|Address||1488-C Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD 20852|
I like the spinach stir-fried with garlic and the crispy shrimp (with the heads on them!).
Joe's is a hole in the wall place recommended to me by a Chinese friend. It's unique in its own way due to the fact unlike other dine in chinese restaurants (non-fast foods) you have to pay first. You will be seated and can easily over look the Pay and Order Here sign. Don't expect to have a waiter/waitress or you will be waiting for a while like I did. This is truly an authentic Chinese food restaurant. What you will find here is great chinese food. Everything from the common entrees, e.g. Orange Chicken, to authentic chinese dishes. What I also like about this place is that they don't let your water run down to the bottom of the glass.
Some of the best Chinese food I've had in the DC area. I particularly liked the Szechwan-style string beans with pork. The chinese greens in garlic sauce were also very good. The dumplings were excellent, but the spring rolls were below average. I would suggest going with a larger group (despite the potential wait for a table) to allow for sampling of as many different dishes as possible.
A friend of mine introduced me to Joe's last winter, and I've gone back on several occasions. This restaurant is in a small strip mall on Rockville Pike, and most folks would miss it since it doesn't face the street. It's worth searching out, though. The ambience isn't that of a 5-star restaurant, but it's got a nice Mom-and-Pop feel that made me feel like I had stumbled upon something most folks didn't know about. Grab a seat and a menu, make your choices, then head up to the register and place your order. I've never had to wait for a table, but then again I usually get there very early or rather late.
The waiters and waitresses bring the food quickly, and there is plenty of it. I usually stuff myself silly and still have plenty left to take home, even when there are two people chowing down.
Joe's specializes in Szechuan cooking, and they are very, very good at it. The spice can be adjusted to your taste, but try to go for the gusto if you can; specialities of the house such as the Sliced Beef over Vegetables, Szechuan Style and String Beans Szechuan are worth braving the heat. They do well by their milder dishes, too. Eggplant with Basil in Garlic Sauce and Beef Chow-Fun are great by themselves, but can be used to complement the spicier dishes.
I've never gotten really adventurous at Joe's, but I'd like to. Specials written in Chinese and English are tacked on the wall behind the counter, and their menu lists anything and everything my limited mind can think of.
Simply? If I can pull out a cliche, it would be this: Eat At Joe's.
This is a true bastion of Sichuan cookery in suburban Maryland. With a very broad menu, and exquisite execution of traditional Chengdu favorites, this is the place to go if you crave the hot and numbing sensations that make Sichuan food famous. The staff are very helpful if you are a newbie, and if you are an old pro, they will point you in new and exciting directions. The cold cubes of rabbit in hot-numbing sauce comes with a huge amount of sauce that just cries out to be dolloped (untraditionally) on white rice for a left over treat, and their dumpings are to die for. Whenever I am planning to be in this neighborhood I always time it to permit a meal at Joe's.
Tucked into a strip mall on strip mall-laden Rockville Pike, you may not see this place unless you search. (Turn when you see “On the border” restaurant). The simple sign out front says “Noodle House”, over some Chinese characters. Follow the Chinese people streaming inside and wait in line (never for very long it seems, even though the place is not large) for a table. There is no Joe, so don’t bother asking.
Joe’s Noodle House keeps prices low by keeping the place full and by making you go to the back counter to order and pay, instead of hiring too many waitstaff. You’ll get used to it quickly. Once you’re back there, check out the hand-written specials on the board, and perhaps choose some more appetizers from the small plates in the glass window. They’ll bring your food to you.
The food is mostly Szechuan style, though there are some canonical standby dishes. Eating here is best started by choosing several smaller dishes from the extensive menu. Items such as spring rolls are just average, but the pressed bean curd with hot sauce is a good beginning, and you can’t miss with items such as seasoned seaweed, mustard greens with bean curd and edamame, cucumber salad, or the tander (sic) bamboo shoot salad. There are some dim sum-like items such as vegetable buns and various breads. Each only costs a few dollars. Some higher end (five dollar range) appetizers I can recommend are the baby conch with basil and salty and crispy squid (essentially fried calamari, but wonderful). If you’re feeling adventurous, you can go for the pork kidneys, duck feet, or even the duck tongue. I didn’t.
The soup choices are the same as you see in most Chinese restaurants, and seem to be nothing special. I’ve only tried the hot and sour, and it’s quite fine.
The main courses range from $6.95 to $10.95, and they are great value. This being a Szechuan place, about half the dishes are spicy to some degree. Many items will be unfamiliar, but their descriptions are usually enough to figure them out. Don’t expect the vegetable melange that some Chinese restaurants throw in to every dish.
Steamed fish with shredded scallion and ginger is wonderful, as is the Szechuan style fish. Both give you a whole fish (ignore the head if you like, or eat it; it’s wonderful); the latter choice covered with a dark sauce and with green bean gelatin cubes. Anything Yu-Shiang style is good, especially the eggplant. Eggplant with basil in garlic sauce is also tasty. So many of the main course selections remain untried because it’s always been better to just order one, and fill in the rest of the meal with the numerous other smaller dishes. The more canonical entrees include choices such as General Tso’s chicken, and Pepper steak, but I wouldn’t even think of ordering them.
Vegetarians are well-cared for here; there is even a separate menu listing just the vegetarian choices. On the weekends between 11:00 and 3:00, Joe’s serves some Chinese breakfast choices, again similar to some things you’ve seen in a dim sum place. Sesame balls, turnip cakes, chive pockets, toasted rolls. Don’t eat too many fried items, as they don’t skimp with the oil.
Joe’s Noodles has a few beer selections and some wine, single-serving Glen Ellen bottles, but few seem to order them. A pot of tea has probably already hit your table anyway.
Yes, it is a dive, but it also offers some of the best simple Asian food in the whole area. Guaranteed a good meal every time out. Must try.