A Birthday Dinner at Kyirisan

2 Mar

For Rachel’s birthday dinner (which yes, was in November), we decided to venture to Shaw to dine at Tim Ma’s fabulous Kyirisan in Shaw. We heard great buzz about it from some friends and early reviews, and couldn’t wait to check it out for ourselves.

Situated in the heart of Shaw and just blocks away from the 9:30 Club, a place where Rachel and I frequented shows since ’99 (now we’re really dating ourselves!), Kyirisan uniquely blends French and Chinese cuisine in a homey atmosphere with friendly service and standout dishes. The menu is arranged into three categories: In the Ground, Under the Water, and On the Ground.

Deep fried tofu

We started the first category with the deep fried tofu. Placed in a shallow bowl of black pepper sauce, and topped with scallion and picked carrot, the half dozen cubes of tofu made for a nice introduction to what was ahead.

Raw sea bass

The raw sea bass, artfully arranged with sliced radishes and oranges and complemented with a fish sauce aioli, was simply delightful.

Pan seared scallops

Our favorite dish of the night, however, was the pan-seared scallops with coconut risotto and basil ice cream. Yes, you read that correctly. All of these ingredients worked masterfully with one another as we were instructed by our server to wait for the ice cream to melt in order to enhance the flavor of the dish. Boy was he right.  There’s a reason why this made our Best Dishes of 2016 list.

Freebird Wings

A closer runner-up would have been the Freebird Wings. Smothered with fermented chili paste, oyster sauce, and crème fraiche, it’s a messy but satisfying dish that definitely requires a few extra napkins.

pandan cheesecake

As for dessert, just order the pandan cheesecake and thank us later. Adorned with a chocolate crust and glaze, a pandan anglaise, a dollop of Szechuan whip cream, and sprinkled with candied hazelnuts, it’s an incredibly unique dessert that rivals some of the city’s best.

We can’t forget to mention that we started the evening with some of the wonderful cocktails coming from the bar. Rachel ordered The Forbidden Fruit, a cocktail with spiced rum, cocchi rosa, apple shrub, cinnamon, and cranberry. She loved it so much she got it again as an after dinner drink at the bar. We were going to go elsewhere for a drink after dinner, but loved the drinks so much we decided to just stay at the bar and linger for a bit after our meal.

Kyirisan is a great addition to the District and Chef Tim Ma is doing some great things in his Shaw kitchen. We can’t recommend it enough.

Kyirisan Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Our Favorite Dishes of 2016

21 Dec

Now that we’re a family of four, it’s more often than not you’ll see us enjoying Thai carryout or Peruvian chicken these days than dining out at all of the newest spots (and let’s admit it, even we can’t keep up with all of these openings). Nonetheless, we were still able to explore some great restaurants in the District during those very precious date nights, so without further ado, here are our favorite dishes of the year:

Pan Seared scallops – Kyirisan

While we haven’t had the chance to write up our fabulous meal at Kyirisan just yet (rest assured, we will!), Tim Ma’s latest restaurant is serving up one of the best scallop dishes in Shaw if not the entire District. The four perfectly seared scallops are placed atop a bed of rich coconut risotto and, get this, basil ice cream. Our server told us to wait until the dollop of ice cream melted before partaking in this amazing entrée. Patience is a virtue but it paid off, immensely. There’s a reason why this is one of the most-ordered dishes off the menu.

Pan seared scallops

Pork bahn mi – Mi Lay Cay

I’m ashamed to admit that after living in Silver Spring for over two and a half years that my first visit to the Vietnamese staple in Wheaton was only a couple of months ago. I sincerely regret not going there sooner. For starters, their bahn mi sandwich is tremendous both in size and value. Stuffed with generous servings of delicious pork and sandwiched by a crispy baguette, the foot long sandwich will run you just a mere $4.50!

Pork bahn mi

Socca – Convivial

While the fried chicken “coq au vin” gets a lot of the well-deserved hype, the socca is just as good and twice as pretty. The chickpea pancake sets the foundation for a tower of beets, citrus fruit, shaved fennel, and picholine olives. The combination, as eccentric as it sounds on paper, works so effortlessly well.

