Choong Man Chicken

Choong Man Chicken, web site, 9528 Lee Highway, Fairfax, VA, 703-772-0072 – also in Centreville and Annandale (Metro Trip Planner – opens in new window) [Google | WaPo | Washingtonian | TripAdvisor | Ylp]

An order of magnitude better than all the other Korean fried chicken places around. This is actually artisanal food and an order takes a full twenty minutes, as it should. The sauce is unique, rather than corporate, and it even has smoky tinges. Reminds me of the little, family-run places in Seoul. Definitely recommended, and don’t go too late because at some point the parking lot becomes dysfunctional (because of the laundromat, not because of the restaurant).


Choong Man (Korean Fried) Chicken



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Timber Pizza Co.

Timber Pizza Co., web site, 809 Upshur St. NW, Washington, DC, closed weekday lunch, opens at 5, but open 8-1 for breakfast on weekends, no reservations. (Metro Trip Planner – opens in new window) [Google | WaPo | Washingtonian | TripAdvisor | Michelin | City Paper | Ylp]

Mostly Neapolitan in approach, they also serve empanadas. I’ve had luck being served there during peak hours, though usually there is a modest wait to get your order in and crowded communal tables await you. Nonetheless one of the best pizzas around and a visit will not be regretted.


Timber Pizza // Washington, D.C.



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Mama Chang

Mama Chang, web site, 3251 Old Lee Hwy, Fairfax, VA, 703-268-5556. So far they are open for lunch only Friday through Sunday, and reservations for large parties only. (Metro Trip Planner – opens in new window) [Google | Washingtonian | TripAdvisor | Ylp]

Henan food, with some Sichuan touches, might this be the best Peter Chang restaurant ever? So far I’ve tried only about ten of the dishes. I recommend the fried chicken with red peppers, dried fried cauliflower, tofu with bean sprouts small dish, and the beef jerky with cilantro. I’m not saying those are the best, simply the best I’ve had so far, and at some point I may do a longer review. But those four dishes, taken alone, are right now the best meal in this whole area, at any price. Go!


Peacock carved from pumpkin by Peter Chang



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Ghent travel notes

Ghent is one of the loveliest small- to mid-sized cities in Europe, perhaps lucky to have never received UNESCO World Heritage status, unlike Bruges. Ghent was one of the earliest seats of the continental Industrial Revolution, through textiles, and the city core has splendid architecture from late medieval times up through the early 20th century. It is what Amsterdam should be, but no longer is.

The center is full of interesting, quirky small shops, along the lines of the cliche you do not expect to actually find. Only rarely are restaurant menus offered in English. Most of the tourists in the hotel seemed to be Chinese.

Walk around, don’t miss Graffiti Street, and the Ensors and the Roualt in the Fine Arts museum complement the more famous items there. The Industrie Museum has numerous textile machines from the 18th century onwards; I found it striking how different the 1770 machine was from the 1730 vintage, but how little by 1950 the machines had advanced .

For dining I recommend the Surinamese restaurant Faja Lobi and the Syrian Layali Habab, the mainstream Belgian places seem to be good but no better than good unless you pay a lot of money.

Most of all, you should walk around and ponder why we seem unable (or is it unwilling?) to build such compelling cities these days.

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


Going Back To Medieval Times in Ghent, Belgium



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Yu Noodles Café

Yu Noodles Café, web site, 9 Dawson Ave., Rockville, MD, 301-978-7693 (Metro Trip Planner – opens in new window) [Google | Don Rockwell | Washingtonian | TripAdvisor | Ylp]

Small menu, cozy, mom and pop, mostly in the Sichuan/Chongqing direction. I prefer the noodles over the dumplings here, most of all the Yibin noodles with ginger and spice. But actually my favorite dish is the simple (and cheap) ground pork over rice. This is not a full service Chinese restaurant, but definitely worth having in the repertoire. The vegetables are quite good, too, make sure you get the spicy cucumber and a few of the other sides.


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Ghent bleg

What to do and where to eat? I thank you all in advance for your wisdom and counsel.

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


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Troika Gastronom

Troika Gastronom, web site, 169 Hillwood Ave., Hillwood Plaza, Falls Church, VA, 703-241-3777, opens early in the morning as it is attached to a Russian supermarket. (Metro Trip Planner – opens in new window) [Google | WaPo | TripAdvisor | Don Rockwell | Ylp]




I have to say I don’t really like Russian food. This place will not convert the unconvinced, but still it is above average in its category. Best perhaps is the stuffed cabbage, and the meat dumplings are decent. It is run by Moldovans, and you are served by an Azerbaijani, and so it is not quite 100% Russian either. To its advantage! They even have a bunch of those weird, terrible salads with mayonnaise.


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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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