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Tim Carman Approves of Panda Gourmet’s Expansion in Rockville

What the critics are saying this week

Xi’an Gourmet/Yelp

Xi’an Gourmet

One of D.C.’s essential Chinese restaurants branched out to Rockville and Washington Post food critic Tim Carman is all over it for his “$20 Diner” column. He visited the new Xi’an Gourmet in Rockville, which quietly opened in April from the team behind Panda Gourmet on New York Avenue NE. First of all, the space in Rockville is much more posh, with Chinese opera masks and lettering by an esteemed artist. “Xi’an Gourmet feels right at home here,” Carman writes.

The dishes here are drawn from the Sichuan and Shaanxi provinces, and Carman writes that the Shaanxi cold-steamed noodles are a must-order. “They’re not just a shock to the system; they’re the only noodles made in-house, despite a long list of options, a reflection of Xi’an’s colder climate, which is more suitable for wheat than rice,” he writes. The “Shaanxi flavor fish” has a generic name, but the bubbling buffet-sized dish is anything but. “The longer you let that chafing dish roil, the better those spicy-and-numbing flavors penetrate the otherwise milquetoast tilapia, down to the juicy bits that cling to the fish carcass, where some of the best eating can be found,” he writes.

FROM THE BLOGS: BYT filled out a lengthy survey to get a completely customized meal at Westend Bistro; Tyler Cowen is taking recommendations for what to review; Rick Eats DC tried two fast-casual spots (Rasa and Kuya Ja’s Lechon Belly); and whoa, Meghan from the Hungry Lobbyist snagged Tom Sietsema’s unused Noma seating.