After driving past Oriental Gourmet in Arlington's Lee Harrison Shopping Center several thousand times, I finally on Sunday, August 4, 2013, stopped in for dinner. I regret not sooner having tried this quality neighborhood Chinese establishment. Although this strip shopping center offers other dining options, I felt I'd chosen wisely.
Immediately after I walked through the restaurant's front door, a smiling hostess invited me to occupy a booth that easily could accommodate four diners. On a summer evening, I found the room's temperature ideal. The pink tablecloths and background recorded piano music soothed me. Soon after I was seated, a server politely greeted me. After giving me a few minutes to start enjoying a bottle of Chinese beer, he cheerfully took my order.
For dinner I ordered an appetizer of steamed dumplings stuffed with pork followed by an entree of egglant in garlic sauce. (Not technically a vegan, I nevertheless tend in oriental restaurants to prefer vegetables.) The steamed dumplings, six to an order, proved the plumpest and tastiest I've ever experienced. They easily could have made more than a meal in themselves. My entree, eggplant in a rich dark sauce, was perfectly prepared and seasoned. It comes "standard" with white rice; for an extra $1.00 I opted for brown rice, which arrived in a bowl more generously sized than usual. Both some of the dumplings and much of the entree accompanied me home as leftovers. In the reassuring tradition of neighborhood restaurants, my server packaged my leftovers instead of expecting me to do it.
My check came accompanied by two large slices of orange and a fortune cookie. For a bottle of beer, the dumplings, and the eggplant, I paid $25.28 including tax and gratuity, not unreasonable for North Arlington.
As a minor annoyance, the restaurant's telephone rang loudly a number of times. The ring tone's presumably set high in order that the staff won't miss incoming calls, but turning down the volume would complement an otherwise tranquil setting. I'd recommend Oriental Gourmet to anyone seeking a non-chain, traditional Chinese restaurant a cut above the norm.
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