China King: A Leesburg Landmark Stands the Test of Time

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By Jack Minchew

Downtown Leesburg is not known for having a vibrant, budget-friendly food scene. If anything, the historic downtown is dominated by tourist eateries and restaurants that cater to a decidedly middle age population. Many of these restaurants have come and gone over the years, but one has stood the test of time, serving up delicious Chinese food for 25 years and counting.

China King has been operated by the Whang family since 1989, when Leesburg was a sleepy little town and Loudoun County was largely rural. The first Chinese restaurant in Loudoun County, China King must have seemed rather new and exotic to the inexperienced palate of George H.W. Bush-era Loudouners. Since that time, China King has become a local favorite and downtown icon.

Located on South King Street, just a few buildings away from the center of the historic downtown, China King features a comfortable atmosphere, complemented by a large fish tank in the back of the intimate dining area. I found the service to be excellent, as I was seated promptly in one of the booths that line both sides of the restaurant.

I started off with the steamed dumplings and some hot tea, the perfect antidote for a freezing 10 degree night. The dumplings were tender and flavorful and the tea, once given sufficient time to steep, was refreshingly warm and strong. I always like to try the signature dishes at restaurants I review, so I ordered the China King’s chicken, along with the beef and broccoli and the moo shu pork. Each dish comes with white rice, which I like to stick with, especially since their fried rice, while tasty, costs a bit more.

The moo shu pork came with Chinese “pancakes,” which are more similar in shape to a tortilla than a pancake, and a special sauce that is drizzled onto the pancakes before filling them with the pork. The moo shu pork itself is filled with tender and seasoned pork strips and crisp vegetable sprouts. China King’s rendition of beef and broccoli, best served on top of rice, remains one of my favorite Chinese dishes, with tender beef and a savory sauce that even the most dedicated broccoli haters will enjoy. The China King’s chicken, served alongside traditional Chinese dry rice noodles, provides an interesting flavor that I certainly enjoyed, but it is certainly not destined to become one of my regular favorites.

China King combines all the aspects that make a restaurant a local favorite: a great location; a friendly, intimate environment; pleasant décor; and above all, excellent food. Next time you are in the downtown area, or are just craving some delicious Chinese cuisine, check out China King. There’s a reason they’re still in business after 25 years.