Monday, November 16, 2015

Koi Asian Cuisine: Lunchtime Munchtime

Koi Asian Cuisine
12046 Cherry Hill Rd, Silver Spring
5.5/10 on my bangin' scale

Koi Asian Cuisine is a new Asian restaurant in Silver Spring. By Asian, I mean many types of Asian: Chinese, Japanese, and Thai. Also, American-style seafood, for that one white friend who refuses to eat even Chinese food (does such a person exist? I'm not sure).

A group of about ten of my work colleagues and I decided to try it out one day for lunch. The interior is clearly brand new and spacious with maybe that early 00s idea of modern--lots of granite, glass, and neon. I will say you can easily get a large table if you need to hold a work event, and parking is plentiful. Although maybe it won't be easy forever; I'm sure FDA-ers will find out about it eventually. We were seated in a separate party room that could probably hold about 20ish people. The room was bright with several external windows, and also had interior windows into the main dining room.

View of the interior dining room from private party room
The lunch specials ranged from General Tso's Chicken ($8.50) to Teriyaki Chicken Bento Box ($11). The Teriyaki Chicken Bento Box (below) featured a mixed greens salad dressed with a ginger vinaigrette, rice, teriyaki chicken with broccoli and onions, and three pieces of California roll.

The food was unremarkable. Surely better than your standard Kaiser Permanente cafeteria fare, but certainly not as good as Full Key Restaurant (Chinese), also nearby. Perhaps Koi Asian bit off more types of food than it is capable of making deliciously.

Teriyaki Chicken Lunch Bento Box ($11)
Service was extremely attentive. There were some difficulties with charging several credit cards at once, but I will chalk that up to the restaurant being new and us being a large party.

Right now, Koi Asian Cuisine is kinda like Babu's original restaurant in Seinfeld: too many kinds of food, easy to get a seat, and super attentive service.

Koi Asian Cuisine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Brunch at 8407 kb

8407 Kitchen Bar (reviewing their brunch only)
Wayne & Ramsey Ave, Silver Spring
6.5/10 on my bangin' scale

I've invited guests to brunch at 8407 Kitchen Bar three separate times. "Fancy" brunch food that's not fancily expensive; a trendy, hipsterish atmosphere including bright windows/a brick interior; and a location steps from the metro are all great assets for meeting up with friends for brunch.

Brunch at 8407 starts off with mini muffins (one per person). Mini muffins always make me happy because they remind me of my days in elementary school when I'd make tiny confections in my Easy Bake Oven. The deviled eggs appetizer--featuring 3 to 4 deviled egg halves garnished with bacon and chives--is pretty good, and is sometimes accompanied with a side of beets.

Solid entree choices are the steak and eggs, the crab benedict, and the brioche french toast. The steak & eggs ($14 served with roasted potatoes), comes with a fairly large steak that will satisfy the "go big or don't brunch" customer (#YOLO). The portions on the benedicts--crab benedict ($15 served with roasted potatoes) included-- are much smaller, so plan to get an appetizer if you come hungry. The brioche french toast ($11 served with berries) is topped with a pouf of sugary whipped butter that tastes surprisingly like a cinnabon.

Brioche French toast.
Unfortunately, each time I've gone to 8407, the kitchen has also had difficulty serving some food that lives up to the standards that 8407 is clearly capable of. For example, one of my three pancakes ($12 served with fresh berries) was charred to the point of being inedible. Given, I was full after my first two pancakes, but I was still disappointed that I couldn't overeat like I'd been expecting. Sometimes, eggs were served cold (eg. $13 eggs benedict served with roasted potatoes).

A perfect example of 8407's inconsistency was in the grilled salmon with asparagus and poached eggs ($15). The dish was beautifully plated (see below), and featured a simple, yet nomz mix of flavors including a slightly spicy tomato sauce along with the egg yolk and well-seasoned salmon. Unfortunately, the egg yolk in the poached egg was refrigerator cold, and the dish came without any type of bread to sop up the yolk/tomato. Yo, if you're not going to have bread, please list that this dish is the diet option. I go to brunch for CARBS. When I asked for some toast, it was evident that 8407 didn't have bread in the kitchen. Finally, about 15 minutes later, I got a warmed slice of brioche.

Grilled salmon, poached eggs, and asparagus.
Basically, 8407, I really want to love you for brunch. Please, get your consistency down.

