Q by Peter Chang

Q by Peter Chang, web site, 4500 East West Highway, Bethesda, MD, 240-800-3722 (Metro Trip Planner – opens in new window) [Zagat | Washingtonian | DonRockwell | Ylp]

What’s the point of a review? Your visit here will be all about timing. For how long will this place stay wonderful? The menu offers Peking Duck, some dim sum, and Beijing street food with the Peter Chang standbys of cilantro fish rolls, Sichuan chili chicken, scallion fried fish, dried fried eggplant, and so on. So far it’s the best Peter Chang opening I’ve been to, so you certainly ought to try the place, and we’ll see how the trajectory develops.

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A safety net we all can stand behind

While food security has increased in importance globally, the availability of cheap and nutritious meals at hawker centres is particularly central to Singaporean life.

The hawker stalls that serve up traditional favourites such as char kway teow* and Hokkien mee (both noodle dishes), are regarded as a safety net for the poorest as well as a place where all levels of society meet. Politicians are conscious of the need to keep a lid on prices at these stalls.

That is from Jeevan Vasagar at the FT, and the article is interesting throughout. In earlier times, the hawker centres also were conceived as ways of improving public health (easier to monitor than street carts), subsidies to working long hours (quick food on the way home), and a means of making high-density construction, and thus small kitchens, bearable.

Originally posted on Marginal Revolution – click to see comments.

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Indigo

Indigo, web site, 243 K St NE, Washington, DC, 202-544-4777, the hours can vary on weekends so do check. (Metro Trip Planner – opens in new window) [WaPo | Washingtonian | TripAdvisor | City Paper | Michelin Guide | Ylp]

Gujarati food, really! This is probably the most neglected Indian restaurant around, and you don’t even have to go to the suburbs. Everything here tastes real. Do you know that kind of Indian place where the spices taste a little grainy because they haven’t been ground fully to a smooth blend? That is this place. Recommended, and badly needed as well.

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Posted in DC, H Street NE, Indian, Northeast | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Ambar

Ambar, web site, 2901 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA, 703-875-9663 (Metro Trip Planner – opens in new window) [Google+ | WaPo | TripAdvisor |NoVA Mag | Ylp]

A true Balkan restaurant, staffed by many Balkans as well. Given its location in the heart of Clarendon, it is remarkable how authentic this restaurant is. I’ve eaten in most of the Balkan nations (Bosnia being my favorite for food), and this comes as close as you could reasonably expect. It is perhaps more Serbian than anything else. The catch is this: how good is Balkan food anyway? You’re not getting Bulgarian summer berries here, or even the very best Ottoman dishes of Bosnia. You’re getting a pretty good facsimile of something that ought to be a little better in the first place. And that is indeed the catch here. I’ll go back, but I am not sure it will become a regular haunt for me.

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Posted in Arlington, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Serbian, Virginia | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Arroz

Arroz, web site, 901 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC, 202-869-3300 (Metro Trip Planner – opens in new window) [WaPo | Washingtonian | Zagat | Ylp]

Located inside a big hotel complex (Marriott Marquis), this Mike Isabella Moroccan-Spanish restaurant is far better than you might be expecting. I had (parts of) six appetizers and every single one was excellent. The eggplant and the shrimp stood out, but they were closely clustered in quality. First-rate Moroccan bread, too. I suspect the question is not so much what to get, but when it will run out of gas and collapse into the “only somewhat above ordinary” category. Not cheap.

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Food consumption now has higher entry barriers than does music consumption

Marco Bresba emails me:

I loved your post on how Food has displaced Music in pop culture (March 29)

I’ve been thinking about the topic for years, and I believe complacency is pertinent.

Musical taste (like one’s taste in wine, food, books, etc.) provides a measure of social currency. It’s a way into a clique you want to join but admittance requires work.

Music no longer provides much of an effort barrier. Mention the most obscure band and I can become an expert in a few hours.

This was not always the case. Rewind to 1985: a classmate mocks me with “I bet you never heard of The Smiths.” He’s right. How do I get up to speed and become cool?

None of my radio stations play the Smiths. One channel teases me with a 3-hour alternative block every Sunday. The cool indie store is a bus ride away. And their inventory is spotty. The good stuff is imported form the UK. A domestic compilation is rumored for next year. Until then, would I be interested in the latest Cure single? They have one copy left. Only $9.99. I pick up the NME instead.

I hit a bunch of used record stores. Every second day. Two weeks later, I find one of the Smiths’ less popular singles. At this rate, I’ll be a fan by the time I graduate high school.

