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Destination Dining: Thip Khao vs Bangkok Golden

Has she restored the heat at Thip Khao? The "soft opening" meal that the Chowhound group had there was very much lacking in heat.

close-in DC: decent crabs, family-friendly environment

Quarterdeck has the best crabs of the close-in crab houses and it's definitely family friendly. It's a little more expensive than Captain Pell's, but worth it to me. They use Chesapeake Bay crabs when they're available.

Khan Kabob in Chantilly, VA from Founder of Ravi Kabob

Are there any more recent updates on Khan Kabob? Last spring (2014), Todd Kliman published a rave review of it in the Washingtonian, especially praising the lamb brains karahi. It stayed on his "Where I'm Eating Right Now" list on his weekly blog chat for months.

So when I learned that I have to do an evening meeting in Chantilly next week, I was thrilled -- "At last I can try the lamb brains karahi!" But when I checked the recent Washingtonian Cheap Eats list, Khan Kabob was nowhere to be found.

Has the quality slipped here? Have there been any ownership changes? Any recent input would be greatly appreciated (ideally before next week -- bad Pakistani food can be really really bad).


Friday CH lunch at Aldeerah

Quick comments on both Aldeerah and House of Mandi (my apologies if it's a breach of etiquette to combine two topics -- guidance on this would be welcome).

(1) Aldeerah.

My wife, son, and I ate at Aldeerah a few weeks ago. We had sambosas (fried beef dumplings) for an appetizer, which were good but pretty standard. We got two entrees, lamb mathloothah and sayyadiyah (a fish dish that's served only on Wednesdays and Sundays).

The mathloothah was interesting. It has four layers, the top one being stewed lamb (shank or leg, I'd guess); the next being fluffy rice (basmati, I think); the next layer was a mix of lamb fat, bread, onions, and spices (qursan); and the bottom layer (jiresh) was a gummy paste made of crushed wheat mixed with fried onions and yogurt. I could only taste the top three layers due to my lactose intolerance, but they were solidly savory if not real exciting. My wife and son (both good eaters) reported that the final layer was kind of gluey, probably an acquired taste (like poi).

The sayyadiyah was tilapia over an aromatic rice cooked in onions. I wasn't expecting much due to the choice of fish, but this was surprisingly good.

I liked the salt shakers (photo attached), but your taste for kitsch might differ.

(2) House of Mandi - I checked this out twice on Friday, after seeing Marty's post since it's only minutes from my house. Lunch was the prosaically named "liver sandwich." This is really simple, a generous portion of slices of liver (beef, I think, though maybe it was lamb) sauteed with jalapenos, onions, and red pepper and stuffed in chapati bread (kind of a thicker pita, which is really good), but it really hit the spot for me. Unlike the rest of my family, I love liver so finding it available in a one-person portion so close to home is a real plus.

They have the full menu at lunch, along with a lunch-only sandwich menu -- which has four sandwiches (all $5.95) in addition to the liver: ground beef wrapped in a chapati; Kraft cheese and honey wrapped in a chapati; cream and honey wrapped in a chapati; and my favorite without even tasting it, Nutella and banana wrapped in a chapati.

For dinner we tried two entrees, both substantially enlivened with the "hot salad, which is a blazing hot chunky green chili sauce and both served with delicious bread (similar to the chapati at lunch).

One was saltah, a vegetable stew (heavy on root vegetables) topped with the fenugreek froth. It was very good, and the fenugreek is unusual, but probably better for a winter day than June.

The other was fahsah, which the menu describes as a beef stew "a real adventure, ... truly unique to Yemen and for those who want to go the extra mile."

