BKK Cookshop

Rating: ★★★★☆

18644263_10155363269658011_1808023152_nDo you miss ShopHouse? I know ShopHouse wasn’t the most authentic Southeast Asian food around, but I did miss being able to go for a cheap and quick Southeast Asian meal. BKK Cookshop, while it is more authentic, a bit pricier and has waiter service, does provide eaters with delicious and fairly quick Thai meals at reasonable prices and with friendly service. From the people who own the popular Beau Thai, BKK Cookshop is a great spot to grab a bite to eat, especially if you can sit on the tranquil patio out front on a nice evening. The menu is full of noodle stir fries and noodle bowls, but I opted for the spicy basil rice, a fiery fried rice dish described as the “Kitchen Special” available with chicken, beef, pork, tofu, or shrimp. I opted for beef at the waitress’s suggestion, and while the beef could have been a bit more tender, the dish was bursting with flavor and was that perfect level of spicy such that it had a serious kick to it without being so overwhelming that you had to stop eating.

BKK Cookshop is located at 1700 New Jersey Ave NW in Shaw.

Toli Moli

Rating: ★★★★★

17142071_10155100693343011_1762340888_o.jpgA visit to Union Market can be overwhelming since there are so many good food options to choose from. On a visit there, I stumbled upon Toli Moli, a Burmese noodle and falooda shop that I had never noticed before. I was looking for a (relatively) healthy option compared to arepas or empanadas. Falooda has its origins in Persian culture and is a sort of ice cream float that has made its way from Persia into South and Southeast Asia. Toli Moli’s most traditional falooda contains vanilla ice cream, pomegranate jelly, basil seeds, rose syrup and vermicelli noodles. The cool thing about Toli Moli is that you can do a sampler meal that 17101603_10155100693833011_556886422_ocomes with tea, a noodle dish, and a small falooda. I ordered a hot noodle soup that the lady behind the counter likened to ramen. It was tasty, though only if you appreciate the flavor of coconut milk in your soup. I also ordered an ice tea with fruit, and basil seeds, which was a bit like bubble tea. The service was really friendly and the food was tasty and well-priced.

Toli Moli is located in Union Market at 1309 5th ST NE.

Galanga Indonesian Cuisine

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

14302525_10154531316683011_922795096_nGalanga Indonesian Cuisine is one of at least three Indonesian food trucks in DC. You can find their location on their Twitter. I have previously had mixed experiences with Indonesian food trucks in DC: my meal at Java Cove was only so-so, while my meal at Saté was good. Sadly, Galanga was not good. I ordered the Bihun Goreng, which is stir fried rice noodles in a sweet soy sauce with chicken, egg and bok choy. One would have thought it was wartime and meat was being rationed- there was hardly any chicken in my noodles at all, just a scattered small pieces that were few and far between. There wasn’t much egg either and I wasn’t 14218041_10154531316623011_1706110569_ngetting much of the sweet soy sauce. This made for a really bland dining experience, which is not what I expect from a Southeast Asian place. If I wanted to eat plain, thin noodles for lunch, I could have microwaved a pack of ramen.

Saté

Rating: ★★★★★

13933380_10154427355658011_1299327941_nSaté is an Indonesian food truck. You can find their location on their TwitterTheir Twitter describes them as “DC’s one and only authentic Indonesian Food Truck & Satépreneur.” While they certainly aren’t DC’s only Indonesian food truck and I’m not in a position to assess their authenticity, I did enjoy their food quite a bit, and much more so than at Java Cove, another Indonesian food truck. I ordered the Mie Ayam (egg noodles, bok choy and cremini mushroom lathered in a savory sesame 13871706_10154427355638011_398889832_nsauce topped with braised chicken and served with crispy wontons on the side.) This was a delicious, filling and probably pretty unhealthy lunch, as the crispy wontons, deliciously seasoned chicken, and noodles worked perfectly together. It was pretty light on the vegetables, which wasn’t a negative for me (bring on the meat and carbs). I recommend Saté for those who love Chinese and Thai food and are looking for something similarly satisfying, but with a twist. This was everything I want from an Asian food truck lunch, and the price was reasonable at $9.

