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  1. "This is it," I thought to myself. "This is the best taco I've ever eaten in my life." I had read about the lines at farmer's markets for Suzanne Simon and Bettina Stern's taco stand, but didn't really know much about it. The other day, I decided to go see for myself, and I am *so glad* I found out early on about Chaia. First, the location: Chaia is on Grace Street, which is just a few feet off of Wisconsin Avenue in Georgetown, south of Georgetown Park Mall - it's *right there* off Wisconsin, and even has a little sign directing pedestrians to "tacos and beer" - don't let the words fool you. Having read their website before I went, I had a pretty good idea of what I was in for, and I also had a pretty good idea of what I was going to order. One thing of great importance: Chaia is a daytime-only taqueria: Tuesdays through Saturdays it closes at 8PM, and on Sundays, it closes at 6PM - it's closed altogether on Mondays. Please don't forget this, or you're going to show up and find a closed taqueria. And they serve beer, too - in keeping with their "hyper-local" theme, the two breweries they sell are Port City Brewing and Atlas Brew Works. Don't make the same mistake I did: Donnie Boy just *had* to have a beer with his tacos, and for no particular reason, so I started off with a plastic cup of Atlas Brew Works Rowdy Rye ($5). Why in God's name I did this, I don't know - Chaia sells cold-pressed juice from Misfit Juicery and seasonal shrubs, and non-alcoholic beverages are what you should be paying attention to here, unless you *really* like hop-laden beers at the opportunity cost of something truly special. Read on for another reason not to succumb to the temptation of ordering a beer. I got the Market Trio ($11), saving all of twenty-five cents from the í la carte taco prices of $3.75. You should ignore this special, and order however many tacos you want, and get whatever sounds good. Still, three tacos were just about right for me, and gave me a chance to try three different versions, the top three on the list: 1) Mushroom with feta, red sauce, and cilantro 2) Smoky Collards with queso cotija, tomatillo salsa, and pickled radish 3) Creamy Kale + Potato with pepperjack, polano crema, green sauce, and pickled onions. On this one taco, I sprung for a fried, pasture-raised egg ($1.50, available weekends only) - I'm a sucker for eggs and potatoes together, since they conjure up memories of diner breakfasts. I'd gotten my beer first, and nursed it throughout the meal. Note that you're not allowed to go out on the patio if you order beer, so if you want to eat outside, keep it non-alcoholic. Wanting to enjoy the egg while it was hot and runny, I ate my tacos in the order 3), 1), 2), and as I was about one-third of the way into the Kale and Potato taco, I paused, and said to myself, "My God, this is the single greatest taco I've ever eaten." I know it's California-style, and that it's vegetarian, but I don't care - this was not only the best taco I've ever eaten, it was the best quick-serve food I've ever eaten (think what that's saying). The corn tortillas are unbelievable, and the combination of ingredients on this taco was perfect. Do yourself a favor and *get the egg* with this - I could not believe what I was eating, and even cheated a little bit by dripping some of the egg yolk onto the other two tacos (only a few drops, as I didn't want to flirt with ruining perfection). Read that previous paragraph as many times as you need to read it - get this taco, and get it with an egg. In fact, get *three* of these tacos, and get *each one* with an egg. It'll set you back $15.50, and you'll love yourself (and me!) forever and ever. The Mushroom taco was next up, and it was fantastic as well, with thinly sliced mushrooms that picked up everything because they were so thin. A few days ago, I complimented the Wild Mushroom Taco at Virtue Feed & Grain - allow me to paraphrase my dear friend Terry Theise: 'I like tortilla chips, and I like truffles, and I also have no problem recognizing which of the two is better.' It's the same situation here: Virtue's Wild Mushroom Taco was tasty bar food; Chaia's Mushroom Taco was a great and profound taco by taqueria standards - there's a huge difference between the two, and if you like mushrooms, get over here and order this - it would also be terrific with an egg. Then came the collards, and this is why I should have gotten a cold-pressed juice: the collards are, by nature, bitter, and the rye-based beer was loaded with bitter hops - it was bitter on bitter, and literally left me with a bitter taste in my mouth, even as I was driving over the Memorial Bridge to get home it was still there, in a pronounced way. This is a *very* collard-greenish taco, and you have to really love collard greens to love this (think about the collard greens you get at barbecue shacks, without any of the pork they usually put in them). I'm not saying 'don't order this,' merely that you should be prepared for a blast of collard greens, and if that's what you're in the mood for, then you'll really enjoy it. As a boxed set, for $11, this was a fantastic meal, and I cannot recommend Chaia enough, both for vegetarians, and also for lovers of California (San Francisco, not Los Angeles) taquerias. This food was fantastic, and I contend that the first taco was the single greatest taco I've ever eaten in my life. I don't like putting pictures into my reviews, because I think it's lazy, and ruins the surprise for the reader when they get to the restaurant. However, in this case I'm going to make an exception, because this food is so beautiful, and tastes so good, that you'll be surprised no matter what I publish. Here you go: Enjoy your meal, and thank me later. Chaia is strongly initialized in Italic, and is one of the very greatest taquerias this city has ever known. It's also quite possibly the best quick-serve restaurant in DC, and happens to be the only one currently run by women. You're going to love this place.
