Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Real Chinese Food in Fake Chinatown

Slapping a few Chinese symbols on Five Guys or Subway does not a Chinatown make. Not sure who they're trying to fool but the general consensus is that DC's Chinatown sucks. And it does.

Gone are the days where an Asian girl could feel overly Americanized (read: "White") around 7th and H St. So what's left? Are there any places you can even get Chinese food?! Luckily, I can now say that among the handful of places serving more than just beef and broccoli for the Wizards/Caps fans, I have found somewhere you can actually find something better than the place down your street that delivers.

Enter Eat First Restaurant. How do I know this is real Chinese?
- No website or online menu - check (this usually means the menu constantly changes, or that the owners don't know enough English to post anything, score!)
- Unpretentious exterior - check (their sign is tiny, especially compared to the heinous one belonging to next door's Jackey Cafe)
- Chinese people are eating here - check
- Their specials are posted on the walls - check (these probably change weekly or even daily and contain weird things you've probably never heard of i.e. geoduck)
- Not full of tourists - check

So now that I've made this place sound incredibly unappetizing, let's talk about the food. We ordered the combination platter of roast pork, duck and chicken and an order from the wall of specials, baby bok choy with Chinese sausage.

So I expected the roast platter to be good, especially the duck, but I did not expect there to be so much of it. Usually when you get a combo like that you get tons of chicken but not too much of the good stuff. However the majority of the plate was duck and pork which totally wins with me, especially when it was that good.

The baby bok choy was fresh and full of flavor with the help of the sausage. This is how you get someone to eat veggies, people.

Overall, the service was good, food beyond my expectations and I expect this to be a regular when I'm in the neighborhood. Chinatown definitely needs more places like this.

Eat First Restaurant
609 H St NW
(between N 6th St & N 7th St)
Washington, DC 20001

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Passport to Korea

Holy crap Dorothy, we are NOT in Annandale anymore.

Those were my exact thoughts when walking into Honey Pig BBQ. Once you set foot in the aluminum-walled, 24-hour Korean barbecue restaurant off Columbia Pike, you are instantly transported from Northern VA to Seoul - in a good way.

You know it's authentic because the ENTIRE place is chock full of Asians. It's pretty wild - "conversational" doesn't really touch the noise level since you can barely hear over the combination of K-Pop they're blasting and the sweet sound of raw sizzling meat cooking right before your eyes. No need for chatting here though, here you gotta EAT.

We ordered the sliced pork belly, bulgoki, seafood and tofu soup and a side of kimchi. All were excellent and everything was perfectly seasoned, all with the traditional accompaniments of little bowls of who-knows-what. BTW, that cold mashed potato stuff(?) is bangin'. All-star of the night was a tie - bulgoki and the kimchi. You can't beat freshly grilled beef and the marinade was perfection on the bulgoki. The side of kimchi we got they put on the grill too and the cold stuff cannot even light a candle to this. It tasted a lot more like sauerkraut but with a Korean kick.

Only downside was that you WILL smell like Korean BBQ for a WHILE. I guess that can't be avoided when it's being cooked about 5 inches from your face but that's the price you gotta pay. Also, careful in the parking lot... Asian drivers.

Honey Pig Gooldaegee Korean Grill
7220-C Columbia Pike
Annandale, VA 22003
(703) 256-5229