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China Star - Fairfax VA


Basilgirl
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I LOVE China Star in Fair City Mall in Fairfax. It gets a lot of press on That Other Board. Just wondering if any gulleters have been and if so what they ordered. Tyler Cowen has written it up in his latest Ethnic Dining Guide.

I love cooking with wine. Sometimes I even put it in the food.

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  • 3 weeks later...
I LOVE China Star in Fair City Mall in Fairfax.... Just wondering if any gulleters have been ....

Well yes, BasilGirl, thanks to your recommendation. This outstanding find is in the same shopping center as the Fair City Cinemas, one of the best houses for independent film in all of Virginia (Little River Turnpike and Pickett Road, sort of).

China Star is right up there near the top of all Szechuan restaurants in the DC area, the key word being Szechuan, incorrectly dissed as China's Tar, hence the name.

The Scallion Pancake BasilGirl recommended is hors classe, served in a globular puff and just an unbelievable combination with the pickled cabbage and broccoli that are served as a small amuse-gueule (along with spicy peanuts which are equally irresistible).

Fish with Sour Mustard is a must, the filets of white fish simmering in a quasi-hot-pot of burbling hoodoo spices and chiles. You might not think it necessary or even desirable to order Marinated Duck Feet with such a dish, but it's beautiful combination when the two dishes are worked together: the duck feet served with root vegetables (carrots, turnip-like things), in a cold vinaigrette sauce, and presented in a locked-lid apothecary jar. You need the sweetness and coolness of this dish to neutralize the fires of the first, and they work wonderfully in tandem.

Crystal Shrimp is a fine, glossy plate of good shrimp, and Shredded Pork with Dried Tofu is another dish that manages to be soulful without excessive spicing.

On another visit, this restaurant proved useful for people I know ranging in age from 7 to 80, and even their Americanized fare such as Beef with Broccoli and Lemon Chicken are a strong cut above what you would normally find in a local restaurant. I've found "authentic" Chinese restaurants that do a great Chinese menu, but completely drop the ball on the Americanized stuff; not here. By my experience, you can order the entire menu with confidence.

Shredded Pork with Green Pepper is a completely different dish than the Shredded Pork with Dried Tofu, hotter, deeply sauced and homestyle.

Man, there's so much left I haven't explored on this menu. Look at this stuff: Five Flavored Smoke Shredded Tofu, Ma La Diced Rabbit, Pork Scallion Pie, Triple Stuffed Bean Curd Skin, Spicy Peppercorn Pig Feet in Hot Pot, Beef Triple and Pig Blood with Bean Sprouts, Braised Fish, Spicy and Sour Squid Roll, the list goes on.

Tsing Taos, $3.25, and you'll need them, too.

I was there today with a Chinese woman who asked the waiter why they weren't that crowded for lunch. The reply? "Because people are in a hurry for lunch, and it's difficult to eat Szechuan food in ten minutes and then rush out. When people do come, it's often in large groups, and we're busy for dinner every night of the week."

China Star is a huge addition to the Northern Virginia chinese scene - many Chinese people feel that for spicy food, it's the best Chinese restaurant around, and I've seen no reason not to defer to their wisdom and experience.

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Man, there's so much left I haven't explored on this menu. Look at this stuff: Five Flavored Smoke Shredded Tofu, Ma La Diced Rabbit, Pork Scallion Pie, Triple Stuffed Bean Curd Skin, Spicy Peppercorn Pig Feet in Hot Pot, Beef Triple and Pig Blood with Bean Sprouts, Braised Fish, Spicy and Sour Squid Roll, the list goes on.

Mr. Rocks:

I took my mom there the other day for lunch. It was indeed not very crowded. She was suitably amazed by the "globular puff" of the scallion pancakes. I tried the pork scallion pie and it was OK, not great. A little gummy with not much filling. I CAN recommend the hot & sour soup as the best I've ever had. And next time you MUST try the spicy and sour baby wontons - little dumplings floating in the most incredible broth with these tee-tiny itty-bitty shrimpies here and there.

I think I'll stop by on my way home from work and get some.

I love cooking with wine. Sometimes I even put it in the food.

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I LOVE China Star in Fair City Mall in Fairfax.... Just wondering if any gulleters have been ....

Well yes, BasilGirl, thanks to your recommendation. This outstanding find is in the same shopping center as the Fair City Cinemas, one of the best houses for independent film in all of Virginia (Little River Turnpike and Pickett Road, sort of).

PS - A slice of pizza from Mama Lucia's near the movie theater is far better than the pretty bad popcorn from the concession stand. Thin, crispy, greasy, yum.

I love cooking with wine. Sometimes I even put it in the food.

