it would give me a bigger variety of ingredients (either that or it would greatly enhance my fertility, you choose) but I was glad I wasn't swayed so that I could sample the crab as the star of the dish.
The last thing they brought out was the roasted duck over rice which was what I was really craving. It's really a very simple presentation. It's chopped up roasted duck with crispy skin on top of a bed of white rice. They serve it with cabbage and I have no idea why. The cabbage doesn't even get a second glance when you see the glistening goodness of the duck in front of you. I know I ordered fried rice already but I think duck is best with just the white rice as the duck fat oozes into the rice and flavors it. The duck skin was crispy and rich while the meat had a good consistent fatty flavor. I took bites of rice and duck together and duck flavor permeated every bite.
RedFarm or Chinatown Brasserie. It is a good old fashioned authentic Chinese Restaurant. I like saying authentic because it sounds authoritative but I've never been to China to eat their food there so I guess its better to say, "what I presume is authentic" Chinese food. It doesn't mute flavors for the American palette like so many Chinese places do and it definitely doesn't shy away from the more 'exotic' ingredients. I've always recommend Mark's for Dim Sum probably over some of the places I've tried in NYC. But now, I can recommend that you visit Mark's just to try out their rather extensive menu. If you're used to just the run-of-the-mill local Chinese restaurants that offer over MSG'ed food and Americanized dishes then Mark's will open your eyes to the possibilities of 'authentic' Chinese cuisine.