East meets West right at the door of the Beijing of Greenbelt. The casual little restaurant is housed in a piece of American history--one of the curved-front, art deco structures of the Eleanor Roosevelt Center shopping center, a National Historic Landmark and the first mall-type shopping center in the United States.
But at the threshold, you step out of the American 1930s and into an invitingly relaxed Asian atmosphere, with a soft decor of pink and pine green and comfortable bamboo tables and chairs. White cafe curtains on the curved, windowed wall keep the bustle of the western world from view, while goldfish silently drift in a nearby aquarium.
While the ambiance at the Beijing is laid back, the service is fast-paced. On a recent visit we were led to our seats and a waiter in a white shirt and black bow tie brought water and tea to the table immediately.
Beijing's menu includes full bar service of mixed drinks, as well as beer and wine, with great variety to please every taste. There are daily specials available as well as combination platters, which include either egg drop, wonton, or hot and sour soup; an egg roll or crab Rangoon; and an entree.
Hunan chicken, beef and broccoli and shrimp chow mein are just a few of the selections for the combination entrees that cost $4.95 for lunch and $7.25 for dinner. And take note: These combinations contain enough food to feed two people, so be prepared to share one or to ask for a doggy bag.
The daily specials include diced chicken with crispy cashew nuts in plum sauce, crispy fish fillet with onion in spicy tomato sauce and marinated chunks of beef in orange-flavored sauce.
You can also order from the restaurant's regular menu, a comprehensive offering that includes many varieties of Sichuan and Hunan cuisine, including Shanghai shrimp, Beijing chicken, kung po scallops and eggplant in garlic sauce. Other entrees to try: The chicken lo mein and vegetable fried rice were loaded with meat and vegetables and were quite reasonably priced. Dinners range in price from $5.50 to $11.95.
Beijing of Greenbelt, 131 Center Way Rd., Greenbelt, Md. 20770; call 301-345-3996. Lunch: daily, 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Dinner: Sunday-Thursday, 3 p.m.-9:30 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 3 p.m.-11 p.m.
CAPTION: Craig Zhang, manager of Beijing of Greenbelt, serves Sizzling Salmon With Onions and Broccoli, just one among the restaurant's many specialties.