Category Archives: Logan Circle

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Doi Moi’s Crispy Whole Fried Fish

The crispy whole fried fish at Doi Moi is picture-worthy. Almost in unison, three of us in our group whipped out our phones to take a shot.

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The fish makes a quick journey from the fryer to the table.  “You have to eat it while it’s hot,” I implored everyone.

Are those looks of anticipation or fear? It’s hard to say.

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If it was fear, it quickly gave way to appreciation for the crispy skin and succulent meat. This is the dish to order at Doi Moi.

Can anyone identify this type of fish?  I couldn’t tell. The Chinese traditionally use carp or bass, which are longer in shape, and I think meatier. Many Chinese consider the cheeks to be the best part of the fish; I can safely say there was no meat on these cheeks. I checked — thoroughly. This bugger had a thin head, and any meat was singed to a crisp.

I remember my mom saying that my grandmother used to enjoy eating the eyeballs.  I plucked one out and popped it into my mouth. It was chewy and dry, and rather not too exciting.

So the Doi Moi crispy fish is not exactly like the Chinese version. But with Chinese New Year just around the corner,  you can still observe a Chinese custom: when it arrives at the table, point the head of the fish toward your guest of honor.

Doi Moi
1800 14th St. NW
Washington, DC
202-733-5131

Logan Tavern’s Surf and Turf

When I was young, clueless and knew bubkus about food, I confused Bloody Marys with Shirley Temples (really thought my parents were letting me have an alcoholic drink), and mixed up bubble and squeak and surf and turf. I’ve since sorted it all out.

Logan Tavern recently put their own unique spin on surf and turf, offering it as a special.

Brisket and soft shell crab — a pairing I’ve never seen before.

The lightly battered crab was gorgeously golden brown and crispy — such a treat. And then the tender brisket was plopped down on those creamy parmesan grits. I inhaled it all. Nothing was left on the plate except for a fleck of parsley.

That was one surf and turf I won’t be confusing with bubble and squeak anytime soon.

Logan Tavern
1423 P St. NW
Washington, DC
202-332-3710

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Mussels, Not Oysters, at Pearl Dive Oyster Palace

From what I’ve been told, Logan Circle was not that long ago viewed as a rough-around-the-edges-type neighborhood. For better or for worse, it appears to have evolved into a yuppified urban hotspot of shops, yoga stores, restaurants, and of course, a Whole Foods. You can’t be a yuppie neighborhood without a Whole Foods.

I like Logan Circle a lot, although I’ll admit doing group ab exercises on the sidewalk outside Lululemon after one of their Monday runs made me feel like a pretentious ass. Aside from that, it seems to be a great neighborhood, made better by the recent addition of Pearl Dive Oyster Palace.

My friend Alia and I met there recently, and we decided to go early because we’d heard how crowded it got later in the evening.

It was a good call. When we arrived there several open tables; by the time we left, the place was full.

I suppose the no-brainer would have been to order oysters, but we decided on sharing an appetizer of mussels instead.

One of the best things about mussels is dipping bread into the broth, and this was good broth, full of wine and garlic.

Here’s Alia’s fried shrimp dinner.

And my grilled rockfish over, yup, more mussels!

The rockfish was light and clean, while the broth had an extra surprise — andouille sausage. Smoky and spicy, the andouille flavored everything around it. I had almost gone for the crab cakes as my entree, but I’m glad I opted for this instead.

For dessert, we shared a chocolate panna cotta. I actually didn’t think it looked all that appetizing when it arrived at the table — the color was strange — but I changed my tune once I tasted it.  It had almost a toasted caramel flavor and those little cookies on the side were sinfully buttery. We oohed, aahed and polished this thing off in a hurry.

Longtime residents of Logan Circle may be decrying the yuppification of their neighborhood.  But if that means more seafood restaurants like Pearl Dive Oyster Palace, I say bring it on.

Pearl Dive Oyster Palace
1612 14th St. NW
Washington, DC
202-986-8778

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For a Numb Tongue, Go to Great Wall Szechuan House

Among the people I’ve talked to who know Chinese food, there’s a general consensus that the DC food scene, for all its strengths, is not a hotbed of Chinese cuisine. (Not counting Maryland or Virginia, where all the good stuff seems to live; I’m referring to within the District itself.)  I just haven’t heard anyone getting worked up about Chinese food here the way they do about Ethiopian, Thai or Mexican.

So when I do read or hear anything positive, I make a mental note to check the place out. Which is what happened last weekend after my first Chinese language class. I was already in Chinese mode; eating the food seemed like the next logical step. It was also a nice day for a walk from Foggy Bottom to Logan Circle, although anyone spotting me on the street would have thought I was a crazy person, since I was practicing my Chinese phrases out loud over and over: “My name is Doug. And you?” and “I’m very glad to meet you!”

Great Wall Szechuan House has numerous raves on Yelp for its special ma la dishes, which are extremely spicy and made tongue-numbing by Szechuan peppercorns.

Ma po tofu is perhaps my favorite Chinese dish, so ordering that was a given.

The dan dan noodles also caught my eye.

Three points about eating ma la: 1) Set a whole packet of tissues on the table, because you’re going to need them; 2) Your tongue will start going numb almost immediately. It’s a strange feeling, a little like being at the dentist, but you’ll adjust to it; 3) You’re going to want a lot of rice. A lot.

In retrospect, I didn’t need two dishes off the ma la menu. One would have been plenty. The flavor of the Szechuan peppercorn is so prominent that after a while it can become overwhelming. But boy was it a relief to eat some honest to goodness fiery Chinese food.

I couldn’t quite work up the nerve to try my Mandarin out on the restaurant staff. Not sure how they would have reacted to a badly accented, “Hello. My name is Doug. And you?” Later in the semester though, I’ll give it a shot. Maybe I’ll say this: “Your ma la dishes are very good. And very spicy! Would you happen to have any tissues?”

Great Wall Szechuan House
1527 14th St. NW
Washington, DC
202-797-8888