Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Michael's Noodle Restaurant 小金華, Gaithersburg MD

Michael's noodles was our favorite spot for years.  They used to have the best beef noodle soup and Hainanese Chicken Rice in the area.  I'm not sure if they got a new chef or if they wanted new flavors, those two dishes are not what they used to be anymore.  With that said, we still visit the place sometimes since it's close to home.

interior of Michael's noodles

We ordered two appetizers.  Marinated bean curd (拌豆干) and spicy beef lungs & tripes (夫妻肺片).  The marinated bean curd used to be our favorite appetizer dish as well, but it hasn't tasted the same in the recent months.  The spicy beef lungs & tripes tasted pretty good, not real spicy but it had good flavors.

marinated bean curd

spicy beef lung & tripes

For the main entrees, I ordered the pig intestine rice noodle soup (I know, I know, a lot of animal organs for this meal...).  It was actually pretty good!  It tasted pretty authentic with finely chopped Chinese celery in the soup.  I finished the whole bowl minus all the pig intestine pieces because there were so many.

pig intestine rice noodle soup (大腸米粉)

He ordered the minced chicken with lettuce (洋蔥雞鬆).  The dish was descent, the chicken and onion were salty and a little sweet at the same time.  The most common variation of this dish is minced chicken and shrimp with lettuce (雞蝦鬆), that one is pretty good as well.

minced chicken with lettuce (洋蔥雞鬆)

The whole meal ended up around $30 dollars plus tip.  Not bad for what we've ordered.  I do wish they can bring the good flavors back in their signature dishes such as beef noodle soup and Hainese chicken over rice.  Hopefully their chef will see this post and fix the flavors! *wishful thinking*

FoodiePop's rating: 3.9/5

Michael's Noodle Restaurant
10038 Darnestown Rd
Rockville, MD 20850

Monday, November 21, 2011

Niwana Hana, Rockville MD

I've been to Niwana Hana many times in the past years, it is not the most authentic Japanese restaurant but the location is convenient.  It is situated right in the middle of Rockville.  On a sunny Friday, a girl friend and I decided to visit the place for its lunch menu.

The lunch menu was quite simple, you can pick sushi rolls, bento boxes, or entrees like udon noodle soup or soba noodles.  We both opted for the bento boxes because they look like the best deal for your money.

bento box: spider roll & shrimp tempura, $11.99

She picked the spider roll and shrimp tempura bento box.  Spider roll is fried soft shell crab in sushi roll, you usually can't get away with paying less than $8 for this.  So this was a very good deal!

bento box: California roll & shrimp tempura, $8.99

I picked a popular combination, California roll and shrimp tempura.  This was descent as well, not a lot of surprises but it was pretty cheap for the amount of food I got.  I especially love the broccoli and carrots, they put a little sesame oil and Japanese soy sauce to give it just the right amount of flavor.  The shrimp tempura only came with one shrimp, but I enjoyed the vegetable and crab stick tempura anyhow.

Overall, Niwana Hana is good for business casual lunch on weekdays.  As far as other menu items, they look somewhat pricey.  I would probably still opt for Yuraku since it is more authentic than Niwana Hana on regular menu items.

FoodiePop's rating for lunch: 3.2/5

Niwana Hana
887 Rockville Pike
Rockville, MD 20852

Friday, November 18, 2011

Ziki Japanese Steakhouse, Gaithersburg MD

We haven't visited a Japanese tappenyaki for a while.  Even though our favorite tappenyaki place is Benihana in Bethesda, we decided to opt for something closer this past we ended up in Ziki Japanese steak house near Washintgonian center.

It was odd that we were the only tappenyaki customers during the entire lunch hour on a Saturday, but we enjoyed it nonetheless.  We were disappointed that they didn't have any specials for lunch, maybe that's why there were so few lunch customers?  He ordered the shrimp and steak tappenyaki combo and I ordered the chicken and steak combo.

Each entree came with salad and soup.  They were just okay, I was surprised that they didn't use traditional Japanese ginger dressing for the salad.  Indeed, they used ..thousand island dressing.  The soup was ordinary, maybe a little below average.


mushroom soup

I also ordered a bowl of fried rice for additional $3 because I love tappenyaki fried rice.  This one was just below average, Benihana makes much better tappenyaki fried rice.

tappenyaki fried rice

Then the show started!  We weren't really interested in the cooking show since we've seen it many many times.  But we tried to act interested, ...most of the time.  The chef was very professional and entertaining, even though we weren't paying close attention to him.

chef putting on a show

cooking main entree *droool*

The main entree portions were big.  I love the amount of veggies they cook with your meats, plus he made these tappenyaki fried noodles with our meals.  The noodles were delicious!  The steak was cooked to the order and he also put in some garlic with it.  What's not to love?

ta-da!!  My steak & chicken

complimentary tappenyaki noodles, yummy!

In a quick summary, we enjoyed our tappenyaki meals at Ziki.  It was a bit pricey but the food portions were big.  As far as the the overall quality, I still favor Benihana in Bethesda, but Ziki is a good alternative that's right around the corner.

FoodiePop's rating on Japanese tappenyaki: 3.7/5

Ziki Japanese Restaurant
10009 Fields Road

Monday, November 14, 2011

Arirang, Rockville MD

We had lunch with a couple of friends this past Saturday and they mentioned Arirang.  Then I couldn't stop thinking about Korean food!  So after church on Sunday, we drove to Arirang on East Gude Drive.

