Panda Gourmet

Washington
Chinese Restaurant
$$$$

One thing’s certain: You will be skeptical the first time you visit Panda Gourmet. It’s located on the ground floor of a Days Inn along New York Avenue in an area littered with pawn shops and strip clubs. It’s in a parking lot whose fountains dribble out decidedly unclean water, and in a lobby of decidedly unclean furniture. But, alas, you didn’t come for the fountain or the furniture; you came for Sichuan and Shaanxi food. And that, my friend, will not disappoint here. The Rouga Mo burger, with its spice-rubbed beef slipped into a house-made bun, is one of the fieriest items on a menu whose foundation is a lava red chili oil, which is saying a lot, while the biang biang noodles with toasted spices and scallions offers a variety of textures, with porous tofu and crunchy mung-bean sprouts, and should certainly be part of your meal.

Available for Delivery/Takeout

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Another favorite of Tien’s is Panda Gourmet, a DC destination for spicy Szechuan food. The dumplings are just the start of the peppercorn-enhanced offerings at this landmark restaurant, but the steamed dumplings in red hot sauce and the wontons in hot and spicy sauce are among his favorites. “I always order the dumplings to-go from Panda Gourmet, and they pack them in a pint container with the sauce,” says Tien. “The dumplings and wontons get a chance to marinate in the sauce and are just steamed or boiled so they’re slippery when eaten. That’s why I like to just pour the pint container right into my mouth to get the dumpling and all that saucy goodness.”

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