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The Block, Artistic, Asian Food Court on John Marr Drive (near K-Mart) in Annandale, VA


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I figured we need a topic for the rather interesting The Block in Annandale (Here's their Yelp since their "main" page is the Instagram account, as it is for most of these places.) Currently at The Block are:

So far, I've tried the first three. Snocream is a veteran of Annandale with their shaved-ice-cream concoction (good!). Pokeworks is poke bowls and the one I've tried was good. I've tried Balo Kitchen and I'll say the Street Bread with sausage was yummy, and most of their menu looked intriguing. I'll probably go try Roots Thai soon. (As I don't drink, I can't attest to the Bar.)

Now, every time I've gone here I'm fairly certain I might have been the oldest person there. And as it is a big concrete box with hard tables, it does get to "get off my lawn" levels of noise for me, but, well, I'm not the target audience.

Anyone else out there have experiences to share? If so, we might want to break these up into separate threads.

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15 minutes ago, weezy said:

Looking at the map, is it in that small strip of stores attached to the KMart?

Yep! It's the location directly next to the KMart (northish/to the left as you look at it) that used to be...Myeongdong Cafe? Something like that. 

It's around the corner from where the Snocream bus used to ply its wares.

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5 minutes ago, yeah said:

Is it just me or has this place flown seriously below the radar? 

From my experience there, you/I/we probably aren't a teen who lives in/near Annandale. As you can see above, most of the places there are mainly found through their Instagram accounts (they update their accounts pretty often and it's about the *only* way to find the hours if they are in soft open). We are getting old, my friends.

Now, I have no idea if what Roots Thai or Balo Kitchen are serving is "authentic" at all (for whatever cuisine they are taking from: Thai, Taiwanese, etc.), but so far what I've had is definitely tasty. And much different from most of the places in Annandale (i.e., not really Korean focused/based)

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I wrote The Block about Claiming their Business on Google Maps - it's already listed, but they haven't claimed it yet. I'm going to make this a regular thing, as I'm also going to begin including maps in the Dining Guide for new restaurants (and catch up with the old ones as time permits - any volunteers?)

I figured we need a topic for the rather interesting The Block in Annandale (Here's their Yelp since their "main" page is the Instagram account, as it is for most of these places.) Currently at The Block are:

So far, I've tried the first three. Snocream is a veteran of Annandale with their shaved-ice-cream concoction (good!). Pokeworks is poke bowls and the one I've tried was good. I've tried Balo Kitchen and I'll say the Street Bread with sausage was yummy, and most of their menu looked intriguing. I'll probably go try Roots Thai soon. (As I don't drink, I can't attest to the Bar.)

Now, every time I've gone here I'm fairly certain I might have been the oldest person there. And as it is a big concrete box with hard tables, it does get to "get off my lawn" levels of noise for me, but, well, I'm not the target audience.

Anyone else out there have experiences to share? If so, we might want to break these up into separate threads.

Matt, thank you for starting this thread. Like any food court (or like Eden Center, for example), we can post in *this* thread when talking about The Block as a whole, or when discussing more than one restaurant in a single post, but we can also have separate posts for each entity within The Block if a post deals with only one of them. It follows the logical hierarchy of things (sorry, that's the DBA in me!)

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Lizzy & I were going to check out The Block today, but I am past the 'sell by' date-I will let her explore that w/ her friends.  Besides, I was interested in Nua Haus's Yelp reviews (overwhelmingly positive)-I thought it was good, but I've been to lots of good & great Thai restaurants, so while I thought it was good, I can get good Thai closer to me.  But I am thinking about checking out the Corner Q in Lorton (Filipino)-I have NO experience w/ Filipino food, other than that they sell frozen bangus & lumpia in the commissary.