This was a huge winner, but not because it's unique to Yemen. It was basically a traditional American pot roast, with a few tomatoes, peppers, and onions, and some light Middle Eastern spicing. But the fahsah had much more liquid than American pot roast, and the broth was intensely beefy. It was reminiscent of the roast beef with "debris" that is served on New Orleans po-boys. It was tremendous soaked up on the Yemeni bread -- but even better the next day on some good French bread, some good mayo (Kewpie), shredded lettuce and chopped tomato (with a little of the hot salad). It wasn't as good as the roast beef po-boy with debris from Mother's in New Orleans, but it wasn't that far off. Real good.

If House of Mandi can keep up this quality, it will become a regular stop for us. Where else can you find top notch liver and onions and beef pot roast?

Friday CH lunch at Aldeerah

Steve -

Did you go to Al-Ameer in Dearborn by any chance? Toni and I went to Dearborn on vacation back in 2009. We bugged everyone we knew with any Detroit connections for recommendations and the virtually unanimous choice was Al-Ameer. They had a dish, kebbie with hashwie, that was magnificent and unlike anything I've had before or since.

It had a foundation of kebbie (kibbi), raw ground beef, topped with a mix of hashwie, cooked ground beef with onions and pine nuts, with a few radish slices for garnish. It was one of the best things I've ever eaten.

We also had a very good Yemeni meal at the Arabian Village restaurant, which featured a much heavier fenugreek froth than the two local Yemeni restaurants. It was excellent, but the really memorable meal was at Al-Ameer.

Washington DC and VA burbs "ethnic" restaurants

What a tremendous list! When I think of the top five food critics working in DC right, my list is Todd Kliman, Tim Carr, Ann Limpert, Tyler Cowen, and Steve (and certainly not the lazy burnout who is currently the Post's lead critic).

My wife and I spent some time in Paris last fall exploring French and ethnic restaurants. I'd say the DC area is stronger than Paris in most ethnic cuisines except north African, west African, the French Indian Ocean islands - Reunion, Seychelles, etc., and maybe Italian and Japanese):

A few suggested additions of from cuisines that aren't common in Paris .

- Shirin polo with lamb kabob at Amoo's in McLean (Persian rice with orange peel, carrots, pistachios, and saffron)

- Korean seafood & beef tofu soup at Lighthouse Tofu in Annandale

- A sampler of doro wat, lamb tibs, dullet & the veggie combo at Meaza in Falls Church

- Sayyadiyah (grilled tilapia with Saudi-style rice with caramelized onions) at Aldeerah in Vienna

Peter Chang to come to Arlington?

The Peter Chang place in Fredricksburg was very average when my wife and I ate there. The waitress seemed baffled when we asked whether Chang was in the kitchen, but she later reported back that he was not.

Chow Lunch at Taqueria Habanero - Report

Sorry, I wasn't able to join you for this outing (out of town), but my wife and son and I checked out Taqueria Habanero today. First of all, thanks to MikeR for the warning on the habanero sauce. Ordinarily, I'd have just dumped a spoonful on a taco, but thanks to Mike I tasted it first and saved a taco from inedibility.

I thought the tortillas on the tacos were way above average and the fillings very tasty, though not outstanding. Overall, the lengua and cabrito at El Charrito Caminante remain my favorite tacos in the DC area -- but those would be significantly improved if they used Taqueria Habanero's tortillas.

But the real highlight of the meal was the chilaquiles -- lightly fried tortilla strips, covered in a smoky enchilada-ish sauce and topped with fried eggs, a little bit of queso fresca, and some decorative lines of crema. That was one of the best dishes I've had in quite a while. I could have eaten it all day. (My wife and son loved it too, but both thought it was too rich serve as an entire main course.)

I wouldn't make a special trip to Taqueria Habanero just for the tacos, though they were very good, but I'll definitely be making return trips for the chilaquiles.

One dish at Grace Garden

I want to thank everyone on this thread for the suggestions. Due to a meeting cancellation, I ended up at Grace Garden today alone, so having to choose just one dish from a fascinating menu (I've never been there before). I went with the Triple Treasures, which was amazingly good and unlike anything I've had before. I'll definitely be going back.

