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Big Wang’s Still A Big Hit, Says Tim Carman

What the critics are saying this week

The Grilled Oyster Company
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The Washington Post’s Tom Sietsema gives Cleveland Park’s Dolan Uyghur two stars.

“Cumin, chilies and charred meat greet your nose” from the Uyghur cooking, influenced by borders Xinjiang shares with Afghanistan, India, Mongolia, Russia and other countries. (Xinjiang translates from Chinese to “new frontier.”)

Dough-heavy dishes and big portions means diets are out the window here, he warns; expect dumplings, meat kebabs, and lots of noodles “pulled by hand from a white ball.”

“See for yourself, and ask for a dish called Mom’s Lagman. What follows are long and tensile noodles, thick as bucatini, tossed with smoky squiggles of beef and red and green pepper strips that have been stir-fried to keep their bite. Lo mein, meet your competition: The dish eats like a charm, thanks mostly to elastic noodles that need no sauce to improve them but nevertheless benefit from the rest of the mix, including a sprinkle of sesame seeds.”

There’s also a fried version.

“Noodles are also the prize” under tender chicken in a stew called da pan ji.

Must-try soups include chuchure, “a big bowl of clear broth, hinting of beef and strewn with cilantro, with delicate tortellini bobbing on it” and lentil soup. Another hit: goshnan, the Uyghur equivalent of a pizza, which he compares to “Hamburger Helper in a crisp golden sleeve.”

He has some tips for ordering: put in a few at a time “to prevent your entire meal from showing up in minutes.”

Desserts are a nice surprise for “those who think Asian desserts are the least interesting part of a meal,” with Kat-Kat cake “tender as pound cake.” [WaPo]

The Washington Post’s Tim Carman gives Big Wang Cuisine in Derwood a try, remembering the hard way that spice levels are through the roof — even with a palate like his that’s grown “impervious” to some of the hottest peppers around.

“There’s a reason this small dining room is always packed with customers who can trace a line back to China,” he writes. “The place cuts no corners with its execution of Sichuan dishes.”

Try the spicy dry hot pot, he says, which is a brothless bowl and communal dish. Just don’t expect the staff to provide lots of guidance when building it. His pro tip overall:

“Stick with the dishes beholden to chili oil, which, a waiter told me, requires a 12-hour process to reach full voice. The viscous solution ignites everything it touches, even the sliced pork in garlic sauce, a pork-belly appetizer that neglects to mention its nearly invisible glaze of Sichuan lighter fluid. The oil also coats the “lamb with spicy cumin,” which probably increased my internal temperature by 10 degrees — Celsius.”

The stir-fried pig’s feet offer “textural delights” while another favorite is the Shanghai-style braised pork, a platter of “meltingly tender pork belly lacquered with a burgundy-colored sauce that emits the sweet, earthy aromas of five-spice powder.”

One or two “fumbles” by the kitchen include the bean-curd skewer (“dry and lifeless as a fallen tree”) and the whole fried-and-glazed striped bass, which “provided plenty of eye candy, but little else.” [WaPo]

FROM THE BLOGS: Been There, Eaten That’s Lori Gardner visits Al Ha’Esh in Rockville, Bitches Who Brunch head to Dirty Habit, BYT gives The Grilled Oyster Co. a taste test and gives Myron Mixon’s Pitmaster Barbeque a first look, while Washington City Paper explores the top vegetarian dishes around.

The Grilled Oyster Company

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