Toli Moli Burmese Bodega

Toli Moli Burmese Bodega, web site, 1309 5th St NE, Union Market, Washington, DC, phone not given, often they close by eight. (Metro Trip Planner – opens in new window) [Google | WaPo | Washingtonian | Ylp]

Mostly a southeast Asian grocery, there is also a counter window where you can order a limited number of dishes. The mushrooms in coconut curry and noodles are outstanding, one of DC’s best Asian dishes, and by the way not really about the mushrooms. The catfish curry is strong. Some of the dishes seem to be available on an opportunistic basis. Maybe this is the best place in Union Market right now? Not a full service restaurant, but if you are reading this guide probably you should try this place.


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The meaning of death, from an economist’s point of view

A few days ago Garett Jones came to my office door and asked “what do we really know about labor supply?” I said we might as well extend the query to labor demand. In any case, here was part of my answer, paraphrased of course:

I’ve been much influenced by having kept a dining guide blog/website for almost thirty years, and seeing so many places come and go. On one hand, I see the stickiness of plans. A restaurant opens up, and the proprietor has the intent to be a certain thing. They’re not going to take the pupusas off the menu, just because the price of corn has gone up. Similarly, increases in the minimum wage might not much alter the hiring plans of the restaurant. The very act of starting a business selects, to some extent, for people who stick to their plans. The dishes still need to be washed, and many owners are not at the margins of considering serious automation.

That said, sooner or later these restaurants pass from the scene. And when the El Salvadoran place closes, there is a real competition across competing food visions. Will it be pupusas, roast chicken, or kebab? Once again, relative prices will exert their influence, on both the supply and demand sides of the market. In fact, pupusa places are slightly in retreat, as they cannot always bid for their higher area rents — it is hard to sell a pupusa for more than a few dollars and at the same time the requisite labor is harder not easier to come by and demand seems stagnant at best.

Similarly, if the minimum wage is high, the new restaurant, if indeed it is even a restaurant, will economize on the number of laborers required to make the food. The plan for a true Bengali sweets shop will not get off the ground. You might see storage space or a less labor intensive means of food preparation.

We thus come to a truth that is both happy and sad: death and turnover are how relative prices imprint their impact on the world.

And that, to an economist, is the meaning of death.

Originally posted on Marginal Revolution – click to see comments and suggestions.


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Do land use restrictions increase restaurant quality and diversity?

Daniel Shoag and Stan Veuger say yes, but I am not so convinced.

It turns out that metrics of land use restrictions are correlated with restaurant quality, across cities. To cut to the chase, Los Angeles ranks number one on this index, and I can agree with that assessment in terms of food quality and also diversity. (Other good food cities, such as Miami, also rank high on the index.) Yet for the metropolitan area near L.A., food is generally best where the land use restrictions are least binding. Beverly Hills and Santa Monica have some decent fancy restaurants, but the real gems are to be found elsewhere, in fringes such as northeast Hollywood, Silverlake (gentrifying a bit too much these days, however), north Orange County, Monterey Park, and so on. Pasadena has hardly anywhere excellent to eat.

I would suggest an alternative channel of influence: urban areas with high inequality have both better food (see An Economist Gets Lunch, but basically imagine the wealthier people generating demand and the poorer people supplying cheap labor) and more building restrictions. The wealthier people decide to do something to keep the poorer people out of their neighborhoods.

I hate to say “correlation does not prove causation,” but…correlation does not prove causation.

Via the excellent Kevin Lewis.

Originally posted on Marginal Revolution – click to see comments and suggestions.

Also see “Restaurant Regulations in the Middle East to Consider Before Expanding


Martin County blindsides couple with land-use restrictions



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All-Purpose Pizza

All-Purpose Pizza, web site, 79 Potomac Ave SE, Washington, DC, right by Nationals Stadium, there is also a branch in Shaw, 202-629-1894 (Metro Trip Planner – opens in new window) [Google | WaPo | Washingtonian | TripAdvisor | City Paper | Ylp]

One of the five best pizza places around, with some innovative pies for instance including honey, clams, or chili. The salads and appetizers are especially good, and they also serve New Jersey style Eggplant Parmigian, and described as such on the menu. Not off the charts good, but excellent and somewhere you can always look forward to dining at.


