Ranking for Iced Coffee

The heat is rising; therefore, it is time to switch to iced coffee. Although, I am not an expert on coffee, I like to rank on the ones I have access to on a regular basis. So here is my list:

  1. Banh Mi D.C. Iced Coffee is number one on my list because I love the French-style brew. While there are tons of them around Eden Center, Banh Mi D.C.’s stands out for me for its strong, dark roast. I have to have a cup when I am on the road. It does a great job of keeping me up. If I have it my way, a bit less condense milk would be perfect.
  2. Iced Seattle’s Best Coffee from BK is my second choice. I prefer the plain one for less sweet. I can drink this at one in the morning and still be able to go to sleep because the coffee is light.
  3. Saxbys Iced Coffee would be my third for its dark and strong taste. I like its hazelnut-flavored brew. It has a nice, lasting after taste.
  4. Starbucks Iced Coffee isn’t so high on my list simply because I drink it almost every day. The flavor has become plain and ordinary. I just need it to get my caffeine fix.
  5. Dunkin’ Donuts Iced Coffee used to be my favorite, but it is feeling light for me as well. Still a nice summer drink once in a while
  6. McDonald’s Iced Coffee would be my last resort if nothing’s around. It tastes more like cream and sugar with coffee flavor than the other way around.

Cava’s Harissa

Hot rice with Cava’s Harissa has been my favorite lunch whenever I don’t feel like packing meat. The spicy, tangy table condiment made of tomatoes and peppers is like the Greek version of Vietnamese fermented tofu. Thanks to Dana for introducing to me such a killer dip.

Lang Nuong Tay Do

Last Sunday we went to Eden center and decided to check out the grand opening of Lang Nuong Tay Do. We ordered three BBQ dishes, but changed our selection after found out that they do not have license to serve liquor yet. BBQ without alcohol just doesn’t cut it.

We switched to a 2-person meal instead. The deal consisted of 2 egg rolls with generous greens complimentary, sour soup with fatty catfish, caramelized fish in clay pot and a dish of Vietnamese spinach. Not bad for $30 at all. I was starving and tried to clean up all the food. I ended up threw up later on that night. It was my own fault. The food was actually very decent.

When I went up to pay my bill, I asked the owner if he needed a web site. I handed him my business card. As we were chatting his son came up and said, “cool, we needed a web site so bad.” I reply “cool and I’ll be back when you would like to talk about the project.” The owner was eager and asked me how soon I can come back. So I told him I can stop by after work tomorrow.

At this point I was completely forgot about the tips. So I return the next day and gave the waitress her tips and tried to explain to the owner the benefit of having a web site. He has created a niche for his business since we don’t see any Vietnamese BBQ places around here. The web site will allow him to reach customers beyond the Eden community, which is mostly Vietnamese. I explained to him how people could discover his restaurant through Google. I showed him my previous work for Le Mekong Vietnamese Cuisine. He seemed to understand the potential, but when I gave him the rough estimate of the fee, he said he wanted to check with his daughter who was on her way to the restaurant from work.

She arrived half an hour later and asked me if I have a business card. She had to leave in a few minutes. I told her I only needed a few minutes to explain things to her, but I had no chance. I spent an hour and couldn’t get a straight answer.

Present Cuisine Revisit

The first time I went to Present cuisine, I didn’t get a chance to try different dishes so I invited my in-laws back last Saturday for dinner. As I stepped into the restaurant, a hostess in traditional ao dai greeted me and set up the table for us.

We started off with the server’s recommendation: Banh Da Xuc Hen and Goi Hai San Trai Thom. The former was a bit too salty but decent. The latter was a bit sour. Canh Chua Ca was too sweet. Ca Kho To was way too salty. Bo Luc Lac was burnt. Muc Xao Chua Ngot was sour. After dinner, our throats were coarsen. I suspect MSG had something to do with it.

As much as I liked the service and the presentation, I doubt that I will revisit Present Cuisine for the taste.

Chama Gaucha Brazilian Steakhouse

While in San Antonio, we wanted to check out some steakhouses. My brother-in-law looked up Chama Gaucha Brazilian Steakhouse and read some raved reviews so off we went. Chama Gaucha is an all-you-can-eat joint, but the design is quite upscale. Five of us (including Cu Dao) arrived first at noon and expected four of our cousins and two kids to join us. Since this is a buffet place we could just hand out and wait for them.

I kicked off lunch with fresh, delightful salad and a glass of Caipirinha. The servers then came out with fresh-off-the-grill meats on their hands. I just had to tell them how cooked I wanted and they would slide me a juicy piece. My favorites were ribeye, sirloin and beef rib. I didn’t like the lamb too much because of the strong scent and didn’t even have room for the chicken.

Dana and I took turn to eat and look after Duke. After about fifteen minutes, Duke didn’t want to stay in his high chair anymore. He got up and roamed free around the restaurant. I couldn’t take him outside because it was too damn hot. We ate and waited for two hours and none of my cousins showed up. One couple who came from California were lost and they didn’t have a GPS in hand. The other couple with two kids just copped out without even letting us know. I checked on them and thought they were on their way, but later found out that they never made it out of the hotel because the kids were sleeping. Saying no seemed to be the hardest word.

