Chinese and Christmas is like challah and Shabbat—a must for your culinary holiday adventures! There are a lot of food options available in DC, but surprisingly, good Chinese food is difficult to find, and not in Chinatown. While your neighborhood delivery General Tso’s chicken is great for a weeknight dinner, on Christmas you want the full experience: chili-flecked dishes of meat, steaming dumplings and bubbling hot pots.
A sure sign of a good Chinese restaurant on Christmas is one that is full, sometimes even with a wait, and has a mixed crowd. Get your own Christmas miracle with a delicious meal and a fortune cookie of good luck for the upcoming new year!
One of the few places actually in DC (many of them are a short drive away in Maryland or Virginia), Panda Gourmet proves that looks can be deceiving. Tucked away in a Days Inn on New York Avenue, this Szechuan style restaurant serves your traditional Chinese fare (Kung Pao chicken and wonton soup), but be adventurous and go for something new. Start with their Dan Dan noodles and pita soaked in beef soup (a Shaanxi snack). The dishes come in shareable portions, making this a fun place to go with a group. For your entrée, be sure to get one of the dishes with cumin (lamb or beef), the mapo tofu or one of their hot pot dishes. The dishes can be mouth numbing with all the red-chili oil, so make sure to get an extra side of rice and perhaps a few Tums in your pocket for dessert.
For those keeping kosher, you will be excited to learn a new spot just opened up in Silver Spring! Just in time for Christmas, Holy Chow brings the first kosher Chinese takeout to the DC metro area. Growing up in Silver Spring’s Kemp Mill neighborhood, owner Ami Schreiber wished for one of the several Chinese places to go kosher. With nearby Shalom Kosher bringing in Jewish traffic, he decided to make his dreams a reality and made plans to open up his own kosher Chinese restaurant. Go for Christmas dinner, and go pick up some bagels and lox for brunch the next day.
There are two other options for those seeking kosher Chinese, albeit these require a bit of a drive. Both David Chu’s China Bistro and Royal Kosher are located in Baltimore. You can get your American Chinese favorites here, like scallion pancakes, orange chicken or beef and hot-and-sour soup. These places are nice to come with a group for a sit-down meal, and what better way to start a new Christmas tradition!
Heading back to DC, there’s another great spot located right near Logan Circle. Great Wall Szechuan House is a small shop (perhaps better for takeout or delivery) that offers a menu of Americanized Chinese as well as some Szechuan-style dishes. Their Ma La Special comes with your choice of chicken, tofu, beef or veggies and is perfect for a chilly night in. Don’t worry—they also have General Tso’s chicken if you find yourself craving the fried classic. If you’re a noodle lover, be sure to get an order of the sesame cold noodles for a tasty appetizer.
If you’re feeling extra adventurous or want an Asian-inspired Christmas, but not Chinese, then be sure to head to POW POW on H Street. The fast-casual style restaurant serves up “New Asian” cuisine, combining culinary styles from China, Japan and Korea. The menu has you choose from a variety of bowls, with plenty of options for those who are vegetarian or even vegan (they even make their own vegan cheese). Pro-tip: You can ask for your bowl to be “half-and-half” with rice and salad, and substitute any meat for mock vegan chicken. With names like “Natalie Porkman” (a bowl with vegan pork seitan) and Tokyo Roboto (teriyaki grilled chicken), this is definitely not your typical sweet-and-sour chicken joint! Be sure to grab some of their starters, including the seasonal Yule Log Eggroll filled with mashed potatoes, stuffing, mock chicken and served with cranberry and gravy dipping sauces.
With all these options you’ll have a very merry Jewish Christmas full of good food, good luck and good company! Make sure to call ahead and make a reservation if possible, since many of these places get crowded on the holiday. Dine-in or takeout, either way, you’ll have a holiday full of cheer!
Holy Chow is kosher under the supervision of Capitol Kashruth of the Washington Va’ad. David Chu’s Chinese Bistro and Royal Kosher are kosher under the supervision of Star K of Baltimore. POW POW is kosher under the supervision of DC Kosher. Panda Gourmet and Great Wall Szechuan House are not kosher.