Monday, December 28, 2009

bourbon coffee

bourbon coffee
2101 L street NW (between 21st street & new hampshire avenue), washington, DC 20037
tel: 202) 525-1886
hours: monday-friday 6am-7pm, saturday-sunday 7am-6pm
what was consumed: coffee!
i love caffeine. i am whole-heartedly on the "caffeinate-up, america!" bandwagon. thus, i love coffee. i'm pretty new to the coffee scene, so i have virtually no palatte for coffee (or for other things, as a matter of fact); it's either just good or bad. oh, and i don't mind instant coffee, especially if the instant coffee is from abroad - nescafe really can be good!
remember when starbucks decided to close down all of those stores in response to the tanking economy? only one store was to close in DC (from what i have been told), and that store was the one that was just a couple of blocks from my office. to my delight, and to the relief of my caffeine addiction, bourbon coffee was to take its place.
initially, i didn't think anything of the new place. coffeeshops are a dime a dozen downtown and grabbing a 'cup of joe' is pretty easy to come by. but from what i've heard, bourbon has pretty good coffee. i concur! but please note the aforementioned disclaimer about my palette (or lack thereof). i also drink regular drip coffee with soy milk (or other non-dairy milk product), so i haven't had any of bourbon's fancier coffee drinks. though, i'll have to say, when i've seen what others have ordered, the coffee drinks come out really pretty with designs and all of that stuff (apparently the sign of great baristas!). and kenyan tells me that their hot chocolate is sweet, but delicious, spice and all. i also like the connection that bourbon coffee has with rwanda - the coffeeshop started in rwanda and is now a part of dc downtown life! neato!
one day, i visited bourbon and saw that they had these spinach scones. intrigued! unfortunately, the scone i had was really dry and lacked flavor (maybe it was just mine that was bad). i was hoping it would be like the green onion scone i had at ritual coffee in SF - so delicious! alas ... friends have had other pastries, though, and have complimented them. i guess i was just out of luck. sigh ...
no matter - scones or not, i imagine i will be back at bourbon coffee. maybe even multiple times a day (haha). see you there!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

han sung oak

han sung oak
6341 columbia pike, falls church, VA 22041
tel: 703) 642-0808
what was consumed: korean bbq! beef and chicken
han sung oak was the first korean restaurant (if my memory serves me correctly) i visited upon moving to the dc/metro area (what does it mean when it's taken me soooo long for me to actually write about it? hmmm). friend k wanted to try it out, so i happily obliged (note: she's also not korean, so mentioned something about wanting some assistance in ordering food as well). after doing a bit of research, because neither she nor i knew about where to go, we decided upon han sung oak.
we walked in and were immediately seated. there were a number of tables with patrons enjoying their food, but by no means was it filled. the restaurant is also quite large, so i imagine it would be easy to accommodate large(er) parties. we quickly ordered, but i was careful not to order too much. after all, there are just the two of us and, per usual with korean cuisine, i knew that a lot of my stomach would be filled with banchan. yum.
we were quickly served with our bbq menu after the table was filled with banchan (all of which were standard fare and really tasty). we cooked our own bbq a bit, but the servers did come around and did a bit of the cooking as well. i enjoyed the food and while i thought i could make something like this on my own at home, i probably wouldn't go through the effort of doing so. not regularly, anyway. all in all, i enjoyed my meal, enjoyed spending time with friend, and looked forward to other k-dining options i knew just had to be available in the dc/metro area, the 3rd most populous area with korean expatriots.
downsides? annandale is far in and of itself, so while this isn't a downside of han sung oak, it's a downside nonetheless. of course, this doesn't prevent me from frequenting annandale businesses (haha). also, if i remember correctly, han sung oak is a bit more expensive than some of the other options i've since partaken in. then again, thinking that you get what you pay for, the feeling of "higher-end" is definitely visible here. at this point, i would consider who i'm dining with (and whether that sense of fancy-shmancy-ness is important altogether). han sung oak is also probably a good place to go to if you're dining with someone who has never had korean food (who is that??!?!?!? silly goose). oh, and this last point is not a downside (haha).
now, as i pass han sung oak during my annandale adventures, i often think fondly of my first k-food experience and wonder if i should visit again. perhaps.

