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  1. I've been mulling over how to write a summary of our recent trip to Japan this spring. Even though it was not our intention, we were lucky enough to visit in April near the height of the Cherry Blossom peak. It was quite beautiful to see and go on picnic experiences with local friends in different neighborhood parks. It was my first trip there visiting with my wife and our son. Traveling with a 5 year old boy was quite the adventure but overall it went well and he enjoyed all the places we visited but of course Legoland Tokyo the most. Since my last trip was almost 15 year ago, I was struck by overall how many more tourists there were everywhere. During the late 90s and early 2000s, the Yen was much stronger and perhaps that did limit the amount of foreigners visiting Japan. Additionally, it was quite challenging navigating outside the main tourist areas if you didn't speak or read Japanese at a functional level. Now that is not an issue as signs are bilingual and with smart phones there is almost no need to prepare to go anywhere until you are going out of data range. Talking with several friends, the Japanese themselves are struggling to find a balance between amount of foreigners visiting and the financial rewards. Amazingly, we saw large number of private tour groups in remote locations which even for Japanese are not common to visit! I would say overall Tokyo is one of the main food capitals of the world. However, as the highs have gotten much higher, the median has gotten slightly more mediocre. Simple quality things can still be found but requires more searching. The overall decline in fish quality worldwide probably is playing a significant role for example in Sushi restaurants even in Japan. Again it's still possible to be 'blown away' but now its higher up the price ladder whereas 15 years ago, quality was found at lower price points. Additionally, some of the refinement seems a bit lost as there is a generational switch, (several places I had visited before had closed shop, apparently unable to make that transition). There are things which are a good monetary value such as lodging. Outside of the major cities, 4 or 5 star hotels can be found for a couple of hundred US dollars a night. A lot of high end Japanese goods that would be used for gifts, etc...have come down in price. I didn't include any reviews of particular restaurants because overall going to the place down the street where you are staying will most likely give you a great experience.
  2. Unfortunately for my wife, Best Buns has opened in Tyson's, too. We've been able to limit our temptation to being in the vicinity of Shirlington but now the proximity will be a large draw.
  3. There was a change in ownership last year. Don, Chef Yasu also only worked there for the first two years after it opened.
  4. There was a separation between the two owners recently, thus the new menu and changed website. Same chef as before, but in these situations usually there is a shift up or down.
  5. If their pizza is anything like the quality of their bread, would happily assume it's pretty good.
  6. It's not surprising since the parking issues, I think that Cooper's Hawk Winery has stolen a lot of their business since it opened. They had a similar unobtrusive basic cuisine and for some reason, Cooper's Hawk's marketing branding as a Winery as captured people's interest.
  7. Recently I went to Timber with a friends visiting from out of town for meetings. Both of us thought they did a good job. The intention seems to be a cross of American New York style in terms of toppings and sauces with a Neapolitan style crust. I was impressed with the strong flavors coming across on a light but charred crust. It may be the best pizza place in the metro area at the moment. I had no problem with eating an entire pie myself, something that I haven't done a while. 2 Amy's has been coasting for a long time which honestly isn't an issue since it is so family friendly. The problem is that there was a time when it was the best in DC and now it's not. AVPN's listing ingredients isn't really enough to have a 'quality' pizza. Someone has to take ingredients and experiment and try to improve, to make the sum of the pieces into something more. Someone has to keep doing that with passion over the years. Losing Eden Macquaid really hit the DC scene, he was a standard bearer.
  8. We stopped by La Colombe after our visit to Seylou Bakery. Its been a couple of years since the last time I was there, even much longer since the old days when visiting Philly was more of norm and going to Rittenhouse Square was a requirement for the drive home. They had an oatmeal coffee. Super smooth and tasty. Wow!
  9. I see we thought about stopping by back in 2017! 😂 I guess that's life with a little kid. We finally made it over there this weekend. Very impressed with the operation, the desserts were incredible and the gluten free loaf we took home got high marks from my wife. I enjoyed the slice of sweet bread that I tried. The price was high but honestly the quality was too. Geographically, it's a reach for us, but will try and make an effort from time to time.
  10. We were at a friends house for lunch a couple of months ago. Our son couldn't get enough of the yogurt they had. Of course we searched and picked up that particular brand. His interest lasted about 3 weeks!
  11. No! 😁 Getting out of cooking the regular standbys requires inspiration. Sometimes it feels like just getting things a little more organized and simplified in the kitchen which give the space to really try some new dishes.
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