Socca with beets

Chicken Himmapan – Thai Taste by Kob

Look, I love the Bamee Moo Deang. I really do. But the chicken himmapan might be my new go-to dish after my last few visits to Phak Duangchandr’s amazing Thai eatery. The stir-fried chicken is served with cashews and dried red chilies that make for a spicy yet satisfying entrée.

Chicken Himmapan

Sansa Temple Bibimbap – Seoul Food

Like the aforementioned Mi La Cay, Rachel and I are kicking ourselves for not discovering this Wheaton gem sooner. While neither of us are vegan, the Sansa Temple Bibimbap is a vegan lover’s dream that appeals to carnivores alike. Prepared with sprouts, shiitake mushrooms, avocado, seaweed, and a blend of original and chives kimchi (both prepared-in house), this dish is just one of half a dozen vegan bibimbap preparations Seoul Food makes.

Sansa Temple Bibimbap

Cauliflower soup with Parmesan – Corduroy

It’s no secret that chef and owner Tom Power makes some of the best soups you’ll find in the District, and his trademark cauliflower soup is no exception. Topped with aged Parmesan, the rich and creamy cauliflower soup is an essential dish especially during these wintery months.

Cauliflower soup with Parmesan

Lamb Ribs – Tail Up Goat

The newly Michelin-starred restaurant in Adams Morgan took a cue from its mentor at Komi by serving up a family-style platter of incredibly succulent lamb ribs. Meant for sharing and accompanied with sumac onions, beets, and a wonderful yogurt sauce, the Mediterranean-style dish is worth the visit alone.

Lamb ribs

Sweet Corn Agnolotti – RPM Italian

The Chicago import has been highly buzzed about since they opened earlier this year, but Rachel and I were very impressed with the pastas they were churning out of the kitchen, especially the sweet corn agnolotti. Topped with summer truffles and cracked pepper, the pillows of pasta basically melted in your mouth.

Sweet Corn Agnolotti

Ma Po Tofu – Bob’s Shanghai 66

I’ve been to Bob’s 66 twice this year and have had the Ma Po Tofu each time. And I don’t even like tofu! Yes, the soup dumplings are all the rage but for me to eat tofu and actually enjoy it is quite an extraordinary feat. I guess I really do like tofu. As long as it’s incredibly spicy, that is.

Ma Po Tofu

Shack Stack Burger – Shake Shack

I like Shake Shack. A lot. But you know what? A single cheeseburger isn’t filling enough when I’m at a Nats game. So why not throw a fried portabella mushroom patty filled with melted Muenster and cheddar cheese on top of it? Done.

Shack Stack Burger

 

Brunching at B Too

9 Dec

Rachel and I have always been fans of Belga Café, Bart Vandaele’s Belgian restaurant in Barracks Row since it opened back in 2004. His second restaurant, B Too, is located on 14th Street and offers a more modern take on the original both in regards to the food and décor. With both kids in tow, we made our way down to the District for Sunday morning brunch.

While we love Belga Café’s intimacy, it’s a bit tight when you’re arriving with a stroller and carseat. B Too, on the other hand, is much more spacious as we had no problem navigating the dining room with our five-month-old in the Snap n’ Go (parents, you know what I’m talking about).

Green Egg McWaffle.

After reenergizing ourselves with some coffee, I decided to be a bit daring and order the Green Egg McWaffle. The waffle muffin (yes, you read that right) was stuffed with green eggs, smoked salmon, cheddar cheese, and avocado cream. Certaintly one of the more unique brunch items I’ve encountered, my adventurousness paid off in what was a very savory, satisfying entrée.

Lobster waffle

Rachel one-upped my savoriness by ordering the lobster waffle, one of their signature dishes, which featured lobster bisque, tomato, and an herb salad.

Decadent crepes.

When your brunch is that savory you need to balance it out with just as much sweet, and we did just that by capping our meal off with their decadent crepes.  The four miniature crepes were stuffed with banana, complemented with Chantilly cream, and drizzled with Nutella that nearly covered every portion of the plate. This honestly could have been a meal in itself as “decadent” would be an understatement, but it made for a fine ending to a very filling meal.

B Too is a great brunch option for those looking for options in the 14th Street corridor, and we hope to come back for dinner soon for some mussels, frites, and of course more of their amazing crepes.