BGR: the burger joint

BGR: the burger joint
106 washington street, alexandria, VA 22314 (there are other locations, but i happened to visit the one in old town alexandria)
tel: 703) 299-9791
hours: monday-saturday 11am-10pm, sunday 12pm-9pm
what was consumed: the wellington (roasted mushrooms, caramelized onions, garlic with a touch of mustard seed and blue cheese, served on a fresh, buttery-toasted brioche bun with mojo sauce) cooked medium (as recommended), the gold standard fries (thick cut, yukon gold potatoes), onion rings (thick cut, beer battered vidalia rings) ... others had the burger (served on a fresh, buttery-toasted brioche bun with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, mojo sauce options as well as cheese or applewood bacon, for an additional fee) and the southwestern (10oz burger infused with southwestern influences, like chipotles, poblanos, onion and chilis, topped with pepper jack and served atop our black bean salsa, served on a fresh, buttery-toasted brioche bun with our mojo sauce)
i love me a good burger. i've mentioned it before, and i'm sure i'll be mentioning it again. burgers are delicious.
m, j, and i head out to old town for a holiday party (of sorts), but wanted to grab a bite to eat before indulging in adult beverages. we didn't really have anything in mind and didn't plan anything out, so we relied on serendipity to take us to a good place. lo and behold, we run into BGR (i'd heard about BGR sort of in passing ... perhaps it was in some article in some periodical or something. ). i'm glad we did!
i decided upon the wellington (BGR, like many other hamburger places, gives you the option of creating your own burger (to order) or selecting one of their creations. i opted for the latter). i missed my standard overflow of lettuce and tomatoes that i more typically include on my burgers (the burger photo with the lettuce and tomatoes was m's), but the almost equal amount of roasted mushrooms, caramelized onions, and garlic atop my cooked-medium burger, made it totally worth it. i would say that the blue cheese was a bit overwhelming (i scraped some of it off, and then the flavor combination was much better) and the wet-ness of the mushroom concoction on top of the patty made the burger almost impossible to hold and consume in any lady-like fashion. but even with some of those downsides, i will say that my burger was delicious! the patty was cooked (and seasoned) well and meshed well with the mushrooms, onions, garlic, and cheese.
be sure to order fries with your burger! yes, it adds a few more bucks to your order, but who enjoys a great burger without some crisp fried potatoes? not me! they have a few fries options, and i can go with any of the above. the onion rings were cut wide, but fried thin (i.e., one later of onion). the batter covering the the onions was tasty, but i would've enjoyed a bit more cooking of the onion (but i don't really like crispy onions, so ...). the three of us shared one order of fries and one order of onion rings - that was definitely enough.
in my opinion, BGR is more along the lines of some of the more gourmet burger joints that are becoming popular these days - ray's hellburger, good stuff eatery, FO, counter burger (which i have yet to visit - can't wait!), etc. and while the cost of a burger is higher than more stereotypical fast food burger options, the freshness, flavor, and all around better taste is totally worth the extra cash. BGR? i whole heartedly recommend them! i want to go back and try some of their other burger combinations ... YUM.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

