|Pork and tofu with eggplants in the bowl behind|
The tiny Chinese restaurant sits across from Fort Meade, and it has zero ambiance. But it has all the great meals that you could ever want. We ate some fancy celebration meals over the past month, but I had just as much fun exploring a bit at Grace Garden.
Of course, I started with a known dish -- fish noodles, actual ground fish formed into sweet, long noodles. But then we stretched out with an eggplant in plum sauce and a pork with dried tofu. The eggplant was delicious. Vegetable cooked perfectly tender, then a sweet and spicy sauce.
But the pork was a new reason to drive all the way out Rte 32. Crisp pork and thin-cut pressed tofu offer contrasting texture. A light char flavor from the pork. Bright color and taste from green onions. Most of the dish is tofu, which has a meaty texture and a light coating of oil that adds richness without grease.
The sauces make Grace Garden my favorite Chinese restaurant. I can saute vegetables, but I can't make the dishes where a sheen of oil coats everything in flavor without ever tasting oily. Every dish at Grace Garden tastes unique. From XO sauce to seasonal vegetables to braised pork, the single chef turns out variation and surprise. Honestly, the food was as much fun as our big-ticket dinners. It's the only place where we consciously order more than we can eat -- three dishes feed two with lunches for tomorrow.
(Update: Grace Garden is on Rte 175 in Odenton. We drive out Rte 32 and then turn north on Rte 175. If you're farther north, then note the first comment below that it's probably faster to drive direct on Rte 175.)
Grace Garden is a great place to bring friends for a feast. You can't order wrong. But you can find what you like by reading all my Grace Garden posts to make a list of dishes that sound good to you -- and follow the links to Chowhound and Yelp for more-expert advice.