Monday, January 30, 2012

Sushi Taro, Washington DC

I've heard of Sushi Taro for a while, but never got a chance to try because we don't eat a lot of sushi/sashimi.  We also tried to make it there for their last ramen special of 2011 but couldn't get a table.  So this time when they had the first tonkotsu ramen special of 2012, I made reservation right away for two!

We drove to Sushi Taro about 5 minutes before reservation time, but luckily we found a street parking spot right away for 2 hour free, so we definitely had a good start compared to our last attempt to the joint.  Sushi Taro has a small entrance off the 17th street, you could easily miss the sign if you're not paying close attention.

street entrance

good reviews and ratings everywhere!

The restaurant is small, but has great ambiance.  We got a table next to the window and were promptly waited on for drinks and menu.  Of course we were also offered the ramen special for $14.95 and we quickly ordered two ramen specials and some hot tea to keep ourselves warm in the mean while.

lunch menu

We were unaware of what's included in the ramen special, so we were pleasantly surprised with the two little side dishes that were served.  They were both really good!  The pumpkin salad was made with shreded pumpkin and other vegetables and an egg type dressing, it was delicious!  The other one was some type of marinated vegetable root, it was palate cleansing and yummy as well.

delicious pumpkin salad

vegetable root side dish

So we chatted and munched on the side dishes while the ramen was being prepared.  Then the steaming goodness came to our table!  The ramen was comparable to Ippudo in New York since it had excellent pork broth (definitely made from scratch).  The toppings were generous and it even came with a small bowl of rice.  The topping that day was buta kakuni which was braised pork belly, there were about 3 generous pieces, pure deliciousness.  We even put some of the pork on top of the rice to make pork rice special.  The egg with running yolk was cooked just right and the red ginger tasted awesome with the slow cooked pork broth.  On the other hand, the noodle itself was just okay,... it was the thin kind and lacked chewiness like authentic ramen.  But hey, I'm not really complaining since everything else was excellent!

tonkosu ramen

Sushi Taro has rave reviews on yelp and everywhere else and I definitely see why.  Their dining area is small but cozy and the food is great.  I do wish they have a parking lot instead of street parking, but that would be asking too much for DC area.  I'd definitely go back and eat their ramen again!

FoodiePop's rating on ramen special: 4.2/5 (added +0.5 for the small dishes!)

Sushi Taro
1503 17th St NW
Washington, DC 20036

Monday, January 23, 2012

Recent movie reviews - 1/23/12

"Midnight in Paris" - 3.5/5  It was just okay, too much expectations I guess....

"Something borrowed" - 3/5 The story was predictable, the actors/actresses were good though.

"Friends with benefits" - 3/5 Two words, "too predictable".

"Crazy, Stupid, Love" - 3.8/5 Made me laugh at certain parts of the movie, not bad for a romantic comedy.

"Bad Teacher" - 2/5 Sorry, story sucked and Cameron Diaz looked ....old!

"Horrible Bosses" - 4.2/5 Hilarious!

"Water for Elephants" - 4/5 Corny but yet done beautifully.  I actually enjoyed the movie (>> Twilight)

"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows" - 3.5/5 Not much to say about this one, just wanted to finish the series.....

"那一年我們一起追的女孩 You are the Apple of my Eye" - 4/5  溫馨小品, something different.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

X.O. Taste, Germantown MD

***** Updated 1/19/2012 *******

We visited XO taste again for their 'peking duck special' for $27.95.  The whole duck for 27.95 is a descent price plus you can have 鴨骨湯 duck bone soup for $8 additional.  So we ordered the duck feast plus a vegetable dish!

The Peking duck at XO is probably not your authentic Peking duck, it was plated beautifully and tasted good. But it was more similar to Cantonese style roast duck instead of authentic Peking duck where the skin is usually crispy and paper thin.  It was still delicious nonetheless and we 'almost' finished the duck by the two of us :)  The best Peking duck I've had in the area is still the duck from Peking Gourmet Inn 北京飯店 in Falls Church, if we visit the place again, I'll definitely post a review!

peking duck $27.95

This was the duck bone soup with vegetables and tofu.  It was tasty, but again, not very authentic.  If you're looking for authentic duck and soup, I still recommend Peking Gourmet Inn.

duck bone soup, $8 additional

our veggie dish for the night

****** Original post 12/5/11 ******

We've always loved the X.O. taste in Arlington, but it's about 40 mins away.  So when Germantown opened the second X.O. taste, we were ecstatic and wanted to try right away! (okay, just me being

I've already visited or gotten carry-out 3-4 times so far but always forgot to bring my camera.  Luckily one of my friend has a nice camera on the phone and sent me these pictures from our lunch, thanks!