8407 Kitchen Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Fun In Fall

In elementary school, every. single. fall. we used to sing a song called, "Fun In Fall." Now, this song may have been written by our music teacher or something, because I cannot find the lyrics ANYWHERE. I'm posting this now because maybe other people who went to my elementary school have been searching online for it like I have. Hopefully these people can help me crowdsource to get the full lyrics! EDIT 9/28: Thanks to a good friend (and her mother), we now have all the lyrics!!!!


Get out your sweaters
And get out your gloves,
It's fun in fall.
This is the season that everyone loves,
It's fun in fall.
Play in the leaves as they fall from the trees,
But don't sniff the golden rod...
Or you'll sneeze (achoo)!
School bells are ringing,
Time to learn your ABC's.
It's fun in fall.

Taking long walks 
In the fresh nippy airIs fun in fall.Taking a trip to the Big county fairIs fun in fall.Watch as they harvestThe corn and the wheat.
It's fun in fall.
????It's fun in fall.Wave your flag high
On veterans day.
Watch the parade until
they march away!
The season for football is here
Hip hooray!
It's fun in fall.

Watch as they harvestThe corn and the wheat.It's fun in fall.Eat big red applesSo juicy and sweet.It's fun in fall.On Thanksgiving DayHave a big appetite.And wish on the wishbone with...... All your might!Make jack-o-lanternsOn Halloween night.It's fun in fall.  ??? (something about a big county fair? Halloween? GET ON IT, INTERWEBZ!)???

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Pho Tan Vinh

Pho Tan Vinh
Colesville Rd. near Fenton St., Silver Spring
7/10 on my bangin' scale

Located approximately diagonal ("catty-corner") from the Fillmore, I'd say Pho Tan Vinh is a pretty good option to fill your stomach for cheap before heading to a concert. The best bet if you're looking for a lighter meal is the grilled chicken banh mi:

At $5 and change, the chicken banh mi has the deliciously concocted crispy bread, cilantro, cucumber, carrots, mayo, and jalapeno that I've grown to expect, along with a tasty surprise--pate. For a more filling plate, consider trying the Tan Vinh special, which is a deconstructed banh mi with four different meat toppings (pate, sausage, egg, and some type of bologna). These specials are a little confusing at first--how can you fit all the toppings onto the crusty roll? You have a few options: 1) fork and knife it all the way; 2) make a REALLY full sandwich (not actually possible to fit everything on there); or 3) slice up your bread and make several open-faced sandwiches. This is the way to go if you want to make your own ultimate banh mi (or if you're just pretty hungry).

I've been missing the plethora of Vietnamese options in Seattle. So far, Pho Tan Vinh is the place I go to fill that lonely spot in my stomach.

Click to add a blog post for Pho Tan Vinh on Zomato

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Sushi Jin: Sushi meets ancient Pompeii

Sushi Jin
Fenton St near Roeder Rd, Silver Spring
7/10 on my bangin' scale

Sushi Jin in Silver Spring has been on my must try list for a while now, but I've always been a little skeeved out by the slatted window coverings that prevent a small female like myself from seeing what I'm getting into. I'm glad I finally decided to try it out--inside was a small but bustling restaurant serving notable sushi.

On a Friday night, the restaurant was full. Tables at the front (2 person) and booths at the back (2-4 person) offer an intimate feel. We were seated at the crowded sushi bar, which offered an excellent view of three sushi chefs creating their works of edible art.

We started off with steamed shrimp shumai and miso soup, which were both warm and comforting, but otherwise unremarkable. For the main course, we ordered sushi from the a la carte menu. We tried several rolls and a few nigiri, each of which were fresh, well-seasoned, and often sweet. Particularly interesting was the Amazon Roll, a vegetarian roll featuring cucumber, radish, asparagus, and a few other veggies. This roll was completely refreshing, basically a salad wrapped in rice. 

Last, but certainly not least, came the impeccably-plated volcano roll ($12, pictured below).  When this dish came, I was like, OMFG THIS IS THE BEST. IMAGINE MY PLATE IS POMPEII IN 79 AD. I've certainly seen dragon rolls in the shape of dragons before, and a few other kitschy platings here and there, but never a FOOD SPLOSION. The volcano roll includes two shrimp tempura, two types of fish roe, a spicy/sweet mayo-based sauce, and crunchy toppings, which all melded together to make a crispy and sweet dish.

Sushi Jin's Volcano Roll

I won't divulge any more spoilers, but sitting at the sushi bar also gave me a great view of several other beautiful and/or hilarious concoctions.

