• 15Oct

    We recently tried the newly created Picanha Burger from Fogo De Chao‘s bar menu, and enjoyed it. It is flavorful, has a nice texture, and comes with a brioche bun with smoked provolone, bibb lettuce, tomato, onion and chimichurri aioli; served with crispy polenta fries. We also tried two new seasonal (Fall) menu items, the Roasted Butternut Squash and Cranberry Salad, and Butternut Squash Soup, both of which were flavorful and well-executed additions.

    We heard that there is a new Bone-in Cowboy Ribeye (aged 21 days) available through the end of the year, but the Tysons location did not have it available. It’s possible the DC (Pennsylvania Avenue) location (which we previously wrote about) carries it.

    Above are some image highlights from our recent dinner.

    Notes: Valet parking is $5 at the Tysons location. The Tysons’ location is the newer of the two DC area locations.

    -JAY

     

  • 08Oct

    Chef Liu Chaoshengs Asian Origin opened this wonderful Sichuan and sushi restaurant in the spring. This highly skilled chef/restaurateur also owns Hong Kong Palace in Falls Church; Uncle Liu’s Hot Pot in Merrifield; China Jade in Rockville; and Cafe Hong Kong Bistro in Germantown. We recently attended a media tasting at this establishment.

    Award Winning Dumpling Maker, Jixin Lv.

    I am thrilled that like other Chef Liu restaurants, this establishment makes everything from scratch, including the tofu. More restaurants need to do this; we are happy when we find places like Asian Origin and another newcomer, Sugar Factory, where restaurateurs understand that pre-made ingredients cost more and do not lead to the kind of deliciousness you can find in freshly made (and from scratch) dishes. You can really tell the difference from scratch cooking makes in Asian Origin’s dishes; we’ve been back twice since the media tasting. Plus, Chef Liu imports many ingredients from China (like the wooden ear mushrooms), to add even more authenticity to his made from scratch dishes.

    So. let’s talk about Asian Origin’s (house-made) tofu. It is delicate and wonderful, but I could immediately tell it was different than the (also delicious) Ma Po Tofu we’ve eaten at his other restaurants. It turns out that Asian Origin is the only Chef Liu restaurant using black beans instead of soy beans. The dish is great either way, but it was nice to try the back bean version, which is a modern take on tofu that you sometimes find in China nowadays.

    Besides the Chinese menu, this restaurant also has a sushi menu. We’ve only tried one sushi item here (a roll, which was good), so I’ll need to go back to to the seaweed salad, miso soup, and more sushi.

    I’m not a DCFüd writers who typically ends articles with “you need to try this place,” but you do, and now, especially if you are a spicy food lover. Sichuan cuisine includes a remarkable floral note in it’s spicy dishes that we (here at DCFüd) just love.

    -JAY

    Editor’s Note: Sushi menu is served Tuesdays through Saturdays.

  • 30Sep

    Popular chain JINYA Ramen Bar has been in Virginia’s Mosaic District for a while now, but has just opened their Logan Circle location in D.C.

    I had not been to to the VA location, but was happy to visit their new place during their grand opening party. The staff was super excited, friendly, and happy to have us. While I think there were some communication issues and the staff needs more training, that will likely come with time. JINYA was very generous and that is much appreciated. The vibe was awesome–it was really was a great party.

    As far as drinks, I mostly stuck with the passed sake or Prosecco, though I did try a light, fruity, Dragon cocktail that was quite good. The appetizers were passed as well, and the Brussels sprouts tempura and fried chicken were both really tasty and perfectly crisp. But what I really loved was the pork gyoza, pork chashu and kimchi tacos, and poke tacos. The gyoza is nicely seared with plenty of flavorful filling. The tacos are crisp from the wonton shells and while it’s a toss up between the pork and poke, I think I prefer the poke. The pork is amazing, but the poke is so light and fresh, yet delicious. For ramen, I went with the chicken ramen, and that is not the way to go; it was so bland that I had to add both sriracha and seasoned vinegar to coax any type of taste from it. I heard from others at my table that the pork ramen was good, so that will definitely be my choice when returning. We also got to try the mochi, and the chocolate mochi was rich with the perfect amount of chewy dough.