X.O. taste is famous for their roast meat section, this one also made the grade.  I love all their 燒蠟 meats!  This is their roast duck, chicken, and BBQ pork platter for $18.  We shared and finished this in no time!

roast meats platter

We also ordered beef chow fan as well.  It was a safe descent dish.  It was not overly salty like some other Cantonese places would make, so I liked it.

beef chow fan - 干炒牛河

For the veggie dish, we ordered water spinach with fermented bean curd (?) 腐乳空心菜.  It was pretty good!  I've always like this veggie dish but the fermented bean curd gave it a nice twist plus a little spice.  I think I'll order this again!

water spinach with fermented bean curd 腐乳空心菜

My friend ordered the Yang Zhou Fried Rice 揚州炒飯.  This was good but my friend said he's had better in a Chinese restaurant in Rockville.  I'll have to give it a try when we're in Rockville next time!

Yang Zhou Fried Rice 揚州炒飯

The hubby ordered minced beef over rice.  It was not good at all so we didn't take a picture of it.  But if you want to order this dish, order at your own risk!  This is a picture of our crowded table for lunch...*drool*

lunch at XO!

We spent quit a lot for a 4 person lunch, totaling about > $80.  We also ended up taking a lot of food home though, so I wouldn't say the food is overly expensive.  I'd definitely come back again since it seems to be the best Cantonese restaurant in the area by far!  Nothing beats fresh roast pork and BBQ pork!  They also advertise Peking Duck for $27.95, I'll supplement another review if I get to try it next time :)

FoodiePop's rating: 4/5 for Cantonese restaurant

X.O. Taste
11540 Middlebrook Rd
Germantown, MD 20876

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Penang Malaysian Cuisine, Bethesda MD

We were going to BD Mongolian BBQ in Bethesda last Saturday.  Unfortunately despite the call-ahead seating system they had, we were told another hour wait after we arrived.  So we ventured over to downtown Bethesda and got a table right away at Penang Malaysian Cuisine.

The restaurant is nicely decorated with tropical theme and had plenty of seating and tables.  We've been to the place numerous times but this time, we got a parking spot right up front!  Usually parking is a hassle because there were only a handful of spots in front of the restaurant, so I considered ourselves lucky!

entrance to restaurant

bar overlooking the eating area

I always order the roti canai for appetizer, it is  Malaysian crispy Indian-style pancake served with curry chicken as dipping sauce.  It's always piping hot and delicious!

roti canai

Then we proceeded to order Penang Udang Mee Soup. The dish is basically noodles served in chef's special shrimp broth with shrimp, pork and bean sprouts. It tasted just okay though, I don't think we'd order it again...

Penang Udang Mee Soup

We also ordered two dishes. One was the Sarang Burong House Special for $13.95. It's a very unique dish, the fried taro was shaped into a bird nest and stuffed with shrimp, chicken, corn, snow peas and black mushrooms. Plus it was topped with cashew nuts.  This has always been one of my favorites since my girl friend introduced me to it at a girls night out venue.

Sarang Burong House Special

The second dish I wanted was the Kang Kung Belacan 馬來空心菜, but unfortunately they were sold out of Kang Kung for the night.  So I ordered the lady fingers Belacan instead.  It was just as good with the same spicy Malaysian shrimp paste sauce.

lady fingers Belacan

We ended up with a bill around 40+ which was not bad considering how much leftover we took home. We sort of made 2 meals out of it. The dishes were all prepared properly and had good flavors. I'd definitely pay Penang another visit in the future!

FoodiePop's rating on Malaysian food: 4/5

Penang Malaysian Cuisine
4933 Bethesda Ave
Bethesda, MD 20814

Monday, January 9, 2012

Chevys Fresh Mex Restaurant, Gaithersburg MD

****** Updated 1/9/2012 *******

We visited Chevys Fresh Mex again in the last few weeks and still had a very pleasant experience.  The food was fresh and reasonably priced, they will definitely see my face again!

warm and cozy interior decor

We ordered the mixed grill again this time so I'm not going to add another redundant picture here.  The second entree we ordered this time was a shrimp fiesta combo, it was delicious!  The shrimp tasted fresh and with a hint of lemon and herbs, and it came sizzling hot on an iron grill plate as well.  I'm drooling while posting this picture up......

shrimp fiesta combo

****** Original review 3/2011 ******

I got a free birthday entree coupon from Chevys Fresh Mex, so we paid them a visit Sat night.  It was pretty good!  I could pick ANY entree from the menu and it would be free, so I picked the mixed grill that was priced at $16.99.  Almost all of us ended up getting mixed grill since it had everything we wanted: tender steak, chicken, shrimp, and carnitas.  It came with rice, bean, guacamole, sour cream, and some salsa.  Plus unlimited fresh tortillas!  Look at their presentation, what a nice display of the sizzling goodness!  My favorite Mex restaurant is probably Guapos, but on busy days, Chevys Fresh Mex usually has no wait, so it's worth a visit!


