Alas, we are revealing one of our favorite hidden gems–the weekend dim sum brunch at Oriental Gourmet restaurant in the Lee-Harrison shopping center in North Arlington. The Lee-Harrison shopping center is one of the last places we’d expect to find an authentic Chinese lunch. I think we walked by Oriental Gourmet at least 37 times; absolutely clueless about what we were missing, but probably really hungry. Go figure.
We tend to frequent Oriental Gourmet more often when the weather gets cooler because some of our favorite items are hot and soupy. The thing we love most is the salty soybean milk. At $1.65, this is a bargain, not to mention that it’s big enough for two to share. Don’t let the name of this dish fool you. It sounds boring, but it’s totally the opposite. Warm, salty, spicy, chunky soy milk with scallions, pickled vegetables, and pieces of Crispy Cruller. You must try this dish. The only other place we’ve been able to find this in the DC-area is a Chinese place in Tysons by the Hummer dealership. But the food went downhill a while back so we stopped going.
Another favorite is the Beef Sirloin Noodle Soup ($7.25). You can get it spicy or regular, and also with or without tripe and all the other chewy good stuff. I prefer regular (as in not spicy and not full of cow “pasta”), but Mr. Chow likes it spicy with all the good stuff. This is a dish we can find in a bunch of other Chinese restaurants, but Oriental Gourmet’s version is good because it’s not too bland and the meat is tender and plentiful. Secret note: our favorite version of this dish is actually at a Chinese restaurant in the Fair Oaks Mall!
The xiao long bao is another staple (of course!). Not as good as Din Tai Fung, but still very tasty. $5.25 is also a pretty good price for 8 medium-sized juicy buns. This dish takes a bit longer to make, so order it as soon as you sit down. Other faves are the rice cakes with shredded pork ($9.25) and the scallion pancake aka Chinese scallion crepe ($1.95). The rice cake is really tasty and is not something we can easily find at other Chinese restaurants. The scallion pancake is easier to find, but the version at Oriental Gourmet tastes homemade with lots of fresh scallions!
If you’re like us, when you find something that is secretly really good, you want to hog it all to yourself. But we adore the folks at the restaurant and really love the food at Oriental Gourmet, so we want to tell the world about it (i.e. all six of you reading this!). Now that you know our little secret, please go check out this place. Don’t hog–tell all your friends about it too! 🙂
Oriental Gourmet Restaurant
2503 N. Harrison St
Arlington, VA 22207
Dim Sum Lunch: Saturday and Sunday, 1130am until 2 or 230pm