B Too Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Revisiting Fish Taco

24 Oct

Rachel and I have always been fans of Fish Taco, the fast-casual taqueria tucked away in Cabin John. They recently opened a location in Wildwood Shopping Center in Bethesda so we decided to check out their newest site with the whole family.

Elote

We kicked things off with the classic elote, or Mexican grilled corn. Topped with cotija cheese, guajillo chilies, and their signature sauce, it’s the quintessential starter.

Beef brisket mini tostadas

We also shared one of their special appetizers, beef brisket mini tostadas. The fried tortillas were stuffed with refried beans, pico de gallo, coleslaw, cotija, and crema. As you can tell by the description, they were indeed quite filling!

Blackened fish tacos

As for entrees, it was rather self-explanatory given the restaurant’s name. I opted for the blackened fish taco platter. Topped with chili lime sauce, cabbage, and pineapple-chile relish, it always tends to be my go-to dish.

Grilled fish tacos

Rachel got the grilled fish tacos which were topped with cabbage, mango pico, cotija, and chili lime sauce.

Autumn taco

We also had the opportunity to sneak preview their autumn taco which featured black bean puree, acorn squash, avocado, and pesto that was prepared with pumpkin seeds and cilantro. It’s a seasonal delight that’s even vegan-friendly.

Fish Taco is one of those places where we’ve never had a bad meal, and being kid-friendly is always a plus. And now that they’re even closer to us with their new location, it’s a given that we’ll be visiting more often.

Fish Taco is located at Wildwood Shopping Center in 10305 Old Georgetown Road in Bethesda, 7945 MacArthur Blvd in Cabin John, and 7015 Wisconsin Ave in downtown Bethesda.

Fish Taco Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Night at The Yards Food Competition: The Results Are In!

19 Oct

Last Friday, I was invited by Living Classrooms to participate as a food judge at their annual Night at The Yards event, benefitting the Foundation’s work of educating disadvantaged youth in the Baltimore-Washington region.

Night at The Yards

Night at the Yards featured over 30 food and drink vendors as well as four amazing musical acts including the Queez Beez, Living Classroom’s own program that gives young girls a platform to sing and dance and generated a great response from the crowd.

Food Judge

Meanwhile, the selection of food vendors was outstanding. Ranging from local breweries such as nearby Bluejacket to soon-to-open restaurants such as Farmers and Distillers (from the team of Founding Farmers), attendees had a wide array of food and beverage to choose from.

Pate de Campagne from Sonoma Wine BarRoasted brisket taco from Agua 301Cava Mezze spreads

So without further ado, here are this year’s winners from the 2016 Night at the Yards:

Best Food: Capital Crab Company

This local food truck and catering company hit it out the park with their jumbo lump crab balls and crunchy, savory hushpuppies.

Crab ball from Capital Crab Company

Crab ball from Capital Crab Company

 

Best Food Presentation: Farmers and Distillers

This upcoming restaurant from the Founding Farmers team not only offered the most generous portion of the event, but also the best presented with its barbecue pulled pork shaobing slider.

Barbecue pulled pork shaobing slider

Barbecue pulled pork shaobing slider

 

Best Booth Setup: Ice Cream Jubilee

The ice cream parlor, which is a just a stone’s throw from The Yards, dazzled with its table presentation with lights, cones, and scoops.

Best Brew: District Chophouse

A pioneer in the District brewery scene, District Chophouse was serving a seasonally appropriate Dunkelweizen that was a hit amongst the crowd.

Best Cocktail: Lavagna

The Capitol Hill establishment warmed patrons up with their autumn maple bourbon cocktail.

Congrats to the winners as well as Living Classrooms for putting on a very memorable event!

Strong Fit Meals Offers Healthy Meal Delivery Alternative

11 Oct

Over the past year, we have seen the debut of several chef-prepared delivery services in an effort to simplify meal planning when time is limited. Given that both of us work and have two children, dinnertime tends to be stressful, so it’s great to see more options become available.

Strong Fit Meals offers diners a healthier alternative, aimed at those with an active lifestyle or looking to watch calories. The meals, which are made to order and prepared with fresh ingredients, are rather straightforward.

Strong Fit Meals

Their “clean menu” offers a rotating selection of entrees featuring a protein, vegetable and starch, such as blackened steak with mashed sweet potatoes and fresh veggies.

