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  1. I wanted to like this place. At least, I love southeast Asian street food. But when I saw the menu I knew it wasn’t going to be great. A mishmash of Korean, Singaporean, Japanese Chinese etc. No rendang as feared, everything was a dumbed-down version. Papaya salad with no kick, terrible (inedible) Szechuan wontons...skewers were fine, as were summer rolls. But, as feared, if you want good Asian food you still need to pay top dollar at Q, or head on up to Rockville...
  2. a clever plant in ts chat about willow. i don't know what's up but i think maybe its tracy mcgrady's new venture. --- RE: Your Fantasy Restaurant Job: Recently defunct Gaffney's in Ballston is in the process of being reincarnated into "Willow"- I work in the building and have spoken a couple times to the two women owners- they've both worked at Galileo, one was at Kinkead's for a long time the other was one of the originators at Firehook Bakery and spent a year in Tuscany. Their intent is to have EXACTLY the sort of place you describe. I can't WAIT for them to open! Tom Sietsema: Wow! (And good gossip. I'll have to check out the details.)
  3. I have been watching this place get whipped into shape and cannot wait for it to open. I love Spanish food and wine. I see promise for Ballston's food scene since the chef was the first chef at Taberna del Alabardero, which is a fantastic Spanish stable in the DC area. "SER Restaurant To Serve Up Spanish-Inspired Comfort Food In Arlington" by Mary Ann Barton on patch.com Team: Chef/Proprietor Josu Zubikarai Sous Chef David Sierra Business Operations/Proprietor Javier Candon Guest Relations/Proprietor Christiana Campos-Candon General Manager Merv Laihow
  4. I don't remember how I heard about this joint. It could've been Tyler Cowen, or it could've been Chowhound. We ordered from the Chinese menu, which has pretty pictures and English translation. We had some mapo fish with tofu ($14), cumin lamb, ($14) pot stickers ($7), and hand scratch pan cake ($4). The cumin lamb arrived first, along with its body odor-like smell. Luckily it tasted much better than it smells. The lamb had some gaminess, but the cumin and chili peppers did a good job of covering that up. Other than 1 particularly chewy piece, the lamb was tender and plentiful. The mapo fish with tofu arrived on a plate rather than a bowl. The tofu was tender and the fish was not the least bit fishy. The more I ate of it, the more I enjoyed it. At first it was just spicy and salty but I detected more flavor as I continued shoveling the stuff down my throat. The pot stickers were nothing special, the dough being rather thick. The pan cake didn't have any flavor. A decent authentic Chinese joint (which makes it 10x better than any American Chinese restaurant in my book). They also have a buffet but I didn't see what was on there.
  5. In the old Levante's space, which is closing at the end of the year. Planned opening for the spring. Clickety. Even as casual as this seems to be, it could instantly be one of the best restaurants in mediocre-heavy Bethesda.
  6. Yes, I am very much looking forward to the new Turkish place. Apr 4, 2018 - "Istanbul Grill Expected To Replace Ballston Area's El Ranchero" by Bridget Reed Morawski on arlnow.com
  7. I will be finding myself in Ballston with regularity and am looking forward to seeing what is close (or close enough) to try. I'll be most often about 4 blocks from the Ballston metro. I see there is a Mussel Bar, a Kapnos Taverna, a Super Pollo and other places to try. Puputella is not too far either. A dash to the German Gourmet to load up on nussschinken and fleischsalat is cool as well. What places should I be trying? Lunches most commonly but also dinners sometimes. I eat anything and am happy with cheap eats to nicer places - I am an equal opportunity eater. TIA.
  8. Big Buns Gourmet Grill, 4401 Wilson Blvd in Ballston (but it's not actually facing Wilson Blvd. It's on the other side of Vapiano in a courtyard between Wilson and Fairfax.) Click for website. I saw this place one day after leaving Vapiano and was curious to try it. It's a fast food burger place. They offer beef, chicken, mahi mahi, or portobello burgers (in a bun or bowl) with your choice of cheeses, toppings and sauces. They also offer regular fries, sweet potato fries, milkshakes, malts, floats, sodas, and beer. Near the soda fountain, they have four Italian soda type syrups that you can mix in your drink, like cherry to make a cherry coke. I had a beef burger which came well-done but was still juicy. (They didn't ask how I wanted it. I don't know if that's an option.) It's not a very thick burger, but it was wide enough that I needed to hold it with both hands. The burger was $5.95, not counting additional charges for special toppings. The fries were each $1.85. I really liked the regular fries, they were thicker than shoestring fries and had a very potato-y flavor though it would be nice if they were just a little crispier. The sweet potato fries were thinner than the regular fries and were ok but nowhere near as good as the ones at Eleventh. Has anyone else tried Big Buns?