  2. Has anyone had an opportunity to visit Fireworks Wood Fired Pizza in Leesburg, Virginia? http://www.fireworkspizza.com/HOME2.htm My family and I have eaten at the restaurant once, and ordered take out twice. On our first visit, the first pie we ordered was the: quattro carni. The second (take out) was the: smokey blue, and the third (take out) was the: fire cracker. Our favorite pie thus far has been the: smokey blue, but felt that the service each time has been poor. During our first visit, the wait staff neglected to remember one-half of the order for my family. As a result causing the food delivery to be staggered. Each time we have called to place take out orders, the phone manners from the wait staff/bartender taking the order has been less than stellar.
  3. So, I was over on Georgia Avenue this morning where there's a newsstand,where my husband was picking up the Racing Form to handicap the Derby, when I spotted this place called Pacci's Neapolitan Pizzeria - http://paccispizzeria.com/ - opening today. I had to run in and check it out, and there was the wood-burning oven and the pizzaiolo from Naples. I had a brief chat with the owner who assured me that this would be the real thing. They're making fresh mozzerella - and hopefully this will be vera pizza Napolitana. We were going out of town for the weekend, but I hope to check it out on Monday. Looks so promising!
  4. They're hoping for May. It's going to be Asian accented southern dishes. You may remember him from Top Chef Texas or most recently on the bourbon episode of Mind of a Chef. "Edward Lee To Open Southern-Themed Succotash At National Harbor" by Tim Carman on washingtonpost.com Hopefully this is the beginning of a new era at National Harbor.
  5. I had lunch at the Eleanor, in the NoMa area under Elevation apartments. I'm nor recommending it, by any means, but it isn't terrible. It's just unremarkable, unless you want to go bowling for some reason. Let me say up front that I hate any waitstaff that doesn't write down an order. I have NEVER received my exact order from someone who just listens to your order and thinks they can remember it well enough to convey to the back of the house. Thus my burger, ordered medium rare with an egg on top and a side of salad, came out medium well with bacon on top and a side of fries. (Note -- the fries were very good.) Two of my companions ordered the rib eye, which at $26 should have been thicker than the 1/2" slices that came out. One companion ordered what looked like a reasonable lobster roll, but he wasn't raving about it. The menu has no rhyme or reason, and certainly no central theme. It's a hodge-podge of dishes that don't fit well on the same menu, like Greek salad, General Tso's wings, the aforementioned lobster roll, and "mussels and fries" (better known as moules et frites). Let's see -- Greece, China, Boston, and Belgium...?
  6. From the sounds of things, it seems that Little Sesame is a separate entity getting its start in DGS's lower-level, with a common co-owner in Nick Wiseman. Thus, it will also get its own thread. Congratulations to the whole team, Nick, Robin, and everyone else - please stay active here and let us know when you expand beyond lunch, get a beer and wine license, open another location, etc. All these pop-ups and restaurants within restaurant are parallel to recent college graduates living with mom and dad for a couple of years because they can't afford to pay rent (heck, I did it for a year - I think it's a great idea, and it can even bring the family closer together).
