Wed 15 Apr 2009
There are certain foods I am perpetually hungry for, even if I’m not hungry at all. All I need to hear is someone mention it and I’m interested. ”Yeah,” I think, “that is just what I’m in the mood for!” Sushi is a big offender here, as are cookies. Any kind of cookie. And, to my chagrin, so is Chinese. Being hungry for Chinese in DC can be a disappointing experience. I have a few no-fail favorites like Peking Gourmet Inn and City Lights, but I’m always trying to add to the roster.
With all this in mind, its understandable why I jumped at the chance to try Meiwah on the DuPont Circle/Foggy Bottom borderline. Itty Bitty Bitter Betty has been raving about the place for years and I was excited to finally put it to the test and the end of a night of cocktailing with her and Nell.
A few steps in the door and it was already difficult not to be impressed by Meiwah – the dining room is a two-story soaring megapolis of eaters and even at 10pm on a school night it was packed. The walls are filled with photos of the owner and famous faces (many of them are only famous to the most studied DC wonk, though. I had to check the caption on quite a few). Despite the crowd, we secured a table and within minutes we were seated with menus, water and a smiling waitress ready to take our appetizer order.
Our experience after the jump.
We started with an order of steamed vegetarian dumplings – an Itty Bitty Bitter Betty favorite – which were on the table before I could close the menu. In one bite I could see what the fuss was about. Served with sesame dressing, they were flavorful and satisfying. The dumplings were just the right amount of thickness and provided a nice resistance – just a little, not too much – as we bit in. Because I am apparently addicted to dumplings, I also ordered a cup of wonton soup. The soup may have been the only hiccup of the meal. The dumplings continued to impress but the broth was bland. I ended up dressing it up with a healthy helping of soy sauce.
Our entrees arrived in short order and we tucked into the real star of the show. After some deliberation I ordered the shrimp and cashew nuts which arrived as a a delightful no fush dish of perfectly cooked shrimp and cashews – no filler veggies here – in a light brown sauce. The dish was savory and simple with a generous helping of cashews. Forkfuls of my companions dishes told me well-done simplicity is a key theme at Meiwah. Nell’s General Tso’s chicken was battered and fried with the lightest hand, I don’t think I’ve ever tasted a version of the dish that was simultaneously so crispy and light. Itty Bitty Bitter Betty’s steamed veggies and seafood platter was fresh, flavorful and satisfying. Each bite served as a reminder that the restaurant used quality, fresh ingredients and a straightfoward presentation.
Itty Bitty Bitter Betty’s years of urging me to try Meiway have paid off (hey, she works in PR for a reason); I now have a delicious new Chinese restaurant to add to the roster. This one may even replace City Lights as my go-to downtown fix.