    I do look forward to returning to JINYA. I’m a huge ramen fan and JINYA offers plenty of styles to try, plus all of the sides were great. It’s also needed in the neighborhood, so it will be popular additions.

    -LEM (Lia)

  • 30Sep

    Eat Spain Up! is a month-long annual cultural event celebrating Spanish food and heritage. It rotates cities, but we are lucky enough to have it in D.C. this year.

    I visited the Former Residence of the Ambassador’s of Spain in Columbia Heights to attend a talk and tasting that kicked off the program. The talk, given by Manuel Estrada, 2017 winner of Spain’s National Design Award, delved into the design process and looked at how design intersects with culinary arts.He designed the core creative for this program. The residence had been transformed into a gallery, highlighting Estrada’s works and important ingredients in Spanish cuisine.

    The tasting featured appetizers from Jaleo, Taberna del Alabardero, Mola, Pamplona, and more. It also featured Spanish cheese and wine, anchovies (boquerones), and Iberian ham, all of which were fantastic. The Iberian ham was rich and delicious, and one of my favorite offerings of the evening. Jaleo’s quince and manchego cone was not only fun to eat, but the sweet, salty combination made it crave-able. I also really liked the ceviche from Mola, which was light and refreshing. It was a bit disappointing to see that two places offered ceviche, while yet another offered octopus (pulpo). While representative of the cuisine, more variety would’ve been appreciated.

    Eat Spain Up! has events for the rest of September and October, including additional tastings, gastronomic discussions, and exhibitions. I love Spanish cuisine, and if you do as well, or want to learn more about it, you’ll be happy Eat Spain Up! is happening in the district this year.

    -LEM (Lia)

  • 16Aug

    Tacos seem to be all the rage these days. Not that they haven’t always been loved, but they seem to get more and more popular. Recently opened in my neighborhood (Arlington’s Columbia Pike) is the brick-and-mortar version of a beloved Mexican food truck, Tortas y Tacos La Chiquita. Don’t be fooled by the name–this place serves more than tortas and tacos.

    I had never been to the food truck, but was thrilled to try their new home. It’s small, but it’s brightly colored and plays upbeat music. Staff is friendly and helpful.

    Over two visits, I tried the asada huarache, carnitas quesadilla, and a variety of tacos: pollo, al pastor, asada, and pescado. Everything was excellent. Huaraches are like a bigger version of a sope. Fried masa topped with beans, cheese, cactus, and meat; you really cannot go wrong. If you’ve never had cactus, I recommend trying it hear. Nicely seared, it’s like eating a pepper. If I hadn’t been told it was cactus, I wouldn’t have known. The quesadillas are huge, and are filled with tomato and guacamole, along with cheese and meat. The street tacos are traditional: two tortillas, meat, cucumber, lime, radish. The standard red and green sauces are offered; I opted for the spicier red version. La Chiquita does not skimp on the fillings, so prepare to leave full. As for the meat fillings, my favorites, across all preparations, are the asada and al pastor. Both are crisp and flavorful. However, if chicken is your thing, this is probably the best chicken taco I’ve had, as the chicken is well-seasoned, but not dry. Pozole is offered on weekends. In addition to Jarritos bottled sodas, other drinks include tamarindo, horchata, and limonada.

    There are many places for Mexican cuisine, especially tacos, not only in Arlington, but in the D.C. area, and many are quite good. But you’d be doing yourself a favor to swing by this small restaurant on Columbia Pike and enjoy a meal.

    -LEM

  • 12Aug

     

    In the D.C. area, you can find a variety of Caribbean cuisine–Jamaican, Trini, Cuban, Puerto Rican, and Dominican. But it’s been a while since our region had Haitian food. Luckily, that void has been filled by Don Berto’s Kitchen.

    A pop-up held most Sundays in Silver Spring (held in the Afrik Grill/GOLF Lounge space), Chef Don Berto serves fresh, flavorful dishes from noon-7 p.m. The menu changes weekly, and their Facebook page is updated frequently.

