Grab Your Chopsticks

Downtown Wheaton's Eclectic Eating

With more than 20 Asian restaurants and markets in a compact area, downtown Wheaton explodes with the heady aromas and fl avors of China, Japan, Indonesia, Vietnam, Burma, Thailand, Korea and the Philippines. (There are many Central American and Peruvian-style chicken restaurants to choose from as well, but that's a story for another day.)

No need to dress up in Wheaton. The atmospheres are casual. Prices are relatively low. Parking is not an issue. And a Metro station sits at the center of the action. Still, it's always best to call ahead for availability or make reservations on weekend nights. Our favorites are noted, they have particularly pleasant combinations of food and atmosphere.

-Walter Nicholls
Restaurant 1

KENNY'S SUB SHOP

On the run? Quick, inexpensive Szechwan, Hunan and Mandarin Chinese dishes, as well as American subs, are available at this corner carryout.
11210 Georgia Ave.; 301-933-8888.

Restaurant 2

AN-BINH

This minimal Vietnamese grocery is best for essential ingredients, such as fi sh sauce and rice noodles. An adjoining takeout section sells made-to-order banh mi Viet-style sandwiches of pate and ham on French bread and fresh summer rolls of shrimp and lean pork.
11216 Georgia Ave.; 301-942-6642.

Restaurant 3

PEACOCK

This fledgling Burmese restaurant, still finding its legs, specializes in Shan state dishes, such as pickled green tea leaf salad.
11220 Georgia Ave; 301-933-2525..

Restaurant 4

PAUL KEE (Our Pick)

Beautiful caramel-colored roast ducks and flanks of succulent roast pork hang in all their glory at this popular Hong Kong/Cantonese-style restaurant. Regular customers compliment, among many dishes, the rice gruel (congee) served more than a dozen ways.
11305-B Georgia Ave.; 301-933-6886..

Restaurant 5

CHINA CHEF

Choose a live tilapia, Dungeness crab or lobster from tanks at the door at this spacious, Hong Kong-style restaurant with lots of seafood options. At lunch, dim sum comes from the kitchen on weekdays and from carts on weekends.
11323 Georgia Ave.; 301-949-8170.

Restaurant 6

SUPORN'S

Like it really spicy? This Thai restaurant boasts killer curries.
2302 Price Ave.; 301-946-7613.

Restaurant 7

HOLLYWOOD EAST CAFE (Our Pick)

Critics praise Hollywood as one of the best Hong Kong/Cantonese-style restaurants in the region. They single out the barbecue pork, chicken and duck as well as whole fried fish and an intriguing, seemingly endless list of noodle dishes. Whole roast pigs can be ordered in advance for pork parties.
2312 Price Ave.; 301-942-8282.

Restaurant 8

HUNG PHAT ASIAN GROCERY (Our Pick)

Looking for a special brand of nuoc mam -- fish sauce from Vietnam? This store is crammed with products from across Asia, with a strong emphasis on Vietnamese condiments, sauces and noodles.
11315 Fern St.; 301-929-0725.

Restaurant 9

NAVA THAI NOODLE AND GRILL (Our Pick)

Tucked behind Hung Phat market, this new little fast-food cafe specializes in authentic noodle dishes, such as pad Thai, and spicy soups, such as hot and sour lemon grass.
11315 Fern St.; 240-430-0495.

Restaurant 10

BROTHER

An inexpensive carryout for Szechwan, Hunan and Mandarin Chinese dishes as well as American subs, with a menu in English and Spanish (but not Chinese).
11401 Amherst Ave.; 301-962-1269.

Restaurant 11

RUAN THAI (Our Pick)

Folks with a taste for Thai dishes appreciate the excellent fresh, fiery curries and intoxicating lemon grass soups at this cozy place.
11407 Amherst Ave.; 301-942-0075.

Restaurant 12

PHO HIEP HOA (Our Pick)

A fine version of Saigon's favorite breakfast food -- pho, or beef noodle soup -- sends up fragrant steam at communal tables.
2211-A University Blvd. W.; 301-933-7660.

Restaurant 13

FULL KEY (Our Pick)

This Hong Kong-style restaurant serves wonderfully fragrant shrimp dumpling soup. It also specializes in roasted pork, duck and chicken.
2227 University Blvd. W.; 301-933-8388.

Restaurant 14

ASIAN FOODS (Our Pick)

On one side, a well-stocked Thai grocery with a limited offering of other Asian ingredients. On the other, an inexpensive carryout featuring fried fish, curries and stir-fries.
2301 University Blvd. W.; 301-933-6071.

Restaurant 15

WOOMI GARDEN (Our Pick)

One of the most attractive restaurants in Wheaton, this comfortable Korean/Japanese place is notable for its barbecued meats and fresh fish.
2423 Hickerson Dr.; 301-933-0100.

Restaurant 16

DUSIT THAI CUISINE (Our Pick)

A reliable place with nice curry dishes, crisp deep-fried fish and an ample offering of vegetarian dishes.
2404 University Blvd. W.; 301-949-4140.

Restaurant 17

HOLLYWOOD EAST CAFE ON THE BOULEVARD (Our Pick)

The newer sibling of Hollywood East (#7) is highly regarded for its Hong Kong-style XO sauce dishes (made from a blend of spices, dried shellfish and cured pork) and chicken feet with black bean sauce. For lunch, order dim sum from the kitchen on weekdays and from carts on weekends.
2621 University Blvd. W.; 240-290-9988.

Restaurant 18

DAE SUNG KWAN

This spacious restaurant specializes in hearty Chinese/Korean dishes that are wildly popular in South Korea, such as noodles with a salty black bean sauce and a hot and spicy seafood noodle soup.
11215 Viers Mill Rd.; 301-949-1500.

Restaurant 19

GOOD FORTUNE (Our Pick)

With more than 100 Cantonese and Hong Kong dishes to choose from, this restaurant serves dim sum daily at lunch, from carts on weekends.
2646 University Blvd. W.; 301-929-8818.

Restaurant 20

SABANG (Our Pick)

Welcome to Indonesia. Regular customers favor the spicy dishes such as beef rendang and chicken kalio ayam. Two or more people may order the rice table or rijsttafel -- a multi-course meal made up of dozens of small side dishes. Live jazz on Saturday nights.
2504 Ennalls Ave.; 301-942-7859.

Restaurant 21

SAIGONESE

This Vietnamese restaurant, with an enormous menu of traditional dishes, has many vegetarian choices.
11232 Grandview Ave.; 301-946-8002.

Restaurant 22

FILIPINO HOME BAKING & GROCERY STORE

Despite the name, the store emphasizes essentials for the Filipino pantry, such as Ligo brand canned sardines and all the ingredients for the sweet dessert halo-halo: preserved fruits, palm nuts and tapioca. Most customers buy the pan de sal -- slightly sweet soft rolls.
11222 Triangle Lane; 301-942-2800.

Restaurant 23

MOBY DICK (Our Pick)

This adorable little Japanese restaurant has good sushi, crisp tempura and flavorful udon noodle soups.
11220 Triangle Lane; 301-949-3910.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company