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Mar 5, 2009 02:19 PM

The Unique Foodie Experience

Insects...brains...unique animals...After nearly 2 years, I am still looking for the unique foodie experience. No, I am not talking about your day-to-day ethnic dishes found at any restaurant, but something 'atypical'. My search has taken me to Oyamel for its grasshopper tacos; Zaytinya for the rabbit; several French restaurants for the sauteed calves brain; and RT's for alligator stew, but this can't be all....Does anyone have recommendations for the next stop on this adventure?

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  1. MiniBar. Good luck getting a seat.

    I'm also assuming you are looking for this experience in the D. C. area. Alternatively, are you willing to travel? A long way for something truly extraordinary and memorable? Dinner in a pitch black room served by blind waitstaff? (your group is led into this, single file and in total darkness; you also eat with your fingers) There are several of these now with the original in Cologne. Dinner in a 2,000 year old Roman era furnace which literally supplied most of the stone for the Roman coliseum? Northwest of Genoa on the Italian Riviera: Perhaps a restaurant where every course is rice and you dine in a rice mill. Just south of Verona. Closer to home, the "slave's kitchen" at the Wayside Inn in Middletown, VA, just off of I 81 near I 66. The room is almost 300 years old.

    If you are really into food, really into extraordinary experiences there are some that are just incredible. I am also suggesting that the most incredible dining experiences are not unusual tastes but tastes in unusual settings.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Joe H

      Joe, I love reading your posts. Wish I could get to Italy as much as you.

      1. re: keithdcil

        Thank you, Keith. Unfortunately most of my trips are on business which means that I go straight into meetings off of a plane and might, finally, find sleep after 30+ hours. Still, the reward for this, for me, is food and wine. For this I've been fortunate and truly enjoy being able to share and write about what I've found. Thank you again!

    2. There is a long list of places where you can try all sorts of animal parts just for the heck of it. But if you are asking what is really great, then that's another question. For example, I don't like the chalupinas at Oyamel, but not because I'm adverse to eating them; I just don't like the spicing/dryness. They cry out (not literally) for a good salsa bar where you can add your jardiniere or maybe some cibollitas and hot sauce.

      Many interesting possibilities at Bob's 66 Noodles (Tawainese) in Rockville, Bay Lo at Eden Center, Falls Church, Va (vietnamese), and there is aChinese-only menu at Peking Village (Merrifield, that has all kinds of intestines on it. Even if you can't read Chinese, the manager will be happy to pointthemout to you. Personally, I recommend yrying the one with three stars (for spicy and numbing) next to it. Not because I've eaten it, but because it will probably be the most palatsvble if you've not had intestines before.
      Also they serve kidney, but maybe that's old hat for you?

      Here are some easy ones:
      Duck Tongues, very yummy, Bob's 66
      Pork Belly, Sichuan style, Grace Garden (Odenton, MD)
      Tongue, Luzmilla's, Falls Church, VA (Bolivian)
      Tripe, Bebo, Crystal City, VA (Italian)
      Shortbreads (gland), many French Restaurants, call Le Lavandou
      Frog, many Chinese Restaurants, try X.O. Taste, Falls Church, VA
      Frogs Legs, Huong Viet, Eden Center
      Goat tacos, Tacqueria El CharritoCaminante, Arlington, VA

      Go to LLajtaymanta, a Bolivian restaurant in Falls Church for their "pork roll". Will contain some pork, some ham, but mostly it is a gigantic head cheese. Served cold with a vinegar dressing.

      Bon ap!

      3 Replies
      1. re: Steve

        No Victor's in Falls Church? Steve - you're asleep at the wheel! I'm talking the one by the pollo place just south of Broad on 29.

        The PDF may crash your browser, but around page 4 is a MEAT plate of all sorts of goodies!

        Btw - the steaks really are good.

        1. re: Dennis S

          Yes I did fall asleep.... I forgot to mention the beef tendon at A& J, Rockville, or Annandale.

          Speaking of Annandale, go to any Korean restaurant and the panchan alone will be a festival of exotic eats.

        2. re: Steve

          Speaking of Grace Garden, I recently had the pleasure of tasting their Beef Tongue, Tripe and Tendon Mixed with Spicy Sichuan Sauce, Scallions & Peanuts, Served Chilled. Best $10 I ever spent. Like an amazing, spicy, beefy headcheese.

        3. Have you been to Full Kee on H St.? They have a great tabletop menu that has all the 'variety' cuts you could want (as well as duck's blood and a great jellyfish dish). The best is pig knuckle-as good as any charcuterie you'll ever eat. Cheap, too.

          1. I agree on minibar. Most unique, fun foodie experience I have had in DC.

            1. First off, I'm not sure what "atypical" is to you, are some suggestions:

              -Eel, most Japanese places have this "Una Don" dish.

              -Ostrich - I've only seen this at farmers markets in DC, not at restaurants.

              -Pigeon (squab), not -that- unusual, but for some it could be.

              -Wild board is pretty tasty. Dino has a pasta dish with it.

              - Eat a "live" shrimp at a sushi bar (many sushi chefs did this in So. California). Traditional places probably won't do this, but fusion or sushi bars more focused on drinking might.

              - I whole heartedly second trying ma-la (spicy numbing) intestines at a Chinese restaurant, specifically Bob's 66. SO good! I heard the spicy peppercorns were once illegal in the US.

              -Sea snails are so good. Get the sea snails cold in a spicy marinade. Unfortunately, I have no idea where to get this outside of Asia and So. California.

              - Eat fish eyeballs, supposedly they're good for you (according to my grandmother). Personally, I think they're a novelty thing to eat because they don't add much to a meal.

              -Fugu! Blowfish is a delicacy (and potentially poisonous) and is probably hard to find in the US, but it is the most delicious thing I've ever eaten! When eaten raw, it tastes like a cross between amebi and lobster, so sweet and delicate in flavor.

              - Scuttle jerky (squid jerky). You can find this at H-mart. If you don't like "fishy" things, then you definitely won't like this. Fish jerky is good too, as well as something called in English: pork floss. It's pork jerky that's shredded into a dry moss like consistency.

              And if your adventure includes non-animals:

              - Try a durian boba drink. Durian is a very pungent tropical fruit - I have heard it is banned in public buildings in Asian countries. There must be other places that have durian, but the only place I know of is in Chinatown on 6th street called Pho Saigon and Grill.

              - Try wood ear. It's a tasty fungus that looks like the cap of a thin black mushroom. It usually comes in asian noodle soups or stir fries.

              -Bitter Melon, try it at a Chinese restaurant. It's very bitter, yet tasty, but looks like a cucumber with a million warts.

              - Shirataki noodles. It's grey with black flecks in it and is made of yam.

              5 Replies
              1. re: Jelyna

                Bourbon (in DC) has an ostrich burger -- doesn't seem all that exotic to me, a lean meat burger.

                You can get durian boba at Eden Center.

                Interesting about szechuan pepper once being banned -- any chance you have a citation or more info (dates maybe?) on that?

                1. re: mselectra

                  The ma la peppercorns were banned for import once to the U.S., but not because of their heat, it was because they might be carrying citrus canker. In 2003 though, the ban was lifted so long as the peppercorns are heated to 70 degrees to carry the bacteria. They're amazing though, their name actually means numbing and spicy, and they're found in szechuan hot pots.

                  1. re: kubasd

                    oh okay, interesting -- thanks!

                    1. re: mselectra

                      oh and i meant kill, not carry..... doh!

                  2. re: mselectra

                    I'm pretty sure I've seen ostrich burgers on the menu at Fuddrucker's as well.