himilayan heritage

himalayan heritage
2305 18th street NW, washington, DC 20050
tel: 202) 483-9300
hours: monday-thursday 11:30am-3pm, 5:30pm-10:30pm; friday-saturday 11:30am-3pm, 5:30pm-11pm; sunday 11:30am-3pm, 5:30pm-10:30pm
what was consumed: gobi manchurian (cauliflower mixed with a corn flour batter and deep fried and dipped in a spicy hot and sweet soy sauce cooked with capsicum, ginger and green chilli), himalayan kothey (dumplings stuffed with ground chicken and tibetan spices, wrapped in flour dough and then steamed before pan fried, served with hot chutney sauce), chicken vindaloo (boneless chicken pieces cooked with potatoes in hot spicy goan curry sauce), lentil soup, rice, naan
i really should update my food blog on an empty stomach. growl ...
these days, meeting with ines means getting together to chat and have some good food (i may enjoy these meetings more than she does, though i'm also convinced that our continuous meeting has some significance in your young life. i have to stay idealistic!). anyway, i had been meaning to check out 'himilayan heritage' for some time now. i had visited the same location when it was 'san marco' in my quest to find good italian food. sadly, san marco soon closed, but i was excited to see himilayan heritage open. what in the world is himilayan food? curiosity definitely took me over (turns out, himilayan/nepalese food is sort of a cross between chinese and indian cuisine. in fact, himilayan heritage has a number of dishes more typically associated with indian cuisine, but with a nepalese twist/with other spices and flavors). and then, some friends/co-workers visited himilayan heritage and raved about the cuisine, so (once i remembered, of course) ines and i head over to adams morgan to try for ourselves.
ines and i walked in around noon to find the restaurant completely empty. what does this mean? hmm ... and during our meal, just one more table came in. i imagine it's because of the time of day as well as our visit being on a sunday. no matter - as we walked in, we were immediately directed to one of their many tables (we were given some options - yay options!). upon quick glance at their rather large menu, i realized i had no idea what i wanted (per usual). i proceeded to ask our server about what was good, what was popular. her knowledge of the menu and popular dishes among diners was definitely a plus as we proceeded to order some popular dishes as well as the special of the day (an aside about specials: do restaurants have specials because they want to highlight something or because they have a lot of leftovers/extras of a particular dish that they want to get rid of/sell? i really hope it's the former, but i've seen the latter actually be true. sigh. oh well~).
we started with the gobi manchurian, a sort of sweet-and-sour-esque dish made with a cauliflower-like (i could've sworn it was cauliflower, but it's gobi ... ?) vegetable. the veggies were dipped in a sort of batter before being fried, and then doused with the sauce. a nice alternative to meat-y sweet-and-sour dishes with just the right amount of sweet with sour. i wish there were more gobis and a little less other veggies (i know - i am not one to decline veggies!). additionally, after a few bites, i proceeded to take the gobis out of the batter (per usual).
soon after, our entrees were served. we ordered the chicken dumplings, steamed the pan-fried. the dumplings definitely had a lot of filling and the ginger (i think ginger) flavor was really strong, but delicious, coupled with the chicken. i think the ginger, not only being a great flavor-er in and of itself, it also is supposed to help diminish the sometimes stinky poultry smell/flavor that overwhelms poultry dishes. the dumplings came with two sauces for dipping, both of which i tried, but didn't particularly enjoy. that is, i was not accustomed to their flavors, thus making me less likely to dip into them with great zeal. i had a number of tastes, but the flavor continued not to appeal to me. the dumplings on their own were flavorful, so i quickly forewent (what's the past tense of "to forego"?) the dipping sauces and enjoyed the dumplings on their own. on an aside (again), have you noticed that in most cultures, there is some sort of traditional dumpling-like dish? mandoo, chinese dumplings, pierogis, empanadas, even calzones! interesting ... the chicken vindaloo was delicious and just a bit spicy (as in spicy-hot). i wasn't sure if ines would be ok with it, only to remember that she had mentioned enjoying spicy-hot food. i'm not sure if special nepalese spices were used because it tasted much like other vindaloos i've had in the past. we proceeded to dig into our dishes with great force (haha). and, per usual, we had too much for the two of us, so we got our leftovers wrapped and i sent them home with ines (she later told me that her brother greatly enjoyed our leftovers - haha).
if i had any complaints, i'd have to say that once our food was served, our server completely disappeared. it then took what felt like eons to get our check and head on out of the restaurant. maybe she forgot that there were patrons? sad day. no matter - i look forward to trying other options himilayan heritage has to offer. YUM!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

