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Archive for July, 2008

Weekend in DC

Foodings from a weekend trip to view the cherry blossoms back in March.

The boy and I went during the first weekend when they had all the festivities like the kite flying around the Washington Monument. Thankfully we had really good weather; I heard a bunch of horror stories about being rained in during cherry blossom season and I’m glad it didn’t happen to us.

To the food!

Lunch: Oyamel
401 7th St NW, Washington DC

They claim they’re authentic Mexican, which I doubt. This is a more casual upscale-ish tapas place, but most dishes we tried lacked flavor, any flavor. The highlight was the homemade guac, but overall, the food was sub-par to the atmosphere, which was clean, sleek, spacious, and at lunchtime, had a ton of natural sunlight.

oyamel


home-made guac! yummo


onions can make even big boys cry


guac-face!


left to right:
1. Tinga Poblana – Stew of shredded chicken with potatoes, chorizo, and chipotle, topped with red onion
2. Cochinita pibil con cebolla en escabeche – Yucatan-style pit barbecued pork with pickled red onion and Mexican sour orange
3. Pato al pastor con laminas de piña – Shredded duck confit with tomatoes and peppers, served
with pineapple, onions and cilantro


Tamal Verde –Tamale with green sauce of tomatillo, shredded chicken breast, chile, garlic and cilantro

Maybe it was our food selection, but they were mostly unflavorful and not as exciting as I thought they were going to be. The tamale was dry and not spicy as I was expecting.  I’ll be heading to Mexico in September, so I’ll be able to enjoy the real thing then!

We also got a chance to walk around their tiny Chinatown and discovered that all their Western style shops and restaurants such as Legal Sea Foods and Urban Outfitters all had Chinese names on them. It was cute. This is how Chipotle is written in Chinese (it’s basically a transliteration):

Now, foodwise, we really had the BEST meal at this non-descript Japanese restaurant. I can just tell I’m going to be making some annual trips to DC just to eat at Sushi Taro.  We had to wait about 1.5, but ended up getting on within the hour since we waited around the restaurant and they just happened to have an opening.  Although we didn’t eat anything that was particularly out of the ordinary, everything was made extremely well.  Sitting at the sushi bar also helped. I love being able to watch the chefs work; you can see the care each one of them puts into the food.  There are so many things we want to go back to try.  We noticed that they offered a separate menu for the daily specials that they neglected to give us, which is  written in Japanese with English translations.

Dinner: Sushi Taro
1503 17th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036, USA


they offer the traditional japanese cushion seating.


the super skillful chef. he makes me wish i could speak japanese


chicken skin and kobe beef

Though this isn’t the best kobe beef I’ve ever tasted, but it did retain its juicy flavors as it was on the grill.  Then there’s the chicken skin skewer that’s a heart attack waiting to happen.


Simplicity:  soft shelled crab; eel, spicy tuna, tofu stuffed with seasoned rice


oyakodon- think: reallyyy juicy, savory, and yummy chicken veggie omelet where the juices seep into the rice underneath.

For all you sashimi lovers out there, but sure to check out their extensive raw selection if you ever make your way there.  They even emboss their tamagos with their insignia.

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What: Ramen date

Where: Ippudo
65 4th Ave, New York 10003
Btwn 9th & 10th St

A friend of mine who visits Japan every year HATES Ippudo. He warned me, a seasoned traveler like him, that I would hate it too. He told me it’s not like the ramen I had in Japan and I’d be disappointed too. The broth, the noodles, and the prices all had a negative effect on him.

Yet, I wasn’t disappointed. In fact, I went twice. I mean, I have to ask, what is up with their noodles? To me, it’s too thin and too much like the Chinese chow mein, and too hard to be ramen. I was, however, fairly impressed by their broth. Okay, so maybe it isn’t like Japan, but it was still good. And I can swear that their they put the oils from which they braise their berkshire pork into their broth, which makes it that much fattier and tastier.

ippudo

If you want noods, you better be sure to go early b/c … they might close on you!

sign

The atmosphere: Very fun and unique. The bar is clear topped with rows of packaged ramen noodles and the walls are lined with ramen bowls. Inside the dining room, there are several areas of seating, including one where every two seats are designed to make up a loveseat couch.

ippudo bar

ramen bar

ippudo seating

The noodles: Upon the recommendation of the waiter, we both ordered the Akamaru Shin, ‘that’s suppose to come with the special Ippudo sauce in their broth. The broth is thick so the noodles do absorb a good amount of the broth, but not enough for me. As with all ramen places, I wished there was more pork. The second time I went, I tried the spicy broth because they took the dipping noodles off the menu.

ippudo noodles

The berkshire pork. Tiny portion, but it was delicious. It was tender, flavorful, and not as fatty as most pork belly.

berkshire pork

Overall, I say it was an experience worth having. The prices are too high for ramen, and I don’t enjoy the noodles, as I’ve said before, but it’s worth it for the broth. Also, go during non-prime times. Don’t do the wait.

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