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Himitsu, web site, 828 Upshur St NW, Washington, DC, 202-286-8684 (Metro Trip Planner – opens in new window) [Google | WaPo | Washingtonian | TripAdvisor | WTOP | City Paper | Michelin | Ylp]

Japanese tapas, sort of, but eclectic. Yes, everyone already has told you to go here, but now they take reservations. More importantly, you should get the carrot dish and the brioche, even though each sounds boring or maybe even a bit horrible. No dessert, in my view a plus, and overall it ended up being a bit cheaper than I was expecting. Recommended.


Kevin Tien | James Beard Rising Star Chef of the Year Award Nominee



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Ananda, web site, 7421 Maple Lawn Blvd., Fulton, MD, 301-725-4800. Hard to get to, but it is there! (Metro Trip Planner – opens in new window) [Google | Washingtonian | TripAdvisor | Baltimore Sun | Baltimore Mag | Ylp]

Right now this is the best Indian place around, period. Broadly Punjabi, not at all a spice fest. Super high quality ingredients, vegetables, cooking. Consistent. Occasional Chesapeake connections, such as through crab and crab cake. The best mango lassi I’ve had in the United States, ever. Note the décor is…strange. It feels like the building is a reclaimed mansion house of some kind, the dining rooms are spacious, there are fireplaces, and…there is somebody’s idea of an alternate universe I would gladly spend a lot more time in.


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Chloe, web site, 1331 Fourth Street SE, Washington, DC, 202-313-7007 (Metro Trip Planner – opens in new window) [Google | WaPo | Washingtonian | TripAdvisor | Michelin | Ylp]

I have had many dishes here, and 2/3 were excellent, the others so-so. Best were the half chicken, the scallops, the crudo, and the burrata. Basically just get those, or ask the staff, who seem to know the better picks. The sausage was indifferent, same for the pile of green onions. A very good place if you order wisely, and that is not impossibly hard to do. Not cheap, but not outrageously priced either, so I am happy to call this a nice addition to the repertoire.


2018 Taste Experience Chefs: Haidar Karoum



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Quito travel notes

LLapingachos are the way to go: “an Ecuadorian dish of potato patties or thick potato pancakes stuffed with cheese and cooked on a hot griddle until crispy.”

Given the landlocked nature of Quito, the seafood — and I don’t just mean lake fish — is remarkably good. Try the fried corvina at Las Corvinas de Don Jimmy, in the Mercado Central, with a drink and ceviche only $6. Zazu is one of the best restaurants in South America, and many of the dishes are below $15. I recommend La Briciola for Italian food and chocolate ice cream, noting that in Latin America the most boring-sounding pastas, such as the ravioli, are the ones to order.

The 17th century heritage of Quito makes the colonial center feel like central Mexico. Think “built up early, backwater later on, for a long time.” The mix of mestizo and indigenous. The design of the inner city and its churches. The role of crafts. The persistence of particular foodstuffs, in this case potatoes and corn and avocado and palmitos. Popcorn was invented somewhere around here.

The weather is perfect every day.

Compañía de Jesús is arguably the most beautiful church I have seen.

To see the rest of the post and comments, see the original post on Marginal Revolution.


Expat City – Quito Ecuador, pros and cons



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Shared Plates, Shared Minds: Consuming from a Shared Plate Promotes Cooperation


Here’s What Happens When Strangers Unexpectedly Eat Together At The Airport


A meal naturally brings people together, but does the way a meal is served and consumed further matter for cooperation between people? This research (n = 1476) yielded evidence that it does. People eating from shared plates (i.e., Chinese style meal) cooperated more in social dilemmas and negotiations than those eating from separate plates. Specifically, sharing food from a single plate increased perceived coordination among diners, which in turn led them to behave more cooperatively and less competitively toward each other compared with individuals eating the same food from separate plates. The effect of sharing a plate on cooperation occurred among strangers, which suggests that sharing plates can bring together not only allies, but strangers as well.

That is the abstract from a piece by Kaitlin Woolley of Cornell (PDF), via the estimable Chug, with whom I have shared meals.


Fuchsia Dunlop on Chinese Food, Culture, and Travel (full) | Conversations with Tyler


Originally posted on Marginal Revolution – click to see comments and suggestions.


10 Differences: Asians Eating Out VS. Westerners Eating Out


Also see “table fellowship


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Quito, Ecuador bleg

I haven’t been for about twenty-five years, so I very much welcome your recommendations on what to do, see, and eat there. And what should one do with a spare day in Guayaquil?

I thank you all in advance for your extreme wisdom and counsel.

Originally posted on Marginal Revolution – click to see comments and suggestions.


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