Monday, October 3, 2011

Eat and Save Some Boobies!

Yes, friends, it's Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Hopefully you are participating in some way to this important cause already, but if not this one can't be any easier.

For the entire month of October, D.C. area restaurants are generously donating a portion of their food and beverage sales to Pink Jams!'s Take a Bite out of Breast Cancer - an outreach and fundraising campaign focusing on educating Washington, DC area residents about the importance of early detection and awareness and supports Pink Jams!, a DC area non-profit promoting breast cancer awareness to young men and women.

There are a bagillion restaurants in on it but I am working specifically with Luna Grill - Shirlington (donating 25% from dinners every Thursday in October) and T.H.A.I. in Shirlington (donating 25% from dinner on Monday, Oct. 17). Check out the PinkJams! website for a full listing of participating restaurants and dates.

You're going to eat anyway, right? I hope to see you at Luna Grill or T.H.A.I. in Shirlington for some delicious food and serious booby-saving.

Luna Grill and Diner - Shirlington
4024 Campbell Avenue
Arlington, VA 22206

T.H.A.I. in Shirlington 
4029 Campbell Avenue
Arlington, VA 22206

Friday, September 9, 2011

Watershed: Worth the Trip to NoMa?

Yay gentrification! Let's turn a part of DC that people are usually scared of into a renovated retail heaven and give it a cute name like NoMa.

Despite my cynicism, I know one good thing can come of this. Chefs like Todd Gray can put a restaurant in a Hilton Garden Inn of all places and the food will probably keep you coming back to the area. Everyone wins.

So, when Restaurant Week came along, I decided to make the trip out to said neighborhood and eat some solid seafood.

Let me start off by saying that this is the nicest damn Hilton Garden Inn I've ever seen. Period. And the restaurant? Gorgeous. Not to mention the massive outdoor patio that serves up happy hour daily.

But let's talk about the food. It was good. I wasn't totally insane about it, but I enjoyed my meal.

Small things: I thought the calamari needed a real sauce for dipping. What it came with was way too watery to be dipping the fried rings. Also, the grilled trout was a little dry for me. I would've liked it a little less cooked and moist. I found myself relying way too much on the cream sauce it was in for flavor.

I hate being negative though, and there were some real bright spots. The gumbo was SO GOOD. Definitely the most underrated part of the meal. Surprisingly, my favorite part of the meal was my dessert, which never happens. It was a flourless chocolate cake with roasted banana ice cream that was so rich I didn't want to eat too much but so delicious that I had to keep going in for more.

Sigh. I'm a little torn here. Maybe if I was ordering a la carte it'd be a better deal or just gone with my gut and ordered the shrimp and grits.

Will I come back? Probably, and next time definitely snagging a seat on the patio.

Fried calamari

Seafood gumbo

Shrimp and grits

Grilled local brook trout
I think this was the lemon meringue coconut tart
1225 First Street NE
Washington, DC 20002

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Power Lunch at 2941

Some of you may know that I recently landed a new gig in Falls Church. Job=awesome. Lunchtime food choices=not so great.

Maybe I've been spoiled by working for many years in the "City of Restaurants" a.k.a. Bethesda and a short stint in Dupont Circle where sky was the limit for lunch choices, and all within walking distance. Now, my lazy ass has to get in a car and drive somewhere if I want to skip the cafeteria food around here? Pretty lame.

Just when I started feeling bratty and sad for myself, I was invited to a working lunch at nearby 2941. Not only is it one of the only sit-down restos in the area, but I had also heard that it was the bizzomb. Outlook invite accepted.

Once I finally found the place (it's in the General Dynamics building), I knew from the modern architecture and valet-only parking, that the food was probably going to be surrious business. Even better, it was Restaurant Week and a 3-course lunch was only $20.11, only a tiny bit more than the price of one entree.

Everything we had was delicious, the service impeccable and plus, there's a koi pond outside. Everyone knows koi ponds are baller.

Gah, I really hope I have more working lunches in my future here.

Country-style pate

Heirloom tomato salad

Chilled coconut melon soup

Duck duo: roasted duck breast with a smoked duck dumpling. HELL YES

Hazelnut cream puff with glazed apricot
2941 Fairview Park Drive
Falls Church, VA 22042
(703) 270-1500

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Undercover Asian Finds in MoCo

There's something so alluring about the more undercover places I find in my native land of MoCo. Maybe it's because most of the hundreds of eateries on Rockville Pike don't have websites where I can stalk their menu, or the fact that they employ people who can barely speak English - the fact is, you're almost always taking a pretty big risk and aren't sure what to expect.

