Asian Recipes, a newly opened restaurant in Merrifalls Plaza, joins several similar restaurants in the Falls Church area marked by a miles-long list of Chinese cuisine, carry-out and delivery options, and affordable prices. But at this new restaurant the familiar is done well, and sometimes even gives way to a few surprises. The result may make Asian Recipes a new favorite takeout spot for those looking to satisfy Chinese food cravings.
Patrons can opt to eat their meal in-house, but space is limited. Only a few tables and chairs are scattered about a tiny space in front of the counter and kitchen. Light pours in from big windows and bounces against bright sunshine-orange walls. Fast and friendly service is a perk to dining in, but customers can expect to be served from the same pagoda-decorated cartons and Styrofoam containers that would come with a to-go order.
Diners can choose from three appetizers: four dumplings, steamed or fried ($4.95), a spicy chicken lettuce wrap ($5.95), or the House Specialty Spring Roll ($2.95). Two to an order, the spring rolls are larger than the standard, and beneath their crispy-fried shell is a pleasant blend of ground meat, vegetables, rice noodles, and woodsy mushrooms. Soups can start the meal as well, and the menu offers about half a dozen favorites: tom yum, hot and sour, and the list goes on.
Just shy of 100 entrees make the menu, divided into beef, soup, chicken, pork, rice and noodle, seafood, and vegetable categories. The biggest selection – 21 dishes in all – is on the chicken menu section, which includes a dish that is becoming a restaurant favorite. The name itself, Lemongrass Chicken ($12.99) gives little away. Will it be breaded and sauce-coated like a General Tso’s? Will it be unbreaded and served swimming in a vegetable-loaded sauce like a Moo Goo Gai Pan? It turns out to be neither. Rather, the dish serves moist cubes of chicken in a wispy, crunchy breading, all topped in a dash of coarse seasoning for a savory and lightly tangy flavor.
Meat-based entrees are numerous, but a few vegetable dishes offer enough variety to appeal to vegetarians. Some feature fried bean curd, which at Asian Recipes is prepared beyond reproach. The big planks of bean curd are surprisingly flavorful, and frying gives the pieces a good texture – firm and somewhat chewy at its edges and soft beneath. An assortment of vegetables – eggplant, spinach, kale, and Chinese broccoli ($9.99 – $10.99) – can be served with the bean curd, and the Chinese broccoli is the recommended option. The long-stemmed, leafy vegetable is slathered in a salty sauce, with chunks of garlic, in no small amount, scattered throughout the dish to flavor the slightly bitter vegetable.
Most dinner entrees are served with ample white rice, and most cost less than $10. Prices for lunch portions dip even lower. Many are as cheap as $6.99, and 10 weekday lunch specials add fried rice and soup to the mix and still keep the price between $6.95 and $7.95.
Chinese takeout has earned a reputation – and for some, a regular space in the dining lineup – for being fast and affordable. But as prices dip and convenience increases, sometimes quality suffers. Asian Recipes, however, delivers great flavor at an excellent price, which sets it apart from the crowd.
Asian Recipes is located at 7810-A Lee Highway, Falls Church. For more information, call 703-208-1431 or visit aznrecipes.com. Restaurant hours are Monday – Friday: 11 a.m. – 9:30 p.m. and Saturday – Sunday: 11:30 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.