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Nanjing Bistro in Fairfax - Report

I tried two more items here. The first was from a special menu writen on a blackboard - in Chinese. I asked them to translate, and I got the pork and chive dumplings. They were top-notch and so very fresh tasting with a nice, grassy flavor from the vegetable.

The other item I got was from the menu - u ling chicken. Since I already had the dumplings, the waiter said they could make me a half portion, and I was grateful for that. This was a marinated, breaded, and fried chicken served sliced on the bone. It was good for what it was, but it falls into that salty/sweet/fatty category that I usually avoid.

Intimidation of Restaurant Reviewers

The chef should not shine a spotlight on the negative review.

2 days ago
Steve in France
1

Foods unique to France to buy in Paris?

Most recipes probably add salt anyway, or should. Just use the salted for cooking and add less salt. But adding your own fleur de sell would defeat the taste test because it would be hard to control.

Dec 17, 2014
Steve in France

Foods unique to France to buy in Paris?

Ah, you add your own. Not the same as an unsalted taste test.

Dec 17, 2014
Steve in France

Foods unique to France to buy in Paris?

Unsalted butter tastes like plastic. Buy salted.

Dec 17, 2014
Steve in France
1

Why is Cheese Forbidden in Authentic Italian Fish Cookery?

Everyone seems to be saying it is a rule, but that rules are sometimes broken. There seems to be no controversy about that.

I will not order fish with cheese, but I can see how cheese might find its way into a sauce and I would not know about it. But seafood with melted cheese on top? No, I would not order it to begin with, and I can easily see how it would be discouraged on Chopped. What was the preparation being discussed?

Dec 15, 2014
Steve in General Topics

DCity Smokehouse BBQ

I iam going to guess your return to Hill Country will be disappointing after DCity Smokehouse. The brisket at HC is noticeably salty, dripping with fat, and expensive, albeit delicious.

Have you tried the brisket sandwich at Wagshal's? That should be your next stop - though I haven't been there in a while. I assume the owner is still smoking his own brisket.

Four days in Shanghai! Recommendations please.

FYI

The first four places you listed are, in order:

Old Shanghai
Shanghai Lao Fan Dian
Shanghairenjia Private Kitchens
Xiaobaihua

Dec 13, 2014
Steve in China & Southeast Asia

DCity Smokehouse BBQ

It was a very fine sandwich, but I did not taste the slaw on its own. Again, a distant third for what I tasted since the other itmes were so exceptional.

Hunan Taste (Fairfax branch)

I am a bit perplexed about this place. I saw it was written up in Tyler Cowen's guide. I went before he put out his report.

I asked if there was any relation, and I was told there wasn't any relation with the Hunan Taste in Catonsville. I was shown a Chinese-American menu, and when I asked if there was Chinese menu, they said no. I didn't stay to eat, thinking it was of no interest and simply more expensive than most. It is very fancy looking inside, and the prices were high.

Nanjing Bistro in Fairfax - Report

No, I didn't take any photos, but I look forward to trying more of the menu.

DCity Smokehouse BBQ

When I was there, the guy referred to his chopped pork as Carolina-style, though in general chopped, smoked pork marinated in a vinegar based sauce is specifically Eastern NC, IIUC. He didn't have any straight-up chopped pork without the sauce.

I understood this to mean that they never serve it that way, but I could have misunderstood.

Foods unique to France to buy in Paris?

Yes, I see it now on Wine Searcher. A rarity.

Dec 11, 2014
Steve in France

Seoul: palace cuisine

Thanks for the report back. It's prety much in line with what I heard. Also I am not so interested in eating in a private room. I'd rather see people.

There are modern, hip places to eat in Seoul, especially geared for the young crowd with more fashionable design and precious plating. There is a show on the Korean pop culture channel (Mnet) called Tasty Road, hosted by a Kpop couple. It's an entertaining, very well-produced show and they go to some of these more mod places.