The first recent find came from a pretty strong recommendation so I figured it'd be pretty good. The word was that Mama's Dumplings was the truth when it came to dumplings and they were handmade and the best in the DMV.

Surprise #1 - Uh, this place is called China Bistro. "Mama's Dumplings" are a menu item in their dumpling house section.
Surprise #2 - This place seats like... 10 people. I was with about 10 people. Oops.
Surprise #3 - Their A/C was broken? I mean, I'm kind of being a brat about that, but it was hot!

All in all, the food was bangtastic and the dumplings made my heart smile. Good recommendation fo shizz.

Mama's special dumpling - with pork, shrimp, chives and napa cabbage

Numero dos was a place I'd been eyeing since it was so close to my parents house and pretty new. Ooh, Noodles has a pretty silly name but mangggg, that food was dope. (Yea, I said 'dope!')

Surprise #1 - This place serves FILIPINO food. Reminder: look at the pic to your right - yea that brown girl is a Filipina, y'all.
Surprise #2 - My cousin works here! Wait, just kidding, I think. You never know with those Flips.
Surprise #3 - Noodles?! Give me some rice with that tocino homie!

Holy comfort food find. They have the best home-cooked options you can think of: home-cured tocino, tapsilog, lumpia, halo halo and siopao.

Tapsilog with fried eggs, rice and pickled veggies

Tocino, NOM

Pork siopao, so much better than the frozen stuff

Halo-halo, a mix of the weirdest stuff ever but I swear it's good!
Prices were more than reasonable and its tough enough to find Filpino food anywhere. See ya next time, cousin!

China Bistro
755 Hungerford Dr
Rockville, MD 20847
(301) 294-0808

Ooh, Noodles!
8375 Snouffer School Road
Gaithersburg MD 20879
(301) 977-6929

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Fancy Schmancy Vietnamese

I love a good $3.00 banh mi sandwich as much as your typical DMV-native living close enough to Eden Center, but sometimes, I want a table napkin with my sour and sweet Vietnamese food. I was in the MoCo area with my fam, so we decided to head to Taste of Saigon.

I've been driving past their old location for way too long to not notice how long this Vietnamese mainstay has ruled over the Rockville Pike Asian scene, and now I know exactly why it's passed the test of time.

Fried tamarind calamari, mussel with black bean and ginger and some French bread - a nod to their "French" twist

Caramel fish

Lemongrass grilled beef

Braised lamb shank

Ma Tu's signature dish - A sweet, mild black-pepper sauce sautéed with lightly fried scallops
We ordered a bit of everything, and it was all on point. Highlights included the tamarind-y calamari, braised lamb shank and scallops with Ma Tu's sauce.

So good, I might even dress up next time.

Taste of Saigon
Rockville Town Square
20 A Maryland Ave. Rockville MD 20850
(301) 424-7222

Monday, August 29, 2011

It Ain't Easy Being Green

Why did it take me so long to finally try Founding Farmers? I mean, they are all about "being green," from farm-to-table food to the sustainable sources they use for their dining tables. So, why would I only have eaten here just recently?!

Oh, that's right, I don't actually care that much about being green and sustainable when I'm STARVING. Most of you learned the hard way, that this occassion happens quite regularly and has been known to involve temper tantrums and maybe some tears (it was in college, nothing that happened in college counts, right?).

So, needless to say, it took a waffle-loving friend's request for a good birthday dinner venue to initiate my first visit. (I'd heard raves about their fried chicken and waffles.)
Deceivingly simple looking pot roast. Comfort food at its finest.

Definitely worth the wait. Fried chicken and waffles, with macaroni and cheese and roasted cauliflower.

Apple crisp yumminess. Warm pastry + ice cream always wins.

I was eyeing this all night. Like most things I make eyes at when I'm out, I took this home with me too. JUST KIDDING, DAD!
So not only did I feel like I was being totally loving of Mother Nature or whatever, but the food was on point. The chicken and waffles? Amazing. The bite-off-each-friend's-plate? Still good.

Everything that came out seemed well thought out, with no detail spared. Not to mention the service was excellent and the restaurant proved to be a great venue for a big group dinner.

I'm not going to go around hugging trees from now on, but please believe -  I'll definitely be coming back for more.

Founding Farmers
1924 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, D.C. 20006

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Ethiopian Food 411: Flies Optional

Last summer, my sister and I had the pleasure of going on a DC Metro Food Tour of Little Ethiopia (U St. through Shaw).

