Hunan Gate Restaurant, web site, 4233 N. Fairfax Drive, Arlington, VA, 703-243-5678 (Metro Trip Planner – opens in new window) [Google | TripAdvisor | Menuism | City Paper | Yelp]
July 16, 2012: Updated review here.
photo credit: Micah Sittig
On the surface a mediocre Hunan place, but underneath there is a Manchurian menu in Chinese only. Ask for that! No other place around tastes like this one. I recommend the tofu scallion salad, the julienne potato salad, the NE style pancake, the chive potstickers, and the pork riblets with Italian flat bean stew, I am not sure how you can get any of these but try your best with the Chinese language. The grammar is simple, I promise you. Nor should you forget the pork belly stew with wide glass noodles or the pots and dishes with fermented cabbage. If this area had forty Manchurian restaurants, this one might not be in the top five, but as it stands it is one of the most interesting Chinese restaurants around, if that is what I can call it. Definitely recommended.
I live near there and am enthusiastic about the idea of a decent Chinese place hiding beneath a terrible one, but this whole review is useless if you don’t speak Chinese: “I am not sure how you can get any of these but try your best with the Chinese language. The grammar is simple, I promise you.” Grammar might be easy, but reading off a menu sure isn’t… could anyone post some Chinese text for us to hold up or something? Otherwise this is useless….
Hunan gate just reprinted their menu in a new format: all the dishes are presented with colored pictures, which makes it much easier for non-Chinese speakers. Or at least you should try “luan dun”, a wonderful and large portioned dish with stewed pork and a variety of deliciou vegetables. Overall, very authentic manchurian food that nowhere else can be found in the dc area.
Another great point about this place: they have a great selection of very strong, very cheap ($4-5) mixed tropical drinks that they serve in campy, ridiculous mugs shaped like Buddha, skulls, and other figures.
First visit: Aged chicken with mushrooms and glass noodles, chive dumplings, julienned potato salad. The chicken is lovely, but you must contend with bone shards. You will be rewarded for doing so. The new menu with pictures and English-language descriptions helped immensely. We’re excited about trying any of the pork belly dishes and scallion pancakes. Bonus points for the delicious pickles and salted peanuts served as appetizers.