Silver Chips Online

A real taste of China

City Lights of China pleases the eye and stomach

By Phillip Allen, Online Managing Sports Editor
August 22, 2005
Over the past three decades Chinese food has taken its place alongside pizza and fast food as one of Americas favorite quick meals. Don't know what to eat? Just order Chinese! This degradation of Chinas cuisine has created a void of high quality sit-down restaurants. This cavity has been filled since 1987 by City Lights of China Restaurant, widely regarded by Washingtonians as the best Chinese in the city. A result of the restaurant's success in its original location in Dupont Circle allowed it to branch off into two new locations in Bethesda and Ronald Reagan Center food court.

The restaurant in Bethesda is at a gorgeous location down the street from the Barnes and Noble bookstore. It is decorated with an assortment of abstract art complementing the golden walls and spotlight style lighting. The left side of the restaurant wall incorporates booths while the rest of the rooms has individual set tables. Though there was a line waiting for tables, it moved quickly as bus boys cleared and reset tables for the next part in record time.

The enthusiastic service continued through the entire meal, as water glasses were never empty and the manager made more than one stop at every table to make sure patrons were enjoying their meal.

You can start your meal with an assortment of hot and cold appetizers ranging from $1.50 to $5.95. The best of these is a selection of dumplings that are truly exquisite. Steamed dumplings are presented eloquently in a wooden bowl decoratively displayed with cabbage leaves and peppers. The dumplings are filled with a cabbage, garlic and other minced vegetables that leave your mouth drooling for more. The pork pan-fried dumplings are nearly as scrumptious, presented sizzling and golden brown. They have a soy sauce marinated taste that is a little on the spicy side but perfect for the more adventurous eater. The starters also include meat and vegetarian egg rolls that are tasty but are not quite in the dumplings' league.

For main courses City Lights of China has a overabundance of choices ranging from more traditional beef, chicken, pork and duck to chef's specialties including seafood and seasonal exclusives. As asparagus is currently in season, an entire separate menu was provided for these dishes. A truly unique entrée was the Shrimp and Scallops with asparagus. Crisp strips of steamed asparagus are presented in line mixed to perfection with a large quantity of plump scallops and shrimp smothered with a sweet and salty brown sauce that made my mouth water.

One of the Chief specialties, Tinkling Bells pork, is another uniquely delicious choice. Mixed vegetables, slices of pork and large wontons are amassed together and topped with an overly salty brown sauce. It is served sizzling in a large quantities along with white rice that, when combined, more than fills the hungriest of patrons.

The specialty of the house, however, is the impressive Peking duck. It arrives at the table looking spectacular, plump with a glossy skin, that draws stare from neighboring tables. The meat was moist, a pleasant departure form the dry, overcooked Peking duck often encountered in other Chinese restaurants. All of the entrées looked exceptional and tasted so depending on ones personal preference.

The main courses, with a few exceptions (Lobster and Perking Duck), are reasonably priced, between $10 to $12 dollars. City Lights of China simply provides a classy sit-down Chinese restaurant that is hard to match. It provides a friendly, well-priced delicious experience that will leave you with a full stomach and smile.

City Lights of China Restaurant is located at 4820 Bethesday Avenue in Bethesda, Maryland. To contact the restaurant, call 301-913-9501.

http://silverchips.mbhs.edu/story/5544