The restaurant closed out lunch at 2pm and we were still in there. Finally the couple who were lost found their way in around 2:45. The servers continued to served us. Luckily there were other tables filled with patrons so I didn’t feel so bad. My point was that the service was exceptional. If they were to kick us out at 2pm, I would still think service was decent. They were patience with us and even offered to give directions to the folks who were lost. They didn’t make us feel like we need to hurry up and get the fuck out. So we basically sat there from 12pm to 4pm. I had Flan and a Brazilian coffee for dessert. The coffee liquor was strong and I loved it. What I enjoyed the most still was the service they gave us.

If you’re in San Antonio, you have to check out Chama Gaucha. The food is great; the service is superb. For $22 a pop, I can come back again and again if I live near by San Antonio. Big props to the servers for such a wonderful dining experience.

Thai In Shirlington

Last Friday evening, I had an opportunity to meet up with one of Ngoc Lan’s devoted fans and she introduced me to Thai In Shirlington. She recommended the drunken noodles and it was delicious. The taste was well balanced, not too sweet and not too salty. I tried some of her beef salad. Although the grilled beef was marinated to perfection, the meat was a bit chewy. It would had been great if the beef was not too cooked. I had fresh mango and sticky rice for dessert, which wasn’t so bad. I also tried some of her fried roti dough, which was similar to the Vietnamese version of xoi vi (fried sticky rice), and it wasn’t bad at all.

I was glad to get to know a Ngoc Lan’s fan in DC and I am still amazed how that angelic voice had reached so many people in many different ways. The fan I talked to spoke little Vietnamese, yet she knew by heart the songs Ngoc Lan had covered. Although we only met for the first time, we could talk to each other so easily. Our passion for Ngoc Lan made that possible. We both thought that it would be cool if we could get a bunch of Ngoc Lan’s fans together, try out different restaurants and talk about Ngoc Lan, politics or whatever. Any Ngoc Lan’s freak in is DC up for this? There are two of us now, but the more the merrier.

Saints Paradise Cafeteria

After paying our respect to our man, Larry Layne, at church yesterday, one of our colleagues who grew up around the neighborhood showed us the real Southern home style cooking at Saints Paradise, which located at 601-A M Street, NW, Washington, DC.

Set in cafeteria style, you take out the tray and order the food you see in front of you including beef short ribs, salisbury steak, pork chops. Between the fried crispy chicken wings and mouthwatering bar-b-que ribs, I had to make a hard choice and I went for the latter. With the tangy sauce marinated inside the juicy ribs, I made the right the decision. On top of that, I also had sweet corn and mash potato with gravy. I cleaned up everything except for the cornbread, which I could only finished half. Although it was tasty, I had no room left. I felt like I just finished a Thanksgiving dinner and ready to take a nap.

The folks behind the counter and the cashier were so friendly. One of the bus ladies is eight-seven years old. She was still working and smiling at that age. God bless her. I will have to take Dana to this place again pretty soon. We felt in love sharing fried chicken wings so I can’t wait to try them with her at Saints Paradise.

The Burger Joint

After Duke’s doctor appointment, Dana and I hit The Burger Joint on Washington Street in Alexandria before heading to work. We split The Burger, The Cuban and some fries. Because Dana can’t eat raw meat (for the baby’s sake), we ordered our patties to be medium cooked. It turned out to be quite dried. I wasn’t feeling the prime beef on The Burger. The Cuba was a bit over the top with an addition of roasted pork. The crispy fries were banging though.

Todai – Japanese Seafood Buffet

We went to Todai last night for the first time and it was definitely overpriced. Almost 30 dollars a pop for dinner is not worth it. From sushi to salad to hot entrees, Todai’s food selection is much lesser than Minado‘s.

Lobster only served every two hours and it was not that great either. The creamy sauce was overpowering the lobster meat. Raw oyster was served three pieces at a time. Chinese buffets cost less than half of Todai’s price, yet they always have oyster available.

Most of the dishes were just decent and the service was just alright. Since the place was packed, I can’t really blame the girl for not keeping up with the customer’s requests. If I go back again, it would be for the pretty girls who adored Cu Dao and not the food. I’ll stick with Minado for sushi buffet.

Notti Bianche

I took Dana out for lunch today at Notti Bianche to celebrate her work promotion. This Italian restaurant, which located at the lobby of The George Washington University Inn., is small and cozy. For starter, I had the hot chic pea, pasta and parsley soup. I was thinking of little Duke while I was enjoying this delightful soup. He would have loved it.

For lunch, I had the excellent bucatini with savory clams and sausage. I loved the pasta. Dana ordered the panzanella with salmon, but the chef made the chicken instead. The waiter left us the chicken dish and made another salmon for us. Both the chicken and the salmon turned out great. They both grilled to perfection: cooked outside and juicy, flavorful inside.

With the food quality, exceptional service and affordable price, this little joint is an ideal spot for classic Italian dishes. We will definitely be back again.