 

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On 5/26/2017 at 5:56 PM, thistle said:

Lizzy & I were going to check out The Block today, but I am past the 'sell by' date-I will let her explore that w/ her friends.  Besides, I was interested in Nua Haus's Yelp reviews (overwhelmingly positive)-I thought it was good, but I've been to lots of good & great Thai restaurants, so while I thought it was good, I can get good Thai closer to me.  But I am thinking about checking out the Corner Q in Lorton (Filipino)-I have NO experience w/ Filipino food, other than that they sell frozen bangus & lumpia in the commissary.

Did not get what you sought for help
because you went and asked on Yelp

You just cannot get rid of it ...
<da-dum, da-dum, da-dum>
So do not be an idiot ...
<sha-shum sha-shum sha-shum>
And try not to be glum!
<Beedly-boodly-bum!>

Resign yourself to help!
Get off of fucking Yelp!

D!... R!... (Say it again!)
D!... R!... (Say it again!)

We are the future of this Earth
And when there's just a sunny dearth
of veggies, rice, and mirth,

We will go on and tender forth
From deep down South to way up North
We're always on a steady courth
Talk to Mister Ed!

People yakkity-yak a streak
and waste their time of day
but old DonRocks will never speak
unless he has something to say

I seem to be in the act so coarse
implying that I am just a horse
I wish I had some word to force
that wasn't Mister Ed!

Okay I'll shut up now.

You were singing, weren't you.

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Like Wayne says, Tha Block Is HOT!

Been here a few times now. It's good, a very happening place for the young kids and specifically the young Asian kids living in that area. It's a food hall, as described above, but not so many options. Currently, Poke, Ice Cream place, Thai street food (Roots), Asian comfort food (Balo), and a bar that has it's own snacks.

They have happy hour most days, and it's a fairly good deal - beers, wines, cocktails. Yesterday was Mule Monday, and they had many Mules on offer. Like the first time, we started off with Poke as a shared appetizer. Ahi and Salmon and rice, and then you pick your rice and toppings. Fresh fish, great sauce, I could eat another bowl myself. Then, got a bunch of stuff from the other two places - pork and chickens skewers (very good, but sort of small), braised pork and rice (like pulled pork, little bit of chile sauce, rice), boat noodle soup (with meatballs and ribeye, I only had the broth, but smelled tasty), fried chicken tacos (the belle of the ball, perfectly, great spicy aioli), fish balls in curry sauce (sort of had consistency of fish hot dog, I liked it, table didn't seem too impressed). I've had the chicken nuggets (same as the tacos, but without the tortilla), pork belly and rice (tasty, great texture). 

Finished with dessert. Lady got red velvet ice cream, and the rest of us got the ice milk/sort of like shaved ice thingie at SnoCream. I got green tea ice cream, lychee, almonds, and topped with condensed milk. Friend got black sesame ice cream, that was interesting but not for me. Other friend got vanilla latte with caramel. 

This place is so happening... I get it - not much there in that area for younger folks. I've been on a Friday night, and it's a bunch of kids in their upper teens, maybe some 20 somethings. A really nice "third space" for them to hang out in, yet, the food isn't lame, the music is good, and its really high energy inside. 

Check it out .. it's good to be around the youth, makes you young again. And, yeah, totally an Instagram sort of place. 

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A few friends and I went to check out The Block last weekend. Overall, fun atmosphere, lots of choices and good food. We got there at 11:45 on a Sunday and by noon all seats were taken. Lots of people also just stopping in to get something to go. 

We tried pork belly buns (good, but the pork could have been a bit more tender), chicken nuggets (deliciously crispy and spicy), chicken rice (my favorite), poke (didn't try this one but everyone else was impressed), Thai tea boba (I'm a sucker for this anywhere, but this was a very good version), and ice cream (good stuff, especially the coconut). The ice cream place does donut sandwiches, but we were too full.

I like the anachronism of this place in its location. Our country would be much better off if abandoned stripmalls everywhere were converted to Asian food halls.

