Sunday, May 24, 2009

sweet mango cafe

sweet mango cafe
3701 new hampshire avenue NW, washington, DC 20010
tel: 202) 726-2646
hours: sunday 11am-8pm, monday-thursday 11am-10pm, friday-saturday 11am-12am
what was consumed: jerk chicken meal (large!) ... subsequently, fish (i forget what it's called on the menu)
** an edit of addition - 24 may 2009**
i went back to sweet mango cafe for dinner last night and while we couldn't eat upstairs (it looked like it was closed for a private party of sorts), we took our food to go and came home to eat (still super yummy). this time, i had the fish - a whole fish, fried, with onions (some people are squemish about seeing whole fish, but not me! fish is delicious ... sweet mango cafe's fish is delicios!). the meal, of course, came with veggies and rice (and while the rice was delicious, i will have to go with all veggies, no rice, in the future). the fish was nicely fried - a slight batter covering on the fish, not overcooked, and seasoned with just a bit of spice. i wonder what the "large" order looks like - more fish or a bigger fish? haha ... next time, beef patties!
23 march 2009
with people talking about sweet mango cafe having the best jerk chicken in the dc/metro area, with solo (who has had real jamaican jerk chicken in jamaica) in town, with the cafe being just blocks from my house, AND with me smelling the delicious food when i walk to the metro on a regular basis ... i had to check it out.
check it out!
so, a bunch of us got together for some sunday dining. leonard and i were driving up from charlottesville and picked sarah up as we passed through the city to the cafe. christine met us there with solo and matt. we were running late and christine was hurrying us because the cafe's kitchen closes earlier on sundays - yikes! luckily, we made it there in the nick of time.
now, sweet mango cafe has some seating in the main dining area and that's fine. you take a look at the menu, order it at the counter, and wait for your food to come out in nice styrofoam containers. some people complain about it taking a long time for the food to come out. i think that it takes as long as it would if you were at any other sit-down restaurant. it's just that at sweet mango cafe, you're sort of standing around, waiting for the food (as opposed to sitting at your table, having drinks, being served). but it was totally worth the wait.
you open the container and the delicious wafting scent of the jamaican jerk chicken overtakes you and all you can think about is digging in. the chicken was cooked well and smothered with the jerk chicken sauce. i don't have any previous encounters with jerk chicken, so i don't know how it is elsewhere, but the sauce was nice and spicy here at the cafe. while it looks like more traditional bbq sauces, the jerk chicken sauce is not vinegar based. my jerk chicken meal came with some delicious vegetables (mostly cabbage - i love cabbage) and rice with beans and the like. mixed in with the jerk chicken sauce was as delicious as it was filling. delicious!
the second floor of the cafe is the sports bar (this is where we took our food to eat) - their hours are longer than the cafe, so hurrah! the jamaican bartender and the jamaican locals make dining and having red stripe beers in the sports bar quite a great adventure. the bar also has an outdoor patio that, i'm sure, will be inviting to all of the DCers who go bonkers when it comes to good weather and sitting outside to enjoy it.
yum! i can't wait to go again.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