Click to add a blog post for Sushi Jin Next Door on Zomato

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Urban Butcher: The people have spoken, and they love meat

Urban Butcher
Georgia Ave & Ripley St, Silver Spring
7.5/10 on my bangin' scale

Despite my enthusiasm for Silver Spring, I'm the first to admit that I was completely surprised to see a packed house at 7pm on a rainy Wednesday night in April. Surrounded by hanging cured meats, happy hour goers chatted (probably after a few $6 lavender margaritas) and diners oohed over pans of roasted chicken.  Apparently, people love meat.

To start, my party sampled a selection of meats and cheese, and Urban Butcher impressed us with presentation.  No more trying to remember which meat was which--the names of the meats were written onto to butcher board! So simple, much wow. Maybe this is a thing now, but I haven't seen it. We particularly enjoyed the spiciness of the chorizo, but would probably skip the spreadable pork 'Nduja next time.
Meat and cheese board - five selections.
For the main course, by far the best dish I sampled was the ox brisket ($24). Served with a potato puree, the meat was ridiculously tender. I also thoroughly enjoyed the hanger-cut steak frites ($24) and the butcher's burger and fries ($12). In these solid staples, the quality of the meat at Urban Butcher was the star. A misstep was the pork blade steak "Bulgogi" ($26). When I think of bulgogi, I'm looking for soft, juicy, sweet pieces of meat. The steak was overcooked to the point of being dry, and was served with three different sauces, none of which evoked bulgogi for me.

Ox brisket with potato puree ($24)

Pork blade steak ($26)

Urban Butcher recently reopened this winter after an electrical fire on its roof. I'm glad to see that herds of meat fans are coming to Silver Spring to support its reopening.

Urban Butcher on Urbanspoon

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Taste The World in Fenton Village

This past Sunday, Silver Spring held its annual "Taste the World" festival. At the festival, participants are given a "passport" with a map/list of restaurants to try, and visitors go to as many restaurants as they want to try $3-$5 food samples (and yes, the restaurants stamp your passport). It was a pretty fun way to try new restaurants.
Sligo Cafe (Sligo Ave & Fenton Street ish)

We started off the afternoon at Sligo Cafe, a recently opened American comfort food restau. Their sampling menu featured watermelon lemonade ($3), smoked chicken ($5), and pulled pork sandwich ($5). My entire party tried the pulled pork sandwich (how couldn't we!?!), and I am happy to report that the pork was moist, sweet, and (a must in my book) spicy.

I believe we were served by the owner of the restaurant, who was running around both amazed and overwhelmed, "It's great that so many people came out, but I wish I had more people working today!" Even with this lower-budget dish, I see a lot of potential for a great meal in the future. Sligo Cafe will be seeing me again soon.

Sligo Cafe's "Taste the World" pulled pork sandwich
The interior of Sligo Cafe
Roger Miller Restaurant (Bonifant & Fenton Street ish)

Next, we headed over to Roger Miller Restaurant, which was a great second choice because we got to enjoy the beautiful weather and a ginger beer (mmm) on one of the four or five tables on its front patio. Serving West African cuisine in an "all you can fit into the small to-go container" style ($5) also worked out great for us, because after hitting up this place, we were supremely full. We sampled jollof rice, chicken, groundnut stew, and some greens (can't remember name). I thoroughly enjoyed the rice and the chicken. The groundnut stew, which is kind of like a Thai peanut sauce, was a little bland for my liking. This place will definitely serve its purpose (and fill you up!) for takeout dinner or an outdoor lunch; don't plan on eating in the small dining room.

A small to-go container at Roger Miller Restaurant during the "Taste the World" festival

Fenton Cafe (Fenton Street between Bonifant and Thayer)

Ready for some dessert, we made a beeline for Fenton Cafe, which serves sweet and savory crepes. The cafe featured three of its crepes (sugar and butter, nutella, and a savory one that I don't remember b/c... dessert!) at a discounted price for the festival. At this place, diners order at the counter, and are served the crepes in the small seating area (~15 seats). I ordered a Nutella crepe. It was pretty large (yay), and didn't let me down too much. After becoming addicted to Nutella crepes in Paris, I can say it's fairly easy to let me down in the crepe category. My main beef with this crepe was that they served it with Hershey's syrup on top (ohnoezzz). It definitely makes the crepe looks nice, but also takes away from the Nutella flavor. I will ask them to leave it off next time I visit. Fenton Cafe is certainly a fun place to get a quick lunch or dessert.

Nutella crepe at Fenton Cafe

Sligo Cafe on Urbanspoon

Roger Miller Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Fenton Cafe on Urbanspoon