Considering when I think of anything Ethiopian, I think of parking garages, flies and raw meat; I wasn't really sure what to expect. Spicy? Salty? Heartburn?

Luckily, both my sister and I are too hungry at any point in time to be closed-minded. We went, ate with our hands and loved it every second - raw meat and all.

It's been about a year since our first fly-free Ethiopian feast, so we were craving the next dose. We were also hoping to not have to trek it out in this insane heatwave to U St. for some kitfo too. Luckily, Meaza was closeby.

Not only was the food amazing, the portions were huge and the place was really nice. Like - not just devoid of flies - but a place you would go for dinner and not look like a shlub. Oh, and it was packed. On a Monday!

Kitfo, tibs, tomato salad and homemade cheese

Here's some easy choices if you're trying it out for the first time:
Sambusa - A deep fried pockety thing filled with lentils, onions and green peppers. A lot like the Indian samosa.
Kitfo - OK, this is not for the faint-hearted but it is deeee-licious. Raw ground beef flavored with traditional spices. Not really "heat" spicy and usually served with a mild cheese.
Tibs - This is what I normally order in lamb form. Basically just diced meat sauteed with onions, green peppers and garlic.
Doro wot - A red-colored stew with chicken, hard-boiled egg flavored with red pepper, onions and garlic.

Don't be scared little ones, you'll probably like it. And plus, eating with your hands is messy fun.

5700 Columbia Pike
Falls Church, VA 22941

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

He Likes It Better Raw: A Girl's First Duck Bacon at Toki Underground

The first time I went to Toki Underground for dinner, it was so good I ended up going back for drunken seconds a few hours later. That's - pretty serious.

I had a few friends that were dying to try it, so what better time to take them than when the Cooking Channel would be there filming for Unique Eats? Granted, we had to wait a buttload of time for our seats (not a surprise considering how intimate the space is in the tiny second floor resto above H St. bar, The Pug) but it we all agreed it was more than worth it.

Our prime seats overlooked the busy kitchen where massive vats of ramen broth, dumplings, kimchi and other badass Taiwanese-inspired yummies tempted our patiently waiting bellies. I familiarized my crew with the menu and then waited to hear the specials. That's when it happened.

DUCK BACON. @%#%&*^! That's right, one of the specials was a duck bacon add-on to the already amazeballs ramen. I died. 

That, with the kimchi ramen, blew my mind. I slurped, sipped and sweated (it was hot by that kitchen!) my way to happiness.
Order this. Trust me.

Kimchi ramen with duck bacon

Close-up, NOM

Dessert bento box with pork fat caramel, coconut ice cream, candied jelly and dark chocolate wasabi truffle

After asking Chef Erik Bruner-Yang - fresh off his close-up - when it would return and fill my life with happiness once again, I was informed it would probably be around mid-August since it needs to be cured for about two weeks. He also caught me off-guard when he said it was better... raw.

Chef, I'm usually not that kind of girl, but I trust you.

He hands me a piece of said glorious duck bacon uncooked, just cured, and dammit, he was right. It was like duck prosciutto heaven. Salty, buttery, fatty and overall divine. I died all over again.

Even if you're too prude for raw duck bacon, you should still go. Now.

Toki Underground
1234 H St NE, 2nd Fl
Washington, DC 20002
(202) 388-3086

Saturday, July 16, 2011

White Girl Problems: A Week in OBX

Some people might refer to me as a "twinkie."

That racist slur would, in fact, assert that I am "yellow" on the outside because Asian people are obviously yellow-skinneded, and then that I am white, or Caucasian, on the inside. As much as I would like to sometimes dispute this allegation, the fact of the matter is that yes, I, and my family no less, have somewhat assimilated to the Caucasian race. (Granted, these slur-slinging individuals have probably never seen me on a dance floor, when provoked or the neighborhood I grew up in.)

Nonetheless, a perfect example of this assimilated behavior could be my family's latest vacation to the Outer Banks, NC.  It was our first time to this beach destination and maybe we were unaware that the amount of ethnic people within a span of say, 100 miles, could be counted on one hand. We were, of course, OK with this and found solace in the jealously that would inevitably arise regarding our ability to tan more quickly.

