Sunday, February 12, 2012

Love Office Omiyage Ramen Sets!

My fiance received a lovely present this week, a box of fresh ramen noodles and soup base. From the bottom of my heart and our stomachs, we say  ごちそうさまでした!
 Sauteed bok choy with garlic, boiled egg, noodles, tonkotsu-shoyu broth with sesame seeds.
 Adding in sliced leftover pork sausage.
Real, fresh ramen noodles are just fantastic.

Jackson 20 Dinner

Old Town is quaint, and it's also infuriating. 20-30 minutes driving in circles around the side streets looking for parking. Sigh. We finally found a spot and headed over to Columbia Firehouse to try a new place out. Despite our best intentions, the restaurant had a 90-120 minute wait for a table. I'm just not that patient. Instead, we wandered down the street to the Hotel Monaco's restaurant, Jackson 20, and were seated immediately.
 Southern-style biscuits with sweet honey butter.
The nice part was the offer to bring over more biscuits. They also have mini corn muffins, but the biscuits are the way to go. 
 Sausages with bbq baked beans, sauerkraut and musta)rd.
 1/2 rack of ribs with coleslaw and extra bbq sauce. 
This is not a vegetarian-friendly restaurant. 
Side order of macaroni and cheese ($7).
Fantastic macaroni and cheese. Great crunchy topping, super cheesy sauce. I want some more right now.

District Commons Lunch

Since my former office moved from the Foggy Bottom area to Dupont, I missed a lot of the changes that erupted around the Foggy Bottom metro area. Finally had a chance to check out District Commons restaurant for lunch with an old friend.
 The pretzel bread ($2) is one of their recommended items.
It's good. Great crust with a super soft and warm interior served with a mustard beer butter spread.
 Crabcake sandwich with sweet potato fries and remoulade sauce.
Advertised as a filler-free crabcake, it does deliver. Great brioche buns with roasted tomato. It's a super quality crabcake, although I disliked the waiter asking if I wanted the two crabcakes without the bread, recommended for people watching their figures.
Friday Lunch Special Oyster Loaf Sandwich with fries
Like an oyster po'boy on buttered slices of bread. Nice sized oysters are breaded and fried, not a dainty sandwich.
It's a good addition to the neighborhood but I won't be rushing back. It took over 10 minutes for our waiter to resurface and deliver a bill. At lunchtime, 90 minutes is not acceptable when there are no appetizers.

Pizzeria Paradiso in Old Town

Of the three locations, the Old Town Pizzeria Paradiso on a weekday night is  much less crowded than the Georgetown or Dupont locations. We stopped in for dinner during the week for a quick bite. My fiance was never a big fan of PP, so we've never gone together. I happen to like their beer selection and salads, and learned to prefer the pizzas over 2Amys, more due to proximity and lack of excessive wait for a table. 
 Salad with anchovies, tomatoes and onions.
The dressing is so super light, with a tinge of balsamic, I love it.
Large Bosco Pizza with sausage addition
Wish the sausage was spicy, but I like the spinach and tomatoes on the pie. It's not traditional, no red sauce, and that didn't sit too well with the boy. oh well, can't win them all.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Honey Pig with Groupon Crowds

We spent a long day shopping at the outlet mall, and all we wanted was to indulge in some Korean bbq. I inadvertently vetoed HP Friday night after work because I wanted to change out of my silk work clothes before heading to the grilled meat, slightly smokey and greasy restaurant. Unfortunately, once we got home, the lure of comfortable pjs and relaxing at home was too large a draw to change clothes and head out into the cold again.
We got to Honey Pig in Annandale, after driving out of the slushy snow in Leesburg, and ran into a rude awakening. The online Groupon/Living Social deal had driven large groups of non-Asians to venture out into the Virginia suburbs to try out the moderately-priced Korean restaurant. Ugh. Groupons are great for introducing new patrons to different restaurants, but it's similar to Restaurant Week. It overwhelms the restaurant and makes it very difficult for regular patrons to enjoy a meal at a favorite place.
Grilled kimchee, spicy pork belly and boneless galbi on the tabletop grill.
Everything feels better after a big bottle of Cass (Korean beer) and soju are brought to our table. Almost able to forget about the crazy scrum at the entrance that set off warning twinges of my claustrophobia.
Wish they would leave a pair of tongs on the table so we could flip the meat and vegetables ourselves.
Patiently waiting for the flip of the meat and snip of the scissors into nice bite-sized pieces.
I can't wait to head back to Japan and enjoy a proper yakiniki restaurant. Korean bbq is great, but my heart belongs to Japanese yakinikuyas. Nama-biru and self-grilled bite-sized pieces of meat and vegetables, here I come (soon!)

