Inspired by "Grub Street Diet", I wanted to start chronicling my meals for posterity and sharing my favorite dishes with others. Each diary will cover food eaten in one week, no matter how big or small.
This week: over-hyped disappointment, a taste of suburbia, and way too much Jameson.
After talking up the Double Royale with Cheese, Xavier wanted to try it out so off we went for Friday lunch at Church Street Tavern. Even though I had it just two days prior, the burger took a few steps back. The buttery brioche bun was replaced by a drier, pedestrian sesame bun. The two patties also shrunk in size by at least 20%. Let the record reflect that this was the last time I ordered the Double Royale.
After work, I got my haircut near St. Marks and passed by Yuba, a sushi spot that has been instagrammed by some food bloggers. I poked my head in and sat at the sushi bar. Everyone from the waitstaff to the chefs, especially head chef Jack, was hospitable and courteous (he even gave me a free piece and a cup of sake after meeting me for the first time). If only the sushi was as nice. As Jack fed me piece by piece of my solo omakase, I kept waiting for the beat to drop…but it never did. I was slowly drowning in fact that I fell for another disappointment that was hypebeasted on social media. Not sure if it was an off day, but the fish didn’t taste very fresh and was slightly fishy. While the price was very competitive, I’d rather pay a premium for top quality fish. Gordon Ramsay said it best: “Damn, what a shame.”
I strolled into Sobaya to forget about Yuba but my bad food day was about to get its third strike. Sobaya was my happy place that never disappointed. Consistent quality, great rapport with the staff, and reasonable prices have earned my loyalty over the years. For some inexplicable reason, I decided to go off book and order something I never had before; the minced salmon sashimi over rice. Compared to my usual order of sake oyako don (sliced salmon with salty ikura), this salmon sashimi bowl was bland and meh. I wasn’t going out like this.
“Hi Han Dynasty? I’d like to place a takeout order for your chicken wings. 10 min? Ok, see ya soon.”
Grabbed a bacon and egg burger for breakfast at Shake Shack in the JFK terminal and a decent crabcake sandwich at DCA airport when I landed. I was in DC to shoot portraits of my dear college buddy Victoria and her ginger munchkin, Maya. After walking around the basin, we got some shots at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and the nearby area. Victoria took me to a delicious local spot called “Meat in a Box” which served gigantic, juicy kebabs.
For dinner, we pulled up to a nondescript convenience store, called Lake Anne Market. In the back of the store was a small kitchen humming on all cylinders and pumping out orders. We put in our orders of baleadas (mine was stuffed with eggs, avocado, queso, and crispy pork) and relaxed while the sounds of Spanish soccer announcers and smell of fresh tortillas on the flat top permeated the air for eternity. My god was it worth the wait.
Met up with Victoria’s parents at The Greene Turtle and guzzled down some bar food (crab dip, pretzels, burgers) while we watched the Panthers manhandle the Seahawks for 31 points when we left at halftime. For dinner, Marcus prepared these things called Pizza Bites in an oven. My cherry was popped and I may have swallowed 10 of them before we headed out to catch "13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi". We were armed to the teeth with 2 cherry Icees, nachos, Dibs, and popcorn; a radical and welcome departure from my usual Japanese dinners. #TasteofSuburbia
Spent MLK Day catching up with Mari at Maketto over some braised beef and egg over bread (slightly salty) and Cambodian pork noodle soup (great!) and for L2 (lunch #2), she took me to DGS Delicatessen where we noshed on matzo ball soup, reuben with shmear of chicken liver, latkes, and babka bread pudding. We tried to walk it off but it was too cold and we Ubered.
I landed at JFK that evening and grabbed a light dinner at Shake Shack: two single shackburgers with cherry peppers on the side (highly recommended).
Did a solo lunch at Khe Yo and ordered my favorite pho in all the land. Manager slipped me a comped toasted coconut gelato (sourced from il laboratorio del gelato) cause he saw me sweating like a little bitch. But it worked.
Dinner was a low key seamless order from Angelo’s Pizza. Decent spaghetti with meatballs that could have fed two.
Our office used to get massive cookie cakes from Mrs. Fields but put a kibosh on that in an effort to be healthier. Now we order catered lunch and for January, we had GRK, a casual greek spot that delivered grilled chicken/lamb, pitas, greek salad, cole slaw, and greek yogurt with honey and granola. Pretty tasty without the usual food coma.
I was excited for dinner because I invited a few social circles of old and new Dukies to collide together over AYCE hot pot at 99 Favor Taste. There’s something extremely satisfying when you cook and prepare your own food. For the uninitiated, first you decide what type of broth you want (I prefer the original), choose your proteins and vegetables (I’m partial to the beef, fish fillets, enoki mushrooms, corn cobs, any type of green veg, and instant ramen noodles. I’d stay away from the shrimp cause it’s annoying to peel). It was my first time at an ayce hot pot and I can speak for our group of 11 that we had a blast.
For those that didn’t leave, they were rewarded with a free dessert tasting at Contra where the staff went above and beyond and threw in a few chocolate pb cups from Wildair as a bonus. A+!
Still full from the epic hot pot, I did a cheap $5 lunch in Chinatown. My plate consisted of curry chicken, radishes, cabbage, white rice, 1 egg roll, and 1 egg custard. Had to eat it outside because the last time I brought chinese food into the office, I got yelled at by the CEO. I don’t blame him though, radishes do smell like fresh farts.
Dinner was at Turntable in Ktown with my brother Jon. We split an order of a bulgogi burger and soy garlic fried chicken but our friend hooked it up with pork belly salad, fries, gyoza, and 6 shots of Jameson. If you know the Hsu brothers, then you know that you have to hold my hair after a ¼ bottle of Smirnoff Ice (that only happened once in college and I stopped drinking). We were fine and dandy after our first shot. After all, we had fried deliciousness in our bellies. The second shot rendered us speechless. We were staring at each other and were going to be late to a magic show. The 3rd shot on our way out suspended our disbelief, which was the perfect state of mind for the upcoming show.
Dined out: 20 times
Restaurants Visited: Church Street Tavern, Yuba, Sobaya, Han Dynasty, Grille District, Meat in a Box, Lake Anne Market, Shake Shack (2x), The Greene Turtle, AMC, DGS Delicatesen, Maketto, Khe Yo, Angelo's Pizza, GRK, 99 Favor Taste, Contra, Chinese Deli, Turntable
Highlights: Lake Anne Market; homemade baleadas | 99 Favor Taste; hotpot | Contra; overripe banana ice cream