With a three year-old and a house in the burbs, DMV Dining shifted towards exploring more family-friendly dining options this year than routinely dining in the District proper, but that didn’t stop us from enjoying a variety of amazing dishes regardless of venue. And while we were able to have a date night or two in the city, there’s a multitude of terrific options outside the D.C. border. With that said, here are our favorite dishes of 2015:
Pork Lychee Salad – Rose’s Luxury
First of all, we’re just proud of the fact we were able to walk into Rose’s on a humid summer day and get a seat within half an hour (it can be done!). After coming off that high, we were brought back to cloud nine with their incredible pork lychee salad. Composed of pork sausage, habanero, peanuts, and raw onion, it’s a combination of ingredients that somehow works, and works well. Like, really well.
Shoyu Ramen – Ren’s Ramen
I’ve expressed my love for Ren’s Ramen countless times, but it really is one of the best ramen shops in the area. Despite the lack of parking, the Soup Nazi-reminiscent list of rules posted on the front door, and cash-only policy, it’s still worth the trip to Wheaton. My go-to is their Sapporo-style Shoyu ramen. For $10 you get a heaping bowl of soy sauce flavored soup prepared with Tonkotsu broth, roast pork, bean sprouts, bamboo shoots, scallions, onion, and ground pork. It’s a rich and hearty ramen that makes for an ideal wintertime meal.
Palak Chaat – Rasika
What needs to be said? This is a quintessential dish at a classic venue.
Baklava – YiaYias’s Kitchen
This Beltsville restaurant servers up some incredible gyros (although I’m still partial towards Marathon Deli in nearby College Park), but the baklava stands out as one of their top dishes. With endless layers of filo held together by honey, it makes for a wonderfully sticky treat.
Injera Plate – Ethio Express Grill
Silver Spring’s Ethio Express Grill marks the first time Ethiopian food has entered the incredibly popular fast-casual market, but rest assured quality is not compromised despite the express moniker. Their trademark platter features grilled beef (tibs), hot sauce, ayib cheese, collard greens (gomen), spicy lentils (miser), and split peas (kik), and is accompanied by warm injera bread. It made for a quick, affordable, and certainly delicious lunch.
Szechuan-style Duck – Crane and Turtle
Chef Makoto Hamamura is doing incredible things at Paul Ruppert’s Petworth restaurant, where Japanese cooking wonderfully intertwines with French cuisine. Paired with pea shoots, braised Yuba, and dan dan sauce, the savory, perfectly cooked duck was the highlight of an outstanding birthday dinner.
The Hot Mess – Frankly Pizza
Frankly Pizza has been one of the biggest additions to what has been a somewhat lackluster dining scene in Kensington. Starting off as a mobile wood-fired pizza trailer back in 2011, Frankly Pizza opened its doors in 2014 and has been incredibly busy since. All of their pizzas are outstanding, but the Hot Mess really stood out. Topped with mozzarella, pickled jalapenos, caramelized onions, bacon, Gruyere and Romano, we had to get this amazing pie to go since the wait for tables was so long!
Crispy Miso Kushi-Katsu – KAZ Sushi Bistro
Chef Kaz Okochi’s downtown restaurant is more than just a sushi spot, albeit a great one. From an extensive sake menu to an array of small plates, KAZ also offers some popular Japanese street food such as these incredibly delicious panko-crusted pork and onion skewers. Topped with sweet red miso sauce and Japanese mustard, this deep-fried delicacy makes for great bar fare.
Brisket Buns – Momofoku CCDC
The opening of David Chang’s latest venture in CityCenter brought much ballyhoo to the District, and while no restaurant can match that amount of hype, Momofoku delivered when it came to its brisket buns. The combination of pickled red onion, cucumber, horseradish sauce, and slow-roasted brisket is well worth the wait.
Dry fried Eggplant – Peter Chang
We haven’t even had time to write about our wonderful dinner at Peter Chang’s Rockville spot from last week yet (rest assured, we will), but the dry fried eggplant was an exceptional dish and nothing like I have had before. They were essentially eggplant fries sans any trace of grease while the outside remained delightfully crispy. Topped with chilies and Sichuan pepper, this isn’t even the spiciest dish on the menu, but if you’re a fan of heat then the dry fried eggplant is a must-order.