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Thoughts on the New Lao Sze Chuan in Bethesda

After hearing a bunch of mixed reviews on Lao Sze Chuan, I decided to check ’em out for myself.  Located in North Bethesda, this beast of a restaurant is huge and the interior’s pretty damn impressive.  They have a ton of seating on the 1st floor with a stunning bar on the second.

Lao Sze Chuan bar

They’re known for their peking duck, but they also offer dim sum in addition to other traditional Sichuan dishes.  And in case you were wondering, this spot’s not a chain per se, but they do have 15+ locations around the US.  Their first brick and mortar was actually in Chicago, and I’m thrilled they’ve made the decision to expand to the DMV because their food’s fire.

Lao Sze Chuan soup dumplings

We kicked off our meal with their crab xiao long bao (crab soup dumpling) and their har gow (shrimp dumplings).  I thought their soup dumplings were good, but I wasn’t a huge fan of the har gow because the wrapper kept falling off.  In all honestly, I probably wouldn’t order this again, but I really enjoyed the main dishes I got.

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Lao Sze Chuan har gow

So, here was the lineup for the main event:  crispy shrimp with lemon sauce ($23.95), peking duck (full set for $88), and their Chengdu famous mapo tofu with beef ($18.95).

I’m a big, BIG fan of mapo tofu so I was really excited to give theirs a try.  I was actually really impressed with this dish, and it was arguably the best mapo tofu I’ve ever had.  The tofu was nice and firm and the sauce spicy and flavorful.  I know I’ll be getting this to-go many, many times in the future.

Lao Sze Chuan mapo tofu

Their crispy shrimp was really delicious as well!  I saw that Hypefoodies went so I sent them a DM prior to dinner – they said this dish was next level so I knew I had to give it a try.  I was super into!  Each shrimpy was fried to perfection, and the lemon glaze was just the right amount of sweet.  It contrasted beautifully with the other savories I ordered so that was a plus as well.

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crispy shrimp with lemon glaze

Next up, the infamous duck.  Now, let me preface this by saying they do their duck differently than Peking Gourmet Inn (DUH).  Yes, I love PGI as much as the next person, but I also really enjoyed the duck Lao Sze Chuan did as well.  They served bits of the skin first, and I thought it was really interesting that they coated it in brown sugar.  It was crispy and beautiful, and it ended up being a really nice touch.

peking duck skin

Then came a huge platter with perfectly carved duck, housemade plum sauce, scallion, cucumber, chopped daikon and brown sugar pancake.  I like things spicy so I asked for some extra chili oil on the side as well, and I personally loved how everything tasted.  Now, $88 isn’t cheap, but they really give you a ton of duck meat so you’re getting serious bang for your buck!

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peking duck set

So, do I recommend checking out Lao Sze Chuan?  Hell yeah I do.  I thought dinner was fire, and I’m honestly excited to go back for more!  They have a huge menu so I’ll make sure to update y’all with a part 2 after I go.

Alright friends, that’s a wrap for today’s post!  I hope you enjoyed everything – if you’ve been, let me know what you thought by leaving a comment below, and stay tuned for more delish content coming your way.  In the meantime, make sure you peep my MD tab for more eats!

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