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2 hours ago, TedE said:

To anybody of a certain age who grew up in Baltimore the name of this place evokes an unmistakably different connotation :wacko:

While I didn't grow up in Baltimore I did attend college there.  I'm quite sure the very first place I visited in the city among its many worthwhile attractions was the BLOCK. 

Then I returned a "few" more times.  ;)  I recall the connotation.

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I'd never heard of Baltimore's The Block, but it kind of sounds like Hamsterdam from "The Wire."

Quote

It has been suggested that the police, whose headquarters are located literally next to The Block, choose to contain the prostitution and drug dealing in that small section of Baltimore rather than combat it.

 

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30 minutes ago, dracisk said:

I'd never heard of Baltimore's The Block, but it kind of sounds like Hamsterdam from "The Wire."

 

In my understanding it was absolutely an inspiration for that story line.  Well, that and some of Kurt Schmoke's more radical ideas surrounding decriminalization of drugs, particularly heroin.  He even had a cameo on the show during some of those episodes!  Very meta.

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Hubby and I finally had a chance to try this place out.  We started out with tea with bobas, standard, but good and essential.  I had been craving one recently, I got passion fruit tea with honey boba.  I was going to get something from Roots, the duck soup looked very enticing, but they were sold out of about 3/4 of their menu by around 12:30 when we got there.  And they were so backed up they wanted me to wait ten minutes to order.  Hubby already had ordered from Balo, so I went there too.  Hubby got dan dan noodles, and egg rolls (mostly for me, but I wanted veggie and he wanted with meat, so we got with meat).  I got chao fun with chicken and chicken rice for dinner tonight which I haven't eaten yet.  The dan dan noodles were perhaps as close to Chengdu versions we had as we have found here in the DC area.  Appropriately spicy, but also kind of a low key dish.  The chow fun was a huge plate, as had an addictive sweet, but spicy take.  I should have gotten beef which is more traditional, but the basil chicken sounded good, and it was good.  The egg rolls were good, but interesting.  I think the meat is made into a mousse if I had to guess.  I really liked them, they were not your American chinese restaurant egg roll, but I think I would like veggie better.  We loved the atmosphere of the block, it reminded us of the small food court restaurants all over Singapore.  I want to go back and get that duck soup from Roots!  I didn't see any bao or buns of any type, I will have to look harder next time. Hubby and I both commented it would be amazing for it to take over the Kmart and just go crazy like some of the Singapore Food courts (not the stand alone hawker centers).  Anyway, I thought the food was good and would like to try some other things.  It was pretty busy the whole time we were there and I thought the atmosphere was fun.

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Well the chicken and rice wasn't Hainan chicken and rice, but it was pretty darn good.  A huge portion of chicken that I could not eat all of in one sitting, with mustard greens and scallions, a soy ginger sauce.  The rice with chicken au jus and sauce was addictive.

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Yes, the soy ginger chicken thighs over rice is my "go to" order. I used to order the large portion and save half for later. Last time, I ordered the regular portion, finished it, and nearly lapsed into a food coma. The Block also has my current favorite dessert: the single scoop of ash coconut ice cream with Oreo topping and Nutella drizzle that you can get from Munch - I might have gotten this last time as well (near food coma notwithstanding).

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1 hour ago, tobychun said:

Yes, the soy ginger chicken thighs over rice is my "go to" order. I used to order the large portion and save half for later. Last time, I ordered the regular portion, finished it, and nearly lapsed into a food coma. The Block also has my current favorite dessert: the single scoop of ash coconut ice cream with Oreo topping and Nutella drizzle that you can get from Munch - I might have gotten this last time as well (near food coma notwithstanding).

Balo's large orders are definitely large! I often get a small order of the chicken nuggets and still take half home.