  7. I've been meaning to try 101 Noodle Express for a while, since it specializes in some of my favorites items in Chinese cuisine - noodles and dumplings. I had passed it over in favor of trying other places because the flagship item, the Shangdong-style beef roll, isn't my favorite. BIG MISTAKE. Turns out I didn't like them as much at other places simply because they weren't as good. Here, they are the highest expression of the snack, consistent and omnipresent at every table for a reason. The crepe-like bing is thin, flaky, and rich, but not oily. The beef is high-quality and sliced uniformly thin. There is just enough cilantro, scallions, and salty-sweet bean sauce to bring balanced flavors and textures. In case you aren't familiar with the beef roll (I think A&J recently put a version on the menu, but I never tasted it there), here's a nice description. The balance and uniform thinness of the layers, as well as tight wrapping, is key. We ate most of our roll at lunch and promptly ordered another to go (they travel really well!). We also got some dan dan noodles, which had a tiny kick but weren't particularly spicy (which we were expecting, since this is decidedly not a Szechuan place) and the hand-torn noodles were pleasingly chewy. We didn't have room for dumplings, but the many plates of pan-fried dumplings we saw scattered about the room were plump and had golden, crunchy-looking bottoms. We were at the Alhambra location, which is a casual strip-mall spot serving budget-friendly, simple, snacky food until late night (1 AM). They have a few other locations in Arcadia, Culver City, and Irvine. I learned one thing about their operations from their website that I find very promising for visiting other locations: 101 Noodle Express boasts a central, factory-like kitchen to secure quality control of its franchises.
  8. Good new food cart in Rosslyn (near the metro). They have a menu of breakfasts tacos and I think they're open for lunch now too. I stopped by this morning when I was in the neighborhood. I had two tacos with egg whites, peppers & onions, pinto beans, and cheese on a flour tortilla. Only cost $5. Very good food, especially for the price. Nice warm, soft tortillas stuffed with flavorful beans, crispy veggies, and soft egg whites. Add a bit of the medium salsa and it's a good meal for a low price.
  9. OK, I couldn't find a listing for this restaurant, so here it goes... I have tended to only go to the take out place in Arlington and the new "cafe" in Silver Spring recently, but Friday I found myself at the Lebanese Taverna in Woodly Park. I used to go here all the time in years past, so when were were looking for a quick bite to eat, we thought we would give it a try. I would say the food was ok, but not as good as I remembered. I think ultimately knowing you could go to Zatinya and have similar food, but prepared in a more inspired way, you would pick Zatinya. We ordered a bunch of the mezza. Some items were fine (the Kibbeh and hommus), one item was very good (sharaht ghanam- which was sliced lamb), and others were average to not very good (the lamb kabob appetizer was terrible, the pieces were so fatty my piece was impossible to eat as it was all fat). I know that its location near the hotels means that there are many tourists, but I think they may have dumbed down some of the food for them. I used to remember this restaurant as a fun and interesting place to go. I still like the take away in Silver Spring, but if I want to sit down and eat, Zatinya is the winner, with better food and atmosphere. I wonder if they are successful with the 100 King restaurant in Alexandria, they will go back to to Woodly Park, and give it a much needed update.
  10. It's such a beautiful day, and probably the last one for eating ice cream outside this year, that I decided to use up some of my ice cream allotment on a walk down to Yards Park for an ice cream lunch at Ice Cream Jubilee. I also figured it might make me feel better about my city and neighborhood again. And it did, for a while. I sat outside and ate my banana bourbon caramel scoop in a cup ($3.25...ouch). It had a little granularity/icing, but overall was satisfying ice cream. The spicing was interesting. Maybe cinnamon and nutmeg? The view over the water was beautiful. Then I walked home to the sound of police sirens and a nearby noontime gun robbery. Good mood ruined. Not the ice cream shop's fault. I'll be heading back next summer.
