Tag Archives: adams morgan

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Winter is No Match for Sakuramen

The restorative and soothing properties of soup cannot be overstated, particularly on a cold, winter night.  Soup warms you from the inside — something layers of clothing can’t do. And on the most basic level it’s comforting, harkening back to when you were sick as a kid and a warm bowl of soup made you feel better.

On a recent bitingly chilly night, my friend Claudia and I found the perfect antidote to the cold: a steaming bowl of ramen.

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Down the stairs into Sakuramen’s tight dining space. A table full of Asians at the front, a good sign. (It’s okay, as a fellow Asian I’m allowed to make those observations.)

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To kick things off, spicy pork buns.

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My mouth is watering as I type this. Soft, steamed buns — like baozi buns, but flat — filled with spicy pork and shredded scallion. Fold it up like a taco and eat.

Then, ramen time.

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This was the chosun, a Korean-inspired bowl of bulgogi beef, roasted kimchi, nori, scallions, egg and thin ramen noodles.

Nope, these aren’t the ramen noodles you subsisted on in college — you know, the ones you cracked in half and doused with a seasoning packet. These noodles had character and bite. Each area of the bowl was like a hidden surprise, balanced out with the flavorful broth. I settled in to a rhythm of slurp, chew, slurp, chew, until it was all gone.  I felt warm and invigorated. Cold weather? What cold weather?

The final bit of comfort, green tea mochi. Usually they’re served without accompaniments, but these came on a plate with a drizzle of chocolate, blueberries and a cookie wafer. Nice.

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To have not one, but two ramen restaurants, plus a Pho 14, so close by?  Thank you, Asian food gods.

Sakuramen
2441 18th St. NW
Washington, DC
202-656-5285

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Three Brunches, Three Sighs of Contentment

There’s no deep mystery behind the formula for a successful brunch. Basically, you want to offer a breakfast option, such as eggs, provide enough food to tide us over until dinner (it is breakfast and lunch after all), and serve everything up in a comfortable, casual environment.

These three restaurants fit the bill nicely.

Kafe Leopold

In Georgetown, you’ll find Kafe Leopold tucked away in a cozy space between M Street and Cadys Alley. If the weather’s warm enough, try to snag a table on the shaded, cobblestone patio with its bubbling fountain, because it’s quite atmospheric.

The inside’s sleek, bright and airy, with natural light streaming through the windows and all-white furniture that reminds me of IKEA.

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I got the eggs with grilled ham and toast.

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I’m blanking now on exactly what this is that my friend Melissa ordered. I know it’s vegetarian, and am pretty sure it’s an assortment of tea sandwiches with different types of cheese.

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A visit to Kafe Leopold is not complete without at least a gaze toward their dessert display case.  This pic does not do it justice.

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After each getting up to check out the offerings, Melissa and I named our top three options. We shared the dessert that was on both our lists, the Napoleon.

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Good lord.  Anything with puff pastry gets me, and this was a tour de force of flaky and crunchy. The vanilla cream and dabble of berries put it over the top. “Mmmmmmmm” was the general verdict.

L’Enfant Cafe

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A neighborhood spot on 18th Street in Adams Morgan. If they had TVs, this is where I’d come during the summer to nibble on a crepe and watch the Tour de France.

My three friends and I wandered in, hungry and perhaps slightly sleepy from a holiday party the night before.

I really like the brick walls and homey bar in the dining room. The diners were a nice cross section of neighborhood couples, groups and families. (With extremely well behaved small children who miraculously didn’t scream or shout. Thank you restaurant gods.)

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My frittata with seasonal vegetables, goat cheese and potatoes really hit the spot.

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And that fantastic bacon needs a special shout out. So meaty and well cooked. That’s how all bacon should be.

The Original Pancake House

As I walked up to the Bethesda restaurant yesterday to meet my friends, there was no sign of life from the outside. Great! I thought. There’ll be no wait. Everyone’s gone home for the holidays!

Um, no, it was packed. We entered and I was immediately pinballed around, bumping into people from all directions in the small waiting area. This place does boffo business.

Ended up being about a 15-minute wait, not bad at all considering there were six of us and it was the peak of brunch hour.

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As the name suggests, you probably want to order pancakes here.  They’ve got almost every variation you can think of. (Except for Johnny Cakes, the cornmeal pancakes that I will always associate with “The Sopranos.” RIP Vito Spatafore.)

