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Curry Mantra 2 in Falls Church - Report

A very astute review. Asad is a very nice guy and working really hard. I've spent a fair bit of time in S. Asia and find the cooking at Curry Mantra one really exceptional, I'm not sure they're at quite the same level as Rasika but superb. Curry Mantra II was a huge disapointment. None of the dishes we ordered was anything like the quality of the origninal.

Ravi Kabob

Adding to Steve's very useful "how to tell an Indian from a Pakistani" restaurant post above, another good hint is the presence or absence of beef on the menu. If there's beef, there's a chance the restaurant is Indian but very likely will turn out to be Pak or Afghan.

New Sichuan place from Hong Kong Palace people - metro accessible!

For me, Mala is about a quarter of the distance from me that HKP is. Don't know about specials, weren't any the night we were there. Could not agree with you more about the chicken with crunchy chilies. That my friend is a dish of pure magic.

Alphonso mangoes?

So glad you found them. May need to order another box myself.....

New Sichuan place from Hong Kong Palace people - metro accessible!

As a long time and ardent fan of Hong Kong Palace I've been meaning to try Mala Tang for some time. Overall I was very pleased. This is a very bold step for the Liu's, a huge step out of their comfort zone and I admire their audacity in going after a hip younger and non-Chinese speaking clientele. Alkapal's astute comment about the difference between Mala Tang's website and HKP's captures this exactly. Likewise the decor of Mala Tang and the obvious effort they've made to recruit young and hip looking servers (I must say service the evening we were there was absolutely first rate). To the food. I love Hong Kong Palace. Having lived in Beijing and prowled it's Hunan, Szechwan, and Guizhou restaurants I can certainly attest that HKP is the closest you're going to come to those places absent a very long flight. Mala Tang's food (based on a single visit) is very good but sometimes lacking the complexity of seasoning and incredible flavor dynamics you find at HKP or in China. I refer here particularly to the Dan Dan noodles and Ma Po Tofu, two classic dishes. While I'm fairly sure that Mala Tang's versions are the best one is likely to find in Arlington, they don't stack up to the mothership. For whatever reason, I don't really dig on hot pot. Didn't when I lived in China and am not highly jazzed by Uncle Liu's or other hot pot places here. That said, I really liked the broth at Mala. Plenty of ma and la but not the a-- kicking one takes from the spicy broth at Uncle Liu's. All in all my wife and I really enjoyed Mala. It's a very young place trying to execute a bold new concept for its otherwise experienced owners and I suspect will get even better with time. The food on our visit was quite good and the service impeccable. I’ll certainly be back.

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Hong Kong Palace
6387 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22044

New Bangladeshi place in Arlington

This place is pretty close to my house and I'm quite curious to try it. Bangladeshi isn't thought of in S. Asia as a grand cuisine by any means though Bangladeshi cooks are very common in Indian restaurants the world over, it turns out they mostly come from an area of Bangladesh called Sylhet. Thanks for your report, i look forward to trying it and reporting back.

Columbia Pike changes & other local Arlington restaurant changes in 2010

Alpine has been bought by the restaurant group that owns Liberty Tavern, Lyon Hall, Northside Social and so on. They plan to just hold it for a while as they want to proceed cautiously in their (already rapid) growth. Given their other places, should be great when it opens.

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The Liberty Tavern
3195 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22201

Alphonso mangoes?

I ordered a box of Alfonso's from the link below and they were every bit as delicious as the ones i eat in Mumbai. Two drawbacks: Price and they were quite slow. That said, they were exquisite.

http://www.1-800-organicfruitofthemon...

Sri Lanka sambol

May I suggest a Sri Lankan specialty store in Md called Spice Lanka (17517 Redland Road Derwood, MD 20855 301-216-2238). Haven't been there yet but am quite keen to go. I'm told they also have a carryout sort of operation with a few cooked dishes (curries and so on). As I say, can't vouch as I haven't been but local Sri Lankans tell me it's the real deal.

Where did Food Factory go?

Same location as always and still an excellent bone in chicken kabob. They have indeed radically changed their interior and are a sort of sports bar like thing. Food's the same and still quite good but it is now a kind of weird hybrid halal meat and Miller GD sports bar.

Tasty Korean Fare

Check out Chung dai kam for BBQ. You cook at the table over gas fired charcoal so you get charcoal flavor on the kalbi and so on. Great place. 7215 Columbia Pike, Annandale. 703-894-0431 (there's usually an english speaker around.)

Bo Ssam and other roast swine

Has anybody found a place to get Bo Ssam (Korean crispy skin roast pork butt) or any other whole roasted crispy skin pork in the dc area? Welcome any insights. Thanks