Every once and a while it's nice to go to a restaurant that's just plain civilized, and that's what Moon Gate is, with its comfortable chairs, intelligent service, good acoustics and nice food.
Look for lots of well-heeled families, older couples and double dates. A perfect place to celebrate a teenager's birthday, or any other gathering, when a large choice of dishes is the ticket to happy diners. Children will love the attention here, especially the "on the house" dish of ice cream, orange quarters and fortune cookies at meal's end.
Regulars consistently order the emerald shrimp and chicken, the crispy beef and the Moon Gate triple delight (a particularly spicy mixture of sauteed chicken, beef, shrimp or a combination, plus vegetables and a house-made chili sauce).
Venture beyond egg rolls and a very good wonton soup for some slightly different appetizers, especially the seafood roll and the seafood rangoon, a combination of shrimp, scallops, crab meat and water chestnuts, wrapped in wonton skins and deep-fried.
Weekends get a little busy, but this large two-room restaurant is able to accommodate quite a crowd.
Plenty of parking might be what finally tips the balance in favor of Moon Gate over some of the Chinese restaurants in the heart of parking-deprived Bethesda. The large public lot in back of the Woman's Farm Market requires some meter feeding, but not after 10 p.m. or on weekends.
-- Kathleen Stanley