  11. There has been an awning up for Saffron for a couple of weeks now. Given that they already have a restaurant in Broadlands, and that Curry Mantra 2 was in nearly turnkey shape, there shouldn't be much of a wait. Haandi can't catch a break, and maybe this time around, the competition will keep prices down: Both Haandi and Curry Mantra 2 were two of the most expensive Indian restaurants in the DC area despite being almost across the street from one another. "Curry Mantra 2 Is Now Saffron Indian Cuisine" by Sally Cole on fcnp.com
  12. A trip out to Bowie to get an oil change (near the office, cheaper than in DC, blah blah blah) led me to an outpost of Five Guys in this small but rapidly expanding DC Burb. Yes, this was my first time at a Five Guys. Evaluation? Not going back. Where was the ketchup I asked for? Why use thinly sliced jalapenos with no heat and less flavor? What the heck was that seasoning on my "cajun" fries (and why can't you just hire a consultant from Thrashers?)? What sort of mad scientist concocted this thing you call "cheese"? Why did my bun have the consistency of soggy kleenex? One of the few -- very few -- things that can be said about chain-i-fication is that it brings about a general consistency between branches of a restaurant. And if Five Guys is headed (and with a store in Bowie, it seems like it) into becoming a widespread local chain, I'm sure not going back to any of them. Maybe I'm missing something; when I posted something on DCist about Palena's burger certain commenters were all over me for being an effete snob and not mentioning Five Guys. Maybe the commute down Rt 50 to Bowie results in drastic quality reduction. But I'm thinking the allure is nostalgia. Oh, and memo to Mr. Mellencamp and other enthusiasts: The chili dogs at Tastee Freeze suck now too.
  13. Went last night to ChiKo in Barracks. I had been interested in going, but just don't get to that area as much these days. It's "Chipotle-esque" inside, industrial look, done quite well. There isn't a whole lot of seating, you get in line, take a number and then hope a table opens up. There were 3 of us, so we went to town ordering. It's small plates-ish, but some of the items could definitely make a good size for lunch. It's not Chipotle as in customizable - you order items that are being continuously made fresh in the open kitchen. - Double fried chicken wings - spicy soy glazed - expertly fried, just a bit sweet for me, compared to BC, but these come right of the fryer and perfect crunch - Pork and kim chi poststicker - really tasty, with a nice dipping sauce - Kimchi stew - with pork belly, subtle, not very hard core on the kim chi, but well done - Smashed salmon - with squash and korean red chili paste ... very good - Wagshal's chopp'd brisket - this came most highly recommended by the staff member, but it was not the most loved - I didn't try it, since I don't eat the beef, there's a soft egg and you mix it in. - Cumin lamb stir fry - with wheat noodles... this was one of my favorite dishes I've had in DC in a long time, really well prepped, noodles had good chew (not sure if made in house), spicy but not terribly so, braised tender lamb, pretty much everyone's favorite - Chiko "shrimp and grits" - another WOW dish! Congee and garlic-sauced shrimp, so tasty. I think maybe I liked this better than the lamb. - Wok blistered Chinese broccoli - greens, a palate cleanser, done differently than at Chinese restaurants - it has thicker stems $125 for 3 of us, including one adult beverage each. Not really "fast-casual" - it takes a bit of time to get your food, as it is made to order, and it's not exactly cheap to get full for dinner (what we had was a good amount, we finished almost all of it and were comfortably full). But, high quality. I really like it - I would go back for that lamb stir fry. The ingredients are all really good compared to most Asian places, I think that's why everything just tasted "brighter". And, as someone else on Yelp said, it's not really Chinese - Korean fusion - it's Chinese and Korean dishes, all on the same menu. It's pronounced - "Chi" with a long I sound .. duh - "Chinese Korean". Got corrected when we said chee-ko.
  14. Team, We have been reading this forum for a long time and found it very helpful in enhancing our dining experience. Now, me and my partner Enzo Algarme have opened our own food establishment and want to invite you guys to check it out. Enzo, who is from Naples, Italy, worked in the kitchen of the renown "Il Pizzaiolo del Presidente" (certified by Verace Pizza Napoletana) in Naples, where he learned how to make authentic Neapolitan specialties, which we are now making here, in Arlington, Virginia. Some things, like the Neapolitan Fried Calzone, you can't find anywhere else in this area. We also make Palle di Riso (crunchy rice balls stuffed with peas, veggie crumble and cheese), Panzarotti - potato croquettes stuffed with mozzarella, Neapolitan-style pizza (we do not have a wood-burning oven, but use the same recipe and the ingredients as pizzerias in Naples). The food we serve is the authentic Neapolitan STREET food, just like you find on the streets of Naples. Our food establishment is a STREET CART, not a restaurant, so the prices are more than reasonable. We have been open for about 1 week in the neighbourhood of Ballston, in Arlington, VA just outside the Metro station, at the corner of Stuart and 9th streets. We are only open Mon-Fri for breakfast and lunch right now, from 8 to 3:30, but soon will be open until 8pm. Come to give us a shot! Anastasiya and Enzo pupatella.com myspace.com/pupatella1pizza
  15. I saw on Delleicious that Bakeshop DC is opening in Clarendon in the spring. Also here's the news on Bakeshop DC's website. The website says their cupcakes and cookies are available at Murky's. How are they?
