Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Day(s) After...

Thanksgiving does evil, evil, things to any semblance of a diet anyone might have. For the day or days after, you're probably looking for some healthy alternatives to leftover turkey and ham and all the creamy, rich and overindulgent sides that you are forced to consume. In my measly attempt to eat healthy, I found some delicious new spots to get some old favorites.

Pho & Grill Restaurant
In the newly renovated formerly known Off-Price shopping center in Gaithersburg, Md., some new establishments have brought some class back to an area that in the past 10 years or so have been getting, well... ghetto. Pho & Grill is a star among the newbies bringing Vietnamese cuisine to Montgomery County without having to truck it to Rockville or Bethesda.

The space is clean, neat and welcoming. Order at the counter and your noodle soup, grill entrees and other goodies are brought to your table. Best of all, the prices are more than reasonable ($6.50 for a small pho, $7.50 for the significantly bigger large). I went for the pho with medium rare steak, flank, fatty flank, tendon, tripe and meatballs. The tendons and tripe were tender and made a delicious addition to the dish.

Yogi Castle
As I previously mentioned, I'm on a health quest for more calcium in my diet which I have gratuitously placed on frozen yogurt's shoulders. Luckily, I was introduced to Yogi Castle, which despite the name had nothing to do with a yoga instructor.

It's self-serve, but with more flavors than most other yogurt joints. I went for the cookies and cream and topped with cocoa pebbles, captain crunch, chocolate chips, chopped almonds and caramel sauce. Excellent selection and pretty reasonable at $0.39/oz.

Pho Grill & Restaurant
18310 Contour Road
Gaithersburg, MD 20877

Yogi Castle
12209 Darnestown Rd
Gaithersburg, MD 20878
[Image via]

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Guide

Thanksgiving is my kinda holiday. Eating, eating and more eating? Yes, please. Check out my Thanksgiving Guide for eating in Arlington, Va.

Not traveling to family or feel like cooking? Check out this list of restaurants offering Thanksgiving fare on Thursday.
Thanksgiving in Arlington

Statistics show that more than 75% of households order pizza the night before Turkey Day (OK, maybe not, but it's definitely the most popular choice!). Check out these non-chain pie options that deliver.
Non-Chain Pizza Delivery in Arlington

Coming soon... what to eat the day after!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

So a Bunch of Asians Walk Into a Dumpling Bar...

Dumpling Bar. What IS a dumpling bar? It's definitely one of those new food concepts going around but no one really knows what it is. If I had to define it, it would be something similar to a tapas bar, except with dumplings, usually meat on skewers and other Asian-inspired nibblers. In other words, it's a good place to go when you can't really buckle down and decide what you want to eat.

With the arrival of the Washingtonian Dirt Cheap Eats edition, Batik is featured front-and-center. A small, very reasonably priced, Asian Fusion restaurant in the Kentlands neighborhood of Gaithersburg, Md., Batik features streetfood-inspired from the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia. Considering that Filipino food doesn't really exist on the DC food scene (where does it?), I had to check this out.

Like many restaurants in the Kentlands, Batik is small, with a personality of it's own. The space is adorned with small bookshelves boasting children's books with traditional Southeast Asian bedtime stories. The additional decor makes for a very warm, inviting atmosphere much like eating in a friend's dining room.

The menu, as expected, had a wide variety of choices from small eats, skewers, dumplings, curries, noodles and soups. Notable choices include: fried lumpia, manila chicken bbq, tempura noodle soup and definitely the bulgogi. Bulgogi, Korean-style thinly sliced steak, was the best I've had. It wasn't too greasy or too sweet and cooked to perfection.

Perhaps more memorable than the food was the service. We arrived right before closing time and wondered if they would even be able to seat us. Not only were we seated, but we were welcomed warmly, told to take our time and were even greeted by the owner. (Who, by the way, told us about their other restaurant in Union Station that serves adobo - stay posted, because I'll have to visit that soon.)

So if Batik is the definition of what a dumpling bar is, I'm looking forward to more popping up.

200 Main Street
Gaithersburg, MD 20878

Friday, November 13, 2009

Fast Food, Italiano Style

What is fast food? On first instinct, the typical offenders come to mind - the arched, run by royalty, value meal offering grease centers. After many a late-night, post-college party drive thru window experience, those places don't really define good eats anymore. Luckily, with the establishment of beloved places like Chipotle, Panera, etc. we can actually get food quickly without feeling like we took a bath in a tub of lard.
Recently, a similar establishment joined the Ballston collection called Vapiano. Vapiano is a Euro-style eatery that offers Italian goodies quickly and affordably without sacrificing taste or quality of ingredients. You grab a menu, order at the appropriate counter and watch as they freshly prepare your pasta, pizza or salad right in front of you. Swipe your "chip card" (given at entrance) at the kiosk and grab at seat in the cafeteria-style dining room.

You can't really go wrong with whatever you order off the menu, but I highly recommend the granchi di fiume pasta (crayfish, lobster sauce) and crudo pizza (tomato sauce, mozzarella, prosciutto di parma, parmesan). Wine selection is pretty good too and they have a nice lounge area with fireplaces if you're just coming for a drink.

Vapiano (multiple locations in DC area including Arlington, NW, Dulles)

[Image via Vapiano International.]