eatonville

eatonville
2121 14th street NW (between v street & w street), washington, DC 20009
tel: 202) 332-9672
hours: monday-sunday 11:30am-2:30pm, 5pm-11pm
what was consumed: gried green tomatoes (topped with a roasted corn salsa, red pepper aioli, goat cheese and arugula), hush puppies, crispy chicken breast (with garlic mashed potatoes, braised collard greens and mushroom gravy), shrimp creole (with long grain rice), bourbon bbq baby back ribs (served with black strap molasses baked beans, fresh cut cajun fries, and cole slaw), fish and grits (catfish with jalapeno-cheddar grits, collard greens and tomato butter), three cheese mac and cheese, sweet potato and andouille sausage hash, corn muffins
happy birthday to me! so, where to go and celebrate? hmm ... we tried a couple of different places, but what to do with a group of people and no reservations (totally thought we wouldn't need reservations. who's in town the day before thanksgiving? us and a whole boat-load of other people, that's who. argh.)? after wracking our brains for all of 5 minutes (there really isn't a dearth of restaurants in DC, you know), and making a few phone calls (yay smart phones! they smart~), we headed out ... to eatonville! i'm glad we did! our quick phone call resulted in a table being saved for us, and ready right as we walked into the restaurant.
i got a big kick out of their menu. of course, their menu items were well described; but, in addition to that, they listed a whole bunch of interesting quotes and the like. my favorite was probably zora neale hurston's quote: "sometimes, i feel discriminated againt, but it does not make me angry. it merely astonishes me. how can any deny themselves the pleasure of my company? it's beyond me." awesome.
anyway, we ordered drinks (a john daly for me to start ... and it came in a mason jar with a handle - love it! a bit too sweet for me as i think they used sweet tea for the tea. no matter - i enjoyed the entire thing) and soon ordered the rest of our meal. we started with some fried green tomatoes and hush puppies - delicious! while i thought the fried green tomatoes were sort of over priced (you only get 2 - boo! i want more!), the sauces combined with all of the other fixin's was a joy to consume. delicious. and the hush puppy? holy moly. a fist-sized hush puppy that was filled with this delicious shrimp-y gravy that oozes and flavors the entire hush puppy even more than the norm. omg, i still think about it sometimes and it makes me hungry. haha ...
per my usual ways, i 'encouraged' everyone to get different things so that everything can be tasted - yum. i ended up getting the fried chicken (my first choice - yay!) and it was delicious! fried breast meat is often a bit dry, but at eatonville, it was quite delicious. and the side of smashed potatoes and collard greens? a lovely and tasty addition to this cajun? southern? meal. catfish, shrimp creole (sort of like a jumbalaya or stew ... didn't know it was called a creole), steak, ribs, salads ... there wasn't anything i tasted that was too bland, too salty, not good. and at the end of the meal, when we scraped the last bits off of each of our plates, we knew a good choice had been made on deciding not only where, but what to eat - success! hooray!
we got a bunch of sides as well. so delicious! there were so many different options and tasty treats, all delicious. the macaroni and cheese was nicely baked, the collard greens were just as good as the ones on my plate, four corn bread muffins (just a bit sweet and so lovely with a tad of salted butter - cornbread is my favorite! i love it so much), and so on and so forth. but probably my favorite was the sweet potato and andouille sausage hash. now, sweet potatoes are great in all forms. in a hash? of course, delicious. and coupled with delicious sausage that has a bit of hot spice? what's better? once again, i salivate while i write ...
i can't wait to go back! i would go back just for the hush puppies and sweet potato & andouille sausage hash. of course, for everything else as well. delicious!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

