Like Ghar-E-Kabab for Indian, Michael’s Noodles gets suggested a lot as among the best Chinese (and Taiwanese) in MoCo — the best, according to some. So our expectations were fairly high when we finally made it up there to the nether reaches of Rockville last weekend.
Sietsema was right: general manager Wei Wang has lots of personality and made helpful recommendations. She steered us to the pot sticker dumplings for starters, and those are the best dumplings I can remember having. Nice mix of ground meat and vegetables inside, browned then steamed, chewy yet light on the outside. Loved them. In general, we were all impressed with all three noodle dishes that we tried. Dan-Dan Noodles featured fuzzy dried pork that reconstituted in the bowl when stirred together with noodles and sauce; it wasn’t as spicy as I expected (Joe’s Noodle House has a similar dish that is numbing-hot and differently flavored in a way I like, though Michael’s noodles are higher quality than Joe’s across the board, though that’s splitting hairs, a bit like noting that Geddy Lee sings even higher than Steve Perry: really, it’s all good) but we all liked it. Shredded chicken, peppers, carrot, and onion with noodles was more popular with our group overall; I found it a bit bland, but again the noodle quality was excellent.
A couple of non-noodle dishes were less successful: shredded pork with dry bean curd was quite spicy but the ratio was tipped way too far toward the bean curd (which was indeed quite dry) for my taste. And we had to try the Orange Beef, but it wasn’t very good: too-big, too-tough beef chunks, sauce more sweet than spicy. Hunan Garden (Palo Alto, CA) remains grand champ of the OPB (despite their own slight decline based on our most recent visit).
Michael’s is well-decorated, well-managed, and we will definitely go back, but we will stick mostly with noodle dishes in the future, including noodle soups, which we saw consumed by others with great enjoyment across the room. Also some other side dishes and chef’s specialties that look interesting. But the Orange Beef was a sign, as it is at so many restaurants, to stay away from the Americanized dishes and stick with what’s authentic, and especially what’s noodly.