Hyattsville, White Oak, College Park

I think Sahara Oasis is Ghanaian, not Nigerian.

Thip Kao in DC - Report

Marketing. Stodgy audience = stodgy food.

Thip Kao in DC - Report

Steve - Thanks for the report and the menu. I join in with putting the sea bass and smoked eggplant at the top of an excellent meal, as well as putting the noodles at the bottom.

I don't know if you could hear what the owner was saying, but she promised to be at Bangkok Golden three days a week and at Thip Khao three days a week.

It was too bad about the tame heat level. I wonder if the waiter didn't hear you (or didn't believe you) when you said "we like it Lao hot"?

I personally don't much care about decor, but the Khip Thao is certainly an attractive space.

Myanmar in Falls Church or Mandalay in Silver Spring?

A Taste of Burma in Sterling is my favorite of the local Burmese restaurants.

Your Favorite Ethnic Dives in DC Area?

Super Chicken has new owners, who are Pakistani, and it's now half-Pakistani and half-Peruvian food. The chicken is still just okay (on a par with the Peruvian chicken place in Wilston (sp?) Center on Route 50 in Falls Church). The only Pakistani dishes we had were the spinach and the chick peas. Both were good, but obviously not much of a sample size to draw conclusions from.

Return to TECC

I endorse this completely. I'm sure I've eaten at El Charrito Caminante more than any other restaurant in my life. At least three-four times a month, I'm going to have the cabrito taco, along with either the lengua taco or the chorizo taco. The best thing on the menu might be the Salvadoran chicken sandwich, which is a bone-in chicken sandwich with a hard boiled egg and a great mayo-ish sauce, but I have to limit how often I eat it because it's massive and a calorie bomb.

Falls Church, Va - dinner/drinks before concert

I'm having trouble thinking of that combination in Falls Church. There's lots of great food, but usually in ethnic places where the beer and wine options are very limited. Mad Fox Brewing (which is very near the State Theater) has excellent beer options, but the food is mediocre. A lot of people like Argia's, an Italian place, and it has a decent wine list, but I've found its food underwhelming.

I doubt that either fits your criteria, but here's a couple of ideas. Clare and Don's Beach Shack (literally next door to the State) has a good beer list and good casual seafood options. Maneki Neko, also easy walking distance to the State, is a very underrated Japanese restaurant, with excellent sushi, ramen, udon, yaki-soba and other Japanese standards. I don't know about the beer and wine, but they have a good selection of sake.

Your Favorite Ethnic Dives in DC Area?

Great list. I'm not sure I'd call El Charrito Caminante a Salvadoran restaurant. The owner is Mexican and the tacos are definitely Mexican-style. They do have a knock-out Salvadoran-style chicken sandwich, however, which is maybe the best thing on the menu. And I wouldn't be surprised if the ladies at the grill are Salvadoran.

What types of restaurants does DC need now?

I have read that there are more Uighurs in the DC area than anywhere else in the USA (we've had some in our ESL program in Falls Church). Too bad they're not gastronomically inclined.

Can't help with Breton galettes (don't even know what that is), but I think we do sort of have some Israeli food (which is very similar to Jordanian/Egyptian food in many respects).

Max's Kosher Deli in Wheaton and at Nats' Park has very respectable Israeli-style shawarma and falafel sandwiches and Water Park Cafe, a take-out stand in Crystal City has excellent foul medames, which, though Egyptian, is indistinguishable from the foul we had in Amman and Jerusalem. The owner also gave us a bite of Egyptian koshary, which was superb.

So, I concede there's not exactly an Israeli restaurant here, but both Max's and Water Park Cafe are well worth knowing about for Israeli-ish food.

DIrty Family Secrets

Processed American cheese is a key ingredient in Korean budae jigae (army camp stew).