Chicken teriyaki and rice

 

Strong Fit Meals also offers a build your own menu “lean menu” where customers can pick and choose not only the kind of protein/veggie/starch, but also the portion size, too.

Grilled salmon with couscous

We had the opportunity to sample some of their offerings and really liked how the nutrition information was clearly presented on the packaging. The directions are rather simple: just microwave your freshly delivered meal and you’re done.

Roast Chicken

Strong Fit Meals delivers to D.C., Maryland, and Virginia

DMV Dining readers: Use code DMV10 to get 10% off your order!

Convivial: Best Meal of 2016 Thus Far

9 Sep

In what is a really overdue post, Rachel and I dined at Cedric Maupillier’s newest restaurant in Shaw a few months ago and were wowed by every facet the French-American bistro had to offer.

From the modern interior that seeped in an abundance of sunlight to the straightforward menu (actual entrees!) to the impeccably executed food, Convivial is a gem in Shaw and rightfully deserves its #4 ranking in Washingtonian’s “100 Very Best Restaurants 2016.”

Escargot in a blanket

As fans of Mintwood Place, where Chef Maupillier first made his mark in the District, it was great to see a refreshing take on his beloved escargot hushpuppies with escargot in, well, a blanket. Crunchy and delectable, this is the appetizer you need to start your meal off with.

Soccer with beets

The socca, however, is an absolute must-order just on presentation alone. The chickpea pancake sets the foundation for a tower of beets, citrus fruit, shaved fennel, and picholine olives. The combination, as eccentric as it sounds on paper, works so effortlessly well and is the epitome of a summer dish – light, refreshing, and full of flavor.

soft shell crab meunière

Rachel’s soft shell crab meunière was a delight, which was complemented by sweet corn and hazelnut grits.

fried chicken "coq au vin"

Naturally I had to try the fried chicken “coq au vin” which was just as good as it sounded. The doubly fried and braised chicken was incredibly juicy, bursting with notes of red wine, yet maintained a satisfyingly crunch after each bite.

key lime pie with speculoos crust

The key lime pie with speculoos crust was an outstanding dessert and rivaled any slice originating from Key West. Topped with slices of kiwi, Rachel and I would buy an entire pie if we could.

And while the food was incredible, the service was top-notch as well. Our friendly waitress helped us navigate the menu and was continually checking up on us.

Furthermore, given the quality and size of portions, I honestly think Convivial is one of the better values in the city. Both of our entrees were under $20, and considering the work Chef Maupillier and Co. are doing in the kitchen, I tip my hat to them for offering five-star food at such an affordable price point in a city that’s getting more expensive by the year if not month.

Convivial is an exceptional restaurant and both Rachel and I are comfortable in saying in that it’s been our best meal of the year so far.

Convival Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mezze Box Brings Fresh Mediterranean Meals to Your Door

11 Aug

As working parents with two young children, we’re always on the lookout for trying new ways to handle the logistics of having dinner ready between picking our kids up from daycare and getting them ready for bed in hopes of avoiding a late night meal after the dust has settled.

And while we’re fans of meal delivery services such as Blue Apron and Home Chef, those recipes are still time-consuming and involve a good amount of both prep and cleanup.

Enter Mezze Box; a local startup that offers freshly prepared Mediterranean meals to your doorstep. Founder Johnny Seikaly, originally from Lebanon, cooks traditional Mediterranean fare using recipes passed down from his family that are both hearty and healthy.

Mezze Box

 

Mezze Box offers a rotating weekly menu featuring four individually sized main dishes as well as a handful of sides. And if you’re dining for two or more, they also offer Mezze Boxes, which mix and match entrees and sides that can accommodate four to up to ten people.

Last week, we had the opportunity to try their okra stew, lentils & rice, and cauliflower. Prepared with whole ingredients, all of which were listed on the packaging, the food tasted incredibly fresh and was bursting with Mediterranean flavor.

Okra Stew

 

The best part is that Mezze Box delivers not only to D.C., but also Maryland and Virginia, and the delivery is free if your order is over $25. And while they exclusively deliver on Mondays, they will be introducing daily delivery starting August 22!

