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Everything posted by PollyG

  1. My son is installed in his new college apartment with a far better stocked kitchen than I had throughout college. He has a microwave, oven, electric stove, blender, stand mixer, crockpot, rice cooker and electric griddle. He is part of the generation who believes that he doesn't need any lessons from Mom because everything is available on the internet. (You'd think all those Pinterest fail photos might have clued him in, but not yet.) I've offered, he's passed. He has a copy of my much loved Chinese Menu Cookbook, which teaches classic techniques bit by bit. He also has Carol Field's Italian Baker; loves to make bread but usually goes with recipes he finds on the internet, with mixed results. I'm looking for another cookbook for him with simple recipes and meticulously edited technique descriptions. I'm thinking Maida Heatter level detail, but for savory dishes. Does anyone have suggestions?
  2. Wow, 2+ years since anyone last mentioned this stalwart of the Eden Center! Today we picked up my son's college apartment mate at Union Station and brought them to Huong Viet en route to our home in Herndon. Our son has been vocal in his displeasure with the quality of food at Rochester Institute of Technology (on-campus and delivery) and after a meal at Huong Viet, his apartment mate now "gets" why Isaac has been so critical. One bite of their cha gio is pretty much all it took. We ordered cha gio, the chopped baby clam appetizer, and split the big mixed grill platter (grilled shrimp, chicken, beef, pork, noodles, and greens for wrapping) two ways while my husband had the yellow noodle duck soup. My only complaint is that I think someone forgot to add the sugar syrup to my salty lemon drink so it was a bit too salty for me. This is a restaurant that doesn't coast on its reputation. It cranks out good to stellar Vietnamese food from a huge menu. It's also the reason I was so unimpressed by the Slanted Door in San Francisco back when Slanted Door was one of the top rated restaurants in that city. Every traditional Vietnamese dish I had at Slanted Door was better and cheaper at Huong Viet.
  3. On the wall oven, based on my recent experience, do not go for the Wolf double electric. Ours is about to have its SECOND control panel replacement after installation in March. Each time has involved a week's wait for a service call and at least another week's wait for the part. The folks at Wolf are very pleasant, but one more failure and I will be asking for a refund plus costs to install a replacement for this very expensive oven.
  4. I'm sorry to see Ray's go. The team was always gracious to my kid and I'm going to seriously miss my occasional perfect hanger. Thanks for a wonderful run, Michael.
  5. 1. Strawberries dipped in chocolate, decorated with with either sprinkles or a drizzle of contrasting chocolate. 2. Bamboo appetizer skewers of baby fresh mozzarella, a basil leaf slice, and a cherry or grape tomato, drizzled with balsamic and olive oil 3. 69 shrimp. Marinate shrimp in your favorite marinade (I use half an onion, a quarter cup of olive oil, lemon juice, black pepper, and a green herb (basil, shiso, cilantro, etc.) whirled with a stick blender. Put two shelled shrimp on a skewer together in a ying-yang pattern (head to head in the center, tails going out), grill, and serve with more of the same sauce.
  6. There's a Lidl in Ashburn. The bizarre assortment of clothing and housewares in the midst of cheap food is pretty confusing. Produce can be a bargain. I've been unimpressed with the few bakery items I've tried.
  7. We went with Silestone on our first countertop replacement about 15 years ago. The sealing issue was the selling point for us then. Fast forward to this year, when we're almost done with a complete renovation of the kitchen which precluded use of the existing countertops (still in pristine condition), and we went with Silestone again. I'm impressed with how far they've come in creating options that look more like natural stone. This time we went with Pietra.
  8. I believe a lot of their business is from the lunchtime work crowd, which is typical for that area. It may not make sense for them to be open on weekends, though feedback from people who'd visit could change their minds.
  9. We spotted FRESH, not frozen durian at the tiny new Lotte Market in Herndon (former K-mart plaza on Eldon St.) April 25. They were $7.99 a pound and miraculously smelled of custard and not of overripe summer sewer gas. Our kitchen is still under reconstruction or we would probably have sprung for one. These were extremely small durian, about the size of a football, so one would likely be in the 3lb range. Adding: At the Lotte on Metrotech Drive in Chantilly on April 26, the fresh durian display (down to just a single durian) had this sign. I suspect there is an excellent story behind it.
  10. I enjoyed the dry fried cauliflower, the lotus root pork "sandwich" (which we received instead of the HK pork belly and lotus root dish we'd ordered), and the suanla rice noodles. The scallion bubble pancake is the same as at Chang's other restaurants, and my spouse said that his black bone chicken soup was too much of a challenge to eat to be an item he'd order again, though it was tasty. The chicken was on the bone and in a pretty small bowl. He happily eats other soups that have meat on the bone.
  11. Check the Indian frozen vegetable section at your local pan-Asian food store to find fairly small slices. We've added them to soups.
  12. While they obviously had to do something to avoid having all the RTC spaces become defacto free Metro spaces, BP blew this. First 2 hours free on weekdays in addition to the current free evenings and weekends seems like a pretty obvious fix--and don't require people to use the app if they won't be in the space for more than 2 hours. Or make it 3 hours and cover matinees at Bow-Tie. No one is going to be able to use Metro for commuting in only 3 hours.