  16. Windy City Red Hots is the website of a remarkable truck which daily parks in the lot of "Blue Mount" Nursery on route 7 about two miles west of the intersection with route 28. This is the LAST place on the face of the earth (Antarctica included) that one would expect to find an authentic Chicago hot dog. Yet it delivers: Vienna beef on a poppy seed bun with celery salt, neon green sweet pickle relish, sport peppers, chopped onion, a dill pickle wedge, yellow mustard and a slice of tomato. No, this isn't Hot Doug's but it is remarkably good for the D. C. suburbs. All of the condiments and the hot dog are sourced from Vienna Beef. They also have Italian beef and polish sausage, too but I haven't tasted these yet. Frankly, this was shockingly good to find on the side of the road half way between Sterling and Leesburg. Not worth a trip from D. C. but worth a detour from elsewhere. Blue Mount, by the way, is one of the best nurseries in the D. C. area. A Great hot dog truck parked in front is a real plus! The owner, an enthusiastic 32 year old ex Chicagoan, is active on Twitter, Facebook and MySpace with links on his website. Regardless, he makes a really good hot dog that tastes for all the world like his truck is parked across from Schaumburg Mall.
  17. I stopped by with a friend for a late (8:30) dinner last week and noticed that no one's written about this place in quite a while...so here's my $.02. Up entering the restaurant, I noticed two things. First of all, like our beloved DonRocks' experience, there were very few Asians in the restaurant. As one myself, my "authenticity meter" tends to ping a bit when I initially walk into a restaurant serving ethnic food without people of that ethnicity dining there. Secondly, I was taken aback as to how full the restaurant was (over 80%) despite given the late hour and it being a weeknight. Business is still going strong, so they must be doing at least something right! To the food...For apps, we had the Green Papaya Salad and Larb. The salad was darn good. Crispy papaya, accentuated by the peanuts, combined with the saltiness of the fish sauce and the spiciness of the chillis; a definite winner. The larb was just as good with similar complex flavors and provided the most heat for the evening (and it proved to be quite a delicious snack the next day with toast as well). We both were far less adventurous with our entrees as we ordered the Simple Beef Fried Rice and their special 54 Fried Rice. Well-flavored ingredients (shrimp, chicken, and beef) mixed with equally well-flavored rice made these dishes particularly satisfying as well. The friend who I was dining with (who happened to be Thai) was impressed with the authenticity of the food and said that it was just like mom used to make (blowing my initial snap judgement out of the water). Service on our visit was very good. Our waitress was particularly attentive, but certainly not in an overbearing way. I was most impressed with her (and the other servers') enthusiasm in delivering birthday cakes and singing that dreaded song to the three tables that were celebrating that evening! Definitely looking forward to returning and diving deeper into the menu...perhaps it may even unseat my current Thai favorite, Sawatadee.
  18. Souvlaki Bar has multiple locations in the DMV, I couldn't find a thread, if there is one, please merge. We have gone to Souvlaki Bar a few times now as it is super close to the house. We took Mom there the other night as it has really good salads that are a pretty generous portion that you can top with lamb, chicken, pork or falafel. Last time I went I had a greek salad with chicken. I thought the chicken was a nice texture of juicy, flavorful and crispy. So the other night I got the kale and spinach salad with chicken, and I enjoyed it as well. The kale was nice and tender, the salad greens were very fresh, again the chicken was good. A girl had a wrap beside us that looked good too. I don't think they are per se better than like Plaka, and they don't have as big of a menu, BUT they have really nice salads and at least the chicken has been delicious, I will try a wrap with gyro meat next time to see.
