I had heard about the wonders of Oriental East in Silver Spring. I had heard about the carts of dim sum weaving through tables of happy diners, distributing sticky rice and dumplings to no end. I hoped to one day visit this magical place.
So on a free Friday, I went for lunch. No carts! We had to order off the menu! Oh, it was awful. I mean, not awful, of course, it was normal. But that’s the trouble with high expectations: normal just isn’t good enough anymore.
So, this time, wiser and sadder, I returned on a Saturday. Happy days, all my dreams came true! The carts of dim sum and other amazing goodies fulfilled all my wishes for a real experience.
Sitting with a sizable group of six at a large round table in a far corner, we had a perfect dim sum experience. As soon as we sat down, the food started to arrive. No looking at a menu, no wondering what was what, just immediate gratification!
Besides the requisite hot tea, we had steamed pork bun (a perennial favorite of mine), pork sticky rice, turtle dumplings breaded like little bird’s nests, fried tofu (cool and savory), translucent shrimp dumplings, steamed greens, slick noodles and the mysterious steamed rice in a leaf. For something sweet after our appetites had been sated with deliciousness, there were pineapple buns and custard tart.
I may need to go back every week now. The group-dining experience was just so much better than anywhere else. Food was placed on the Lazy Susan so that dishes were easily shared. A Lazy Susan also makes private conversations impossible; everyone is focused on the center of the table here. The sharing and the food is what Oriental East is all about. And when it came time to pay the check, we overpaid. When does that happen in DC? For $10 a piece, we walked out into the sunshine happy with ourselves and each other.
When you go (which you must), you can get off at the Silver Spring metro and walk 5 minutes to the restaurant, housed in a Giant shopping center. There is usually a wait for tables (the place is popular for good reason) so have your entire party present to be seated. I’ve seen lines out the door before, but this time there was only a ten minute wait. And was more than worth it.