montmartre

montmartre
327 7th St SE(between S C St & S Pennsylvania Ave) Washington, DC 20003
tel: 202) 544-1244
hours: tuesday-friday 11:30am-2:30pm, 5:30pm-9pm; saturday 10:30am-3pm, 5:30pm-9:30pm; sunday 10:30am-3pm, 54:30pm-9pm
what was consumed: wine! mussells, endive salad, rabbit, steak
i don't know that much about french food. like when people talk about being classically trained in the french style, in french cuisine, i'm not really sure what that means. what i do know is that when i eat so called french food, i totally enjoy it and look forward to eating more and more and more. YUM.
when i was living over by RFK stadium, i would frequent eastern market and i would see mantmartre, always filled with people, thinking that i would have to try out "that french place." so, i finally got a chance to make my visit to montmartre, i was really excited ^_^
reservations were made. you've got to (at least that's how it seemed to me). while the dining area isn't small, it's not too large either. most of all, it was packed with people the entire time we was there. we were quickly seated and, from what i remember, quite close to the tables around us - close enough for it to feel close, but spacious enough for servers to get through.
we started our meal with a nice french wine. oh, who am i kidding. what do i know about good french wine? they're all delicious. i've seen restauranteurs who know wine do tastings in order to decide upon their wine menu. i have faith that montmartre's restauranteur selected his/her wines well. and yes, i enjoyed our wine. a nice red wine that could be versatile and good for whatever would be ordered.
we began our meal with some appetizers. while i could eat salad 24 hours a day, the mussels were calling my name (as they usuall do). there was a nice amount of mussels that were presented to me, in a nice white broth. the endive salad was good, but i was totally a fan of the mussels (which i proceeded to polish off in what felt like seconds. it was probably more like minutes). because i didn't have more than a bite of the endive salad, i can't say too much about it. it was good (i think), but the flavors were quickly forgotten as more mussels made their way into my mouth ... yum.
entrees. i had read up on montmartre prior to my visit and other patrons recommended a number of different things. the entree that came up more often than not was the rabbit. rabbit? rabbit. i remember having rabbit once when i was in elementary school during ms. lewis's 3rd grade class (she is, by far, my favorite elementary school teacher). the rabbit was braised and came with some linguine in a cream sauce (menu description: braised rabbit leg with olives, shiitakes mushrooms and creamy linguini with truffle oil). YUM. the rabbit was juicy (tasting sort of like a more game-y chicken) that absorbed many of the flavors of the sauce well. the linguine was cooked just the way that i like it in a creamy, but not overwhelming, sauce. thanks to all those who recommended it! i also had a bit of the steak (kobe steak with potato gratin, french beans and endive, green peppercorn sauce), which was good, but i was happy to have ordered the rabbit~
what am i going to get the next time i go? i'm already thinking about it ... YUM.

gil mok (aka corner place)

gil mok (aka corner place)
2819 james m wood boulevard, los angeles, CA 90006
tel: 213) 487-0968
19100 gridley road, cerritos, CA 90703
tel: 562) 402-8578
what was consumed: korean food! dongchimi gooksoo
korean food is the best in LA (that is, outside of korea (though sometimes even better than korea depending on what it is) and outside of my mom's house, of course ^_^). there are a few, of course, that rise above the rest, that have specialities, that are worth looking for.
the first time i had heard about gilmok was from my friend yunson who, interestingly, grew up in mexico and was relatively new to LA. but she had visited LA quite often and had recently moved to so.cal. we went to play and she told me about this restaurant that we had to go to because they had the best dongchimi gooksoo. i, of course, happily obliged. that was my first experience with gilmok.
so, what's so great about dongchimi gooksoo? well ... i've always had dongchimi gooksoo cold, often after korean bbq (if it's available). i'm not a fan of the more commoon nengmyun (don't judge); besides, dongchimi gooksoo is way better. the noodles are the standard somen (flour noodles), commonly understood to be japanese in style (i don't know if this is true. whatever). the noodles are cooked and added to a cold broth. the broth is predominantly the broth from a white (in that red peppers are not used in the fermentation) radish kimchee. this dish is served cold and is so lovely not only when it's hot, but also when it's cold (yes, even then). i've learned to make it on my own and i think i've found a pretty good recipe (of sorts). in fact, i have a jar of the dongchimi kimchee in my refrigerator right now that is going to taste so scrumptious this coming hot weekend. hungry!
back to gilmok.
gilmok also has good korean food and the wide variety of korean food as well. from bbq to soups and stews, you're pretty much not going to go wrong with anything that you order. i say that you should go, take a gander at the large menu, and follow your fancy. i've had the bbq, i've had their stews, but i always have the dongchimi gooksoo ^_^
it's been a number of years since i've been to the LA location. when i went, it was a location sort of off the main k-town drag. it reminded me more of the bbq restaurants in seoul (though i don't know how to describe it better than that). the LA location seemed geared more toward bbq, so you know you are going to smell like bbq no matter what you eat when you leave. the cerritos location is is more ... western restaurant like, i guess. don't get me wrong - people eat bbq all around you, still, so even if you don't, you'll smell like bbq on your way out. does any of that matter if you are given good food? nope, not a bit. gilmok = yummy~