FoodiePop's rating: 3.8/5 for Mexican food

Chevys Fresh Mex Restaurant
668 Clopper Rd
Gaithersburg, MD 20878

China Bistro/Mama's Dumplings, Rockville MD

****** Updated 1/9/2012 ******

Visited China bistro again and stomach was full and happy!  Just to keep in mind before you head over there, they're now super busy on weekends for lunch and there was even a 30 min wait for the people that arrived after us this past Saturday!

We ordered some new dishes this time, including two small appetizers that are both delicious and cheap!  I ordered the marinated peanuts 五香花生 and 芥蘭根 seasoned broccoli stem.  They were $1.95 and $2.95 respectively.

marinated peanuts

seasoned broccoli stem

He ordered the Noodles with soybean paste. I loved it! The noodles were of course hand-made and the seasoning was good and abundant. I couldn't get enough of this,....therefore I claim the noodle to be the best in the Rockville area! (personal opinion of course...)
noodles with soy bean paste

****** Original review 8/16/2011 ******

China Bistro has delicious dumplings!  This is by far our favorite place for dumplings and noodles.  They also have hand made noodles that are made fresh daily.  Their dumpling choices are superb, we even buy the frozen dumplings to stock our freezer sometimes!  This way, if we're craving mama's dumplings, we just need to boil a pot of water and cook them... 

Mama's dumplings

Needless to say, their signature dumpling is called 'mama's dumplings'.  The dumplings consist of chopped pork, shrimp, cabbage, and some herbs and spices.  It's always been my favorite!  There are about 10 other flavors as well of course, I would say we almost tried them all.

We usually get a couple orders of dumplings and one bowl of the hand made noodle.  Here's a picture of the  steaming hot dumplings!  I have to add that these dumplings are huge, finishing a plate is beyond my abilities and I can eat a lot for a girl :p

mama dumplings

This is their hand made combination noodles.  It has shrimps, pork slices, and vegetable in the soup.  This was pretty good as well.  Their chia-gian noodles is also what I considered the best in the area, give it a try!

combination noodles

I consider this place inexpensive (compare to other Chinese restaurants) and they always put out consistent quality noodles and dumplings.  It's an ideal quick grab on a busy day! 

FoodiePop's rating on dumplings:  4/5

China Bistro/Mama's dumplings
755 Hungerford Dr
Rockville, MD 20847

p.s.  The store exterior is under renovation but it remains open, don't be fooled by the construction!

Sushi Damo, Rockville MD

Thanks to my sister's groupon certificate, we had an almost free lunch at Sushi Damo!  I've been to Sushi Damo many times for the happy hour special, but not often for meals since the menu is somewhat on the pricey side.  Speaking of happy hour, Sushi Damo has great drink specials for happy hour!  The girls and I love their lychee martini for half the price during 4-7pm weekdays!  The happy hour food menu is not that great though, you can get an order of California rolls or fried chicken nuggets as finger food for about half price.

Sushi Damo is situated right in the heart of newly developed Rockville town center.  Parking is free for 2 hours with restaurant validation.  We parked and arrived at Sushi Damo around 1pm and there were only 2 other tables.  We were quickly seated and greeted by a wonderful waitress for drinks and menu.


lovely interior decor

We order an appetizer and two entrees for lunch.  For appetizer, we decided to try a new item called edamame hummus since we've never had it before.  The fried wonton skins were nicely done and not oily at all, but the edamame dipping lacked a little flavor.  I did enjoy the dish overall though, the fresh tomatoes and the vinegar dipping were good.

edamame hummus

Both entrees came with choice of salad or miso soup.  We both picked the miso soup.  It was descent, and not overly salty like many places.

miso soup

My entree was the grilled Mackerel for $15.  The plate was arranged beautifully, almost too pretty to eat.  The mackerel had great flavors and the sweet potato puree and asparagus were good too.  The only complaint we both had was the rice that came with the entrees definitely don't make the grade for a Japanese restaurant.  They were cooked with too much water and didn't have much texture.

grilled makeral

This was the chicken teriyaki entree.  The entree was $18, which was not bad for the portion.  It came with 2 pieces of chicken breast and the teriyaki sauce was delicious.  There were some green peas and asparagus underneath and they were tender and cooked just right.

chicken teriyaki

Overall, beautiful presentations and food tasted great.  The only complaint we had was the rice was not cooked up to par for Japanese restaurants.  If they can fix that, I'd give it another 0.5 star on the rating!

FoodiePop's rating: 3.6/5

Sushi Damo
36-G Maryland Ave
Rockville, MD 20850