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  1. Thinking of potential upcoming trips and wondered if anyone has seen the Northern Lights in a setting where there is a unique culinary experience. It doesn't have to be the 'best' meal but rather an experience which would match with the light show. Thanks!
  2. lion


    Wow, that looks and sounds like an incredible experience. Definitely have to keep that in mind if we get to Scotland.
  3. Amex Platinum I think it's worth it if you travel more than once a year internationally. We're still just starting to get out our trips being short quick driving excursions outside of DC with our young son but think next year if we go to New Zealand or Japan will get it beforehand.
  4. lion


    Definitely get a local wifi modem or if possible a SIM card. Using a local SIM card in India with my iPhone made it very easy on many fronts such as coordinating with private drivers, Uber and Ola when there was a traffic jam on the road which can add hours to trips. The Japanese don't really eat spicy food in the Indian sense even though there are plenty of standing curry fast food places. During one trip I cooked Indian food at Japanese friend's house for a small gathering. I purposely made it as mild as possible while still retaining some flavor and still some of the guests broke out in a sweat! They finished the seafood dish though. 😊
  5. lion


    There is significant issue for local restaurants and non-English speaking sushi chefs which is that it is difficult with getting an accurate impression how much you are willing to spend. It is important to keep in mind that a lot of places that you will 'find' have already been visited by foreigners and unfortunately sometimes there have been issues with them complaining about the bill. Again a lot of places don't have a menu or written out price list so the bill is when you find out how much things cost and it is easy to go from $100 to $300 per person. Once I traveled to a local sushi place in northern Tokyo that was highly rated. Even the review spoke of it's unique status as it was more a local neighborhood place that had grown over the years in stature. I actually walked past the door 2-3 times before finding it. Once inside, the owner and kitchen staff were surprised to see a foreigner and actually thru broken communication asked how I heard about it. As I sat down at the counter, they communicated to me the price of the box lunch which was reasonable for such a high end place. I thought I would be able to order more pieces. That was not the case. This establishment didn't take credit cards so I had traveled there with yen in the amount of $500 US dollars. The lunch was only $40. This place was old school and the sushi chef even at the time 15 years ago was in his late 60s so plainly he ran his establishment in that vein. The two men next to me having lunch clearly were regulars and were eating the most interesting pieces of sushi right off the counter. Also they didn't make any payment when leaving so they must have had a monthly bill arriving in the mail or by some other means. I'm not saying this as warning but rather to acknowledge some difficulty that exists when going off the beaten path. Keep in mind, the younger generation of chefs will most likely have someone on staff who can speak rudimentary English if not fluent but it would be helpful to have some learned or written phrases with how much you would like to spend if the restaurant does not take credit cards. We're hoping to make a trip to Japan next year and I plan to use Tablelog as it looks a great resource.
  6. lion

    Paid Parking Slowly Killing Reston Town Center?

    My wife just texted me about the place and the good reviews! She got the scoop on me this time. 😀
  7. lion

    Indian Restaurants

    Hopefully they got it from Benares! Real old school cool 😎style. Actually yesterday we bought my son an outfit for the wedding we are attending. Bahut-bahut badhai on your upcoming wedding!
  8. lion


    We are currently in India attending a family wedding. Decided to try Emirates for the first time since reading good reviews for child options traveling with an almost 4 year old boy. Ended up being a good flight, service was pleasant and meal choices for plentiful for our combined individual needs. After spending 4-5 days in New Delhi and now, this second week in Varanasi unfortunately won't have much to report on food restaurants as my relatives are cooking fresh food every meal. It's hard to convince anyone to be interested in checking Indian Accent or other places when every family favorite is being cooked at home! We did try a chain South Indian restaurant in New Delhi called Shree Ramnath which was pretty darn good. And ice cream at McDonald's after seeing the Taj Mahal was rewardingly delicious during the hot mid day sun. It is amazing how much growth there has been since my last trip here.
  9. lion

    Wine For Wedding Reception

    Hahaha! That was my first thought, too being Indian. It was one of the most important facets of the reception for my Dad. At our wedding reception in VA we have 350 and also did it DIY style. We did Blue Vin Riesling for white and can’t remember the Malbec we had. The Blue Vin was very popular with Indian food and the Aunties!
  10. Opening was good yesterday. They gave out free wine bags that are reinforced, some coupons and a free wine tasting class for two. The store is slightly smaller than the McLean store.
  11. Chang brings up some difficult topics in the culinary world, such chefs striving to have authentic food and the issues of fusion. Additionally, another topic that was interesting to hear was René Redzepi discussing having a single restaurant and Chang's mini empire of restaurants in terms of work/family balance. I'm sure my wife will be happy to hear that Redzepi's wife never cooked anything from Noma's cookbook at home as she is not a fan of that style of cooking. Overall found it an interesting series discussing how to continue their evolutionary journey as Chang/Meehan did with restaurants and magazine respectively.
  12. lion

    Paid Parking Slowly Killing Reston Town Center?

    Jeez, I didn't know the details and size of the Reston Gateway project.
  13. It is more work to get a non-hotel for an event like a wedding reception. For example during our reception, my sister handled the decorations and ended up buying $1000 of chair covers and resold them on eBay. But we were able to have a unique reception with a mixture of American and Indian traditions that included the different families needs since we had more flexibility in allocation of financial resources in a non hotel setting. Another example was getting more servers and bartenders from the catering company which was possible since the cost for alcoholic beverages was lower. We mixed more cheaper and top shelf beverages such as John Walker, Chivas Regal and Glenfiddich which are a requirement for a Desi wedding and higher quality wines for my wife's side of the family. I ended up getting the wines from Total Wine which was a lower cost and we were able to return unused bottles and even cases of beer. If it is a business event then going the hotel route makes sense.