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I CAN recommend the hot & sour soup as the best I've ever had. And next time you MUST try the spicy and sour baby wontons - little dumplings floating in the most incredible broth with these tee-tiny itty-bitty shrimpies here and there.

I agree it's great Hot and Sour Soup, as good as I've ever tried, but I think it's still within the realm of the earthly (corn-starch thickener, standard 'shrooms, tofu sliced from a wedge). I think next time I'll try the Roasted Duck Vegetable Soup or possibly the Scallop with Mashed Bean Chowder for something more radical, radicand that I am.

The Spicy and Sour Baby Wontons that I ordered (carryout) was surely the wrong order: the broth was fiery hot, watery thin, and laced with chilis and oil. I was wondering why you would tout this particular dish - then I looked at the menu again, and noticed that there's an item called Baby Wontons with Chili Oil Sauce, and this was that, without any doubt. And it was diablo hot too, both temperature-hot, and spice-hot. Not recommended, as the oil smelled like ... oil.

This is often the problem with even the most lauded of Chinese restaurants: at the end of the day, and after all the cultural wonderment has been achieved, you're still eating bad oil.

Tears,

Rocks.

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  • 3 weeks later...

China Star (Fair City Mall, Fairfax) is on Washingtonian's latest 100 Best Cheap Eats list. There is also a restaurant with the same name in Reston, I think, but they are not related.

I love cooking with wine. Sometimes I even put it in the food.

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  • 1 month later...

Tom Sietsema's review of China Star in Fairfax will be in Sunday's Post magazine and on line tomorrow. Evidently he loves it as much as I do. :wub:

I love cooking with wine. Sometimes I even put it in the food.

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So how hard is it to get seated at this place? Curious about both wkends and wkday dinners.

Oh, J[esus]. You may be omnipotent, but you are SO naive!

- From the South Park Mexican Starring Frog from South Sri Lanka episode

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So how hard is it to get seated at this place? Curious about both wkends and wkday dinners.

My understanding is that weekends are crazy. Not sure about during the week. I've been there on a Sunday night and it was pretty empty. Lunch time is pretty empty too. I usually just get carry out since it's only 4 miles from my house.

I love cooking with wine. Sometimes I even put it in the food.

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Thanks. Do they have an alcohol license? Promise this is the last inane question on this thread. Someone else recently made a strong recommendation on this place, so I think I can convince my oh so particular wife (Cantonese) to go.

Edited by FunJohnny (log)

Oh, J[esus]. You may be omnipotent, but you are SO naive!

- From the South Park Mexican Starring Frog from South Sri Lanka episode

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Thanks. Do they have an alcohol license? Promise this is the last inane question on this thread. Someone else recently made a strong recommendation on this place, so I think I can convince my oh so particular wife (Cantonese) to go.

They serve beer, Heineken & Tsing Dao. I don't remember seeing a mixed drink menu or wine...

I love cooking with wine. Sometimes I even put it in the food.

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China Star (Fair City Mall, Fairfax) is on Washingtonian's latest 100 Best Cheap Eats list. There is also a restaurant with the same name in Reston, I think, but they are not related.

also known as the "who's who of high school students" award for restaurants.

seriously, i used to own a restaurant in the area and a guy from the washingtonian came and asked if i wanted to be on this particular list. i said, "yes, of course!" he said, "okay now you can write the check out to ...."

I wanna say something. I'm gonna put it out there; if you like it, you can take it, if you don't, send it right back. I want to be on you.

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Ate at China Star again and I must say, the more I try new things from the menu, the more that place ROCKS! Can't go wrong with the Crispy Beef and Lake Windless Shrimp!

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Had a completely overwhelming dinner at CS tonite. Overwhelming largely in terms of the sheer number of dishes my cousin (who used to live in China and speaks fluent Mandarin) ordered for the four of us diners-- five appetizers, six entrees. She's a BIG fan of CS, and just wouldn't stop. Jeeezz...I am still reeling. The food is indeed hot, just the way I love it, rivaling the heat of great Hunan dishes I've had in San Francisco. The colors were incredible, bright bright red chilis, dark deep greens, nearly black sauces, and that yellow oil everywhere.

Now, here are some memories--the abundance of leftovers in my fridge might inspire a few more writings later....Like others before us, we had the Scallion Pancake-- but unlike others, I was largely unimpressed, even tho the puffs were large. I found them oily, and fairly boring after the first bite. Unlike Don, ours didn't come with any veggie amuse, or peanuts. Fish with Sour Mustard is nothing like its name except, well, there is fish. It's hot, stewy, and wonderful. Shredded Pork with Green Pepper -- I think the group consensus was that this is a missable dish, not much special there. Baby Wontons with Chili Oil Sauce, on the other hand, was a great starter--tender wontons, plenty of heat, just be sure to ask for little empty rice bowls to eat them in. Spicy Emperor Duck also rocked, as did another pork dish (bone in, came in a silver pot over a sterno, name I forget, so sorry). Now I get fuzzy on the names of two good apps, but one was bean curd, another was thinly sliced pork--both had interesting textures and lotsa heat. We had a fried eggplant dish that's better skipped, and string beans with chilis that everyone loved.

