Address: 305 N. Washington Street, Rockville, MD 20850
It was a little while back that I had a sudden craving for some Shanghai soup dumplings, or xiao long bao. Having heard that there was more of an abundance of Chinese restaurants over on the Maryland side of the metro area, I took a shot in the dark and Googled it up to see if any of them offered what I was looking for. Bob’s Shanghai 66 popped up with some pretty good reviews, so I opted in to give it a shot.
I made plans with my friend Andy to drive up to Rockville to try this place and we met up with our friends Mike and Kari at the restaurant. It’s a little bit of a trek, about a 30 minute drive up the Beltway, but traffic on the weekends isn’t too bad at all. We made sure to try to get to the restaurant early to beat the Sunday lunch crowd.
The restaurant was fairly quiet when we arrived and we were seated immediately. The menu itself featured a number of different dishes influenced from Taiwan, Shanghai, and Szechuan cuisines. We ordered a broad array of dishes to give things a try: the scallion pancake and fried cruller as appetizers, two noodle dishes, a tofu dish, and of course, the xiao long bao. Out of the main dishes, I would have to say that my favorites were the spicy beef and noodle soup, the mapo tofu, and the xiao long bao.
What really brought the spicy beef and noodle soup together was the broth. It was rich in flavor and had a bit of a kick to it (I’m thinking because of some heavy usage of black pepper). Both the chunks of beef and thick rice noodles were able to absorb the flavoring from the broth itself. It was also my first time trying mapo tofu and I really enjoyed it. With chunks of tofu, peas, and carrots enveloped in a spicy red chili sauce, the dish was definitely made to be put over rice and eaten together. The dish was rich and took on the silky texture of the tofu, but also had the heat and spice to go along with it.
Compared to some of “the” places to go to get xiao long bao (like Din Tai Fung or Joe’s Shanghai in New York City), I thought that the ones at Bob’s Shanghai held their own. The dough on the outside had the right thickness, the broth had good flavor, and the pork inside tasted great, too. I would have liked if there was just a little more broth inside the dumpling itself, but that’s just a personal preference. I would be more than happy to go back and take two orders of xiao long bao and just go to town.
The two dishes I was not as impressed with were the scallion pancake and our other noodle dish. I’ve definitely had scallion pancakes at other Chinese restaurants that tasted like they were hand-rolled and made fresh, but these tasted more like store-bought to me. The other noodle dish, known as za jiang mein, is thinner wheat noodles topped with chopped pork that has been stir-fried with a soybean paste. I thought the flavor was there, but I expected it to have more sauce to accompany everything, as that is how I’ve eaten it at other restaurants before.
With Chinese restaurants, it is sometimes hit-or-miss with how good some dishes are, especially if there are an abundance of other dishes that are on the menu. However, I think that the quality and taste of the other dishes that we ordered definitely merits further visits. Finally, I don’t need to go all the way to NYC to get my xiao long bao fix!
Here are my rankings for Bob’s Shanghai 66:
Food: 4.5 / 5
What drew me to go here was to check out the xiao long bao, and that certainly didn’t disappoint. Some of the other accompanying dishes were also quite delicious, and the expansive menu offers a lot more to try.
Atmosphere: 4 / 5
I’m always a fan of the “open kitchen” concept, where you can see people preparing your food. In this case, it was the enclosed area where you could see workers making the xiao long bao. In my opinion, it always adds a cool element to the dining area and shows that the restaurant is proud to showcase how they are making your food. The tables were slightly bunched up together, but we didn’t ever feel too crowded sitting at the table.
Service: 4.5 / 5
Our food was out and onto the table very quickly after we ordered, and the waiters / waitresses were always available to call over if we needed something.
Price: 4.5 / 5
I think that the food at Bob’s Shanghai is priced pretty well. Even though we spent roughly $18 per person for the meal, there was more than enough food for leftovers to take home, and I left feeling very satisfied.
Overall: 17.5 / 20 (88%)