In our age of convenience, food still requires long term planning. At least the stuff foodies value. Will anyone care if I order Massaman Curry on Uber Eats? No. In order to become an elite foodie, I have to leave the house. I must shed my complacency in various ways:

  • I accept a 90 mins line-up to nab a seat at a Celebrity Chef Pop Up.
  • I have to befriend an annoying waiter at a hipster party just to find out how to secretly order raw pork at a suburban joint 45 mins away.
  • I worry I don’t have enough referrals to get invited to the newest alternative supper club.
  • I depend on the cheesemonger that only works on Saturdays to point out the best seasonal stinky varieties.
  • I stay up till midnight that one night Pied de Cochon accepts resos for their Sugar Shack months away.
  • I scold myself for not planning my Italian trip a year in advance – my bucket list meal at Osteria Francescana now in jeopardy.

In addition to the reasons you mentioned, food obsession will always hold currency because it still requires plenty of legwork. Music just needs an internet connection.

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

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Posted in Economics of Dining, General remarks | Leave a comment

Street Kitchen

Street Kitchen, web site, 7943B Tysons Corner Center, Ste G21U (2nd floor), Tysons Corner, VA, Tysons Corner Mall I, floor 2, near the restaurant American Tandoor, 571-633-1820 (Metro Trip Planner – opens in new window) [Zagat | TripAdvisor | Ylp]

A dosa stand in Tysons! It’s not just good for Tysons, it’s really good period. In fact I’ll put it in the top tier of dosa places around. And the Mysore masala dosa is the spiciest dosa I’ve had in this area in years. The sides are decent. I’ve tried the wraps there too, they are OK but not the reason to go. The dosas are excellent, hurrah!

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&pizza

&pizza, web site, 705 H St NW, Washington, DC, 202-558-7569 (Metro Trip Planner – opens in new window) [WaPo | Washingtonian | TripAdvisor | City Paper | Ylp]

I was walking from Union Station to about NY Ave. and 11th, and needed to eat along the way. I passed through Chinatown, but to have taken a meal there seemed to me a bit…complacent. I have Chinese food all the time, and at this time I cannot afford to be too complacent. So I thought: what might serve as a radical shake-up for Tyler Cowen?

West of Chinatown, on H St., I saw a gleaming, fast food pizzeria, namely &pizza. Living in my own strange ethnic bubble, I had never heard of it before. In fact I don’t think I have had fast food pizza since I was a kid. “This will do,” and I thought of the anecdotal value I would reap, albeit at the expense of a good meal. For all my hesitation, the gleaming metal of the interior started to exercise a strange hold over my imagination. I walked out once and then back in again.

I ordered a pizza margherita and water for $10, and to my surprise it was ready in two minutes, in a funny box to fit the oblong shape of the pizza itself. To my bigger surprise, it was really, really good. Betraying its apparent origins, it seemed completely fresh, and twenty years ago it might have ranked as the best pizza pie in all of DC. I thought I would just snack on a piece, but I ended up eating the whole pie. It was just the right size.

Funnier yet, the company is a DC start-up (don’t laugh too hard), yet without seeming to do any lobbying of the federal government.

And here is the real news: More Than 50 Couples Have Already Signed Up To Get Married At &pizza.

The next time I will go to one on purpose.

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

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Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot

Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot, web site, Eden Center, 6799 Wilson Blvd., #10, Falls Church, VA, 571-405-6947 (Metro Trip Planner – opens in new window) [Ylp]

When I go to a new hot pot place, I typically feel it’s going to be a bit more of the same. But this one I enjoyed more than expected. It has a broader selection than most hot pot places and the vegetables are clearly above average. The key to eating well here, in my view, is to opt for the spiciest hot pot broth. You see, they don’t have the typical sauces readily available (though you can pay and beg for them). But if you dip your items into the spiciest broth they offer, the spices come through strongly enough and you don’t need an additional dipping sauce. Note that this place gets crowded and a reservation is probably needed. The service is also a bit uneven, though friendly. Overall this is a plus for the area, worth having in the repertoire. It, along with the newish Thai and Korean places in Eden Center, shows the shopping mall has made a big comeback as an outlet for restaurant innovation and not just a large number of Vietnamese places.

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Bindaas

Bindaas, web site, 3309 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, DC, 202-244-6550 (Metro Trip Planner – opens in new window) [WaPo | Washingtonian | TripAdvisor | City Paper | Ylp | Gayot]

From the people who brought you Rasika, this place is more casual. If you go with four people for lunch you can order the entire lunch menu and maybe a few doubles. That is what we did. Everything was quite good, though the median dish was not a revelation. They served some cup thingies filled with avocado (Avocado Golgappa), I thought that was by far the best item and we ordered a few more of those. It is one of the best dishes in town. The two kinds of uttapam were stellar. Nothing was bad. So your first visit here, I say diversify. For later visits, specialize in the best dishes. There is more on the dinner menu, by the way. Overall this place is just Indian snacks, no curries, a very good idea says I.

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