Atmosphere: Chinese, inside and out.
Price range: Family dinners for $5.50 a person; Peking-style entrees in the $4 to $5.50 range; Cantonese and Szechuan specialties, $5.25 to $7; a whole crisp duck for $13.
Hours: Weekdays 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Sunday buffet 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Special facilities: Accessible by wheelchair, high chairs and booster seats; parking lot; carry-out menu.
Credit cards: American Express, Visa Master Charge.
There must be a secret formula somewhere to guide the uninitiate in picking the real winners out of 100 entrees on a Chinese menu. That magic formula would also have to include a mysterious potion that would turn two preschoolers into quiet, smiling angels while Mommy and Daddy sipped cocktails and studied said 100 items.
Since we are light years away from leisurley sipping and thoughtful consideration, we picked some winners and some loser during our recent visit to the Dynasty restaurant.
We needed no crystal ball to find the place since it is the only bright yellow building with bright red, Chinese-style trim on the main street of McLean. The red also dominates inside the restaurant, which seats 95 persons comfortbly.
Thus comfortably seated, one confronts the menu, which is mostly Peking cuisine with a separate listing for Cantonese and Szechuan specialities.
We passed up the opportunity to let the management narrow our selection by deciding against the family dinner, which for $5.50 each provides each family member with an egg roll and soup and a choice from two groups with a total of 21 entrees. The items included Moo Shi Pork, Four-Treasure Beef, hot sliced pork Szechuan style, beef with snow peas, and Wor Shu Duck, along with the usual favorities of chow mein, chop suey, egg foo young and sweet and sour pork or chicken.
Since we had been granted a bit of leisure while our sons checked out the large, red hanging lanterns and the giant picture of a Chinese snow maiden, and because several of our favorities were not on the family menu, we decided to tackle the full 100-item menu.
We started with our favorite, barbecued spareribs at $2.95, which were delicious and, of course, not nearly enough. Our 5-year-old, who is handicapped by five missing front teeth courtesy of his favorite tree, does not relish things like spareribs or corn on the cob. He chose egg drop soup at 60 cents, which he liked very much. Stealing an ungraciously relinquished spoonful, I found it tasty, but rather gelatinous.
My husband enjoyed his ample portion of beef with oyster sauce, and I found the shrimp with lobster sauce perfectly acceptable with plenty of shrimp and just the right amount of garlic flavoring. Both were $5.25.
There are no children's portions or menus, so our 5-year-old chose chicken with cashew nuts from the regular menu for $4.95 because he likes cashew nuts. There were plenty of them in the dish so he was very happy, although I found the sauce rather bland.
The vegetables in all the entrees were properly fresh and crunchy, and the portions were generous.
The restaurant also does a carry-out business and has an all-you-can-eat Sunday buffet from 11:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. At the buffet, adults can sample seven different entrees for $3.95; children under 12, for $1.75.
Our tab for the evening was $22.92, including tip.