DMV Dining readers can get 10% off their entire order by using code “DMVDINING”

A Birthday Dinner at Tail Up Goat

7 Jul

Let’s face facts – Rachel and I don’t go out nearly as much as we used to before we had kids, and now that we have two, expect that frequency to dip even further.  But then there’s the sacred “date night”, a time where Rachel and I hire a sitter, have a glass of wine, and enjoy each other’s company at a restaurant that’s either a staple of ours or has garnered some recent buzz.

Tail Up Goat, which opened earlier this year amidst much fanfare, boasts staff from the outstanding Komi and, perhaps one of my favorite restaurants, Little Serow. Located in Adams Morgan, Tail Up Goat is situated in the ground floor of a The Adamo; a condo building I didn’t even know existed that demonstrates how long it’s been since I’ve last visited this particular D.C. neighborhood.

Stracciatella

We kicked off the evening with the Stracciatella. The texture of the cheese resembled that of burrata, but was even creamier, and was accompanied by crispy artichokes and salsa verde. It was a very pleasing summer appetizer.

Charred chocolate rye

Up next was arguably the most unorthodox dish of the night – the charred chocolate rye. The freshly baked bread was generously smeared with a pea pesto and then topped with pickled tomatoes and salt-crusted sardines. Yep, sardines. There was a lot going on with this dish, and while I appreciate how the kitchen tried to create a balance of sweet and salty, the complexity of flavors was slightly overkill.

Carrot ravioli

On the other hand, the carrot ravioli demonstrates how Tail Up Goat excels in its pastas. The carrot-stuffed pasta, accompanied with baby leeks, apricots, and topped with pistachio breadcrumbs, was one of our favorite dishes of the evening. Just an incredibly unique dish that was perfectly executed.

Lamb ribs

And then that brings us to the crown jewel of Tail Up Goat: the lamb ribs. Quite reminiscent to the family-style main event goat platter at Komi, the ribs are meant for sharing, and Rachel and I went to town on this Mediterranean-style dish, complete with sumac onions, beets, and a wonderful yogurt sauce. Between the incredibly tender meat and generous portion (roughly 8-9 ribs), the visit is worth it alone just for this entree. Trust me.

lemon curb-stuffed cannoli

For dessert we decided to order a pair of lemon curb-stuffed cannoli. Topped with pistachios and placed on a dab of citrus marmalade, it was a playful interpretation of the classic Italian dessert.

Another highlight of the meal was the outstanding service. You could tell that the staff was disciples of Johnny Monis’ attention to detail, from the food, to the atmosphere, right down to the interaction between waiter and customer. Our server was incredibly helpful, attentive, and just all around pleasant.  I’m glad we had the opportunity to enjoy one of the rare nights Rachel and I get out at an establishment like this.

Tail Up Goat Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Pi Pizza Opens in Bethesda

9 Jun

While downtown Bethesda isn’t necessarily devoid of pizza joints, the St. Louis-based pizzeria Pi Pizza is famously known for its deep-dish cornmeal crust pizza and adds a Midwestern flair that helps it stand out from its nearby counterparts.  This is actually the second Pi in the Washington market as their D.C location, District of Pi, opened nearly three years ago in Penn Quarter.

In the space that formerly housed Pitzze and its previous incarnation, Haven, Pi Pizza looks to welcome Bethesda diners with their trademark deep-dish pizza as well as an array of toppings that includes prosciutto, sundried tomatoes, roasted chicken, and even daiya vegan cheese.

Thin-crust pizza

Since I was dining with my three year-old, I opted instead for the thin-crust style, as that was a bit more toddler-accessible as opposed to the deep-dish.  The crust was delightfully crispy and incorporated a sweet tomato sauce without being overly greasy.

Meatballs

Meanwhile, the biggest hit of the evening for my son was the meatballs.  Incorporating a pork and beef blend and topped with tomato sauce and Parmesan, my kid gobbled these up… and even asked for seconds!

Oven-blazed wings

And while the pizza is great, the oven-blazed wings are highly underrated. Prepared with a dry rub and baked in the oven (not fried!), the wings were accompanied with a yogurt cucumber dressing which was a nice, refreshing twist compared to your typical ranch dip.

Pi Pizza is a great addition to Bethesda, and with ample public parking in the back of the restaurant this looks to be a great destination for diners in search for a pie and a pint.