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

asian spice

asian spice
717 h stree NW(between 7th street & 8th street), washington, DC 20001
tel: 202) 589-0900
what was consumed: crying tiger salad, (chinese longevity) fried rice, a noodle dish (i don't remember what it's called, but it doesn't look like it's on the menu ... maybe it was a special?)
when the space next to matchbox in chinatown (which i love love love) opened as "asian spice," i was curious to see what was gonna go up. even after it opened, i would walk by and see a number of individuals inside the restaurant (though nothing like the crowds in front of matchbox. i wonder how frustrating that is to restaurant owners. you know - that an eatery right next door has people waiting for over an hour to eat while yours has empty tables. my food is good too!!! but i digress ...).
a friend of mine had gone and didn't give asian spice that great of a review, thus making me hesitant to try for myself. one day, others wanted to meet there for happy hour, to which i happily agreed.
we were immediately seated (we sat at the tables at the bar) and the bartender was pretty attentive (i know how hard it is to be both bartender and server, so maybe i'm being easier on the service part). they had a pretty good beer selection (my beverage of choice) as well as a number of house cocktails that i hear are pretty good. they look good on paper, anyway.
asian spice has a pretty large pan-asian menu (i should add pan-asian as one of my labels. does that even matter?). it was hard to decide what it was that i wanted to eat. did i want an entree? rice? noodles? salad? i'm often undecided about what to order because so many things look so good and i just want to eat it all ... eat and eat and eat and eat and eat and eat and eat and eat ... oink oink.
once i (yes, me. i was holding up the table) finally decided what i wanted (and what i got, i don't even remember. i may have been the one who got the fried rice because i do remember having a conversation with marguerite about whether or not to get the interesting noodle dish), we put in our order. my friends and i did a bunch of talking and a lot of laughing as we waited for our dinners to arrive. in a pretty reasonalbe time frame, our entrees were delivered, and we enjoyed!
honestly, there wasn't anything special or out of the ordinary about our meals. that's not necessarily bad, of course; at the same time, there wasn't anything about asian spice that made it stand out, thus making me want to go back to asian spice over other restaurants. it offers a lot of the same (or variations of the same) sort of dishes that are available at pan-asian restaurants (that's one of the criticisms i have about pan-asian restaurants. why have ok pad thai here when i can go to a thai restaurant with good pad thai?). but that's just me. in other words, the food was good, but it was more about the ambiance and the great company i was with that made the night fabulous ^_^ thank you ladies!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

wonjo seafood restaurant

wonjo seafood restaurant
17303 pioneer boulevard, artesia, CA 90701
tel: 562) 809-0057
what was consumed: hae mul tang (of course), bossam
some of the best korean food is in LA (sometimes even better than korea! i know, i know - blasphemous) ... wonjo heh-mool-tang is one of those places.
when i go home, there are a few korean restaurants that i ask my parents to take me to - sikdorak (or an equivalent), out for soondae, and here - wonjo heh-mool-tang.
the first time i heard about wonjo was when my dad told me about a restaurant that one of my parents' church members ran. he told me that he had gone with some other church people and told me that when i was back in town, he would take me ... and he did! hurrah~
after being seated and orders made, our meal began with all of the bahn-chan that is characteristic of korean restaurants. wonjo has a number of different dishes that are fresh and delicious (and they will bring out more if you'd like - niiice!). i always love it when they have variety, which they do here. i think my favorite is the miyeok (seaweed) that you can dip into the gohchoojang (hot red bean paste). it's so easy to make and i'm sure i can make it for enjoyment at home. unfortunately, i don't. i will, though! i tried to make the potatoes before, but totally messed it up (i am NOT good at following directions!). i wish i had the patience (and the time) to make more bahnchan at home ... but alas. anyway, the downside with yummy bahn-chan is that you end up eating so much of it and you're all full before the main courses come up. then again, good bahn-chan is a great sign of yummy-ness to come - woohoo!
and now, for the reason i come here - the hae-mool-tang. i love seafood (seafood, not see food ... hahaha). like really love it. i will eat seafood in all forms and shapes. when a variety of it come in a sort of soup, it's just another way to enjoy deliciousness! here at wonjo, the server brings out a big pot of the tang, turns on the hot plate, and lets it boil right on the table. once the spicy soup gets going, she'll come back and cut up the big pieces with scissors (a la korean style - ha!). and once the seafood is cooked, she will ladel out individual portions of you to enjoy. contents of the hehmooltang include squid, shrimp, clams, mussels, crab, fish, and some veggies. there are some other things, but id on't enjoy them as much, so i pass it on to others who do enjoy those pieces (hee hee). rice also comes with the meal, but i usually end up passing the rice over to my dad or leave it uneated. i know, i know. but i would much rather prefer filling my belly with seafood and bahnchan. delicious!
the last time i went, in addition to the heh-mool-tang, we ordered bossam. so so delicious. the pork was nicely boiled and was delicious - not too dry, not too mushy. and when you make a little wrap roll with the delicious kimchee, it will melt in your mouth.
the restaurant is not that big, but as is the korean way, people generally tend not to take a long to eat and jet. or maybe it's just that i go at odd times so there are tables available. no matter - i would totally wait to eat here!
it was funny - i was taking photos of my food and our server asked if i was going to write a review ... and that if i was going to write a review, to write a good one. i hope this review is good enough!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