Group dinner restaurants for mid-September

The noisiest dinner I've ever suffered through was at Zaytinya. It's always very loud, but on this particular evening a group on a bachelorette party literally screamed their way through dinner and the restaurant did nothing to calm them down.

Are thin, tough, gristly steaks the norm in France?

Since the original post, the New York Times has published this interesting article on changes (improvements) to the beef in France.

Aug 24, 2014
Mississippi Snopes in France

No I Don’t Want to Split 4 Deviled Eggs 6 Ways: Why Sharing Sucks

The original poster was kidding in the best way, making fun of himself. Don't take his joking so seriously.

What "typical American Foods" would you serve to foreigners?

Several years ago, I was getting on a small plane on a flight from Baton Rouge to Memphis and a young lady was struggling with getting her bag into the overhead compartment. I jumped up to help her -- and almost got knocked down by the weight of her bag. Together, we managed to get it into the bin with some difficulty. She thanked and sat down in the seat next to mine.

It turned out that she was a Swiss girl going home from spending her senior year in high school as an exchange student in a Baton Rouge suburban high school. I asked her, "If you don't mind my asking, what's in that incredibly heavy bag?" "Oh, Bisquick, I love American biscuits, and you can't get this stuff in Switzerland. I love American food ... We NEED Sonic in Switzerland. But I have gained 25 pounds this year."

At the risk of overgeneralizing from a sample of one, I'd feed my foreign visitors an American breakfast: Homemade biscuits slathered in butter and then returned to the over to brown, thick-cut bacon and sagey pork sausage patties, hash browns and grits, eggs sunny-side up, over easy, and scrambled, fresh squeezed orange juice, homemade pear preserves, strong coffee and Barry's tea.

It might seem routine and boring, but I've found in traveling around the world that breakfast is often the meal that is the most different and challenging.

The above spread would also serve very well as my choice for my final dinner before my execution.

DIrty Family Secrets

You succeeded almost perfectly in your intent to add nothing. Congratulations. However, you could have succeeded perfectly with even less effort.

DIrty Family Secrets

Hard to imagine someone who doesn't enjoy telling stories about his or her close relatives' food tastes. My younger brother Bill just about put me off biscuits and homemade pear preserves (which my mother perfected) forever because his enthusiastic attack left him with little bits of sticky biscuit pieces stuck to his face. Not that easy to take on an early Mississippi morning (after our unfailingly daily devotional from the Methodist Upper Room).

Would I hesitate to kid Mama and Bill about these precious memories? Not for a second -- and they'd be sad if I felt their feelings were so delicate that they can't stand a little teasing. Somebody called this topic "churlish." Not to be churlish, but I have to wonder if the poster has ever punched his brother or sister in the back seat of a four hour car drive with the parents in the front seat.

My parents and siblings are not at all hesitant to tease me about my willingness to eat weird stuff like lamb ... and kimchi. And I'm not at all hesitant to tease them about being afraid to try Rocky Mountain Oysters and steak tartare.

On to the actual topic of this post: Things my family eats that appall me. That's a topic way too big, so I'll narrow it down to oysters.

My mother is a notoriously picky eater (no lamb for her; we once ate at a Tex-Mex restaurant here in Arlington with her sisters and she went next door to Popeye's rather than eat that weird food). But she somehow likes oysters, but "only if they're really, really crisp. I don't like them juicy." (Translation -- I hate oysters, but if you fry anything long enough it tastes like french fries.)

On the other hand, my brother Bill (second youngest to me) is a macho Dixie guy -- he loves anything traditionally Southern, but nothing from Yankee Land (which includes the whole world, except for the former Confederate states). So Bill is a big fan of raw oysters by the bushel.

Literally by the bushel. Bill buys a bag of Appalachicola oysters from people standing alongside the road in Alabama and brings them home to Mississippi for Christmas, and stores the croker sack outside in the storage shed.