Dec 10, 2014
Steve in China & Southeast Asia

Efficiency of Eating

I am not sure I buy into this analysis of Chinese food. The Chinese serve plenty of meat sliced or chopped up into small bits that are served on the bone. (unlike most Chinese-American food). Same with whole fish or other fish parts. Takes plenty of 'work' by the guest.

Dec 10, 2014
Steve in Not About Food

Foods unique to France to buy in Paris?

You are not going to easily find a rose des riceys in the US (or Paris for that matter), so you may want to search from that. But it is rare, so it's not efficient to walk from store to store.

And buying tea is not the only reason to visit Marriage Freres on r. Bourg-Tibourg. Visiting the shop is, in itself, a visual delight. Same for seeing the dome inside Galleries Lafayette or going to Jacques Genin for pastries.

Dec 10, 2014
Steve in France

Efficiency of Eating

Liquids: tip the liquid directly into your mouth.
Solids served in a bowl: a mini-shovel
Large or very tough items: Cut up all of lt first, then shovel.
Anything else: Hands.
When you want to steal food off of someone else's plate: Telescoping fork.

Dec 10, 2014
Steve in Not About Food

Anything halfway decent really close to Skyline

A small group of Chowhounds went to Zaaki. It looks tempting as they give you a small ornamental brazier pot of charcoal for your kabobs. But they put the kabobs on the pot pre-cooked and the heat of the brazier is about the level of a cigarette lighter. The meal was fairly boring and not nearly as good as the nearby Z Kabob.

Any recommendations for brunch

Lyon Hall in Clarendon is a delicious spot for brunch.

Gelato at Campono near Kennedy Center- Report

I followed my own lead and went back to Campono for the pizza and to try more gelato.

I ordered a margherita pizza. It was ok. Too much tomato sauce, large, awkward pieces of mozzarella and giant basil leaves. Since I live near pupatella, I would consider this only as a nice stop if going to the Kennedy Center.

The gelato remains a success. Espresso was very dark in flavor, maple walnut had a great walnut taste. Caramel sea salt was good, but you can do better here.

Good eats near Dulles airport

Sahara Lebanese cuisine. High quality all around.

Anything halfway decent really close to Skyline

Eyo is a very good Ethiopian restaurant in the Build America Shoping Center. Get the derek tibs and the vegetarian platter. Or on the back of that shopping center, quite hidden, is a very good yemeni restaurant, Al Jazera. I think the do a whole roast lamb - or something like that - on Thursdays. My favorite kabobs in the area are the garlic chicken kabobs at Z Kabob. And one of my favorite places overall is at Baileys Crossroads, - Jerusalem Restaurant. Get the musakhan and the makluba with lamb. Lots of good specialties here.

Is a hot dog a sandwich?

All I know is that if my wife asks me to make a sandwich for her and I make a hotdog, there will be big trouble.

Dec 04, 2014
Steve in General Topics

Good Fortune Supermarket at Eden Center

One of the best thigns about it is that it is pan-Asian, so it has Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Thai, Indonesian, etc.

And right now since it is so recently opened, it is very well stocked with everything. The freezer section is impressive.

Nanjing Bistro in Fairfax - Report

Only open about a month, this may be the only place around to try out Nanjing Cuisine. I was happy to find out that the name was true to the purpose of the restaurant.

I will have to explore more to figure out what they do very well. I tried the Nanjing salty duck, which is a cold, sliced duck on the bone (it is not salty, btw). I also had the spicy wonton soup. The shrimp wontons were great but I could have done without the soup. My favorite was s cabbage stir-fry with dried shrimp. Showed real skill in the kitchen.

I will go back to try other items, for sure.

Gelato at Campono near Kennedy Center- Report

Bob Kinkead quietly opened up a pizza, sandwich, salad, and gelato place across from the Kennedy Center, while his main restaurant was undergoing renovation. The pizzas look fantastic, but that's not the reason I was there.