Though we may sometimes act like "white people," our eating habits are 100% inherently Filipino and we would do no less than some serious, serious damage to the OBX food scene. Luckily, the food was really, freakin, good. Here were our favorites:
  • Awful Arthur's Oyster Bar: It's all about the oysters and steamer combos here. We had a long wait for our table but there's a pretty fun bar upstairs where you can get apps with an oceanfront view.
  • Mulligan's: Also a great spot for super fresh seafood, but the actual location is great too. Huge portions, so come hungry.
  • Mama Kwan's: I've been craving good fish tacos since I was in San Diego a few months ago and the ones here still can't touch Pacific Beach's, but definitely satisfied my craving.
  • Rundown Cafe: Awesome little place serving Caribbean style food. Definitely go for the rundown soup - a coconut milk based seafood soup with a kick.
  • Outer Banks Brewing Station: It's completely wind-powered, how green! I wish I cared more but all I really need to remember is how good the beer went with their calamari and how consistently good everything else was on the menu inspired by their Asian chef. (I bet he's been called a twinkie too, just saying.)
  • Firefly Southern Cuisine: I'll be thinking about this plantation-style resto for weeks. Best Southern food fix ever, hands down.
  • Goombay's: The best kind of surprise. Small and unassuming but with totally kickass decor. The food was fun, fresh and totally inventive. Make sure to peep the daily specials - they're totally drool-worthy.
Seared tuna appetizer from Goombay's

Steamer combo from Mulligans - clams, oysters, shrimp and crab legs

Broiled seafood platter from Mulligan's - shrimp, scallops, crabcake, fresh catch of the day

Steamer combo from Awful Arthur's

Shrimp and grits from Firefly

Deep fried Moon pie from Firefly

Thai money bags and seared tuna from Mama Kwan's
Overall, the seafood was pretty amazing everywhere (the effing clams will haunt me they were so good) and we'll probably go back next summer. Does this mean I have to slap a OBX sticker on my car now?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Bodega: Que Romantico?

There is nothing quite as awkward/amusing/completely entertaining as watching a couple go on their first date.

Look, we've all been there. What do you do? Oh, I'm in marketing. I love traveling! Are you a Scorpio?

Oh - the things you overhear.

Luckily, with good enough food and your own good company you can drown most of the awkwardness out.

Pulpo a la Plancha: Seared Octopus With Potatoes And A
Sprinkle Of Smoked Paprika
Scene of the crime? Bodega Spanish Tapas and Lounge in Georgetown.

So, it's totally romantic and the food definitely toned down the forced conversation next to us. The seared octopus was excellent but the braised short rib-stuffed piquillo pepper was a little salty for our taste even while downing some sangria.

Hopefully the next visit will be more successful than that potential relationship!

Bodega Spanish Tapas and Lounge
3116 M St NW
Washington, DC 20007
(202) 333-4733

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

It's Bethesda Restaurant Week! Go - now!

Holy shizzies, it's Restaurant Week in Bethesda and I had no idea. So thank you, City of Bethesda, the supposed "City of Restaurants" for having such horrible PR that not even this hungrylittlegirl knew it was Restaurant Week.

Luckily, I was coerced (ok, maybe that's a bit of a strong word) into going to Raku when what I really wanted was Cava Grill. But it was all good in the proverbial hood when I realized I could be noshing on three courses of some serious Asian Fusion yummies for only $15.

I started with the shrimp dumpling soup, went on to the braised beef short ribs on homemade fettucine with baby bok choy and fried red onions then finished off with green tea creme brulee. Bye bye work productivity for the afternoon.

Chilean sea bass roll

My lunch date's seafood risotto

Braised beef short ribs
7240 Woodmont Ave.
Bethesda, MD 20814

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Brunch Time, All Part of Growing Up

Recently I have discovered that by some grace of God, I am maturing. And by maturing, I might actually mean that my tolerance is much higher and I am not too hungover on the weekends to eat a fabulous brunch the day after a ridiculous bar night. Yea, no, that is what I mean.

It wouldn't be like me to let this newfound power go to waste so I've been grubbing my little face off every free weekend. Here's the rundown of the latest:

Birch & Barley

DC's own Kyle Bailey, Birch & Barley's head chef, was recently awarded Food & Wine's Best New Chef Mid-Atlantic so I had been dying to get a reservation here. Luckily, their brunch is a pretty good representation of why he was given the honor.

When first entering, the space reminded me a lot of the kind of restaurants you see in bigger cities like Chicago, the kind we need more of in DC. Chill, modest and with the focus all on the food. Speaking of, the food was excellent, well thought-out and the kind that makes you want to start day drinking at 11 a.m.