Aditi in Kingstowne

We tried out an Indian restaurant in Kingstowne during the week. My colleague and I went to host a special information session at GMU campus for our nonprofit's upcoming award. My sweet fiance drove out to campus to pick me up after work, saving me from almost 2 hours riding three different Metro lines to get home. I love him :) Aditi is clearly a neighborhood favorite, and busier than the nearby Thai restaurant.
Samosa Chat
Great interplay of textures and super fresh cilantro sauce.
He ordered the dinner thali with a nice selection of tandoori favorites, three vegetable curries, lamb curry, papadum, raita and kheer rice dessert.
Chicken Vindaloo
Absolutely atomic spicy. I love spicy food, and this one blew me away. Aditi didn't dumb down the spicing for the non-Indians, which I really appreciate. Super flavors. Vindaloo is one of my test dishes to see how authentically spicy an Indian restaurant is. Next time we go there, I'm going to try out some vegetable dishes like chana masala and palak paneer.

Hank's Oyster Bar in Old Town

I have always like Hank's Oyster Bar, but the prices make it difficult to justify frequent dining there. For the price of two visits to Honey Pig, we enjoyed some delightful oysters and other small plates. Old Town has a different demographic, with more older couples and some families compared to the super hip 17th Street DC location. 
Hard to go to a place with "oyster bar" in the name without partaking of some of the daily selection of oysters.
Lovely bits of fish and shellfish in a savory broth. Perfect broth for dipping their bread into. Only service downside was having to ask for a basket of bread.
Sole in butter sauce with garlic slices.
My fiance loved this dish, but the stark difference between Hanks and most other restaurants is all sides including vegetables are ala carte. When the fish is priced over $20, throw in a vegetable please.

The Oval Room

This year we celebrated my friend's January birthday with a lunch at the Oval Room. The DC restaurant critics really like the chef and the restaurant, and we had never tired it before. While I question the motives of many Yelp reviewers, they were right that the portion size is ridiculously small.
Crab Spring Roll appetizer
Just one spring roll with some lettuce garnish. We split it, which is great if you're watching portion size.
Spaghetti with uni carbonara
Truly magnificent flavor, but the portion size was laughable.This has to be smaller than dietican-recommended 1/2 cup of pasta portion size.
Bolognese ragu with pasta.
Given the location, we should have gone next door to Equinox.

Hong Kong Palace

Testing out Chinese restaurants in Falls Church, we finally tried Hong Kong Palace and their Sichuan menu. Located next to the Laotian-Thai restaurant in Seven Corners, this is a deceptively small restaurant with a lot of dishes full of heat and flavor. We were lucky to arrive for a late lunch and grab a table without waiting.
Dan Dan Mein Appetizer
This is a great dish to share. Very similar to the rendition served at Mala Tang, a sister restaurant in Arlington, I loved the spiciness, but wish the noodles were a thinner variety.
Definitely better after fully mixing the noodles and sauce together.
Zhong Dumplings
Pork dumplings steamed and tossed with a spicy sauce, definitely recommend.
Cumin lamb
With strong Indian influence, this was a spicy main entree we shared.
Asian eggplants in a spicy sauce.
Good, but we should have chosen one of the lighter green vegetable dishes to complement the other dishes.
Whole fish in spicy broth.
This is very similar to the dishes you can find at Uncle Liu's Hotpot and Mala Tang. Super mala numbing spiciness.
If  you have never visited Hong Kong Palace, you should. Great menu with a wide variety of Chinese dishes. If the restaurant was a little larger, this would be the place we'd celebrate our annual Chinese Bowling lunch in Falls Church. The large round tables fit around 6-8 guests.


