Sunday, August 12, 2012

Sichuan Jin River in Rockville

Last summer we ventured up to Rockville despite the warnings from REM to try out a different Sichuan restaurant, Sichuan Pavilion, which was not related to the K Street joint near our offices. It was super fiery and incredibly popular, but the a/c was broken during that sweltering July visit. Scarred by the hot room and distance, we hadn't returned until last Friday.
Now called Sichuan Jin River to remove confusion, the food is the same spicy, hot Sichuan I remembered, the prices are good and the portions are large. Fortunately the a/c was working this visit. We arrived right before 7 pm, and beat the lines. After a 7-10 minute wait, our number was called and we were shown to a table. We ordered our Sichuan favorites to compare how SJR stacks up to Sichuan Pavilion on K Street, Hong Kong Palace in 7 Corners and Great Wall.
 Dan Dan Noodles ($4.50)
Spicy and great flavor. The noodles look and taste like Italian pasta. I prefer the noodles at Sichuan Pavilion which are thinner and served with more sauce, although they do not offer a small size. The best version I've tried so far is found at Great Wall on 14th Street.
 You need to toss the noodles and sauce together to evenly coat the sauce.
 This is my husband's job, he has a great technique to thoroughly mix all of the flavors together.
 Chicken in spicy sauce 
The chicken is cold, and this was my least favorite item. The husband loved it, and the leftovers in our refrigerator are all his.
 Zhong pork dumplings in a spicy sauce
After you toss in the spicy sauce, add a dash or two of the vinegar to perk up the flavors.
 Mapo Tofu with beef
Fantastic. I'm still working on learning the flavor profile to make mapo at home, and and this is a great version to study. The mala numbing, spicy and floralness of the Sichuan peppercorn is addicting. I put the leftovers on top of ramen noodles to make mapo ramen. Definitely recommend.
 Sliced beef with vegetables in spicy sauce.
I love the steamed beef in spicy sauce at Sichuan Pavilion, and this is a close rendition, but definitely oiler. This had the perfect level of spiciness for me, and the vinegar bites of cabbage were good. Add some cabbage to the leftovers to freshen up the dish.
All in all, Sichuan Jin River is a good Sichuan restaurant. If we lived in or closer to Maryland, I could see a compelling reason to go there. Since we work a block away from Sichuan Pavilion and live a short-ish drive from HKP, it's not going to be in the top 3 list of Sichuan restaurants for us. Our visit here reaffirmed the need to return to Great Wall on 14th Street. They have a much more limited menu for Sichuan dishes, but they do our favorite dishes very well.

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