The interior decor is clean and traditional.  The tables are set fairly apart that you don't feel overly crowded.  There's a bar area that faces directly to the door where you're greeted with smiling waitresses while they prepare the small complimentary dishes.

unique wallpaper in Korean language

pleasant interior

nice picture menu

I love their picture menus!  It made it that much easier to order (also that much more enticing to order everything....)  We ordered three entrees.  One for each of us and another bulgogi dish to share.  Bulgogi was the first to arrive on sizzling hot iron platter!  And with it, came the complimentary small Korean dishes (can be refilled on request)

Here are the small dishes, they were all pretty good!

steamed broccoli with sesame oil

Korean stable - Kim chi

marinated/cooked egg plants

spicy white turnip, yum!

bean sprouts appetizer

cooked Korean potato, loved this one!


The bulgogi entree was average, didn't blow me away but didn't disappoint either.  It was just a good beef bulgogi dish.  An especially 'safe' dish to order in Korean restaurants!

cod fish and vegetable stew

rice for cod fish stew

This was my entree, I ordered the cod fish with vegetable stew.  I loved it, the price was a bit steep but there were big chunks of cod fish and some shrimp and mussels, along with my favorite vegetables like onions and squash.  The vegetables really soaked up the spicy broth and tasted good.

spicy seafood noodles

This was his entree, spicy seafood noodles.  The noodles itself was nothing special, definitely not hand-made like Lotte food court seafood noodles.  The broth was above average spicy but they stacked up with a lot of seafood and goodies.  We ended up taking some of this home because we couldn't finish.  This was actually the cheapest dish out of the three pricing at around 10 dollars.

Overall, Arirang is an above the average Korean restaurant in the area.  Of course the price is also above average, we paid about $46 for 3 entrees for lunch, yikes!  But I'd definitely come back again, the atmosphere is nice and I love their fresh small dishes.

FoodiePop's rating: 4.2/5
1326 E Gude Dr
Rockville, MD 20850

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Cafe Promenade, Renaissance Hotel, Washington DC

On a Sunday afternoon, me and the girls ventured out to Washington D.C.'s glorious Renaissance hotel for the famous Mayflower tea.  We arrived around 2:50pm but circled around a bit to find street parking.  The valet parking for the hotel cost $24 so we opted to park for free (thanks to our driver!).

We walked a few blocks to the renaissance hotel.  The hotel had beautiful lobby and deluxe accommodations, apparently, it is a luxury line under Marriot hotel group.  We quickly found the Cafe Promenade, a beautifully decorated restaurant with skylight and gorgeous chandelier as the center piece.

Cafe Promenade

We were led to a booth right under the skylight and the chandelier.  The booth was comfortable, and felt private from the entrance of the cafe.  We were quickly greeted by the waiter with the menu and the tea choices.  I opted for the chamomile and mint, it had wonderful flavors!  The table setting was very delicate and neat, and the china and tea sets were all gorgeous as well.  I must give them a lot of props on attention to detail, all the silverware and tea accessories were clean and spotless, and the table was laid out beautifully before we sat down.

Mayflower Tea selections

Table setting

My pot of tea

cream & lemon for tea

beautiful tea set

Then these adorable two tiered platters came.  We all had our individual platters filled with goodies.

tea snacks & sweets

As far as taste goes, I was not crazy about their tea sandwiches because the bread was mostly dry and the flavors were very ...distinct.  The desserts were mediocre at best and tasted store-bought.  The only remarkable item was probably the crab and egg sandwich and the mushroom sandwich was somewhat descent....

We chatted and had one pot of tea after another, it was a beautiful afternoon spent with good company.  As far as overall grade for the afternoon tea, I would give maybe 2.5 for the taste but +0.5 for the beautiful setting and decor/ambiance.  As far as visiting again?  Not sure about that since you can bring the good company anywhere and still have a good time :)

FoodiePop's rating on Afternoon Tea: 3/5

Cafe Promenade - Renaissance Hotel
1127 Connecticut Avenue NW
Washington DC

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Sno Dream - Montgomery Mall, Bethesda MD

I've tried Sno Dream twice already, both experiences were pleasant.  So I think this review has been way over due!  Here's a little background on the term 'snow ice': "Snow ice 雪花冰 originated from the tropical island of Taiwan. Unlike traditional Taiwanese shaved ice, snow cones or Hawaiian shaved ice, what makes this low cal, low fat treat truly unique, is that the flavor is frozen directly into the ice before being shaved into ribbon like sheets and then deposited into a cup for your convenient enjoyment."  (

The first time I visited, they only had 4 flavors of snow ice available, original milk flavor, green tea flavor, mango flavor, and I believe lychee flavor.  The second time I visited, they've expanded to 10 flavors!  The store is right across from 'Boss' store in Montgomery mall, I don't think you can miss it.



I tried both green tea and original milk flavors the first time, I preferred the milk flavor.  So the second time I got strictly the milk flavor with red beans, condensed milk, and mochi for toppings!  This combination is simply called harajuku on their menu except I substituted milk snow ice for green tea snow ice.
harajuku combo with milk snow ice instead of green tea

The creation was very good except the addition of condensed milk was a bit too sweet for my liking.  I think next time I'll try the snow ice without any toppings, maybe even a new flavor of snow ice!

I even took another close-up picture, see the texture of the shaved ice?  It's unique and melts immediately in your mouth!


I'm very happy that snow ice has found its way into our area.  I'll definitely visit it again and even try a new flavor.  If you're shopping in Montgomery Mall, be sure you pay Sno Dream a visit!

FoodiePop's rating: 4/5 since it's the only store of its kind in MD

Sno Dream
Montgomery Mall
7101 Democracy Blvd, Space 9024
Bethesda, MD 20817