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.


Mexican food-chain Chipotle has been our preferred alternative to McDonald’s and Burger King. We dig the taste as well as the quality of the food. My favorite is the Steak Fajita Burrito with all the fresh ingredients including guacamole and fresh tomato salsa. Of course, a glass of margarita is essential in complementing the meal. What I really like about Chipotle is how it takes simple materials and turn them into creative, delicious dishes catering toward each customer’s own preferences. From the architectural design to the menu layout, clean and simplicity reflect the concept behind its food.

Tonic Burgers

Tonic is now my favorite burger joint at work. Once in a while I treat myself to a big, juicy burger. The first time I had the Sliders and they were banging, even though they were a bit dried. The second time I had the Hawaiian and I loved it. The pink patty combined with grilled pineapple and grilled ham were heaven-sent, even though I felt like hell after shoving down all that meat. The day before Thanksgiving, I went for the Foggy Bottom, which included roasted Cremini mushrooms, gruyere cheese, and garlic aioli. I also had a glass of gin and tonic to wash it down. Today I went back for the South West, which included grilled ham, pepper jack, pico de gallo, avocado and cilantro-jalapeno aioli. I just went for a Coke because I had to head back to work. I am now going to grab a cup of coffee now because I am feeling mad sleep with all that meat and tater tots and coke in my system. The service was very nice as well so I’ll be back every now and then for a different flavor of burgers.

Dangerously Sweet

Living closed by a sister-in-law who makes delicious desserts is very dangerous. It’s like having free access to a bakery. Her flans, cheesecakes and cream buffs are murderous. Knowing that those three sweets are my favorites, she always doubles up my serving. Everyone one else gets one piece, me and her husband, who is also a sweet lover, get two. Not only that, she would also make extra pie for me to take home.

A couple weeks ago, I was having flan everyday at 2:00pm. To stay in shape, I tried to run first before I eat. It was so painful because all I could think about was the rich, creamy, caramelized piece of flan while I was running. I just wanted to get the jogging done and over with so I could reward myself.

Her strawberry cheesecake is no less addictive, especially with a thick layer of whip cream on top complemented by a cup of tea. Her cream puffs are so packed that the cream oozes out every time I try to take a bite. One piece after another, my hands automatically reach for more.

Running doesn’t help keeping the weight down at all. My pants are getting mad tight and all I can think about is those desserts. I am so looking forward to the family’s Christmas parties.

Pasara Restaurant & Lounge

My sister-in-law invited me and my wife to lunch at Pasara, a Thai restaurant located a block from USPTO. The place is a bit small, decorated with heavy wooden furniture and Asian arts. Even the menu cover is made out of wood. The food was not outstanding but savory enough for a revisit. We had fried calamari, which is my sister-in-law’s favorite appetizer and she could make it better. We also shared clay pot shrimp, chicken green curry and drunken noodles. The noodle was the best out of the three dishes. The service was not all that bad either.