The menu at The Original Pancake House hilariously lists the calorie counts for each item. My friend Matt says it’s a law in Montgomery County. My advice: Don’t look at the calorie count. You don’t want to know.

Didn’t matter much to us anyway; this was a fit group of people. Fay and Randy ran eight and ten miles respectively to the restaurant, for God’s sake.  I think they earned the right to pig out on whatever they wanted.

I chose “The Works”: two eggs, bacon, hash browns, and three pancakes. Here are the blueberry pancakes.

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Near the end of the meal, Matt said, “You’ve got to take a before and after picture!”

Before:

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And after:

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There you have it. Three spots that will all leave you yearning for a pleasant food coma nap. Can’t go wrong with any of them.

Happy brunching!

Kafe Leopold
3315 M Street, NW
Washington, DC
202-965-6005

L’Enfant Cafe
2000 18th Street, NW
Washington, DC
202-319-1800

The Original Pancake House
7703 Woodmont Ave.
Bethesda, MD
301-986-0285

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Bubble Teas in the District

As much as I enjoy Eden Center in Falls Church, the thought of getting in the car and driving out there every time I want a bubble tea isn’t appealing.  Especially if there’s traffic.

That’s why I’m so ecstatic to know that honest-to-goodness bubble tea can be had in DC — not only that, but a mere 15-minute walk from where I live. Am I excited? Hell yeah!

I’ve sampled two bubble teas in the District in the past week — the first was at Shanghai Tea House in Glover Park.  This was the large papaya flavor.

It arrived with ice in this cool-looking green glass. Milk based, with a nice mellow flavor. Less sweet than other teas. The tapioca pearls were cooked just right and I eagerly slurped them through the giant straw.

My friend and I also each ordered soup dumplings. Bubble tea and soup dumplings are the perfect afternoon snack.

This second bubble tea spot is in Adams Morgan at Kogibow Bakery. Many a time I’ve walked by or ridden past on the Circulator bus, spotted “Bubble Drinks” on their sign and thought, I’ve GOT to stop in there.

Here’s their list of bubble teas:

And my pineapple flavor.

So refreshing on a warm day. Definitely contained real pineapple juice too, not artificial flavoring. The tapioca pearls were a little odd — chewy, but also squishy? I don’t know why, but the first bite made me think I was biting into an eyeball. Not that I have much experience with that. They weren’t that bad, really.  Just not quite on par with other tapioca pearls — and they could have been sweeter.

Still, I can easily put up with eyeball-texture tapioca pearls. I happily strolled back to Woodley Park, bubble tea in hand. Now that I know about Kogibow Bakery, it’s a stroll I’ll be taking many, many times this summer.

Shanghai Tea House
2400 Wisconsin Ave.
Washington, DC
202-338-3815

Kogibow Bakery
1817 Adams Mills Rd.
Washington, DC
202-332-1202

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A Taco Fix at Super Tacos & Bakery

I’ve come to like Chipotle. The food is fast, fresh, consistent, moderately priced, and fairly decent tasting. It does the trick when you’ve got a burrito craving, and in my neighborhood of Woodley Park, it’s the only “Mexican” around, so you take what you can get.

Sometimes, though, you desire something more authentic, less chain Mexican and more hole-in-the-wall taqueria. For that, you need to take a walk over to Adams Morgan.

Small space — a few counters – but a big menu. Everything looked good, especially the Mexican sandwiches, or tortas. I hadn’t had a good taco in a while though, and that’s what I wanted.

The bad news: it took forever for my two tacos to come out. I was beginning to think they were killing a pig out back. I think my order was forgotten for a while, and when they realized, they got confused, and mistakenly included a burrito with the tacos. Good thing my parents raised an honest person, because I would have happily eaten that burrito.

So a little slow on the prep time, but in the end, the fresh tacos were worth it.

Tacos al pastor:

And carnitas:

$2.75 per taco, but look at the size of those things.  Corn tortillas doubled up, topped with onions and cilantro, and stuffed to the brim with meat. I’d expected a snack and received a meal.

The tacos al pastor were good, although I prefer the meat to be cut into much smaller pieces.  But the carnitas… my goodness, what a marvel of flavor and texture. So tender. I gobbled both tacos up, while dipping them in hot sauce and fresh salsa from the salsa bar.

Chipotle’s okay in a pinch, but I’ll gladly walk the ten extra minutes for those carnitas tacos.

Super Tacos & Bakery
1762 Columbia Rd. NW
Washington, D.C.
202-232-7122