ggul dwe ji (aka honey pig)

ggul dwe ji (aka honey pig)
7220-c columbia pike, annandale, VA 22003
tel: 703) 256-5229
what was consumed: korean bbq (sahm gyup sahl, seng galbi) - YUM ... dwenjang jjigae, hehmool pahjeon, and of course, soju & korean beer~
i'm korean. i grew up eating korean food and my mom makes some of the best korean food out there. as a result, i don't go out to eat korean food all that much. but when i do, it's usually for korean bbq. but here's the thing. not only did i grow up on korean food, i also grew up in so.cal where korean food is sometimes better than food actually in korea. what's my point? my point is that i've been pretty spoiled when it comes to korean food and i have in turn become quite critical of restaurants. now, that isn't to say that i won't eat at mediocre, or even bad, korean restaurants. but i will say something about it and even make a stink about 'em. no matter - there is value in all of them whether it be good food, good times, nostalgia, etc.
so, as i was asking and looking around for good korean restaurants in the 3rd largest korean immigrant population in the US (yes, the dc/metro area is 3rd behind LA and NY), people kept refering me to ggul dwe ji.
ggul dwe ji offers "korean style" bbq, where you cook it yourself at your table. while some prefer to have their food totally cooked before it comes out, there's something about bbq-ing your food so that it's just the way you like it. you can make different combinations (between the gogi (meat) and the bahnchan (side dishes)), you can cook the gogi to your preferred temperature, you see all of the fat ooze out. DELICIOUS.
while there really aren't vegetarian options (as is the korean way. while meat is not a huge part of the korea
n diet, traditionally, there is often a bit of beef/pork/chicken/fish somewhere), there are other options for those who do not want bbq (why anyone would not want bbq, however, if unfathomable. that person is just being silly. pure silliness!). they have the bahnchan, other soups, and korean pancakes (marguerite's favorite).
i have never been to ggul dwe ji and have been immediately seated, even when reservations were made (though we waited for a shorter amount of time when reservations were made). ggul dwe ji is usually filled with loads of people all the time and if you're really lucky, you'll get seated next to a group of older ladies drinking and smoking, reminiscing of their childhood. no matter. once seated, we ordered pounds of gogi (usually pork) along with beer and soju - there really is nothing better than soju with k-bbq (for real) ... though i won't get into that now (invite me out and i'll give you my take - ha!). the servers bring out the pan to put on top of the coals and it is big and round. they start to pile on the gogi next to uncut pieces of kimchee and soy bean sprouts. the combination of the three is so delicious. just the thought of it is making my mouth water ... once the pork is cooked, we begin to voraciously devour the gogi. i prefer putting a piece of gogi in a piece of green/red leaf lettuce along with some hot red bean paste - ssam. first bite down, many more to go!
part of what i like about ggul dwe ji is that it reminds me of all the times i had bbq in seoul (which was pretty frequent), as was the korean american way. all of the times i would sit, eat, and drink with my friends, talking about our days, our classes, our students ... talking about korean americans and how we were different from the other KAs, about what life would be like when we (inevitably) return to the states, about our hopes and dreams, about gossip (of course) ... i miss it so much!
so anyway, of all of the places i've been for korean bbq in the DC/metro area, i recommend ggul dwe ji. that is, if it's not at my house cooking on my own ... is there something better? let me know!
online: www.kt411.com/bbq (korean website)

