Open for brunch Sundays 12-2:30 [regular hours Monday to Thursday 11:30 a.m.-midnight, Friday and Saturday 11:30 a.m.-1 a.m.]. Parking in alley behind the restaurant. Accessible by wheelchair. American Express, Master Charge, BankAmericard, Diners Club, Central Charge, Carte Blanche. No reservations necessary.
When you go out to brunch next time, don't immediately head for the omelets and quiches. Consider a monent: What about sliced beef with broccoli and soy sauce chicken instead? The Yenching Palace Restaurant, 3524 Connecticut Ave. NW, has an ever-changing Sunday Brunch buffet that my 6-year-old son pronounced "some of the best food I've ever had." He's no partisan of Chinese cooking, but they won him over.
The restaurant is dark and cool, wonderful after the bright sun and leftover Metro-building mess outside.It's an attractive place, with the usual Chinese lanterns, vases, and statues. A few semicircular booths appeal to kids for some reason.
Dress is certainly casual; my son wore his Cub Scout cap. It wasn't at all crowded, and there was a pleasant Sunday hush in the air. A few contemplative souls read as they ate, despite the dim light.
The buffet looked and smelled good enough to tempt even a youngster who usually distrusts this kind of food. Once my son has accepted a dollop of everything, he decided that it was fun to experiment after all. Sometimes the food is spicy but there's always something a finicky eater will enjoy.
On the day we went, the offerings included sliced beef with broccoli, sweet and sour fish filet, soy sauce chicken, fried won ton and fried rice. You can fill your plate as often as you wish for $3.25, ir $2.25 for children under 10.
Past dishes have included curried beef, fried chicken, beef with bean sprouts, and the like. If you don't like anything on the buffet, you can orderfrom the complete a la carte menu. But who needs to?
We dived in with our chopsticks, and were delighted. The beef was tangy, the broccoli splendidly crunchy. I don't think my 9-year-old daughter has ever called bronccoli "declicious" before, but she did this time. The crisply fried fish came with sweet and sour sauce, but kids could enjoy it plain. The chicken, tender and cup up small, was easy for children to handle. Only the fried rice was dull.
Fried won ton, with a bit of meat inside, are an old favorite of ours. After our children had finished being adventuresome, they came back to the won ton and ate and ate. "I don't know if I can eat 15 won ton," my daughter groaned. But in the true Guinness Book of World Records spirit, she ate 16. Even the plate of fortune cookies brought by the waitress, perhaps as a gentle hint for us to stop gorging, didn't stop her.
The extensive a la carte menu is there if you want it. Favorites of mine are moosh pork, which is shredded pork to be rolled inside pancakes, at $4.75; chicken with almonds, $5.25; shrimp in lobster sauce, $6, and beef with snow peas, muchrooms, and bamboo shoots, $6.
Our bill, for three people came to $8.37 plus tip, including tea. How can you quarrel with that? Yenching Palace prices have climbed in recent years, but having brunch there is an inexpensive treat.
OPen for brunch Sunday 12-2:30 (regular hours Monday to Thursday 11:30 a.m.-midnight, Friday and Saturday 11:30 a.m.-1 a.m.). Parking in alley behing the restaurant. Accessible by wheelchair. American Express, Master Change, BankAmericard, Diners Club, Central Charge, Carte Blanche. No reservations necessary.