Hours: Monday through Thursdays, 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Sundays, 4 to 10 p.m.
Atmosphere: Good news for the family of Chinese-food lovers, as served in a neighborhood nest.
Price Range: Most entrees in the $4.45-to- $6.45 bracket, with a children's menu of both Chinese and American dishes.
Credit card: American Express, Master Charge, Visa.
Reservations: Not necessary.
Special Facilities: Accessible by wheelchair. Booster chairs available. Free parking in the WJLA lot next door.
The China-lobbying for dinner had been heavy around the house all afternoon, and by departure time on this Saturday there was unanimous consent for a full-scale bamboo shootout.
Not only is Chinese cooking popular with many children, but their wallet-watching elders don't mind a little relief from the high-priced spreads of so many spots with their got-to-be-kidding price tags.
This time we tagged the Shanghai Garden, not to be confused (but confused all the time) with another fine restaurant nearby called the Shanghai Delight. The Garden is the one in the Channel 7 complex, in what years ago was the home of Carmack's Restaurant before it moved to the 'burbs.
Inside the tiny doorway, our greeting was warm and well-staffed. Everyone working there seemed genuinely pleased to see all who arrived, perhaps because it wasn't all that crowded.
We had our pick of booths in the small and simple room and, in the light of a candle-lamp, we spotted a little table-top cardboard as for Tsingtao beer, now available from china.
Permit us a plug, for that is one fine beer. The kids' colas, if you care, were up to standard.
Permit us also an extra appetizer, for there was that much hunger and interest this night. Our 12-year-old son and our 10-year-old daughter were eager for egg rolls, and rightly so. Each twin order, $1.50, was supercrisp, beautifully filled and pleasantly snappy.
The hot and sour soup, 75 cents, was no par-boiler at all, my wife reported, though it wasn't your average bowl of warm water, either. My egg drop soup, 70 cents, was tame and plain, but I was in a mood that matched it.
The bonus added starter was an order of fried wonton, $1.95, which we should have skipped. The word for this was doughy.
No matter, for the best was yet to come. Our daughter, who relishes the construction aspect of moo shi pork, wound up with a mound of it, along with a stack of thin pancakes for packing purposed. After much happy work, she would call for help on this $5.45 order. And she would get it.
Her brother was daring requesting Chicken Velvet, $5.45, which is finely chopped white meat fluffed with egg white, dipped in a sizzling oil and topped with "special sause." The sauce was hot but a hit.
Beef with green scallion, $5.95, my wife's selection, had a sherry sauce neatly complementing some large slices of beef. I fell for the billing on the menu -- "Triple Delight with Sizzling Crackers," $5.45 -- and wasn't a bit sorry. A fine treat it was, with shrimp, diced chicken and beef, all swimming in formation through a sauce that made the side-rice sizzle.
Working one's way through the Garden's variety here would be quite a treat, too, we suspect, from the Mandarin lobster, $8.45, to the mix-and-match dinners, $7.45, and the long list of seafood, beef, pork, poultry and other entrees, most of which run below $7.
There's also a children's menu for the under-12s, featuring chicken chow mein, egg roll and rice; the same thing with shrimp chow mein; chopped steak or fried chicken, each $2.95.
One of the more gratifying aspects of life in the Shanghai Garden was the service. Gone was that dining-out bugaboo known as the Intolerble Dawdle. From egg roll to bill, things moved.
The bill, including all those appetizers as well as the fancy beverages, came to $36.82, a figure that could be undercut easily with prudence, who didn't come with us this time. Even without her, there are now four us of who dig the Shanghai Garden.