I stopped eating Chinese food 10 years ago, after my vacation in China. Not because I had a bad experience, but because I had such a great food experience, that after that eating broccoli and pieces of something that might have been chicken, beef or a shoe sole, covered in soy sauce, didn’t seem appetizing at all. And unfortunately this is what most of the Chinese food outside of China tastes like.
One of my memorable dinners in Changchun was at one of the city’s top 3 restaurants, where you could pick the lobster or the fish from the aquarium and they would cook it for you right away. Yeah, this type of restaurant, with marble tables and chairs looking like emperor’s throne. It was also where I first tried glass noodles, frogs’ legs and some of the cuisine’s finest sauces. My other memorable dinner was in Beijing, where we found a hall-in-the-wall type of place, with sticky tables and personnel wearing stained aprons and not speaking a word of English. Up to the day I remember how delicious their Beijing duck and sweet aubergines were.
However, yesterday I finally broke my 10 years long Chinese food fast and didn’t regret it one bit. Before seeing Sting at MGM National Harbor last night we had a dinner date with my husband at Grace’s Mandarin. I can say with absolute confidence that it was the best Chinese food I ever have had outside of China.
As you enter and check in with the host, you will either be offered a first floor seating if you are here for a sushi bar, or you will be escorted to the 2nd floor up the decorated stairs, if you are in for a Chinese dinner. Don’t forget to say hi to a gigantic Buddha statue as you go up.
The restaurant is located at National Harbor, so if you ask for a window seat, you will be enjoying the panoramic view of Potomac River, Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge and Washington DC. Ask for a booth if you are up for more privacy.
Once you are seated, you will be given a hot towel to freshen up. The service was impeccable, our waitress was very caring and knowledgeable about the menu. Another thing I was really impressed with is how quickly our dishes were coming up, even though the place was full.
I am a big cocktails’ fan, so I never miss a chance to try something new. This time it was mint-pineapple margarita – so good! On the background you can see my husband’s drink choice – hot sake.
Below are our dinner selections. I was enjoying my thick and fulfilling hot and sour soup while my husband was indulging on crispy sashimi cones (which I also had a piece of). For the main course he went with duck and scallops – and the duck was amazing, juicy and moist. I went with “Sea, Land and Sky” dinner, which included chicken, beef and shrimp and I was very happy with my selection too.
As it almost always happens with us, we were so full by the time we were done, that we had absolutely no room for dessert. However I still sneaked a pick at the dessert menu and I guess next time I will make sure to order a dessert – everything on the menu looked very appetizing!
I am very happy I was able to break my Chinese cuisine fasting. As a real foodie, I would not want to be missing out on this wonderful culinary experience Chinese food is.