One cold Friday night, my fiance had a work dinner. Left to my own devices, I traipsed over to the Foggy Bottom Whole Foods to pick up some fresh seafood and a nice bottle of white wine. Since the weather forecast warned of potential snow, I stocked up on enough staples so we could hibernate in our apartment through the weekend.
Very easy to make a garlic shrimp and squid pasta with fresh tomatoes and basil. I made enough to quickly reheat the next day for a quick lunch.
Late at night, it started to snow. 
Since it's a La Nina year, it hasn't been nearly as snow storm-filled and definitely a much warmer winter. Snow was short-lived, but hibernation time with the fiance was pretty fantastic.

Etete and Thievery Corporation at 9:30 Club

Early January, actually almost all of January, was incredibly busy for me. I didn't really think ahead well, but I'm glad I had already agreed to go to some fun non-work, non-after work-work events with some sweet friends. On a blustery cold Friday night I headed up to Etete to meet two lovely ladies for dinner before a 9:30 Club show. 
Lentil Samosas, super crunchy crust and delicious, savory filling. I totally want another one right now.
We shared the vegetarian sampler.
It was good with some of my favorites but I think Dukem has a better vegetarian platter.
I've never seen Thievery Corporation perform live. When a friend said she was getting tickets to the show and asked if anyone else wanted to go, I said yes, please. Apparently many other DC inhabitants love Thievery, the 3 days of shows were sold out. I love the second floor balcony at 9:30, there's a great bird's eye view, easy to see the stage, and no one crowding up too close and triggering my claustrophobia.

Cho's Garden

After a Super H Mart shopping trip we ended up trying out Cho's Garden. Initially we tried to go to the food court area, but it had been recently remodeled with 1/3 of the seating removed. The food court was particularly busy and some other patrons were not interested in sharing the available table space with strangers. Selfish people stink.

Cho's has a decent assortment of panchan. I love marinated bean sprouts.
Cooked in the kitchen, it comes out on a hot plate already cut up. Taste was ok, but not the same as tabletop cooking. Especially odd since there's a burner in the table.
Yukke Jang
Spicy shredded beef soup with egg, fiddle head ferns and cellophane noodles. Super hearty, this is one of my fiance's favorite Korean stews.
Cho's Garden is not bad, but definitely not worth a destination trip. Prices were reasonable, and the fiance appreciated being able to watch the football game from our table, but the music they played was surreal and misplaced.


Before checking out the Spoiler Art: Everybody Dies! show at Woolly Mammoth, I met up with three  friends for a pre-theater dinner at nearby Oyamel. I haven't been back to Oyamel in ages, but it's still a fun place to try out a variety of small plates. I definitely prefer going here with people who like to share dishes.

Second ceviche with sliced avocado.
Tuna ceviche
Fennel salad with blood orange
Roasted brussel sprouts
Taco with hongos and mushrooms
Seared scallops with mole sauce and pepitas. Awesome.
I am a fried food fiend. You take a lovely potato and deep fry it, and I'm probably going to like it. Add in mole sauce and crema, and I'm in super love.

Los Tios Dinner

We play the "where do you want to go out to dinner" game frequently. Trying to please the other person, we end up in a rut. Breaking out of the normal Old Town-Korean restaurant cycle, we headed to Del Ray to Los Tios.
Shrimp Fajitas
Combination Platter with Chicken taco, tamale, rice and refried beans.

Kaz Sushi and Deep Discussions

It would be like the pot calling the kettle black to say I've never dated inappropriate guys before, ones who didn't treat me as I deserved, or who tried to bring me down to build themselves up. However, after kissing a number of frogs, I finally found my prince and partner for life. Knowing there are better men out there, it makes it difficult to watch a friend date a string of poisonous frogs. Trying my best to hold my very opinionated self in check, we met up for dinner at Kaz Sushi after work.
Tofu Dengaku
Vegetable Tempura, very crunchy.
Hamachi-negi, spicy tuna with jalapeno, spicy scallop, crab nigiri.
Salmon and avocado, avocado cucumber, tuna jalapeno.
Things will not change until she realizes she deserves to be treated better than a  doormat. Abuse is not just physical, and the mental scars can be much harder to recover from. Hope my friend realizes she deserves to be in a relationship with someone who's not domineering or controlling, and that revenge is never the answer.