  9. So Ballston Quarter...is it going to make it? I realize that it's not fully open but there's something off about it. Maybe it's just that it's not fully open. I don't know. I have been to Mi & Yu noodles twice. The first time miso ramen was bland and beef way overcooked. This time dashi ramen was way over salty (and I love salt) but the duck and egg were nice. Hubby and kids at new barbeque down in the belly of the beast and said it was bland. To quote husband it "tasted like reheated catered food." 5 yr old girl child did eat all of my extra noodles so there's that upside.
  10. Wanted to grab a quick drink and bite with a friend and I thought we'd try Stageplate, having read about it somewhere. Meh - they opened in August and their menu still has "coming soon" teasers of appetizers. There were two and we ordered both - calamari and shrimp. Completely average Limited options of wines by the glass. Entrees were mid 20s to 30s - not sustainable. And a very odd vibe - we both were unsure what to make of the place. I give it 4 months, tops.
  11. I can't think of another Indian restaurant in walking distance of the Ballston metro at the moment. We will definitely give it a try.
  12. The fridge, cabinets and freezer are excrutiatingly low on supplies right now, so the other night it was Doctor Delivery to the rescue. I wanted Thai or Mexican so I was scoping out the selections for the best options sans gluten. Decided to give El Ranchero a try since it had been a while and the menu clearly stated what had corn tortillas versus flour and a lot of the options were with corn, yay! We put in an order and when it arrived there was a bag of fresh hot corn chips and salsa, which I guess comes with every order. The chips were awesome and the salsa was really spicy, a little chunky and pretty good. A nice unexpected addition. I had one of the specials with a spinach and chicken enchilada and beef chalupa. I really liked the dressed lettuce on the chalupa, I put some on my enchilada, as well. The chalupa had gotten a bit soggy in the delivery on the bottom, but the flavors were still very good. The rice with the enchilada was well seasoned, Hubby thought his was a little underdone, but I liked mine and thought it was just right. Enchilada was good, the sauce needed a little kick, but most places do as many people in this area don't like spice as much as me. I believe it was a Ranchero sauce. But overall really good and they had good packaging for delivery and had everything we ordered which is a plus. Anyway it was good, probably would have been better if you had it at the restaurant. I always love the decor of this place when I go, it is cheesy in a good way.
  13. Must give a shout-out to one of my favorite sandwich shops around. Generously-sized hand-carved sandwiches on fresh bread at very reasonable prices. Sounds very simple, but I'm always surprised about how few places successfully implement this concept. This is one of them. Last weekend: Roast Turkey sandwich piled with lots of veggies for $5.75 and my personal version of the Turkey Melt (hand-carved turkey, bacon, lettuce, tomato, avocado, sprouts, swiss cheese and honey mustard on a wheat sub roll) for $6.75. One of the best values around, IMHO.
  14. Rus Uz deserves a mention here. The prices are moderate, the portions generous (3 huge lamb shish kabobs for less than $20), and the food is very tasty. They're getting more popular, though we've been able to walk in and get seated each time.
  15. In my never-ending quest to find quick breakfasts in my neighborhood, today I tried the Marymount University Ballston Cafe next to the Starbucks at the Blue Goose location. I had a breakfast sandwich with sausage and it was quite delicious. Croissant was nice and buttery. Their morning fruit bar looked good too with fresh strawberries, blueberries, grapes, pineapple, yogurt, granola toppings. Coffee was decent though no match for the Starbucks next door.
  16. Kriedl sold Cafe Tirolo about a year ago. I tried it once a month later and it was okay (certainly better than Cafe Monti). But I haven't been to Cafe Tirolo lately.
  17. Is there a thread on Pepita? Google didn't find it. I had lunch there the other day. I had the tongue and goat tacos, the tongue was very soft and had good flavor, but the goat was really a star, the flavor combination was great with a little more texture than the tongue. We had chips and the salsa verde. The salsa verde was one of the best I have ever had- it was thicker in texture than most and had a nice kick to it. I also liked the music selection. $24 total for 2 people- 4 fairly good size tacos, chips, salsa and non-alcoholic drinks. Which isn't too bad. I would like to try the veggie taco because I think overall Mike Isabella restaurants have some great veggie dishes.