pho 14

pho 14
1436 park road NW (between 14th street & kenyon street), washington, DC 20010
tel: 202) 986-2326
what was consumed: spring rolls (some people call these fresh rolls ... to each his own!), pho
yay for vietnamese food in the city!
the first time i had pho was when i was a senior in college (yeah, i know, surprising). it's even more surprising because the church i grew up going to is right in the little saigon of so.cal (i.e., westminister, ca) and you'd think that i would've had it. but noooooo. that's all right. though a late-comer to the lovely world of vietnamese food, i have quickly become a fan.
so, i move to the DC/metro area and find out that there is a dearth of vietnamese options. that is, you can get some vietnamese food in the city at these "pan-asian" restaurants, but the options are very limited. there is a pretty large vietnamese shopping center/area out in the 'burbs (eden center), but my vehicular limitations prevent me from getting out there. with the high population of vietnamese in the city, i was quite surprised that there weren't more options. so yay for pho 14!
anyway, ines and i met for lunch and we were thinking about where to go. she suggested the new vietnamese restaurant (which i had heard about in passing) and i was all about that. so, we walked over to the north side of the columbia heights shopping center to pho 14 ... and let me tell ya, i was super excited (and could barely contain myself).
now, i'm not an expert on vietnamese food. i did, however, keep asking ines about what she thought (she's vietnamese) and she said it was good. good enough for me! we started our meal with spring rolls. i love spring rolls. i think i've counted once (i made them at home) and had upwards of 15 spring rolls. yes, i eat a lot. my other point is that i love spring rolls. other pho 14 reviewers have mentioned that the pho is better in the 'burbs, blah blah blah. my retort to that is that there are more options in the 'burbs, thus allowing individuals to pick and choose to their liking; we don't have those liberties (and we'll take what we can get - ha!). but shoot - pho 14 was delicious to me and i most definitely enjoyed my meal. so there!
a couple of other comments ...
maybe it's because the restaurant is still new, but the dining area is clean and nice - i hope it stays this way.
our server was attentive and nice - always a plus at restaurants and usually missing from asian restaurants. not here! so, thanks to our server ^_^
i've heard that this place gets really really crowded during dinner (i went during lunch, so there wasn't a line and we were served quickly); just fyi.
i'll have to go and try their sandwiches and bun next time ... soon! i can't wait~

Thursday, May 7, 2009

teaism

teaism
400 8th street NW (btwn d street & e street), washington, DC 20004
tel: 202) 638-6010
2009 r street, NW (btwn 21st street & connecticut avenue), washington, DC 20009
tel: 202) 667-3827
what was consumed: tea, tea, tea ... ginger lemonade, cookies, some other eats ...
there was a time when i wanted to be a tea connuesseiur (and no, i don't know how to spell that --> see my comments on the side ... though, i think i actually looked that one up. where is ms word spellcheck when you need it!). then i realized that i don't really have a sophisticated palate and that while the subtle flavors of tea are appreciated, the kick caffeine from coffee gives me is my current addiction.
in any case, if you want a nice cup of tea, special juice, or even a beer (along with some quick eats), teaism is the place for you! thematically japanese (or asian altogether, i suppose), there is still quite a variety of options for both tea lovers and not.
there are two locations (both of which i've been to) and both have good tea, good service, and good vibes. the dupont circle location is less spacious (so there is the chance that you'll be sitting on the makeshift bench by the cash register or outside) and the penn quarter location has book groups and board game people who meet there (both a plus and a minus? i dunno). and while teaism costs more than the bag of tea within my variety box 'o teas, remember that you're also paying for the ambiance and the increased variety that teaism presents. and let me tell ya, this little indulgence is worth it.

burma

burma
740 6th street NW (between g place & h street), washington, DC 20001
tel: 202) 638-1280
what was consumed: rice noodles, pineapple chicken
i grew up with a friend from burma and while she came over to eat at my house all the time, i rarely went over to hers (mostly because of her large extended family at her house as well as her quite younger brothers), though i was (and still am) quite fond of her family. i imagined, though, that many of the flavors would be similar to that of vietnamese, thai, and even chinese cuisine. i was pretty accurate.
so, after church, friend su and i head out for some good eats. while considering different options, we ultimately ended up at burma. i had seen burma on the second floor of the building, above the thai restaurant 'kanlaya.' every time i went to kanlaya, it hought about burma, but it wasn't until now that i actually went in.
right when you go in, burma looks like any other asian restaurant in chinatown. it sort of also reminded me of those movies/tv shows where people have wedding receptions at those chinatown restaurants. in any case, su and i went on for lunch on sunday. who knows if they're even open for lunch, but we walked in and we were served (hurrah!). it hink maybe there was one of those "meet ups." no matter. su and i sat down and perused through their menu.
they have a variety of different things on their menu, much of which i've since forgotten. we decided upon some noodles and the pinneapple chicken, to share. why these? who knows. and what do i really know about burmese food? probably not a whole lot. i do remember leaving the restaurant, full and happy. much like my initial premonition, burmese food is a sort of combination of thai, vietnamese, and chinese. there's a bit of sweet, a bit of creamy, a bit of sour ... and all of that on rice or mixed in with rice noodles! these is no better combination ... YUM.