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About washingtony

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  1. I very much agree with this. In fact, I've been meaning to write up a bit about Japan after my recent trips, but I inevitably stop when I realize the overwhelming task at hand. I could spend a century in Tokyo and still feel like I haven't experienced all there is to offer. But I shall tilt at windmills and try, I suppose. Tokyo Tempura Kondo in Ginza is worth the Michelin star. T's Tan Tan is a vegan ramen shop inside the ticketed part of the Tokyo train station, near the entrance to the Keiyo line. It's gone downhill a bit, but it's still worthwhile, particularly for vegetarians who need a ramen fix. Soranoiro in Ramen Alley in the Tokyo train station has a vegetarian ramen option too, which is pretty good, but they make the mistake of thinking "vegetarian" needs to be "healthy". Udon Shin is my favorite Udon place in Tokyo (but is that saying anything? I've tried what, like .0005 percent of them?). It's in Shinjuku. Pizza Savoy (of Ugly Delicious fame) is so simple, so precise, so, so good. To continue the Netflix theme--nearby Savoy is the Masuya salt store, which was featured on Salt Fat Acid Heat but wasn't named. I found this by--of all things--walking past it. I wanted to find moshio, so I stopped in and it dawned on me that this is where Samin Nosrat filmed that part of the show. Yes, the food at the Pokemon Cafe is terrible, but don't judge me--it's totally worth it! Here's a pro-tip: you are not allowed to hug the Pikachu or Evee mascots that sometimes greet the diners. The rules are not explained in English, but let's just say you quickly figure out the rules by trial and error. In Kyoto, Shoraian tofu restaurant is really incredible. Beautiful location in the park on the river. In Koyasan, Souji-in buddhist temple is both a great place to spend the night and have a multi-course vegetarian dinner. Finally, Menme outside Himeji castle has such good udon--the noodles are made right in front of you. Like so many restaurants in Japan, it excels at doing simple things perfectly.
  2. Komi's turned into Happy Gyro for June. It's like a really refined vegetarian diner (think Chicago Diner or the local Fare Well putting on airs). It continuously riffed on (at least my) childhood memories of favorite foods--sure, they're elevated here and fancier, but darn if they're still not comforting and deeply satisfying. There were about 8 dishes of varying sizes, with the main attraction being a choice between a gyro or a cheesesteak. My wife and I picked one of each and split them. Both were delicious and would be perfect replacements for Adams Morgan's post-drinking jumbo slice, but my heart belongs to the gyro because it was the closest thing in the USA I've had to the gyro of my formative years. The mini tacos tasted like--and this is a true compliment--how I remember Taco Bell decades ago. There was also mushroom souvlaki, beet fritters, feta and tomato salad, garlic bread, roasted squash, and strawberry ice cream. Everything was outstanding. (To those who may be curious: as far as I could tell, there wasn't any tofu, seitan, or processed meat substitutes--it was mostly mushrooms or legumes in place of meat.) (EDIT: jca76 kindly explains below that the gyro is tofu-based. I was too busy Snuffles-ing to be bothered to ask.)
  3. I had a really excellent meal here last week. We waited in the small bar for our table to be ready and spent the few minutes eyeing fresh focaccia, pillowy arugula salads, and countless bowls of pasta come out...I did everything I could not to pull an Elaine Benes and steal from others' plates. Once I got to eat (from my own plate), everything was better than it looked. I was a bit amazed at how all of it (bread, salad, and pastas) was perfectly balanced--even the cacio e pepe was more delicate than the ultra rich versions that are more common. Between this and Uovo up the street in Santa Monica, this is a good area for pasta lovers.
  4. Assuming I'm grading on a curve for that area, I thought that City Cellar Wine and Bar was pretty good. I at least thought to myself, "This is better than it should be", for whatever that's worth. But I was also happy to see a Mellow Mushroom nearby, so I guess that gives a sense of the area. Although the Ball Park of the Palm Beaches is really nice, I prefer going up to away games at the Roger Dean stadium in Jupiter because it's an excuse to stop at Civil Society Brewery, which is brewing some great beer (without using a curve). It's right near Aaron's Table and Wine Bar which had the best dinner of my last spring training trip (last year).
  5. I hope this place does well--I really do--but I'm just kind of mystified by the menu. It's not very English (a side of mushy peas and a scotch egg make not a pub)...but it's not very much of anything. Perhaps the most English thing about Scotts is that it's the restaurant version of the aliens from Doctor Who called The Silence ("Anyone who sees them immediately forgets about them after looking away"). I eat in this neighborhood all of the time--multiple meals every week--but unless their menu changes I doubt I'll ever step foot inside. Not counting sides of vegetables, I see three vegetarian options: an order of nuts; avocado toast (?); and an endive salad. If their menu is going to be this lazy, I'll be just as lazy and not walk the 100 feet past The Smith to get to Scotts.
  6. Saturday's double header was an amazing time for all kinds of reasons (Scherzer complete game, Werth ceremony, Doolittle bullpen cart ride), but the proverbial cherry on the sundae was having my best stadium food experience of the season. I'm not sure when it started, but there's a place called La Casita around section 142 that has pupusas and tamales. I really hope they're back next season--shows that DC United isn't the only pupusa/sports game in town!
  7. I had an excellent dinner at Band of Bohemia last week. The service was impeccable and they were graceful in accommodating vegetarians (especially for a place featuring a foie gras dessert). In fact, their off-menu tofu was phenomenal. But the beer...wow. They turn their beers toward unexpected directions, but in different ways. The Jasmine Rice beer was on a completely different plane--it showcased crispness and devotion to quality ingredients one expects from the best Czech beers while the jasmine rice offered a dry, subtle, progressive approach toward a new direction. Their "India" Pale Ale earns its moniker not from the popular style, but by taking a pale ale and playing with typical Indian spices like cardamom, coriander, etc. Where the Jasmine Rice is subtle, the India Pale Ale is in-your-face, and yet they both succeed mightily.
