DC living

I am woefully behind but I will periodically add worthy eatery/watering-hole reviews here:

Cheap Eats (<$10 entrees)

Bread Corner (Rockville)

Palm-sized tasty pork steamed buns for $1.25, seriously? I don’t know any other place with <$5 for a lunch worthy treat. Plus more than 30 types of baked goods. Haven’t tried the bubble tea yet but this is already a five star in my book.

Pupusaria la familiar (Wheaton)

2$ pupusas, whaaattt? 11 tasty options served with house pickled cabbage. 2 is a meal and 3 will make your stomach hate yourself. Best choice would be their combo pupusa with a tamale. Their Pollo Tamale is the best until I went to Cuba Libre.

Pho Hua Binh (Rockville)

Our #1 pho place in Montgomery County, best broth and fastest service. Noodles can be a little stuck together (probably precooked). After visiting 8 places in the region, they are still our #1. So there, haters on yelp.

El Pollo Rico (Wheaton)

Well seasoned charbroiled Peruvian chicken with very respectable sides. Half a chicken ($9.50) can last me 2 meals, at least one and a half. Always order to go because I’ve never finished my orders here and had to take the rest. I’d get 1/4 chicken with 2 sides when I go back.

Good values

Thai Taste by Kob (Wheaton)

Located behind a Thai supermarket. My only complaint so far is the thickness of the menu. I mean, when would I be able to sample all 100+ dishes? Mango rice with roasted shredded coconut is a big plus item.

A&J Chinese (Rockville)

A surprising authentic northern Chinese eatery. Weekend all-day dim sum is one of our favorites. Beef noodle soup reminds me of PRC, Pork + pickled veggie noodle soup however, not so much.

Gourmet Inspirations (Wheaton)

Their weekend dim sum session (11-2) quells my cravings, but expect some crowds. Only had one regular dish, chicken chow mein, stir-fried chicken on crispy fried noodles, pretty damn good. The rest of the menu may take me a few years to finish sampling.

Rice Bar (SW DC, multi-locale)

Chipotle-style bibimbap and noodles. at ~$10-12, it is a decent option for some urgent Korean craving. Bibimbap is not as good as the noodles since you don’t have the dolsot option.

Specialty

Xi’an Gourmet (Rockville)

This is newly opened offshoot (mid 2018) of Panda Gourmet from NE. Legit NW Chinese cuisine. Cold pulled noodles are a must and the house specialty. The dry mala pots are great. We plan to explore the entire 10-page menu since we have yet to be disappointed by a single dish here.

Anxo (Shaw)

Cidery with Basque pintxos plates. 33 ciders on tap, ranging from dry and crisp to funky and sour. Pintxos menu is full of goodies. We loved the fried artichoke and the anchovy montadito was better than one would imagine. The unpasteurized cheese and the roasted cauliflower were wonderful. The fried pig ears were a little lacking on the flavor but a good munchie with the ciders. All in all, it was a great place to quench your thirst for ciders and Basque pintxos.

Sushi Hachi (Capital Heights)

$55 Omakase is one of the most affordable ones here, and it is delicious! Grilled Octopus Chu Toro is one of my favorites, the Wagyu beef on hot stone is also amazing. I want to go visit right now as I am writing this.

Whaley’s (Navy Yard)

Our favorite neighborhood seafood place. Rotating choice of raw oysters, ranging from sweet to briny; scallop crudo is a nice take on shrimp and grits with a twist; seafood risotto is worth the price; the seasonal cocktails are a must try.

The bird (Shaw)

Activist bar with half priced drinks when the dumpster fire WH loses a high-level staffer, not to mention the amazing duck meatballs. The cocktails and sangria are worthy too.

Cuba Libre (NW DC, metro center)

– We are currently boycotting this place due to a discriminatory incident against a transgender patron.

Local rum bar. oh my goodness they have some mind altering rums. Pollo tamale knocked my socks off and the roasted shishito peppers are a must.

La Casa de Mofongo

Best Mofongo we’ve had outside PR. Beans were well seasoned with sofrito. Will go back soon.

Daikaya with Izakaya on the second floor 

One of our favorite ramen joints, even the vegetarian soup was quite savory. However, the wait is usually long (2-3 hours is not uncommon). Hence the Izakaya comes in handy. You can put your name down and head upstairs for some drinks and appetizer options. Pork belly and Brussel sprouts with bonito flakes is my favorite. Haven’t had a bad dish there.

Bantam King

Just around the corner from Daikaya, supposedly started by the same owner, so it is not a surprise the ramen dishes are pretty spot on, with a slight twist from traditional ramen. Their karaoke nights are epic!

Ren’s Ramen (Wheaton)

A full Japanese crew from the kitchen to wait-staff. Both Tonkotsu and miso broths are rich and tasty, albeit a bit saltier than my liking. noodles are solid (Sapporo import). some reviewers consider the waitstaff rude, we never had any issue. The way I look at it: if a functional restaurant can afford to be “rude”, that’s a plus on their food quality.