  13. Alas, the Herndon operation is closed with a realtor's "for rent" sign in front.
  14. I ordered online this afternoon and discovered two things: 1)You can get pad thai made with fried pork belly as the meat (not mentioned in-shop anywhere but a choice when ordering online) and 2) I asked for the pad thai to be "not too sweet" in my order and it was definitely less sweet. TbT's pad thai isn't too extreme in its normal sweetness, but I sure like it better when it isn't sweet.
  15. H-Mart in Fairfax. The potential for evil is palpable.
  16. No carts, but we go over to Bob's Shanghai on occasion for soup dumplings. We also really enjoy the marinated wood ear mushroom appetizer and the pan-fried pork dumplings. Staff hustle to get the tables turned over and there will likely be a wait unless you arrive on the early side.
  17. My baby shower was held there, not long after they moved from Bailey's Crossroads. My baby is now in his freshman year of college! It was sad to see it decline over time.
  18. Since I'm all too familiar with contractors who don't call back, here's another option for you. We use Absolute Electric, 571/244-4268. They put a new circuit into our house to alleviate an overloaded one and added ceiling cans to our bedroom.
  19. Thanks. My husband contacted both recommended contractors and. . .crickets. We got one hit out of 5 contractors we contacted, but they look like gems and have done work in the neighborhood.
  20. We are planning a kitchen remodel. The cabinets are covered and will be custom built in Pennsylvania by a shop specializing in this sort of thing. They would like to work with a local contractor for removal of existing cabinets and appliances, some minor electrical work (mostly moving lights and changing where a few appliances are) and possibly very minor plumbing. The biggest concern is any Fairfax County permits. Any suggestions?
  21. To answer my own question--yes, the note in the Open Table reservation worked. Michael reached out to me via email and we now have a legit reservation for 8 people.
  22. Has anyone figured out how to contact them directly to make a reservation? I'm trying to do a reservation for 8 people for next Friday night but I am stuck in a loop: Open Table says that 8 exceeds the size that can be booked at Ray's via Open Table, contact the restaurant directly. The web page says to make reservations. . . via Open Table and doesn't list a phone #. The phone # I can get via Yelp and web searches goes straight to an "here are our hours" message with no option for human contact. I'm in Herndon, so I'd really like to avoid driving there to make a reservation in person. It's the spouse's 60th birthday and that's where he wants to go. (So far, we've made 2 reservations for 4 people via Open Table with notes to the restaurant about what we actually want.)
  23. A week ago, we snagged a table on the night before Boralia closed for its annual 2 week hiatus. We opted for the $60pp (Canadian) Carte Blanche, which consists mostly of on-menu items with a few off-menu ones at the discretion of the chefs. After identifying food allergies for the staff, the fun began. Everything was delicious and the place is a screaming bargain. Parking in the neighborhood is a bit of a challenge, though. We started with on-menu deviled Chinese tea eggs, likely the only dish we had that I could replicate easily at home. Then we moved on to a crudo of arctic char, also an on-menu item. Our first off-menu item was cod cheeks fried in an algae-tinted batter, crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, served over a saffron aoli. Next came one of their signature dishes, mussels smoked with pine needles. This is served in a smoke-filled globe which the waitstaff removes with a dramatic swirl. This was followed by a vegetable dish, dumplings filled with squash over a tender and sweet fresh creamed corn. Whelk was next on the menu. The meat was removed, skewered, and served back in the shell over a slaw of shredded root vegetables. Our meat dishes were a pepper-crusted seared bison having a 3-way relationship with parsnips (funnel cake, roasted strips, and parsnip puree) and duck breast accompanied by a seeded corn bread and chantrelles. Dessert was the weakest of the dishes, a chocolate and marscapone ganache embellished with tart fruit puree. (It was still delicious!)
  24. The current administration is taking actions that are having and will continue to have a severe impact on the restaurant scene in the US. Salvadorans, Nicaraguans, and Hondurans legally in the US for decades have lost their protected status and will be sent packing soon. Guest worker programs have been curtailed, leaving Maryland without enough crab pickers and 55% of California farmers short of workers. But the members of the administration are happy to dine out at establishments staffed by the very people they are trying to eject. DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen amply demonstrated that yesterday in her particularly tone-deaf decision to eat at a Mexican restaurant. I believe the DC restaurant community could do a service by providing recognition to the contribution of immigrants in nearly every restaurant in the region. What would happen if our politicians, political appointees and career civil servants received a small card with each meal stating something along the lines of "this meal was prepared by immigrants from El Salvador, Honduras, Nepal, Mexico, and Guatemala. Termination of the Temporary Protected Status program for workers from El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua will cause a restaurant labor shortage in the coming years?" In order to avoid ICE harassment, the card would likely need to include a statement that the restaurant uses E-Verify to confirm that all workers are entitled to work in the US. At a minimum, such cards would make it hard for our Administration to ignore the fact that they benefit from the contributions of immigrants everywhere they go.
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