Thip Khao

I’m fairly certain everyone around me is relieved that I’ve now been to Thip Khao, so I’ll stop talking about it. What they don’t realize, though, is that now I’ll talk about it even more. On a bustling still gentrifying strip of Columbia Heights, this new-ish Laotian restaurant doesn’t jump out at one on an initial cursory glance. Once the food arrives, however, it’s an entirely different situation.

Laotian food is seemingly quite similar to Northern Thai–lots of fresh vegetables and fragrant herbs, mounds of sticky rice, and meat that many Westerners would find esoteric.

Chicken wings, which I would not have initially ordered, were lacquered in a most addictive sweet chili sauce, and caramelized-crispy outside. My #1 wings as of right now (a big statement, I know.) 


This fabulously named dish: “Awk”, is a Southern Lao curry, packed with veggies and plenty of herbs (we ordered it with pork). It’s much soupier than a traditional curry, but the flavors are gorgeous–and I was surprised particularly by the widespread use of dill, which I don’t usually associate with South East Asian food of any type.
Poured lavishly over lots of purple rice: 


I’d heard about the grilled pork neck, which was very tasty, though not mindboggling. It was slightly caramelized and charred on the outside, and served with a super piquant sauce. 


Next to the chicken wings, which reduced me to a primal being–literally licking the plate (back in the comfort of my own home, though–lots of leftovers to be had), this rice salad with pigs ear, pork, herbs, peanuts and much more was simultaneously so savory and fragrant, with texture in spades. I need it again.
Sadly we were far too full to sample the mango with sticky rice (which is one of my favorite desserts in any cuisine), but luckily we had enough food to supply dinner the following evening. Go to Thip Khao, NAO!

Thip Khao
3462 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20010

Healthy Hunkering Down

So, it’s still January, and eating healthy is all the rage. Nevermind that it’s freezing out, which to me obviously equals melted cheese and meaty stews. Regardless, when I’m eating healthy, I still need to eat hearty or I’m hangry. Lots of “h”s but it’s true! This light meal is one of my faves and excuse the sub-par photographs…as I said, I was hangry!

Roasted salmon with Asian Flavors.DSC_0098 Continue reading

L.A. Eats!

LA picstichMy visit to L.A. was, as expected, full of culinary delights. What follows is a list of some staples and favorites we went to. Due to my oft’ aggressive appetite, some are represented in photograph and some not.

Mother Dough—This casual joint serves tasty thin crust pizzas with a heavenly tomato sauce, go for the Margherita if nothing else. The beer selection is great and the vibe is relaxed and friendly.

Marisco’s Jalisco For a life-changing bite, eat the shrimp taco from Marisco’s Jalisco: IMG_4091 [An excerpt from a column I wrote:] This deep fried wondertaco (yes, I said it) brimmed with sweet, fresh crescents of rosy shrimp while its exterior was draped with epaulettes of ripe California avocado and anointed with two salsas: one a piquant onion-flecked salsa fresca and the second a spicy reduced chile-based concoction. With their contrasting effects, the various elements seduced and entranced the palate: succulent shrimp contrasted the salty, grainy corn tortilla; buttery avocado tempered acidic spicy salsa (making my mouth home to the most simple yet artful guacamole.) I arrived in Los Angeles with a taco craving, and Jalisco Marisco satisfied it immediately and eternally.

Loteria – The location nestled in the sprawling Grove Farmers market makes terrific carne deshabrada and chicken mole tacos. Here’s the tasty shrimp taco (not transcendental like Marisco’s, but good nonetheless):TacoFinish it off with a chocolate covered banana from nearby Bennett’s Ice Cream.

 Chun Ki Wa IMG_4092For excellent and well-priced Korean barbecue, this place is a go-to. While the traditional Galbi was very tasty, the satandouts for me were the Bulgogi on the barbecue, thin slivers of superbly seasoned meat caramelized to perfection and the decadent crispy fat ends from each short rib. Also, the very thin anchovy banchan which look like little sparkly snakes, are excellent. Make sure to order extra rice cakes for wrapping the crispy barbecued meat in!IMG_4093 Nem Nuong Ninh HoaIMG_4113Located off the beaten track in Rosemead, this Vietnamese restaurant serves a delicacy known as “banh beo”, small saucers filled with gelatinous rice cake and topped with ground shrimp, scallions, a crisp crouton, and a light but pungent sauce. These are unlike anything I’ve ever had. Due to their similarities in texture, flavor and appearance, we likened them to oysters and proceeded to eat at least a dozen each!IMG_4116They also serve these terrific rolls “nem nuong” with special sausage and a crispy shrimp stick: IMG_4112inside:

IMG_4115Our visit began inauspiciously: after a long car ride with empty bellies we were informed that the restaurant had endured a power outage and couldn’t serve us. Soon, though, we were let back in for a completely mind bending meal. Kudos to famed L.A. food critic Jonathan Gold for popularizing this place (and many others).

Chang’s Garden – Two words: beef roll. IMG_4122Tender beef, vegetables and Hoisin sauce wrapped in a crispy fried pancake make this Arcadia-based Shanghainese restaurant worth the trip. Everything else we ate at this simply decorated spot was really delicious too, especially the smoked and fresh pork warm pot which also had an adorable little bean curd twist:IMG_4123 Long Jin shrimp: IMG_4121Birdseye: (note the cute little red hot pot!)IMG_4125Eveleigh – The gorgeous dining room and breathtaking view make this a must-see L.A. stop. We had a nice brunch (the food doesn’t make you re-think your existence), but it’s a delightful experience especially if you order the avocado toast and a cocktail while you breathe in the Pacific air.

Mixto – This taco joint doesn’t scream authentic L.A. (you can order soy chorizo), but it’s satisfying, tasty and quite cheap.

Broome St. General Store – My brother very accurately  described Broome St as “if Brooklyn was cooked in a pan into the ultimate Hipster reduction”. Artisanal coffees, snacks and cutesy gifts are the order of the day at this Silverlake coffeeshop. The coffee is very good and the outdoor seating is quite lovely.

Intelligentsia – This Chicago-originated coffee chain has a beautiful outpost in L.A’s Silverlake neighborhood on a very cute stretch of Sunset. The mesa-style building has great outdoor seating, good coffee, and sweet and savory pastries.

Cheese Store of Silverlake – Right next to Intelligentsia, this cheese shop sells a bounty of the stinky stuff, in addition to meats, breads, cookbooks and condiments. They also make sandwiches, and the one I had with ham and cheese on a pretzel roll made for a (slightly) improved cross-country flight.

Forage – I’ve mentioned (raved about) this place before.  Gorgeous mounds of prepared salads and proteins entrance you from behind the counter the minute you walk in. You can put together plates with proteins and sides or order from a small-ish menu. The food is foraged and high quality and the desserts are also very good. If you get there just a bit before noon you’ll miss the onslaught of the lunch rush. Some snaps from a fab lunch there last week:DSC_0068German Chocolate Cake: DSC_0074Now, if only I could make this bi-coastal thing work…DSC_0051 DSC_0065