Still mourning the loss of the venerable Hunan Herndon, we were cruising around looking for a new Chinese restaurant when we discovered China Village. Just opening a few months ago, China Village is a sensational eat-in and carry-out restaurant, just a few doors down from Bloom on Elden Street (they also deliver).
The interior is newly upgraded, very clean, with dark wood tables and chairs, gleaming marble panels along the sides, tile flooring and a flat screen broadcasting nonstop Spanish television. It is adorned by a "Grand Opening" sign over the outside front door, so it can be easily overlooked. Simply stated, you really should make a U-turn and try this restaurant.
Everything I have tasted at this little family-run eatery is delicious. They make a point of advertising that their ingredients are fresh, and their orders are "freshly made," and they certainly taste that way. They pledge that they use no MSG, only low-sodium salt and only soy bean oil in their cooking, and "100 fresh vegetables." That is what captured my attention, as fresh vegetables make flavors bounce from flat to fantastic.
The vegetables in my favorite dish, Thai Basil Shrimp, were so fresh you could actually crunch the snow peas, the peppers, carrots, onions, fennel and the slices bok choy. And the sauce for that dish was perfect—light yet packed with a weave of onion, Thai spice, star anise and basil flavors. The fresh basil leaves were still whole (yet limp from a flash of stir-fry) and they were bursting with their unmistakable flavor. We have come back several times just to get this dish as a take out on busy evenings. In the evenings this place does a very brisk carry-out business, while the owner's children do their homework quietly at a nearby table.
Lunch specials are $6.25 and include fried rice and egg roll, which makes this restaurant a real deal for families, or business lunches on a budget. The portions are very generous, especially at dinner, where the entree prices range from $8.50 to $12.95. Even their "specialty" Peking Duck, a whole duck is only $26.95, which could feed a family with all of the pancakes and spring onions on the side. I can't wait to go back to try revisit this dish on some cold winter evening.
The pancakes are certainly a grade above other area restaurants, and they are very tender, stretchable and delicate, and do not easily break apart when you are making enormous rolls of their Moo Shu Pork. Yes, it is available with Beef and Chicken, but the traditional-minded folks like me only order it with pork, and theirs is extremely good. They have a great flavor in their cabbage/sprout mixture, which certainly can be traced to their use of fresh ingredients.
Crispy Beef is another dish you must order, which is deep-fried morsels of beef in a "chef special sauce" with shreds of carrots, celery, and fresh orange peel. It was tender and immensely satisfying, especially when tasted with their signature rice.
The Flat Noodle dishes are wonderful, especially the Thai Basil Flat Noodles (your choice of beef, chicken, shrimp, pork or vegetable). This is soft wide noodles sautéed in fresh tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, basil, in a spicy garlic sauce. You can request your level of "spice" on all their dishes.
Orange Chicken was one of my other favorites, and the sauce was sweet, but not overly gloppy and sticky-sweet, and had generous amounts of fresh orange peel in the midst of the tender chicken. It is also framed by delicious fresh broccoli, cooked perfectly.
Best yet is the fact that they have unlimited free hot tea with "eat in" dining. Since you order at the counter, you are not obligated to leave a tip, which is also another savings, as the table service is also self-serve (they do bring your orders to you when they are ready).
The owners were originally in Chantilly, but moved to Herndon. Lucky Herndon, as I think that this is one of the better "cheap eats" and "carry out" places that has opened here in a long time.
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