 

Java Cove

Rating: ★★★☆☆

13867092_10154413719848011_815175021_nJava Cove is an Indonesian food truck. You can find their location on their Twitter.  I always appreciate it when a food truck offers a cuisine that is difficult to find elsewhere, and Java Cove delivers in this regard. I ordered the beef rendang with  spring roll and crispy Indonesian bread on the side. The spring roll was good, while the bread was a bit odd for my taste. The beef rendang was just ok- the rice was a bit clumpy and the beef curry had a flavor that wasn’t entirely to my liking, though I admit I am unfamiliar with Indonesian food and it could well have been the way it was supposed to taste. Overall, this food truck gets points for bringing 13884389_10154413719828011_1433103579_nIndonesian food to Downtown DC, but I didn’t love my lunch all that much.

Thip Khao

Rating: ★★★★★

 

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Laab with chicken.

 

 

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Fried duck heads: a bit like wings, but with virtually no meat on them.

Thip Khao is a Laotian restaurant located at 3462 14th St NW. I had heard fantastic things about Thip Khao, but the first time I went I ordered the exact wrong things. Since I consider myself an adventurous eater (I’ve had the grasshopper tacos at Oyamel) I figured that I would be able to handle the chicken heart kabobs, fried pig skin, and fried duck heads. The chicken hearts were decent enough, but the fried pig skin was both tough and fatty and the fried duck heads were somewhat reminiscent of chicken wings, but with hardly any meat on them. I did have fun quacking them and saying I was Donald Duck, probably to the annoyance of those around me. I’m never one to penalize a place for serving authentic delicacies that can

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Chicken hearts.

be hard for an American to stomach. When I went back, I had the Muu Som (Rice-cured sour pork belly wok tossed with ginger, garlic, onions, bell peppers, dried Thai chilies, kaffir lime leaves, fried red shallots) and the chicken laab, both of which were beautifully cooked and full of flavor. When I tasted them, it was clear to me why Thip Khao is widely considered one of DC’s best ethnic restaurants. Reasonable prices and a great location right in Columbia Heights are great bonuses.

 

 

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Fried pig skin.

 

 

 

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The Muu Som.

Purple Patch

Rating: ★★★★★

13621486_10154355432403011_770999441_oPurple Patch is a Filipino restaurant located at 3155 Mt Pleasant St NW. If you’ve heard of  Filipino restaurant in DC, you’ve likely heard of Bad Saintan ultra-hot, tiny spot in Columbia Heights that doesn’t take reservations and has long wait times. While Bad Saint’s stellar reputation is well-deserved, Purple Patch is an excellent, more low-key alternative. Purple Patch, while popular, does take reservations and is much larger than Bad Saint. They also do an excellent brunch, which flies under the radar for most of the DC brunch crowd. The brunch is a fusion of American and Filipino food, with such delightful options as the waffle 13646926_10154355432433011_1388515598_owith ube (purple yam) ice cream and Filipino fried chicken and ube pancakes with lechon kawali (braised fried pork) and macapuno syrup. Two of my friends ordered those and loved both of them. I went for a more purely Filipino option with the Sisig, Fried Pork with Sautéed Onion, Vinegar, Lemon Juice, Chile & Fried Egg, served with Jasmine Rice. It was absolutely delicious and hearty- great for a hangover! They have great mimosas too, including pear, orange, grapefruit, mango, ginger lemon, and pineapple for options. It’s worth noting that we went on Father’s Day without a reservation, and while the place was packed, the staff did a wonderful job of accommodating us. They sat us in a cute little booth in what is normally designated as a kiddie play area, and we were grateful to have the chance to try their delicious food. 

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The lumpia is bomb.