We arrived at 5:30 (it's a Monday), place was empty; we left at 7, the place was full. Service is very spotty; we waited for drinks, for rice bowls, for the sterno to be put out (and they put it out by dumping water on it!)...but hey, we stuffed ourselves for $100 and all went home with at least 2 lovely meals of leftovers. Not bad. And, if you venture out that way, you can hit Trader Joes across the way (that branch has wine), the indie film theater next door, and AC Moore. All in all, worth an occasional trip out from DC.

ps. Anyone know if CS is using MSG?? From my immediate headache and exhaustion afterwards methinks so. Tho that could be from my family members! :biggrin:

Edited by sara (log)

Food is a convenient way for ordinary people to experience extraordinary pleasure, to live it up a bit.

-- William Grimes

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I haven't been to China Star, but I'm wondering how it compares to A & J's on Little River Turnpike and Markham in Annandale?

The two could not be more different in style, A&J being a tiny, minimalist, really good northern Chinese dim-sum noodlery (I just made that word up), and China Star being a really good fiery-hot Schezuan family-style establishment.

I would actually give the nudge, quality-wise, to A&J, simply because I've never had anything bad there (certain items at China Star are greasy). But this may be personal preference because I prefer a cleaner, less overtly oiled style of cooking.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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Ok, I just had a bit of the pork and green peppers reheated for lunch--better the second time around! The flavors have intensified a bit, and I drained off the bunches of oil at the bottom of the takeaway container. Yum!

Food is a convenient way for ordinary people to experience extraordinary pleasure, to live it up a bit.

-- William Grimes

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I used to eat at the CS in reston and it was fantastic. The hot and sour soup was actually spicy and sour, as opposed to what passes for H&S in most places around here. The general Tso's can't be beat, crispy, chewy, moist, spicy...damn, now I'm hungry.

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Spicy Emperor Duck  also rocked

It has been a long day, with a lot of exercise, no breakfast and no lunch. Starving and despondent after staring down an empty refrigerator, it was time for China Star carryout.

The Spicy Emperor Duck was in one of those clear-plastic quart containers. I opened it and I think there was an eye and a beak staring back at me, but I'm not quite sure as it's offered in a dark brown sauce.

I dumped the whole thing into a mixing bowl and had at it, with the same gusto and elegance as a hungry gorilla eating a full rack of ribs. Wielding a fork in my right hand and picking up bony chunks with my left, feeling the same desperation as Lucy and Ethel trying to pluck chocolates off the conveyor belt, I scarfed it like a hyena, finishing the entire meal in about ten minutes.

And now I sit here, looking at a plate full of bones, and an empty bowl of broth, and I realize that I might have just eaten duck testicles.

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  • 4 weeks later...

China Star has a web site!

http://www.chinastarfood.com/ (sorry I haven't yet learned how to post a link :huh: )

There are pictures in the "Dishes Recommended" section (dishes recommended by Tom Sietsema in The Post) under "Dish Gallery" - even beef triple with pig blood!

Man, I am so jonesing for China Star right now...

(Edited to add that I don't know how that link got there :huh::huh::blink: )

Edited by Basilgirl (log)

I love cooking with wine. Sometimes I even put it in the food.

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http://www.chinastarfood.com/job_opportunity.html

That's kinda funny! The message sounds like a fortune in a fortune cookie.

What I thought was funny is that all the weekly specials are in Chinese. I am going to have to get one of those Chinese-English menu translations books.

I love cooking with wine. Sometimes I even put it in the food.

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  • 1 month later...

Another amazing meal at China Star in Fairfax last night. Finally tried the Crystal Shrimp - delicious lightly cooked shrimp in a light ginger and scallion sauce. Also tried the Salt & Pepper Eggplant - Oh. My. God. I told my sister it tasted like meat and sure enough there was some ground up pork encased with the eggplant in a crispy fried shell with a yummy mix of cilantro, hot peppers, ginger & garlic sprinkled on top. My new favorite thing at China Star. My mom had their delicious hot & sour soup and ordered the house special pan fried noodles with shrimp, chicken, beef, pork & very fresh veggies. She asked for no shrimp (allergic) and the waitress came back and said would she mind substituting lobster for the shrimp? Duh. :blink:

Get to China Star and get that eggplant!

I love cooking with wine. Sometimes I even put it in the food.

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