This place is an institution in Foggy Bottom so I'm surprised to be the first one reviewing it. We go to the Magic Gourd fairly regularly and the food is consistently good. Portion sizes are generous and the drinks are too. Part of the appeal is the cheers bar like atmosphere where the wait staff are friendly and remember what you like to eat and drink. The pan fried dumplings are a favorite as an appetizer and you can't go wrong with any of the entrees. Wasn't a huge fan of the dan dan noodles - way too much skippy p-nut butter taste but everything else has been very good. Prices reasonable too. Lots of State Dept and WHO workers hang in the bar area but no problem with that - adds to the fun of the place. Other times it can be very quiet.
Hunan Shrimp Boat is great! Nothing in the city can compare to the way it cleans you out! Not even 5 minutes after eating it, I was running for the toilet. If your pipes are backed up, go to Hunan Shrimp Boat!
So far this is as close to NYC as I've found in DC. The dumplings are good (especially steamed Taiwan style) and the noodles are fresh. It's downstairs, no frills and cheap -- just right!