One of the best ethnic restaurants in DC right now, and the best not-super-expensive place on the Wharf. Kaliwa offers Filipino, Thai, and Korean dishes, and the Filipino entries are the ones to get. They are designed and cooked by the same people who used to do the Filipino menu for Restaurant Eve, and the results are excellent across the board. The rest of the menu seems “good enough,” but not a reason to go there. I expect to return here regularly, and there are not many first-rate Filipino options around, given the long lines at Bad Saint. Definitely recommended.
Wow. Word is this is from the people who brought you Panda Gourmet in DC. As a Sichuan place, it would be one of the region’s five best, but that is not even their real strength. For Xian food it is a clear first in the region. Get their soups, most of all the beef with chili and noodle soup (contrary to the name it is not spicy) and the lamb soup with bread. The Dan Dan noodles I found to be a slight disappointment, but overall this is one of the very best Chinese places around plus it has many dishes you won’t find elsewhere. Pleasant service, great prices, no downside here that I can see.
Mostly Sichuan, this is the best Chinese food in Virginia right now. You could try the spicy fish with potato and lotus root, the dan dan noodles, or Chairman Mao pork belly, among many other classics. I’ve had numerous dishes here, and not one of them has misfired. Somehow people don’t seem to know about this place yet, but it bowled me over with its subtlety and appreciation of tradition. There have a very nice private room, the menu is relatively good for vegetarians, as Chinese goes, and the décor is good enough that you could bring a client or business associate here. And yet the food totally delivers. I don’t think there is a separate Chinese menu, but you can always try asking about special Chinese dishes, no promises however but they might have one or two for you.
I will compare to Ethiopian food in the United States, so I won’t be starting from scratch here.
The good news is that the product is tastier in Ethiopia. But the other good news is that the U.S. version of the cuisine is fairly similar, and it really does give you a pretty good idea of at least mainstream restaurant cuisine in Addis Ababa.
Ethiopians really do eat a lot of injera, made out of teff. Firfir dishes, which use injera soaked in spices, are far more common in Ethiopian cuisine in Ethiopia than in the U.S. equivalent. Overall, the quality, subtlety, and diversity of injera is higher in Ethiopia, as you might expect.
Bozena Shiro is another staple, present in both countries but again far more common in Ethiopia.
Doro Wat — chicken in the red sauce — is the dish that improves the most in Ethiopia. The sauce is richer and more subtle, more in the direction of a Mexican mole than just a mere curry.
I had two meals in private homes, one in a well-to-do apartment in Addis, the other in a rural village. Neither overturned the basic impressions I have been receiving from the restaurant food.
I ate kitfo [raw beef] once and did not get sick or even feel queasy.
The fresh honey is much better in Ethiopia than what you might get in a restaurant in America. And they pop fresh popcorn rather frequently.
Especially outside of Addis Ababa, prices are very cheap. I stayed in the nicest hotel at the number one tourist site, namely Lalibela, with its underground, rock-hewn churches. A single course at breakfast cost about a dollar and was enough for a meal. Presumably some other prices are cheaper yet.
This is a wonderful country for vegetarians and vegans. I am told that for the Christian religiously observant, about one-third of all days specify an abstention from meat. So virtually all restaurants have a wide selection of vegetarian food and it is no worse than the meat dishes, perhaps better on average.
As for foreign cuisines, I had the best outcome with Indian food, perhaps because many of the spices and cooking techniques are similar. There are Sudanese and Yemeni restaurants in Addis, Italian food is plentiful (it’s not always exactly Italian, but Castelli’s is amazing), and the Chinese meal I had was decent but not sufficiently Chinese.
Finally, this dreadful strip mall has a good place indeed an excellent place. Might this Egyptian restaurant be the best Middle Eastern food around right now? Everything tastes fresh and vital, including the more or less standard Lebanese appetizers such as hummus. The veal kabob is a welcome change of pace, if you would like to try something new. This place attracts a real crowd: it is very well-lit, extremely comfortable to sit in, actually feels yuppie and bland, but in terms of the food it really delivers. A welcome addition to the repertoire. I should note that while it is reasonably priced for the quality you get, this does not qualify as a super-bargain restaurant.
Right by the Birchmere, a while ago there was a Sri Lankan place here. I am happy to recommend the lamb chops, tikka masala, and duck-fried rice, at the moment this place is a clear first choice in the Nepalese category. It mixes in many Indian dishes, is not really trying to play the mom and pop game, and maybe they don’t have the very best momos. But their best dishes are really quite special.
Chinese and Shanghai street food, excellent and speedy, a truly novel addition to the repertoire. They basically have three dishes: get the Shanghai crepe with brisket, the steamed bun with spare rib, and the Chinese hamburger with cumin lamb. It is all very good, in that order of preference I would say. Lots of smoothies and bubble teas and the like, but you will have to ask someone else about those. My bottled water was just fine. I suspect I’ll end up going here a lot.
Chinese, mix of Shanghai and Sichuan, plus some Japanese too. Small, cheap. I would not make a special trip to eat here, but the place has perfect location right next to the Verizon Center. Upstairs is remarkably quiet. Several times I have had no trouble getting in without a reservation. It is pleasant. And the food is “good enough to enjoy,” I do look forward to eating here when I do. The Shanghai and non-spicy Chinese dishes are better than the Sichuan, though the latter are certainly acceptable. This place is worth knowing about, if you understand its proper place in the universe.
I’ve been many times, and I sway between “this is a really good Cantonese restaurant, with wonderful pulled noodles” and “this is a pretty good Cantonese restaurant for this region, with wonderful pulled noodles.” Ultimately I think I have settled on the latter. You can watch them do the noodles in the window, and these dishes do not disappoint. That said, I find it a little boring over time. I’ve had “just right” Cantonese meals here, but too many of the dishes tend toward the gloppy and heavy. But it’s still much better than most of the other Cantonese places around, though I would put it behind X.O. Taste. If you’re into Chinese food you should try it, noting that your mileage may vary.