art & soul

art & soul
415 new jersey ave NW, washington, DC 20050
tel: 202) 393-7777
hours: monday-thursday 6:30am-10:30pm, friday-saturday 7:30am-11pm, sunday 7:30am-10pm
what was consumed: sunday brunch - chesapeake benedict (jumbo lump crabcakes, tasso ham hollandaise, skillet potatoes), picnic basket hoecake (pulled pork, baked beans, cole slaw, “corn on the cob”), po' oyster hoecake (fried oysters, chow-chow remoulade, romaine), capitol hill salad (local apples, blue cheese, pecans, apple cider vinaigrette)
hotel bars, hotel restaurants ... it isn't until very recently that i've recognized the availability of great eats affiliated with hotels. that isn't to say that i haven't eaten at hotel restaurants in the past and i haven't had great food - i just didn't really think about it much. but visiting places like 'art and soul' is quickly changing my mind.
i first heard about 'art and soul' from my summer roommate (thanks, teresa!). she met up with a friend of hers here and told me about her great experience soon after. so, when ines and i were thinking about a nice place to check out for brunch, art and soul came to mind. what's more, we were delighted to find that art and soul has quite a bit of outdoor seating - perfect for that gorgeous sunday (gawd, i'm turning into a washingtonian as i look forward to (and maybe excitedly freak out about) the nice days where outdoor seating is desirable. that hardly used to be the case in the past. oh well~).
we were seated outside (by a sort of rude hostess who was condescending and not at all friendly - not good characteristics for people in the service industry) and we quickly began to scan the menu with what we wanted to eat. what to have, what to have! i had heard about their hoecakes, but was pleasantly surprised with all of the other options presented to me for brunch. ines chose a hoecake for herself and i proceeded to order 3 dishes (a hoecake for me, crabcakes, and salad, the last two for sharing, of course). i just couldn't decide!
once we put in our order, the food began to come out, in a pretty quick manner. first was a delightful cinnamon roll, of sorts. it was baked in a sort of cast iron and placed onto a plate (for consumption and presentation, i guess?) at our table. the soft and warm bread/bun, the flavorful but not overwhelming tastes of cinnamon, and just a bit of sweetness (from some fruit ... maybe apples?) instead of the more popularly appearing slather of frosting/sugar was a great way to begin the meal (and totally unexpected! that is, i didn't know that it was going to enjoy it. additionally, as one who is less of a fan of sweet things and bread, i would totally go back for this, among other things of course). along with the roll, we enjoyed some salad (so fresh! sweet and savory at the same time. the blue cheese was a bit much, but that's also because i prefer other crumbly cheeses on my salads) and crab cakes (the crab cakes were small, but i'm a sucker for them. the cakes with the eggs benedict? one of my favorite brunch menu options. i'm not a fan of hollandaise (i know, i know), so i could've done without it. no matter - delicious). oh, and the skillet potatoes that came with the crab cakes were really yummy - country fried style sauteed with other vegetables, seasoned well. no need for ketchup (though, there is hardly ever a reason for ketchup, imo - haha). yum yum yum yum yum!
the hoecakes, though, were definitely the highlight of the meal. hoecakes are these flat, 2"x4"-ish corn meal cakes that come in different "flavors" that get its name because they, supposedly, were cooked on the blades of hoes in times past - point is, SO delicious. i ordered the hoecake version of an oyster po' boy - delicious and lightly fried oysters, crispy lettuce, and a special dressing (i probably would get the dressing on the side and while that would probably take away from the "integrity" of the dish, i just don't like that much dressing. but that's just me). ines ordered the "picnic basket" hoecake with pulled pork, cole slaw, and beans on top of the hoecake. but when you cut into the hoecake and place all of the flavors in your mouth, it will remind you of a southern-style bbq cook-out. DELICIOUS.
writing about the food is (per usual) making my stomach growl. grrrrr~~~
if there was a downside to the dining experience, i'd have to say that i had a hard time getting the attention of my server (oh, and the hostess, which was mentioned earlier). when he was around, he was great! but then he would disappear. i was thinking it was because there were a lot of people, but that wasn't the case (on top of that, there were quite a few individuals "on staff" bussing tables, running food, etc.). i admit, though, that i was in a bit of a hurry towards the end of the meal, so my thoughts were probably heightened. but still! no matter - this is not going to deter me from making efforts to visit around and soul again and telling people to try it out (hopefully with me! can't wait ^_^). YUM.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

el chalan

el chalan
1924 i street NW washington, DC 20006
tel: 202) 293-2765
hours: monday-friday 11:30am-3pm, 5:30pm-10pm; saturday 1pm-10pm; sunday 1pm-8pm
what was consumed: lomo saltado (stripped beef sauteed with fried potatoes, onion and tomatoes), arroz a la chiclayana (rice with chicken cooked in beer, cilantro and spices)
when i first started at my current position, my coworker took me out to lunch as a sort of welcome as well as an intro to the team, to the work. he told me about this peruvian restaurant that he was fond of, which i was happy to visit. it wasn't until just last month that i got the chance to visit el chalan again (thanks, chris!) and boy, was it a treat!
el chalan, located near the world bank, is often filled with world bank employees (i'm not sure what that means, but coworker was sure to mention that to me. perhaps as a sort of warning? haha). also, if you don't look for it, you might just miss it. they have a small sign that directs you downstairs. and while your first impression may make you wary, don't fret! some really tasty eats are comin' your way!
i'm not really sure what authentic peruvian food really is/is like (seeing that i've never been to peru). but according to el chalan, peruvian food consists of meaty stews on a bed of rice. chicken, beef, goat, you name it! YUM. the flavors that we (or i) often associate with hispanic foods manifest themselves in the flavorful stews at el chalan. delicious.
the last time there, i had the lomo saltado. strips of grilled steak in a delicious savory sauce, accompanied by some veggies. and what else? french fries! or what they called 'fried potatoes' ... all mixed together! and when you mix the sauce coming from the beef and veggies and such with the rice, it makes me wolf down the entire serving of rice. all the way down in to my belly~
i look forward to visiting el chalan again! i have to remind myself that it's there when i think of good eats in and around the office, and at other times too! yum yum yum yum yum yum yum yum yum yum yum yum yum yum yum yum yum yum ^_^
online: i can't find it! that is, there are sites that reference el chalan's website, but the website doesn't work. bah~ there are quite a few articles, though, so ...