What I love about this restaurant is its dining room; it combines light wood and etched glass and is modern and bright but also soft, rich and with a sense of privacy. What I don't like about this restaurant is its pushiness; you have to be assertive and firm if you don't want them to hike your bill with extra portions and expensive additions. I also don't like the fact that while the food tastes good and is prepared with a certain style, too much of it tastes alike. You can't tell the duck from the lamb -- the meat or the sauce. The meat is uniformly sliced into the thinnest of bits and tenderized so that you barely have to chew it. It is pretty food, and sauces are appropriately mere glazes rather than soupy pools, but they have little distinction in their flavors.
One outstanding dish is Lovers' Dumplings, delicate steamed noodles stuffed with meat. Shrimp toast and crab claws surrounded by the same shrimp paste have had little shrimp flavor and firm, dull texture. Smoked salmon is a surprise on a Chinese menu, and this is like kippered salmon, quite smoky and a nice soft texture; but its sauces are undistinguished. As for main dishes, they taste as if their sauces are designed not to offend. And desserts center on Watergate pastries, or fresh fruits such as strawberries or kiwis, which are served surprisingly inelegantly given the flourishes of the main dish garnishes and the astonishingly elaborate coffee service.
Mr. K's can make you feel as if you are living well and lavishly, but it doesn't fill your culinary memories as it empties your wallet. 2121 K St. NW. 331-8868. L $6.50-$9.95, D $7.95-$22.95. L daily ex Sun, D daily. AE, CB, DC, MC, V. Res sugg. Full bar.