  18. Not sure if this is the right place (apologies if it is) but curious to see what everyone's three favorite restaurants are along this area? My 3 in no particular order 1. Pho 75 2. Cava Mezze (esp Brunch) 3. TNR, go to Fish in Szechuan Broth Honorable mention: El Pollo Rico, Green Pig Bistro
  19. From Wednesdays through Saturdays until May 2, from 6-10, Mike Isabell's G sandwich place is Yona, a Japanese-Korean noodle and small plates pop-up that is the precursor to Yona's brick and mortar opening in Arlington later this year. We recently went and enjoyed it. The menu is comprised of three kinds or ramen, a miso ("Miso Porky") that lives up to its name, a tonkotsu-style heavily shoyu ramen, and a vegetarian ramen, and then a larger selection of 8-10 small plate/appetizers. There is a decent drink menu featuring house-made cocktails, Japanese beers, and whiskey. I had the Hak cocktail to start - a shochu, Asian pear vermouth, lime and shiso leaf concoction that was very refreshing. The herby taste of the shiso actually worked well with the sweet and sour elements of this drink. For apps, we had the Brussels sprouts - deep-fried Brussels sprout flowerettes that were slightly charred and crispy on the outer parts and tender within, dressed with a chili-mayonnaise and these little crunchy pearls of I don't know what, but the overall flavors reminded me of Japanese okonomiyaki. Really delicious. We also had the dry-fried wings (4 per order). They were crispy on the outside, juicy and tender on the inside, medium spicy with flecks of chili, and finished with a vinegar sauce. Simple, yet flavorful and finger-licking good. We ordered one of each of the ramens, and the best is the miso. Decent-sized portion served with two giant pieces of chashu pork, bamboo sprouts, a soft-cooked egg (still runny, such that it dissolved into the broth), kimchi and topped with shredded seaweed. Really good, with the strong, earthy flavor of the miso dominating. The noodles were good, cooked just right, and the toppings did not overwhelm the main ingredients. The tonkotsu ramen had a really dark broth that also rendered the noodles darker. The broth was very different from other tonkotsu broths I have tried, less porky and fatty, and predominantly tasting more of soy sauce and some fish. The tonkotsu also comes with chashu and soft egg, but also had red pickled ginger slivers which may be an unwelcome surprise for those who aren't fans of ginger in ramen. The vegetarian was the least interesting, and the broth tasted predominantly of edamame and snow peas, which is great if you like these flavors, but I don't usually associate them with ramen. At least there was a vegetarian version. Overall, an enjoyable experience, and wish we had had the appetites to try more of the small plates, especially the Korean style tartare and some of the fish. The chef, Jonah Kim, could be seen working away in the open kitchen, and he definitely has some skills mixing things up and giving the Korean/Japanese spin to the dishes we tried. Interestingly, two of the featured special sandwiches on G's sandwich menu this month are also Chef Kim creations, the Kim-Fil-A, which sounds like a Korean spin on the breaded chicken sandwich, and the Bangkok, a pork curry sandwich. Kudos to Mike Isabella for sharing the G space for an up and coming new chef. This is what I love about DC and America-- that a Korean American chef can open a Japanese Pan Asian noodle place in a Greek-Italian American sandwich shop serving a multicultural crowd on a previously devastated strip of 14th Street, with a hip hop soundtrack as inspiration.
  20. This place has been around for a couple of years but I only decided to try it last night because of NoVa Restaurant Week. I'm on the fence about the place. Nice venue, sort of modern Milan-like. My caprese was good though small. My husband's fried calamari was good. My cappricio di mare was okay - fish and shrimp good, but mussels, clams, and bay scallops chewy and lacked flavor. The sauce was good though but salty. The bread was good. The tiramisu was really good though small. I'm going to give them another chance because I want to like them. I can walk there from my house. So I will go again and try other things from their menu. Service is friendly and good. An organization I volunteer with holds Opera Buffs Happy Hours here once a month and the restaurant is very supportive of that. That also makes me want to give them another try.
  21. Haven't tried the new incarnation (First Down) yet, but did notice the new paint job (bright green) in the otherwise drab block. A quick glance at the menu in the window shows typical bar food but a wide variety of wings (bone-in and boneless.) They also advertised delivery (for a fee) with $15+ orders.
  22. According to Kelly Andrews' tweet, Republic is having their grand opening next weekend.
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