Freshly Fried Donuts: toffee-bacon, lemon-poppyseed and bittersweet chocolate
Fried chicken and waffles

Homemade corned beef hash with fried duck eggs

Tallula/EatBar have been known to serve a pretty bangin' brunch so when I finally got my life together I vowed to try this out. I was not disappointed. The vibe was cool, and I managed to feel semi-classy for once. Extra points for serving me the only grits I've ever really liked.

Braised pork roulade, anson mills grits, poached farm egg, tomatillo sauce

Eggs benedict
Whitlow's on Wilson

Ok, so I got caught off my game one weekend, so sue me! I was hungover! I wanted mac and cheese, and an unlimited amount of it! Their mac and cheese is pretty damn hangoverlicious, but it didn't make up for the snotty hostess snapping at me (and many others patiently waiting more than an hour) and serious lack of crab legs on the line. A shame since I've heard a lot of hype about this brunch buffet and their bloody mary bar. The moral is, people are paying to feast, so get the food out to them ASAP!

Birch & Barley
1337 14th St. NW
Washington D.C. 20005

2761 Washington Boulevard
Arlington, VA 22201

2854 Wilson Blvd.
Arlington, VA 22201

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Me Want Cheeseburger

It's Lent. I'm Catholic (shut up, it's actually true). So, naturally, when you tell me that once a week I can't eat meat, I am going to invariably crave cheeseburgers like a lunatic.

First stop, Lyon Hall. This newer Arlington brasserie is known more for its modern take on brasserie classics - steak frites, mussels, etc. all of which are good but I had serious plate envy at my last visit when I saw someone's burger order. I don't usually gawk at other people's orders (I feel like it's cheating on my own meal, and that triggers my Catholic guilt and makes me feel dirty), but this was a real problem.

I mean, seriously look at that piece of artwork. Their version was adorned with raclette cheese, pickled onions and really good mayo, mustard and ketchup, perfect for frite dipping. Also important to note that their fries (frites if you wanna be fancy) KILL.

Next stop on the burger train...newly opened Burger 7. Touting fresh and organic ingredients, I needed to check this out so maybe, just maybe, I wouldn't feel like immediately running 10 miles after consumption. Did I need to get a burger, sweet potato fries AND a chocolate milkshake? No, but I don't regret it for a second.

Fast food prices for much better quality ingredients is always a win. Free range beef, fresh-cut fries cooked in olive oil and organic milk for the shakes might make this a regular quick stop for me. I just wish the fries were crispier and it didn't take so long but that's the price you pay for 'made-to-order.'

Lyon Hall
3100 N. Washington Blvd.
Arlington, VA 22201

Burger 7
7505 Leesburg Pike # E
Falls Church, VA 22043

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Forget Fat Tuesday, I'm Going for Fat Weekend

Look, alls I'm saying is that only binging on Fat Tuesday is for rookies. Just the prospect of not being able to eat meat on Fridays during the Lenten season kind of terrifies me. And, what's that? You want me to go without for TWO days this week?! Well, then guess what? I'm going to eat like a fatty the entire weekend before Mardi Gras.

Fat Weekend started at Restaurant 3. You can bet your sweet little ass that anywhere that holds events like "Bacon Fest" or "Week O'Bacon" is going to be quite alright with me. I obviously have a thing for pork, so it's only fitting that I would order the roasted pork loin wrapped in bacon. If my doctor asks, I chose it cause it came with brussel sprouts.

For whatever reason, my roomie and I were craving enchiladas as we lay hungover with random headaches on our couches watching Troy. We didn't want to be suicidal while trying on clothes at the mall, so we opted for lighter Mexican options at La Sandia. They had a pretty solid lunch menu with super affordable options like the lunch trios for less than $10. (Sorry no photo, too hungry to snap the pic)

Sunday night we actually wanted to go to Elevation Burger for a burger and milkshake but it apparently closes at 5 p.m. NOT COOL ELEVATION BURGER, but I digress. It was cold and rainy so we hopped into closeby pie-tanza. I had actually never been here before so I was pumped to check it out. I got the meatalicious antipasto pizza and it almost made me get over my burger craving.

All in all, I'm feeling much more bloated than I should which is just fine by me. I mean, I ate brussel sprouts and that cancels the rest of it out anyway, right?

To see what else is going on around Arlington for Mardi Gras, check out my Arlington Restaurant Examiner page by clicking here.

Restaurant 3
2950 Clarendon Blvd.
Arlington, VA 22201

La Sandia
7852L Tysons Corner Center
McLean, VA 22102

Lee-Harrison Shopping Center
2503 B N. Harrison Street
Arlington, VA 22207