Jump to content

Batik, Southeast Asian in Kentlands


Recommended Posts

Some restaurant locations seem adept at plowing under the earnest efforts of well-meaning and talented tenants. One location is on the traffic circle intersection of Kentlands Boulevard & Main Street. Come and gone: Mirch Masala indian restaurant and Itoyanagi sushi and noodle.

My usual +1 noticed Batik's recent addition to Kliman's "list" and suggested a whim. I'm game, but winced at the thought of seeing another cute puppy churned in that location.

While only time will tell, doom may not be Batik's destiny. Its owners have been operating restaurants in DC for 20+ years. They started in 1988 with the Union Station food court Panda's Rice Bowl. Ten years later they added the full-service East Street Café to the station's mezzanine. Almost as importantly, Batik's owners also own the Kentlands building. They'd bought it as income property and felt, after a couple of churns, they'd do best by operating their own restaurant at the site.

In his 7/28 chog, Todd Kliman's proffered this advice on ordering:

Well, dumplings for one. They have a dumpling bar with seven kinds.

I like the pork dumpling with cabbage and green onion.

The skins are not made in-house, they're bought, but that's not a deal-killer, so long as the kitchen takes care with its steaming, making sure not to leave them in the steamer too long or too little. Lots of places are guilty of one or the other. Not this one, at least not what I've seen.

There's also a page of hawker-style dishes, basically, street cart eats. The skewered, glazed pork is rich, juicy and absolutely worth your while. It also comes with a little salad of pickled veggies, to cut the fat of the meat.

I'd also consider the Nasi Goreng, a Malaysian dish -- the menu draws upon Korean, Chinese, Malaysian, and Filipino cuisines. An amazing dish? No. But a deeply satisfying one, and with everything, from the fried shallots on top to the matchsticks of carrot, properly and carefully cooked. It's also a lot of food for ten bucks.

Prices are cheap -- I don't think anything tops $13; the dumplings are $6-7 -- and the atmosphere has some of the sophistication of Fatty Crab and Kampuchea Noodle Bar in Manhattan, some of that lightly evoked exoticism.

What's smart, here, is that the emphasis is on the food, which I wasn't expecting, given the name and given the aim of the restaurant. I feared, initially, that the decor and mood were going to carry the day.

Points, too, in my book, for playing hard-bop on the sound system. I may be biased -- okay, I am biased -- but nothing sets a mood like jazz, real jazz. More places should be reprogramming their iPods.

Bernice August offered a good review in the 8/5 edition of the Gazette.

Saturday evening we shared:

Firecracker Shrimp: Four good sized shrimp with cilatro wrapped in a dumpling skin and fried. The fried cilantro makes it.

Squash It! dumpling: Very smooth mix of sweet potato, squash, carrots and ginger - will order again

Fried Lumpia: a bit soggy [in retrospect from sitting on wet romaine lettuce - not oily soggy] and accompanied by a sauce chock-full of minced garlic. This wasn't by favorite and it may be because I had visions of Corduroy's Ron Jeremy rolls dancing in my head. I'll order a Shanghai Roll next time

All-American dumpling: It had a interesting filling of peppers and BBQ pork and was served with a sauce that had a mustard kick. Good once, but will explore more of the menu before reordering this dumpling.

Chicken Pad Thai: Very light, fresh and tasty. We ordered it spicy and instead of being loaded with red chili flake, it had sliced long green peppers. Not entirely authentic, but was a very satisfying rendition.

Accompanied by two iced teas [liquor license pending] the total was $40 pre-tip with about half the Pad Thai and a few of the All American Rolls making it into doggie bags.

Overall, the small plates and light fare are great for summer dining and we also heard New Order on their playlist. I want to see how their "beautification" of the upstairs turns out because it'll seat an additional 40 diners and may be a good place for hosting smallish events.

Batik_Menu_Aug2009.pdf

post-226-125106040981_thumb.jpg post-226-125106128772_thumb.jpg post-226-125106130387_thumb.jpg

Batik at Kentlands

corner of Main St. and Kentlands Blvd (behind Whole Foods)

200 Main St., Gaithersburg, MD

301-869-8661

Monday - Friday: 11 am - 3 pm & 5 pm - 9 pm

Saturday: 11:30 am - 9 pm

Sunday: closed

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I had been watching to see when this opened but somehow missed it! Probably too distracted by the addition of Panera across the street. (I'm still bitter that Panera aka St. Louis Bread Company doesn't serve their gooey butter danish outside the midwest...)

I'll have to give it a try at lunch one day.

Thanks!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

...Overall, the small plates and light fare are great for summer dining and we also heard New Order on their playlist...

I used to tell everyone that one day, I'd be opening a restaurant called "Unknown Pleasures". Patrons would never be certain what type of ethnic cuisine or featured techniques would appear as menu selections. They would have to walk in to find out.