  19. I grabbed lunch here for the first time today, think it's been open for a little over a month. I haven't been to every taco joint in the district yet, but the first visit here beat every visit I've made to Taqueria Distrito Federal. I had the lengua, the carnitas, and the fish taco (daily special; tilapia). The lengua had a nice crust on it, which I've not had on lengua in the past and made for more of a roast pork belly mouthfeel, and the carnitas were properly fried and chunky, not pulled pork. The fish was not overcooked, although the fish taco as a whole had more of an earthy chili funk to it than the brightness of a Baja-style fish taco. The spiciness of the base tacos was fairly mild. They have a nice selection of salsas on the table to fix that, though. I believe the tortillas were homemade, just off the griddle. A bit apt to crack but still flexible enough to do the job, great flavor, and with the correct number of two per taco. My wife's al pastor huarache was also delicious. Taqueria Habanero on Yelp Jon
  20. Went to matchbox tonight "on a whim". Try the white pizza with prosciutto. But instead of prosciutto, have anchovies on the side. Mmmmmmmm.
  21. I went here with my family. We ate at Buena Vida. The complimentary chips and salsa were excellent (tomatillo, some kind of smoked red salsa and picked veggies) were excellent. We had elote off the cob, a bunch of tacos and ceviche. Even the beans and rice which we ordered for the kids was great. My favorite tacos were the lengua and the duck carnitas. Service was okay, not the most attentive server. --- Tacos, Tortas, & Tequila (ElGuapo)
  22. Thai by Thai is one of Sterling's Thai restaurants, and the only one I know of with a "secret" Thai menu. It has become our Thai restaurant of choice. I couldn't find a thread devoted to it, and it is deserving of one. It's a brightly lit place where you order at the counter and they bring food to your table and has a much nicer vibe than most counter-ordering locations. The menu posted over the service counter doesn't hint at the existence of the special Thai menu, but does have a few street food items, such as the sun-dried beef. They have monthly specials posted on the cash register, which are items they are auditioning as possible additions to the Thai menu. The Thai menu is available upon request and includes English translations. Its content changes with some frequency but includes wonderful fare such as deep fried pork belly strips with Chinese Broccoli, fried pork rib chunks with sticky rice and an incendiary dipping sauce, and a pig organ soup. Be sure to have one of their noodle dishes other than the Pad Thai. Noodles come out with a wonderful smokey touch. The Pad Thai is unexceptional, probably tailored for the tastes of the majority of their lunchtime customers. When we look around at our fellow diners, most have ordered a fried rice dish or the Pad Thai. Our experience has generally been that the person running the deep fryer knows their business--the pork strips in that pork with broccoli are perfectly crisped and maintain that texture for as long as it takes to inhale the dish. Noodle dishes are generously portioned; the other dishes are often less so. Thai by Thai's Sterling location is on Rt. 7 just West of Dranesville Road, across the street from the Shoppers Food Whorehouse and the Burlington Coat Factory, in the same plaza as Grand Mart. They also had a sign announcing the December 19 opening of a second location, this time at 29 and 50, near a mobile phone shop. We're just hoping that the chefs who do such exceptional woking and frying are not headed off for that location.
  23. When I moved to the DC area in 1997, one of the first "serious" restaurants I went to was Jaleo. I was just back from nearly a year in Europe with over a month of that time in Spain, so I was hankering for a tapas bar. I was prepared to be disappointed with Jaleo, but instead found myself returning every few weeks over the next couple of years. I intended to go to Cafe Atlantico last night, but the bar at Jaleo looked tempting. And for the first time in a long time, it looked like there were a few free seats. I started with a couple of scallops in Romesco sauce. I enjoyed the sauce, and the scallops were a bit past their prime but still decent. Queso de Tupi "Abuelo Tunica" was a surprise. This was a soft cheese that had been mixed with some sort of Spanish liquor served with bread and fig puree. It had a boozy sharp flavor that hit the spot. I also tried the Ensalada de Remolacha which consisted of beets, orange segments, walnuts, mixed greens and Cabrales-- one of my favorite cheeses. This was tasty, though the beets just didn't taste super fresh. I wouldn't go so far as saying they were canned, but they had definitely been around a while. I finished up my meal with a variety of sliced Spanish sausages: Chorizo, Soria, Butifarra, and Salchichon de Vic. All the meats were great, but I didn't care too much for the whole wheat toast points that came with it. Everything was washed down with a Garnacha, Carinena, Syrah, and Merlot blend called Perlat. I'm glad I stopped in. It had been too long. If I'm in the area, and it's still early enough in the evening to get a seat at the bar, I'll be back. Soon.
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