Arts & Entertainment

Restaurant Spotlight: Tsim Yung Chinese Restaurant

Tsim Yung Chinese Restaurant is an excellent, dependable source of Chinese carry-out favorites.

Located in the heart of Del Ray, Tsim Yung serves Chinese-American fare in a standard environment, right down to the carry-out boxes. Three tables offer in-house seating for eleven and there is standing room for others waiting to pick up orders.

The cash register window looks back into a long, functional kitchen. If you look through, you’ll see chefs working hard to deliver a dependable, delicious and precise product in an unbelievably quick time frame. They start to work as soon as you order.

restaurant-spotlight.jpgThe menu offers luncheon specials and a variety of the best-known dishes from Cantonese, Mandarin and Szechuan cuisines. Within each group, the offerings are carefully selected to satisfy a wide range of tastes. There are several variations of some dishes. For example, Broccoli Sauteed ($5.50) wears the same thick, delicious, soy-based sauce as Beef with Broccoli ($6.75) and Chicken with Broccoli ($6.50). There are also separate pork, beef and chicken variations, such as Double Cooked Pork, Beef with Oyster Sauce ($6.50) and Chicken with Cashew Nuts ($6.50).

For an example of the kitchen’s range, check out their shrimp offerings. They have bok choy, black bean sauce or curry ($6.50 each), Szechuan, kung po, to moo shu ($7.25 each), and even the irresistible butterfly shrimp with bacon ($8.00), among others. For other types of seafood, the menu includes Hunan Scallops ($8.00) and pints ($6.25) or quarts ($10.25) of Lobster Chop Suey.

For stronger flavor without any surprises, try Noodles with Garlic Sauce ($5.00). It is everything the name implies and nothing more. The lo mein noodles are thick, sautéed in a sauce whose only flavor, apart from the occasional minced bite of spicy red pepper skin, is garlic. This makes a delicious, slightly greasy and joyfully indulgent meal for a solo night in, but might pose a bit of a risk on a first or second date.

They also offer a handful of delicious vegetarian selections and some salt-free, sugar-free, corn-starch-free special diet meals. When Tsim Yung does venture off the beaten path, it doesn’t push for originality or creativity. Instead it works even harder for familiarity and local flavor. If there is anyone left on the East Coast who is not yet comfortable with a box of their favorite meat or tofu, fried and covered in Sweet and Sour sauce, accompanied by a box of steamed white rice, Tsim Yung is ready for them. They have fried fish fillets (three for $5), chicken wings (from two for $2.30 up to 10 for $7.85) and even chicken nuggets (10 for $4.75).

All of these American offerings come with a choice of French fries or fried rice. If you want your fries done up right in a unique, D.C. area style, ask for them with mumble sauce. Mumble sauce, sometimes called “mambo sauce,” is pink and tastes like a mix of sweet and sour sauce, barbecue sauce and other spices. The sauce is believed to originate either in Jamaica or in upper Northwest, and has even given its name to a local band. In keeping with local tradition, neither the cashier nor the chef would reveal how Tsim Yung’s mumble sauce is made, but it’s a little sweet, a little hot, a little sour and all good.

Tsim Yung is a fresh breath of air in Del Ray, a place where people can be just people. For any holiday, or just because it’s suddenly time to eat, Tsim Yung is a great addition to anyone’s carryout repertoire.

Tsim Yung Chinese Restaurant
2603 Mount Vernon Ave.

Alexandria, Va.

Open Monday – Saturday, 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.