The playlist would rely heavily on Joy Division (the precursor to New Order before Ian Curtis changed his own reality menu), whose debut album would be the restaurant's namesake.

For now, it sounds like Batik is a much more reliable option instead. :rolleyes:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think Lydia forgot a Mexican place that came and went from this spot as well.

I just noticed the new signage last week and was much excited by the promise of a "dumpling bar". Alas, disappointment was in the wind for me. A friend and I visited for lunch last Wednesday. When we arrived at Noon, we were met with an apology by the owner that he had just sent his server on an errand. We didn't understand why someone would send their only lunchtime server out on an errand at Noon, but once we were seated we understood it wouldn't be an issue.

We were the only table! My friend ordered chicken teriyaki and I ordered the chicken dumplings and a bbq chicken satay. From order to delivery took about 25 minutes. Not great for a weekday lunch, and we were STILL the only people in the restaurant. We were a little put off by the frequent sounds of the microwave..we could hear it ding, hear the door being opened and closed...multiple times.

The food was artfully presented, both chicken dishes came with rice (cold), the teriyaki chicken came with steamed vegetables (soggy and cold) and the satay came with a pickled salad of cucumber and onions. Actually, that salad was the best thing on the plate. Both chickens had that odd texture that comes from being pre-cooked and previously frozen. The dumplings were okay, similar to the kind you can buy for yourself at any store these days. None of the sauces on any of the plates had any real flavor. The dipping sauce for the dumplings wasn't much more than soy sauce with a little vinegar.

Owning the building may keep them in business, but I would be happier if it was the quality of the food that kept them around.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Visited tonight - enjoyable and seemed a decent value.

I don't have the advanced, learned palate many of you have. But I do have preferences.

We started with the squash dumplings and one of the chicken skewers. The dumpling was really good - smooth sweet potato. I agree with a prior post that more interesting dips would really (and cheaply) enhance the dish. If it were my place, I might present 3 different dips and explain each - would make the decent dumpling even more special and exaulted. The enhanced soy was pretty good though.

The chicken skewer seemed OK but nothing particularly special. As also mentioned, the cabbage/cuke/carrot/onion slaw was simple and really good. Just vinegar and sugar? Tasted simple, fresh and delicious.

We ordered plain chicken fried rice for the kids. It was the disappointment - kinda dry and bland. But that was OK, the kids like bland.

The basil chicken was darn good. Small slices of hot pepper at the bottom of the pile provided a little heat, and the big basil leaves added little blasts of flavor. Liked it. I'm not savvy enough to tell if the chicken had been frozen or not, it may have been.

+1 of my +3 got the pad thai and it was quite good, with fine noodles and an interesting almost grilled flavor. Not sure how a grilled flavor gets into pad thai, but it was really tasty.

We were house hunting in the area and will be back. Next time we plan to just get a bunch of the dumplings and enjoy "tapas" style, plus maybe one main dish shared around the table.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Returned and enjoyed the Chicken Curry Noodle soup pot - my new favorite cold weather dish! The spaghetti-like noodles filled the bowl in defiance of the "soup" moniker and the curry was pleasantly low in the spicy heat department.

Too bad the weather is getting warmer, not colder...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It may not be cool to post multiple times on one place...but it has been almost 3 years...

Not long after my postings above I bought a house near Batik and have been back to eat maybe...I dunno...25 times or more. Such a neat place and still going strong.

My last trip included a plate of Mee Goreng (an Indonesian version of Chow Mein) that was wonderfully subtle - not the overpowering sugary taste that often comes with most peanut sauces, in fact I forgot it even had peanut sauce. The plate was enough for dinner and a late night snack. The online menu doesn't show it, but they offer a vegetarian version with a nicely done tofu. One of the really nice things about this place is enjoying meat-free dishes without feeling like you're limited to the 'side' dishes.

The spicy mushroom soup was very interesting with almost a slow-cooker pot roast vibe...with a hot oil zing. Delicious and not like any soup I've had before.

But here's the thing - this is a great neighborhoody place, the kind I'd drive very far out of my neighborhood to visit if I had to. It is nicely decorated but not heavy handed on the guests (everything is very relaxed; no dress code or fanciness). I have favorites on the menu yet continue to find excellent other options - my standbys are the Basil Chicken and the Bulgogi. The sweet green tea is simple but addicting. And the prices make the place worthy of any night of the week. And they are really consistent on every front - service, quality and other aspects.

Batik may not top anyone's list of the best whatevers...yet I feel EXTREMELY fortunate to have such a place so convenient to me.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Batik may not top anyone's list of the best whatevers...yet I feel EXTREMELY fortunate to have such a place so convenient to me.

Don't be so sure. Your posts have been singlehandedly responsible for Batik being placed so high in the Gaithersburg Dining Guide. Thanks for keeping us all in the know with your enthusiastic updates, and please keep them coming.

Batik has a website now that they didn't have a few years ago.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...