I was there for the gelato, and I am happy to report the sky-high qualtiy of the gelato. I sampled the malaga (like a rum raisin with wine), the black currant, mint chip, and pear vanilla. They all had A+ flavor, though I might not go for the mint chip again as it doesn't really pair with their other offerings.

The problem with the other main gelato places in town is that I am not sure I can find more than two really worthwhile flavors, so I think this is a contender for best in DC.

I look forward to going back.

Taqueria Habanero -- 14th Street

I finally made it up here. I only tried one item. if I based my opinion on one item, this is the best taqueria, by far, in the DC area. Like most taquerias, it has a limited menu, but they also had six specials on offer.

I got the huarache with barbacoa. It was thin strips of beef grilled with onions, jaalpenos, and cactus leaves. The huarache in this case was flat and fried very crispy. The beef was metlingly tender, and had a nice spicy kick. The cactus leant a gorgoeus flavor. On top I slathered a cold condiment of onions marinated with jalapeƱos. Beforehand I was served a basket of wonderful homemade chips with a thick, creamy salsa verde which was tangy. An ideal beginning.

The jamaica agua fresca 'flavor of the day' was jamaica. Not worth ordering, though maybe other flavors are better.

I will definitely return, and it's probably worth going with a group.

DCity Smokehouse BBQ

In a lifetime of eating bbq, honestly, you would be hard pressed to find better than this. It is extraordinary and worth traveling out of your way for.

The pork ribs are great. I look for about seven things I'd like to have in my perfect bbq, but I know in advance I will have to compromise even with the good stuff. Here, there is no compromise. Thick bark, smokiness, tender meat with some pull, complex flavor, fat rendered, a touch of spiciness, and beautiful to look at, it's all here.

The obvious camparison for the brisket is Hill Country, where the pitmaster learned his craft. Hill Country has only one meat worth getting, the most brisket. The rest is a waste of my time and money. But even there, as wonderful as it is, it is also powerfully salty and you pay a high price for rendered fat that drips onto the butcher paper that you will not get to eat. Here it does not rely so heavily on salt, has a more complex flavor, and gets the ratio right of fat to meat. In short, a kind of ideal.

Anywhere else, the Eastern Carolina-style chopped pork would be the highlight of the menu, worth a trip. But here it is both first-rate and third-string. Delicious, messy, awkward. And I mean that in a good way. But not the first thing you should order.

I also had a side of jalapeno cheese grits which were a nice choice that got better the more I ate.

Eating doesn't get better than this.

Suggestions for a long Washington weekend

Very, very few places in DC are quiet, but I would say Proof is both quiet and excellent.

Alba Osteria has a small menu, highighted by their terrific pastas. Tajarin and mezzaluna among the best DC has to offer.

Also quiet is Campono, counter service across from the Kennedy Center. Exceptional gelato, go for the malaga (which is like rum raisin, but with red wine), pear vanilla, and the black currant.

The best crab cakes are at Oohhs and Aahhs - a totally scruffy place. But it takes them about 35 minutes to broil them - definitely ask for broiled, fried doesn't do the trick here. Although this place looks dirt cheap, it isn't, and it's worth it for the best.

Greek is at Kapnos. Serious place. Start off with a couple of spreads: tyrkaftari (feta spread) and the melitzanosalata (eggplant spread). And go for the Greek Fries (not potato, but chickpea flour), and the charred octopus. Lamb shoulder (but you should be at least four people for this) is very, very good.

My favorite brunch is at Eatonville for Southern specialties of hash and eggs and fried green tomatoes, catfish, lavender lemonade to drink.

This area's real Chinatown is in Rockville, MD, north of Bethesda. So many very good possibilities. I like the Yunnan section of the menu at Mandarin Express. Crossing the Bridge noodle soup, fish in wine sauce, crispy tofu. Tiny spot.

Holiday Dinner - what went wrong? What went well?

I had never heard of combinig peas and peanuts before until I took a trip to MIchigan this summer and had it twice. I guess it's a midwest thing. if it's made well, it's delicious.

Dec 02, 2014
Steve in General Topics