The raw oysters are very good and plentiful -- to the tune of four to five dozen a day -- but the lack of any safety inspection leaves every bite with the image of permanent liver damage.

So, on the topic of family teasing on oysters, I'd say Mama would laugh right along if we told her she'd enjoy deep fried mud just as much and Bill would laugh happily if we told him that we were avoiding the delicious Appalachicola oysters because some Yankee scientist thought they were dangerous.

The Mall and Visitors

According to Google Maps, it's a 22 minute walk (1.1 miles) from the Lincoln Memorial to the USDA and a 27 minute walk (1.3) miles to the Ronald Reagan Center. The Mall is a big place. I'd take a cab.

The Mall and Visitors

That really is a culinary desert near the Lincoln Memorial. I got curious and started checking out options near there. The State Department cafeteria isn't open to the public and that's probably no loss, since it is mandated to meet USDA nutrition guidelines for salt, trans-fats, hormones, etc.

Sadly, the Institute for Peace's cafeteria, which is very close, also isn't open to the public.

According to Google Maps, the Sizzling Express at 523 23d Street is a 12 minute walk from the Lincoln Memorial, which is a long way to go for mediocre food.

I think your recommendation of a cab is the right way to go.

Washington DC for a five day sisters' trip

I'll put in a dissenting view in favor of Lincoln. It doesn't get much critical support, but I had an excellent meal there -- it's a restaurant that will let the picky eater get her fill of DC standards like crab cakes and shrimp and grits, but let the more open-minded try things like deviled eggs with black truffles, bone marrow, a DC half-smoke in puff pastry.

I was happily surprised by Lincoln (plus it has hosted either Michelle or Barack Obama, usually a pretty good indication of good food).

I laughed at your comment about coming from Toronto so not needing any "broadening" of your palate. My wife and I did a driving vacation to Toronto without doing any research at all ... so we were expecting some kind of vague "Canadian" food ... and found one of the greatest food cities we've ever been to. A city where more than half the residents are foreign born is bound to have great food, and Toronto certainly does. No more Canadian food jokes for us.

One of the greatest meals of my life was at Black Hoof in Toronto. Is it still superb?

If you could talk the picky sister into it, DC does have one cuisine that is underrepresented in Toronto -- Ethiopian. We're stronger than anywhere else in North America for that. But to the picky, it is really odd food -- starting with the slightly fermented, spongy, moist bread (injera).

The suggestions above for mainstream restaurants are good and I can strongly second those for Kapnos and Rose's Luxury. If you want a more reasonable price point, I'd also recommend Cava on Capitol Hill (branches in Arlington and somewhere in Maryland). It's mostly Greek, but there are lots of things for the mainstream eater, and the grilled octopus and the lamb sliders are consistently superb.

Washington DC Birthday Trip for Teen Daughter

Hank's Oyster Bar is a good locally owned seafood restaurant in the Dupont Circle area.

One thing you might be interested is walking or taking a cab over to 14th Street between U and Thomas Circle, probably less than a 15 minute walk from Dupont Circle. Restaurants there have exploded in recent years -- I think I read that more than 50 new restaurants opened in that area in 2013 alone. Le Diplomate is highly regarded for French and Ghibellina for Italian (I haven't eaten at either), Pearl Dive Oyster Bar is excellent for seafood, Etto is excellent for fancy American/pizza, and Bar Pilar is excellent for fancy American.

If you wanted to branch out just slightly, Kapnos is great for Greek food cooked over wood and Estadio is an outstanding Spanish/tapas place.

You'd want to go a little early though, since most of the 14th Street restaurants are trendy and don't take reservations.

Chinese restaurant with steamed fish?

Hong Kong Place in Seven Corners shopping center has a nice steamed fish.

Despite the name, Hong Kong Palace is a Sichuan restaurant. The owners bought the restaurant and never bothered to change the name. (The prior owners served country-style Taiwanese food, so I'm not sure why they called it Hong Kong Palace, either.)