Marnay’s Mom was staying with us, so we took her to Full Key in Wheaton on a cold, rainy Monday night. The restaurant is in a busy strip mall on University Boulevard with a number of other popular restaurants.
The place looks dated but inviting, and the staff is busy but friendly. We started out with an egg roll, just to tide us over. The roll was nice and crispy but otherwise unremarkable. We came, however, for Full Key’s iconic shrimp dumpling soup. Both Marnay and her Mom ordered it, while I got to try to try some of Marnay’s. (Don’t think I was going to go to Full Key and not at least get a taste of the shrimp dumpling soup.)
The dish seems simple: Egg noodles in chicken broth with bobbing shrimp, pork and mushroom (and probably some other things) filled dumplings. The dumplings would taste incredible on their own, but they get an added burst of flavor and richness from the chicken broth. The egg noodles, which are snipped by scissors tableside, are thin and allow the dumplings to be the star of the show.
I got the Sichuan (the restaurant’s spelling) Shredded Pork. It came at least 10 minutes after Marnay and her Mom got her food, so the pacing wasn’t great. I think you have to go in with the mentality that things are going to come from the kitchen when they come. There was also only one person servicing the entire restaurant, which was quite busy even on a dreary Monday night. When my food did arrive, it was very hot, so it clearly did come right from the kitchen to our table.
The dish consisted of thin pieces of pork sautéed with bell peppers, carrots, onions and possibly other vegetables. I was pleasantly surprised with how many vegetables were included. I feel like many Chinese restaurants skimp out on vegetables. Here, they felt like they were on equal footing with the pork. The pork was spicy but not mouth numbingly spicy. There was a healthy amount of sauce, although it wasn’t excessive. I would get this dish again.
We also got Sichuan green beans for the table. They were spicy, which I was not expecting. But they had a nice crunch to them, as well.
The part of Full Key that I found the most interesting and unique was the case of freshly roasted pork, duck and chicken displayed by the front of the kitchen. Judging by the amount of times the chef visited the case, I could tell that it was a big deal. When we come back to Full Key, we are definitely going to get some!
Full Key: 2227 University Blvd W, Wheaton, MD 20902
Closest Metro: Wheaton