going home- need recommendations
having grown up in dc, and subsequently having fled to nyc, i've always been pretty down on the place as a food city. but i have decided to head home this year with an open mind and so i am putting myself in the hands of you knowledgeable people.
i'm looking for the best of the following:
(northwest preferred; the parents don't stray far)
-something vaguely upscale, nothing too trendy, or phenominally expensive.
-thai, chinese, or otherwise --informal, cheap, authentic.
-Sushi. I've only been to Sushi Ko. Where else should i visit?
Other ideas are, of course, very much encouraged.
Okay, no one else has stepped up to this one, so I'll take a crack at it.
First, it depends on what you mean by "northwest". (The NW "quadrant" of DC is significantly larger than the other three.) So I'll try to mention places in Friendship Heights, Tenleytown, Georgetown, downtown, etc.
Vaguely upscale: in Friendship Heights you could try Matisse (4934 Wisc. Ave.). It's had its ups and downs, but the last time I ate there, the new chef was doing good things. It's very attractive (sorta euro-trendy) and pretty low-key. In Georgetown, I like Tahoga (but I know a number of people who don't). Downtown, C.F. Folks is a little dump with (usually) great specials. (I am particular to little dumps with good food.)
Thai, chinese, or otherwise: in Friendship Heights the little Thai joint a couple doors down from Matisse is reliable and the staff is very nice. Haven't had any "sights of God" experiences there, but haven't been disappointed either. You might search this site with "Washington DC" in the criteria for other excellent ethnic options.
Sushi: I love Kaz's Sushi Bistro downtown at 1915 I St. NW. He used to be the chef at Sushi-Ko and brought a few of his best dishes with him. He also does some fun "fusion" nigiri. I know some people hate the concept of non-traditional sushi, but what's not to like about plum wine-infused duck fois gras? He also has reasonable prices on blue-fin toro (when it's available) and unusual items (at least unusual items for the standard DC sushi joints) like monkfish liver and fresh salmon roe.
here's some stuff that may help:
First of all, DC area has improved DRAMATICALLY in recent years. Sure, it's not NY, but what is?
I'm biased toward Cleveland Park; please come to our neighborhood and spend money! For sushi, try Spices on Connecticut Ave; both sushi and other stuff.
For folks: Yanyu and Ardeo are on Connecticut. Both are moderate and can be expensive depending on ordering. Ardeo is still kinda trendy, Yanyu I love and is beautiful but not too trendy. Also seriously consider Lavandou on Connecticut. Country French, consistently excellent in my experience, great friendly staff/owners, and not expensive.
Our neck of DC a little thin on great asian (other than yanyu) definitely nothing downscale, sorry.
good luck, welcome home!
and........your NYC favs?
I second Lavendou as a very nice mainstream place, atractive, low-key, very pleasant. Yanyu is into the fusion thing: I haven't eaten there, but have heard great reports. Need to make it over. Just hate to park around there. I've done well at Spices, too. Another pan-asian joint with good sushi and decent thai and chinese dishes.
Boy, I hate to stick my neck out here because every single person I meet loves Yanyu, but four of us had just an unacceptable meal there last month (11/29). I admit the place is attractive, and the hostess staff accomodative. We got an excellent table by the window. But it must have been the waiter's first day, of waiting that is. He didn't know anyting about the menu, the wine list, to ask for drink orders, how to open a bottle of wine, how to pace a meal, nothing. No did anyone else try to support/advise him.
Although the plates looked beautiful, the food was hit or miss. The vegetable dumplings were good, but no better than the quaility Hong Kong style chinese food restaurants around the area. The other dumplings were very average. The fried shrimp (forgotten all the cute names) were very large, sweet, and very good.
For dinner, we ordered the famous Crispy Duck. What a disappointment! We found nothing crispy about it. The rolls were made up for us in the kitchen, and came out limp, tasteless, and very unsatisfying. We also had a lobster noodle dish (?) that I'm certain any local Vietnamese restaurant could do better.
I've already forgotten the other two or three dishes we ordered. Shows you how memorable those were. Has the place gone downhill, or did I just hit a bad night? Anyone been there lately? Would love to hear others opinions.
Yanyu is my favorite restaurant in Washington, but ONLY if I order the $45 tasting menu. I have had the lobster and agree with your assessment (if your flush try Ten Penh's version...unbelievable but very expensive); the duck has ALWAYS been rolled tableside when I am there. I have to assume that something was wrong the night you were there. Service is always extraordinary (at least when I'm there...hey, maybe it's me?) and I have never had fewer than 3 people involved in the Rolling of the Duck. In fact, the great service is the reason I return.
My recommendaton to you is to write a letter to the management explaining your disappointing experience. You will almost certainly be comped a meal at which time they (and any restaurant worthy of the name) will treat you like a king and try to win back your good graces. I am a good cook so I don't have much patience paying for crappy food, poorly served -- and good restaurants don't either. And they don't want you bad mouthing them, especially on Chowhound.
Include the date, what you ate, where you sat and a detailed list of how they fell short.
good luck and I hope you like the place better next time!
thanks for those tips. will let you know how i do.
As for my nyc faves, i wouldn't even know where to begin. If you are planning to go crazy, go to Union Pacific and have the taylor bay scallop and uni appetizer, followed by the halibut, which is poached in goose fat. But actually you'd probably do just as well letting the chef do as he pleases. For a little less money, 71 Clinton Fresh Food, Blue Hill, and Annisa are all excellent bets--i'm a little biased toward Annisa, as i work there. For Sushi, go to Hasaki in the East Village, or Tomoe in the west. For Chinese go to joe's shanghai in chinatown. For Korean, I'd try kang Suh on 32nd street. For the best burger ever, go to the Corner Bistro.
if you have any specific needs, you should post on the nyc cravings board.
hope this helps.