Oh and you misspelled "earl grey blueberry ice cream" when you typed "ash coconut ice cream". :)

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Finally tried out The Block on Saturday night with a friend.  Although we looked at other purveyors, we ended up ordering everything from Balo.  Started with dan-dan noodles (excellent -- although we got a 3/4 heat and had to take a break as the heat kept building as we got farther into the bowl) and pork belly tacos (excellent chew and sauce, good balance of pickled carrots to meat ratio) and by that point the noise level and K-Pop was grating our nerves, so got cumin lamb tacos and a pork banh mi to go.  The lamb tacos were good to very good but not as good as the pork belly ones, and the pork banh mi was just okay -- too much meat vs. the amount of veggies, and the bread was pretty meh, not much crunch and had been hollowed out to the point there was hardly any bread left.  Stuffed to the gills, I still had most of my half of the sandwich left for the next day's lunch with a smidgen of the dan dan noodles still left over.  Around $50 for everything ( a couple of sodas were in the mix as well).   Overall, enjoyed the food very much and want to try some of the other offerings / vendors -- especially some of the ice creams -- but will probably be getting most things to go as the noise & music is a bit too much for me.

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42 minutes ago, weezy said:

Finally tried out The Block on Saturday night with a friend.  Although we looked at other purveyors, we ended up ordering everything from Balo.  [...]  Overall, enjoyed the food very much and want to try some of the other offerings / vendors -- especially some of the ice creams -- but will probably be getting most things to go as the noise & music is a bit too much for me.

I should have mentioned that The Block is a young person's food hall - young people, and families with children: I suspect that, out of the couple of hundred-or-so people in there, I was the oldest. 😱

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Stopped by the Block over the weekend for a poke bowl, which I enjoyed.  While I was there,  noticed that the Korean fried chicken place next to Balo is gone and has been replaced by a dumpling shop.  I did not try it but I will be back to check it out in the next week or so.

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On 9/2/2019 at 12:50 PM, weezy said:

Stopped by the Block over the weekend for a poke bowl, which I enjoyed.  While I was there,  noticed that the Korean fried chicken place next to Balo is gone and has been replaced by a dumpling shop.  I did not try it but I will be back to check it out in the next week or so.

I think the new stall is called Bold Dumpling, but I can't seem to find any social media/website/etc for it.

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Craving the pork belly tacos at Balo Kitchen today, so headed over to The Block for lunch -- tacos were just as tasty as I remembered.    About 25% full at high noon on a gorgeous Saturday, no kids in sports gear so I imagine weekend games were still well underway and led to the relative quiet.  While I was there, I also got an order of pork gyoza ($6/6 dumplings) at Bold dumpling shop.  The wrappers were excellent, thin, a nicely chewy crispness on the pleated edge.  The filling was underwhelming.  Texture was good, but it tasted like simply plain ground pork without anything else and was oddly watery -- I'm guessing the watery part came from the steam condensing inside the wrapper.  The filling could have used something, almost anything, to punch it up -- minced veggies/garlic, S&P, a dash of soy or mirin or chili flakes or......?  So much potential but fell short.

I also checked out the ice cream  but the case only had 1/3 of the flavors on offer , and what was left didn't tempt me

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Stopped here last night to pick up some cumin lamb tacos at Balo Kitchen to go.  Pretty early, about 6:00, and I'm happy to report there was good social distancing, mask wearing, and sanitizing going on throughout the facility.  As for the food, the tacos are served on roti flatbread; they were tasty and traveled well, but I think I like the pork belly tacos just a little bit better.

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On 10/15/2020 at 2:03 PM, weezy said:

Stopped here last night to pick up some cumin lamb tacos at Balo Kitchen to go.  Pretty early, about 6:00, and I'm happy to report there was good social distancing, mask wearing, and sanitizing going on throughout the facility.  As for the food, the tacos are served on roti flatbread; they were tasty and traveled well, but I think I like the pork belly tacos just a little bit better.

Good to know, I have been craving some food from them, almost stopped after a doctors appointment the other day.  Now I will make a trip out there for some pick up!

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