Little Serow (NW DC, Dupont)

The most inspiring Thai in town, especially after Thai Xing slid a little on my scale. The combination of flavors and ingredients are beyond my imagination. The spicy level is for high tolerance though, I almost had to cut myself off before the end of a 5-course meal.

Little Sheep Mongolian Hotpot (Eden Center)

Yes, this is the real deal for hot pot outside China.

Hotpot legend (Rockville)

This newly opened hotpot joint (mid 2018) is the definition of a good idea. All you can eat meats, seafood and veggies for $25 a person. And yes, the broth is great and we don’t have to drive to VA for our hotpot cravings. Don’t order the spicy soup base if you are not confident with your tolerance. we had to downgrade to the mild level in order to complete a meal.

Thip Khao (NE DC, Columbia Heights)

Savory Laotian with surprising good drink options, a rarity for Asian places. The Jowl dish is off the menu but ask the wait staff, they may still have this amazing dish in the back.

Rasika

I am usually not an Indian cuisine enthusiast. However, I need to tip my hat to this famed place as they are consistently ranked top Indian place in town. Wait is usually long but try your luck with bar area seating or lunch (same menu). Their Palak Chaat truly lives up to its fame.

Fancy pants

Kith/Kin (SE Wharf)

The Mushroom Forest is arguably the most well-put-together dish I’ve had this year. The idea of roasted oyster mushrooms sitting on a bed of well-seasoned eggplant chutney took my mind to a different level. The complimentary earthy flavors are a perfect match. Must have. The Brussel sprouts and wings are good too but slightly too sweet to my palate. Oh, the cocktails are inspirational, forget the beer menu, it is a corporate hotel beer bar with 5 shitty macros and 1 local option. Wine list is clearly high-end and beyond my knowledge base.

Del Mar (SW Wharf)

Iberian ham with aged anchovy is one of the menu items, should I say more?

Volt (Frederick, MD)

Yes, it is not in DC geographically, but within an hour of drive, sort of. I just can’t leave it off the list. Be prepared to drop at least a few hundred per person, however, it is an experience like no other. The creativity, taste, presentation, and attention to detail defines high dining in my book.

 

Rockville newbies

Pike Kitchen

If you can avoid the crowd, the choices of dolsot bibimbap, pho, ramen, sushi, fried chicken, desserts, bubble tea from 8 different vendors make sure there is something you might like. We prefer the pho and dolsot bibimbap, yet to try to the fried chicken.

the Spot

we like this place more than the Pike kitchen, not just because it is within walking distance and not as crowded, the pulled noodles are authentic with copious toppings; kabob shop with decent beers on tap; poki and desserts; fried chicken and bubble tea options present a solid rival to Pike kitchen. sushi shop was a little disappointing though.

Yu Noodle

Chongqing style noodle bowls with weekend dim sum options. house made noodles, not quite chewy as pulled noodles but cooked al dente. Not sure why it got so many haters on Yelp, we’ve been here about monthly and always had a good time. Also, do try to pepper corn chicken!

Peter Chang’s Rockville

off shoot of his main spot Qi in Bethesda. Try the bubble pancake and meatball, then let’s talk.

Regional gems

Beer is the answer (Richmond, VA)

Fusion food done right by a Vietnamese American chef with his own brewpub. The beer list is rock solid and the dishes are super tasty. I wish they could set up a branch in DC so I would visit every week.

Of Love and Regret (Baltimore, MD)

A unique brewpub that all beers are made with Belgian yeast with delicious foods to pair with.  A must for beer enthusiasts and foodies.

 

My rejects but Heather made me list them here or she’d reject me

Bad Saint (NE DC)

Heather loves this so-called Philipino specialty while I considered it a firey Chinese wok joint. If you’d like to part with $100 for some above average stir-fry after waiting in line for an hour, then this is definitely your favorite place!

Update: we visited it a second time along with Ehawk to help break the tie. I have to admit that we had some very tasty dishes and cocktails. I am moving them a star higher and definitely will not discourage anyone from visiting. Be aware there is always a wait, so it is easier to leave your name with the maitre d, explore the neighborhood, then go back for the second seating.

Beclaws (Wheaton)

So generally I shun away from fusion because it is rarely worth the visit. This place sadly further validated my belief. But, if you are like me, who thought cajun Asian fusion sounded good, at least on paper, then please give it a try and let me know.

Danimal Friendly

– Queso Pupusa at Pupusaria
– Mushroom Forest at Kith/Kin
– most nonbird items at the Bird
– tofu noodle soup and bibimbap at Rice Bar
– all the bean curds and veggie options at A&J
– Cuba libre, plenty of options, drink wise and food wise. But forget about the beer list.

Danimal Deadly
– Fish market at the Wharf, sooo muuuch seafooooood
– Lexington market, sooo muuuch all foooood, even more people
– Del Mar, just because
– Little Serow, the combination of spice and fish sauce will sadly be physically explosive.

1 thought on “DC living

  1. Didn’t I reject Beclaws too? You are dead wrong about Bad Saint. However, all of your other reviews and picks are of such high quality that I will only deduct 20 points. Good job!

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