I have also eaten there for dinner, where I tried the Mama Alices’ Lumpia (fried beef and pork spring rolls with banana ketchup dipping sauce), the Lechon Kawali (Crispy fried braised pork with mang tomas sauce) and the chicken adobe lettuce wraps. The lettuce wraps were served room temperature (I imagine that was by design) and while I prefer hot things, they were very flavorful. The lechon kawali was delicious; some pieces were a bit too fatty for my taste but the ones that weren’t were divine. The Lumpia was the star of the show, fried to perfection. The banana ketchup sauce paired perfectly with it.

 

Bad Saint

Rating: ★★★★★

13479428_10154301197703011_1351156931_nBad Saint is a Filipino restaurant that opened in the fall of 2015 at 3226 11th St NW, and which has been generating quite the buzz ever since. If you haven’t heard about Bad Saint yet, you’re quite possibly living under a rock. Be aware before you go that they don’t take reservations and don’t accommodate groups larger than 4 people. The place is pretty tiny, so you will wait a long time for a table. We put our name in at 7:30 pm on a Sunday and our table was ready at a little before 9. Fortunately, you can pass the time with some delicious cocktails at Room 11 next door, and they will text you when your table is ready.

 

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A delicious cocktail made with lambanog, a coconut liquor.

Bad Saint is absolutely worth the wait. Between the delicious, complex, and flavorful food, the excellent cocktails, and the friendly service, everything is just perfect. We ordered most of the items on the menu, all of which was excellent. But before I recount the delicious things we ate, be aware that the menu items change frequently. One of the cocktails that we had included a delicious Filipino coconut liquor called lambanog. My bartender friend and I expressed curiosity about the liquor itself, so the friendly staff gave us each a free shot in addition to the cocktail. I also had a Red Horse Beer, which is a Filipino malt liquor that is pretty crappy. That said, Bad Saint gets points for serving the authentic goods.

 

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The octopus was delicious.

The food was excellent across the board. We had banana hearts as a starter, which are the flowers of the banana tree. We also had a couple of ceviche-like dishes, including one made with octopus. Both were totally delicious. A standout, however, was the flounder, served whole, eyes and all. The very flavorful and reasonably tender (by goat standards) goat was excellent as well. Though we were pretty stuffed after the meal, we were talked into ordering dessert, which was a delicious, light concoction of fruit and syrup (no, not that heavy, awful kind of syrup), topped with flower petals. They also gave us each a small additional dessert on the house.

 

 

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Check out that flounder!

 

Simply put, Bad Saint absolutely lives up to the hype, and it is a must for anyone with a serious DC dining bucket list.

 

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Save room for dessert!

 

 

Pho 75

Rating: ★★★★★

13441624_10154287559793011_651096052_o.jpgPho 75 is a Vietnamese restaurant located at 1721  Wilson Blvd in Arlington, with multiple other locations throughout the DMV area. Don’t expect to get a Banh Mi sandwich here. They only serve pho (17 different varieties) and you can choose your size (regular or large). The regular costs only $6.20 and is a very hearty portion as is. This is one of those places that takes a no-frills, no-nonsense, utilitarian approach. If you are alone (as I was) you will be seated at a long table next to a stranger. Decor is sparse and service is about nothing more than bringing the delicious pho to you as quickly as possible. Upon the recommendation of my 13441635_10154287559728011_1354662375_oserver, I ordered the #12, which comes wth slices of steak and brisket in it. It was absolutely delicious. Once you finish eating, you simply pay at the counter and go on your way. For a hearty meal at a great price, it’s hard to beat Pho 75.

Bubble Tea Licious & Laos Street Grill

Rating: ★★★☆☆

13389283_10154275279048011_1261811302_o.jpgBubble Tea Licious @ Laos Street Grill is a food truck, whose location can be found on their Twitter. They serve up tasty Laotian food and bubble tea (as you probably already guessed). I had the fried rice with drunken lamb, which was delicious though not for those who can’t handle spice. I also had a Thai bubble tea which was tasty as well, once you get past the vibrant orange color (it looks about as natural as Trump’s skin tone). So why only 3 stars? The wait. The line wasn’t absurdly long, but I had to wait an abnormally long time for my food. I know the food trucks can be crowded, but I don’t like burning the majority of my lunch hour just waiting for my food to come.