Shi Miaodao Yunnan Rice Noodle

Shi Miaodao Yunnan Rice Noodle, 819 Hungerford Drive, Rockville, MD, 240-386-8596 (Metro Trip Planner – opens in new window) [Google | WaPo | Rest Guru]

Small, very mom and pop, though actually part of a much broader chain. This is basically a one-dish restaurant, a kind of spicy/sour Yunnan soup. Fortunately, the one dish is very good and I can attest, from significant time spent in Yunnan, it is pretty authentic. At the end of the day the meats you choose for your soup don’t matter much, as at least half the value is in the left over broth. Just don’t confuse this with a full-service Chinese restaurant. And I would say the portion is better for lunch than for dinner. I did try one of the few appetizers, a kind of sausage wrapped in egg and dipped in a sickly sweet sauce. It was super-authentic, representing what is to me the dark side of Chinese street food. Just keep in mind authentic isn’t usually good, but the authentic soup here is very good.

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9292 Korean BBQ

9292 Korean BBQ, Instagram, 7133 Little River Turnpike, Annandale, VA, 571-378-1440 (Metro Trip Planner – opens in new window) [Google | TripAdvisor | Annandale Today]

The most popular place right now, an excellent young Korean social scene, and fun to go to. Large, and with the usual Korean “metallic” factory décor. Fills up pretty early, and they queue rather than taking reservations. I’ve been a few times and I like everything here. Maybe nothing here is exceptionally better than the competition, but it is also good enough to enjoy. Very good for larger groups and when you wish to have a high variety of bbq dishes. So it definitely has its place in the repertoire, though be ready for the noise and crowds if you go at peak hours.

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Aboveground

Aboveground, web site, in Union Market, 1309 5th St. NE, Washington, DC (Metro Trip Planner – opens in new window) [Google | Claire Handscombe | Ylp]

British food! Not much on the menu, but it is all truly British. Shepherd’s Pie and Tikka Masala. I had the fish and chips, which was quite good, most of all the chips. Worth a try if you are willing to eat British food. Mushy peas and red cabbage too. I would eat there again, admittedly it is not for everybody.

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Cafe China – NYC

Cafe China, web site, 59 W.37th St. NY, NY, 212-213-2810 [Google | NYMag | TripAdvisor | Ylp]

Recently opened, still in “soft launch” phase. Sichuan, but fragrant rather than “knock your socks off hot.” The smoked tofu is amazing, the vegetables excellent. Beef with green chili another winner. For the subtle side of Sichuan cuisine, this is perhaps this best place I know outside of China?

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Chit Chaat Café

Chit Chaat Café, web site, 200 Maple Ave E, Vienna, VA, 703-378-0867 (Metro Trip Planner – opens in new window) [Google | Reddit | NoVA Mag | Ylp]

To be clear, this place is in the MobilExxon station right across from Whole Foods! Perhaps it is the most mom and pop place on this whole list, and indeed mom and pop are right there when you visit. Punjabi food, with a small number of menu items, but high quality and idiosyncratic in taste in just the way you might expect from a mom and pop. Maybe the best black lentils around? Very good spinach. I very much like the biryani and lamb curry, the samosa I thought was not great, not fresh enough. It is mostly take-out, though there is one table they will let you stand it, quite a comfortable arrangement in my view but YMMV. Definitely recommended, and they mentioned to me they might put another table in. There is a chair for the current table, but arguably it is too low?

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Yanzi Noodle House and Taiwan Style

Yanzi Noodle House and Taiwan Style, web site, 10955 Fairfax Blvd, Suite 108, Fairfax, VA (between T-Mobile and Red Wing), 301-777-8888 (Metro Trip Planner – opens in new window) [WaPo | Reddit | Ylp] They moved from Rockville, MD.

One of the most authentic Chinese places around. Their main dishes are the noodle soups from southwestern China, sour and spicy together, first-rate, but note for me they are not enough for a full meal. The rest of the menu has southwest Chinese influences, though not as far west as Yunnan province. Recently I had the tofu, pork, and mushrooms dish – a home run and again with authenticity off the charts. What they have varies wildly by day, so you can never quite be sure. They don’t seem to have the Taiwanese dishes at all any more. Highly recommended, this is not an “all purpose Chinese restaurant,” but a real Fairfax experience.

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Thai Treasure

Thai Treasure, web site, 330 Maple Ave. West, Vienna, VA, 703-272-3683 (Metro Trip Planner – opens in new window) [Google | TripAdvisor | Ylp]

A surprisingly good mom and pop right on Rt.123. Shows that Vienna dining is still vital and not overly homogenized. The soups are especially good, and the Thai Street Food and Street Food sections of the menu are 100% for real. And spice level is plausible, not pandering to the weakies and the wimps. Recommended.

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Where to dine in Austin

The city is right now one of America’s better food scenes, and perhaps America’s most dynamic city overall? It is radically different from even my recent visit a few short years ago. Here are a few recommendations:

Loro [TripAdvisor | Ylp]: Asian fusion and smoked meats, don’t forget to get the sweet corn and also the cabbage.

LeRoy and Lewis [TripAdvisor | Ylp]: Outside dining from a food truck, first-rate beef cheeks. Get there early.

Sammie’s [TripAdvisor | Ylp]: Doesn’t seem like it should be good, but excellent Italian with a Texas emphasis.

Comedor [TripAdvisor | Ylp]: Nouvelle Mexican, the quesadillas were the surprise with the biggest upside.

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

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Maiz64

Maiz64, web site, 1324 14th Street NW, Washington, DC, 202-450-4962 (Metro Trip Planner – opens in new window) [Google | Washingtonian | WaPo | Ylp]

A Mexican place opened in 2021, nice décor, prices not cheap but not above DC norms for such a place. The suckling pig taco is outstanding, one of the better dishes in town. Probably the main suckling pig dish is at least as good. The corn tamale is A/A+. The other dishes are “good enough,” comparable to what you would find at competitor upscale Mexican restaurants, the ceviche being one example here. The suckling pig and corn tamale are how to make this place special, the guacamole is also excellent rather than just “generic good.”

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The New Top Chef

During the pandemic a pasta restaurant launched on UberEats in Paris. Cala quickly attracted a top 1% rating for it’s high quality to price ratio. Only now has it been revealed that the chef is a robot.

    “We wanted to make sure that the quality of the product was what was really driving customers to come to a restaurant,” says Ylan Richard, who founded Cala in 2019, when he was 19 . “No one knew there was a robot behind the restaurant on the platforms.”

The economics are interesting.

    Most restaurants spend roughly 30% of their costs on food; 30% on labour and 30% on real estate (rent, maintenance, electricity, heating and cleaning.)

    In Cala’s restaurant, the kitchen is entirely removed and replaced by the robot, which measures 3m2 — significantly reducing the space needed. The restaurant also doesn’t have any seating.

    The robot also allows Cala to produce many more meals per hour per square metre than other restaurants.

    “With three metres squared, we can serve 1.2k meals an hour,” says Richard. “A traditional McDonald’s restaurant is 125m2, and usually they can serve 550 meals an hour.”

    The robot means Cala saves 60% on real estate costs, which it says it puts into spending more on the cost of food ingredients, allowing it, Richard says, to deliver higher quality meals at a better price.

More generally, one can see top chefs producing recipes that are then scaled not just to restaurants but also to home robot preparation services. Meals would be produced by a subscription service (“We have 10,000 recipes from the greatest chefs on every continent.”). Restaurants would compete even more on ambience.

The New Top Chef

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

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