    Popular dishes from this island nation include griyot (fried pork), rice and beans, mashed fried plantains, and pikliz (pickled vegetables). You’ll find that here (though the griyot tends to be turkey), along with snapper, goat stew, rum cake, and more. You’ll also find the national drink, Rhum Barbancourt, which is a good sipping rum. What you won’t find is MSG and Maggi (used quite frequently in Haitian cooking). Instead, the chef freshly mixes his seasonings.

    I had the goat stew, red snapper with rice and beans, plantains, and vegetables.  Everything was delicious. The goat stew is rich and filled with vegetables, dumplings, and plenty of goat. I’ll be looking forward to this in the colder months. The red snapper was beautifully done, and I could not stop eating it. The sauce coated the rest of the food on the platter and made everything more delectable. The portion size is good, but you must leave room for the rum cake. Soaked in rum, yet not soggy, it is the best version I’ve ever had, and you’ll be taking a slice to go, guaranteed.

    Chef Don Berto and his staff are welcoming and happy to answer any questions. You’ll be craving their food after just one visit, and you’ll want to return for the family-like atmosphere, friendly service, and maybe even stay for the kompa.

    -LEM

  • 05Aug

    Sugar Factory Rainbow Sliders

    We recently attended the recent pre-grand opening of Pentagon City Mall’s Sugar Factory American Brasserie. Sugar Factory started as a candy store, and grew into a group of restaurants with locations in Las Vegas, New York, Miami, Orlando, Chicago, Dubai, Philippines, etc. They have both restaurants concepts (such as Pentagon City) and small retail stores/cafes (such as  Bahrain, Hollywood, and the newly opened Union Station in Washington, DC. The restaurants include small candy stores (and house-made ice cream).

    Let’s start with the drinks. There is definitely a sweet theme here, with many of the milkshakes and bubbling goblet (group-sized, 60 ounce) cocktails being garnished with candy. The 3 neon colored (individually-sized) martinis we tried tasted like Jolly Ranchers in the best possible way, with the Lemon-Head being our favorite. If you don’t enjoy very sweet drinks, you may want to skip alcohol for the evening. There is no beer or wine menu at this location.

    Milkshakes

    All of the food including sauces like Buffalo, BBQ, and mustard, and even the turkey in the turkey club are made from scratch. This is something that more restaurants should do because it is more cost effective, but also results in fresher, more flavorful food. The dishes we tried were good versions of classic American food that we grew up on.  The salmon was the one dish that was fancy restaurant fare instead of a good version of a classic diner or pub dish. We tried one brunch dish, the well-prepared  chicken and waffles. The only component of any of the dishes we tried that needs work is the asparagus that came with the salmon, which should be an easy fix.

    This is a good restaurant for groups, besides the goblet cocktails. There were even 5 or 6 birthday parties for children (all girls) going on the evening we were present. Sugar factory even has a 24 scoop King Kong Sundae for groups to share.

    We are looking forward to returning to Sugar Factory, possibly for brunch. Feel free to take a look at the drinks and food (including brunch) on their huge online menu.

    -JAY

  • 02Aug

     

    John Shields of Gertrude’s, PBS’s Coastal Cooking, and the New Chesapeake Kitchen was the MC and crab disassembling demonstrator at last week’s Crab & Beer Dinner at Wildfire in Tysons. Evolution Brewing of Salisbury, MD was on hand to pair and serve their fine brews.

    Properly-spiced Maryland blue crab served alongside a plastic lobster bib, mallet, and beach bucket for the shells was our first course of the evening. John showed everyone a proper technique to get out all the succulent meat in an expedient manner. He’s even studied with professional crab pickers. The blue crab was paired with Evolution’s Delmarva Pure Pils.

    Crab Spaghetti with summer vegetables and lobster sauce followed as the second course. Large chunks of fresh and delicious crab topped the spaghetti. The lobster sauce was made from a nicely reduced sauce. The dish was both fresh and delicate. This course was paired with Evolution’s Pine’hop’le IPA.

    Tender and savory Crab Crusted Bacon Wrapped Filet Mignon in a roasted shallot-sherry wine reduction completed the pre-dessert courses. The steak dish was paired with Evolution’s Exile Red Ale.