  8. I honestly don't understand what connection you're trying to make here with the reference to reelecting Marion Barry.
  9. We went for Thanksgiving 2012 for the sole purpose of seeing the northern lights. We had considered locations in Sweden and Finland but chose Tromsø because it seemed to offer the best mix of things to do during the day and we had never been to Norway. The town is small, but it does at least offer a worthwhile museum (The Polaria), interesting architecture (not just the museum, but also a typically modern Nordic church), and Mack, the world's most northern brewery. (Tromsø has a lot of "world's most northern" appellations, whether true or not.) We went dog sledding one day, which was a ton of fun, even if touristy. I also liked being based out of a smaller city because I was able to rent a tripod so didn't need to lug one all the way there from DC. As for the northern lights: two nights we weren't able to venture out because of the weather, but the other two nights we were able to go out. The first night we went with Guide Gunnar. It was a small operation--just Gunnar and his Sprinter van. But he was fantastic--he'll drive all over and because it's a small van, he's able to go to places the large buses won't. After a couple of hours of searching, he set us up (and built the aforementioned fire and snow couch) and we had some really great lights. Gunnar is great, especially if you're a bit more serious because the small group offers lots of personal attention. The other night we went with Arctic Guide Service, which was a larger company with a bus. They also did a great job and found a perfect spot for the lights. (And we saw a moose!) The larger group was more casual (people trying to take photos with their iPads, for example, and one person who bought a DSLR in town that day and opened it up on the bus, not realizing that the battery wasn't charged...) but the guide was great. Beyond the lights, we had a wonderful time in Oslo and had an unplanned Thanksgiving dinner at a cajun (!) restaurant. I can't find it online, so I'm not sure if it still exists...we planned on going to a nice Italian place for dinner but walked by this place with a chalkboard sign promising turkey dinners and couldn't resist. We've also seen the lights a few times in Iceland, so if that's an option for you, I'm happy to share more about that.
  10. Something I would like to see from either the pro- or the con-side is how other cities in the United States have been affected by similar systems. In this great land of democratic laboratories, surely there must be analogs we can study. I don't want to hear hypotheticals about what could happen to restaurants and bars and DC--I want to know what has happened to restaurants and bars in similarly situated cities. According to the Department of Labor, California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Montana, Minnesota, and Guam have the same minimum wage for both tipped and non-tipped employees. So, because we're talking about the effects on restaurants, let's look at San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, and Las Vegas. San Francisco will be $15 an hour starting in July. Seattle is $15 an hour. Portland will be $12 starting in July. Las Vegas seems to be about $7.25 to $8.25, depending on benefits. The increases in San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland have been recent, so perhaps their effects haven't been seen yet. (Like those cities, the DC initiative would phase in the increase in minimum wage over a number of years.) Or maybe the State laws in those cities treat tip credits/pooling in a fashion that's different from DC. Or perhaps I'm missing something else--but if there is only doom and gloom coming from a standard minimum wage for tipped and non-tipped employees, we should be seeing that in these other cities. I'm not going to draw conclusions yet, but I'm annoyed that neither the advocates nor the detractors are giving voters real data to consider.
  11. I checked out the new menu on Friday evening and enjoyed the burrata bing and beet salad. Unfortunately at 8:30 pm they had already sold out of the only vegetarian entree, which I hope they take as a sign to add another (or make more, I suppose). They're still serving the regular ramen off menu--too bad it's not the hozon ramen!
  12. the first time I saw the northern lights was in Tromsø, Norway. It was quite the unique culinary experience in that it was uniquely impossible to have a meal that cost less than $25 a person--and this feat was only accomplished at a fast-food joint. As for the lights though, our guide drove us all over the countryside hunting for the best spot. When he found it, he built a small fire, made a couch out of snow, and passed around local beer and homemade sandwiches. Soon after the lights came out and everything was just about perfect. (We saw the lights two out of four nights that trip. In Iceland we've been a bit less successful.)
  13. When I land in KEF early in the morning and have a car, I usually just drive to the Hotel Keflavik for breakfast. It's nothing special, but they open at 5 am, and have coffee and skyr (and other assorted European breakfast offerings). If you don't have a car...well good luck at the Joe and the Juice in the airport! As for other meals: For higher end places, Dill is worth the Michelin star. Matur og Drykkur is also wonderful. They both were more than accommodating for vegetarians. I like Sæta Svínið Gastropub for a laid back, more casual dinner. I have a real soft spot for Mikkeller bars, and the one in Reykjavik is no different: fantastic beer and warm environment. The unnamed pizza place on the ground floor is also really cozy and delicious. While Microbar is another good place to grab local beer, I also enjoy Skuli. They both don't offer much in the way of food, but do have a lot of local craft beer. Don't go to these places for Viking or Gull! For affordable lunches or snacks, Glo and Kaffi Vinyl are good options.
  14. If you're looking for something a little more high end than street food this time, I had a wonderful meal at Quintonil last year. On the other end of the scale, my favorite meal may have been at Yug Vegetariano on La Reforma, a decidedly unpretentious place that, for me at least, offers the platonic ideal of Mexican food. (Don't let the name scare you off, the omnivore I dined with was happy too).
  15. I had a remarkable and indelible meal at Platina near the central train station. It's a pasta factory that added a small restaurant focusing on, of course, pasta. down near the duomo, I'd check out Peck. It's a market with two restaurants. I tried the more casual of the two and was very happy with it. the food at Bar Luce was fine, but if you're in town for design (or if you're a Wes Anderson fan) then you have to stop by at least for a snack or drink.
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