    Dessert was served last, an orange pound cake with seasonal mixed berries and fluffy whipped cream.

    Keep an eye out for other extraordinary dinners at Wildfire. The next few months will bring another beer dinner, a single malt scotch Dinner, and a Wine dinner.

    Our thanks to Chef Moreno Espinoza (pictured above on the left) who joins us annually from Chicago to cook for this wonderful event.

    -JAY

  • 21Jul

    Everyone loves food. Everyone loves tacos. Everyone loves a good deal, and what’s better than buying two tacos and getting an additional for free? Few things come free in life, my friends, especially tacos, so when the opportunity comes, I say go and eat it.

    Such is the case at Fruitive, an all plant-based, organic-certified restaurant in City Center DC. I realize that the most popular type of tacos come with a meat base, but before you wipe Fruitive off of your radar because they don’t serve meat, believe me when I say Fruitive doesn’t sacrifice taste for health, just as they don’t sacrifice health for taste. You get the best of both worlds. Just peep the pictures and close-ups of the tacos I bought this Tuesday; I mean talk about total food envy!

    L to Rt: The Sesame Ginger, Tuscan, and the Southwest Tacos

    So, what exactly is this taco deal, and what exactly are your options? Every Tuesday, Fruitive holds a Taco Tuesday Special: buy any two tacos, you choose a third for free. Fruitive has three taco options: Sesame Ginger, Southwest, and Tuscan. You can mix and match, and try each one or, if you so desire, get three of the same flavor! I tried all three, but my personal favorite were the Tuscan tacos. The basil pesto “mayo” they put in them is an utter game changer, and the butternut squash totally tastes like mango. As surprising as that combination of flavors may be, it honestly works! The other two tacos were mighty fine, don’t get me wrong, but everyone has a personal favorite.

    So, if you’re someone who is a taco fanatic, someone who is looking for a new food joint, someone who is health-conscious, or someone who, like me, loves food with a great price tag, I encourage you to check out Fruitive’s tacos any Tuesday! The atmosphere is great, and the tacos are even better.

    I’ve included links to their website, official Instagram, as well as their main menu below, so click away, and I hope to see you there next Tuesday!

    -Mela (MEL), Guest Blogger

  • 16Jul

    Oklahoma Joe’s at Dunn-Loring Metro is now District BBQ.

    We recently read Time Carman’s article entitled “District BBQ and three other runners-up for best barbecue in the D.C. area,” leading us to believe that more had changed at this establishment than just the restaurant’s name. We’ve been to Oklahoma Joe’s a few times, and after finding the pulled chicken and pork, and sliced brisket to be bland, mainly returned a few times for the baked beans, French fries, and chicken chili. We headed to the restaurant in question this weekend (hoping for improved BBQ), but when we arrived, they assured us the food had not changed at all. We were already there and hungry, so ordered the Grand Champion ($29.99), which includes sliced brisket, burnt ends, pulled pork, pulled chicken (we substituted turkey) and three sides (not counting the bed of French fries the meat rests on).

    The Sides:

    Yes, we ordered two sides of beans, since it is something that is done well here. The chicken chili would have been a good option as well. Yes, we asked for extra pickles. The onion rings had a thick crunchy coating and were well-executed. No complaints about the fries either. We really wish they would add a vegetable side such as collards or some other kind of cooked greens to the menu. I realize that the closest Oklahoma Joe’s come to a vegetable is green beans in only one of its locations in OK, but now … the name has changed, so that excuse doesn’t hold. Green beans would suffice if they were fresh and prepared well.

    The BBQ:

    The pulled pork, turkey, and sliced brisket lack flavor, but are edible if you cover them in BBQ sauce (including their vinegar BBQ sauce). The ribs and burnt ends were enjoyable enough (because they already have BBQ sauce added).

    We wouldn’t travel out of our way to eat here, but it’s a decent option if you live or work nearby, are craving BBQ, and order well.

    Recommendations:

    • Burnt Ends
    • Ribs
    • Beans
    • French Fries
    • Onion Rings

    -JAY

     

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