Tag Archive for vegetarian

Review: ShopHouse, guilt-free and tasty fast food


To say that Chipotle changed the concept of fast food and how most people view Mexican food is no understatement.  Now, the founders of Chipotle are trying to do to Asian fare what they did with Mexican fare eighteen years ago. (I still can’t believe Chipotle has been around that long!)  The result is Shop House Southeast Asian Market, which I think will have no problem being just as successful as its sister restaurant.  I found the food tasty (although it could have used more salt), filling, affordable (under $7 for a bowl!), and I didn’t have any post-fast food guilt. Win-win-win.

Diners can choose from a bowl or a banh mi (Vietnamese sandwich).  For the bowl, diners choose noodles or rice (brown or white), one of four veggies, a protein (pork and chicken meatballs, chicken, steak, or tofu), one of three sauces (mild or spicy curry or a tamarind vinaigrette), a garnish (pickled veggies, cooling papaya slaw, or herb salad) and finally some crunch (fried garlic, crushed peanuts, or toasted rice).  The banh mi comes with a protein, papaya slaw, herb salad and peanuts.

On my first and only trip thus far, I tried a brown rice bowl with pork and chicken meatballs, roasted eggplant, papaya slaw, spicy curry sauce and fried garlic.  (Thank goodness I wasn’t kissing anyone anytime soon).  Everything tasted fresh (and apparently the meat used contains no hormones or antibiotics).

The meatballs were probably my favorite part because they contained one of my favorite meats (pork), were perfectly seasoned, had a crunchy exterior, and a flavorful, juicy interior.  I loved that I could select brown rice.  I liked the simplicity of the menu and how each component was chosen with purpose — protein, carb, veggie, some heat, cool garnish, and finally some crunch.  The spicy curry sauce really packs a punch.  So much so that I didn’t even think of reaching for the bottle of Sriracha that decorates each table.  (And I do love my Sriracha!).  The simplicity of the menu is played out in the decor which is minimalist but inviting.

My one complaint is that everything (save for the meatballs) could have used a smidge more salt.  For those that have been reading my reviews, you might have noticed that I’ve complained about under-seasoned food . . . a lot.  For the record, I’m not someone who has a high tolerance for salt.  I like to think my palate is pretty well-balanced.  Of course, feel free to take my advice about seasoning with or without a grain of salt (ha!).  What I mean is that, for those that like little to no salt in their food, you may find the level of salt in the rice bowl ideal.  You get what I’m trying to say, right?

Next time I think I’ll fork the banh mi with those awesome meatballs….

ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Review: Smoked Meats & The Bacon Dream Cream at Smoke & Barrel


What do smoked meats and bacon creme brulee have in common? Me! I ate both the other day at Smoke & Barrel (“S&B”), the newest venture from the folks that have brought us Asylum and Meridian Pint.  I’m always happy to see another BBQ joint open in DC and, even happier, when it opens in Adams Morgan where often times I feel that quantity reigns over quality.  S&B’s BBQ, beer, and bourbon selection impressed me.  It also doesn’t hurt that this place is minutes away from my home.

Tender, tasty, and flavorful describe the (pork) ribs, pulled pork, and chicken slathered with BBQ sauce.  Ribs are served wet (all sauce), dry (all rub), or muddy (sauced up, then tossed in dry rub or S&B’s own spicy chipotle honey butter).

The twice baked sweet potatoes came drizzled with the aforementioned chipotle honey butter and topped with pecans.  They were good, but could have used more seasoning.  The fried okra was also good; however, it too could have used a little more salt.

For vegans or vegetarians, S&B offers tofu options that can be paired with vegan/vegetarian (“V/V”) sides.  I’m curious to know what V/Vs think of these options in terms of flavor.  I want to hear from you!

If you’re like me, you’re asking yourself what you will use to wash down all this good food with?  Beer and bourbon, of course.  S&B has a solid selection of each and also offers boilermakers (a shot of bourbon dunked in a pint of beer). Nice touch.

And now, drumroll please . . .DESSERT.  The bacon creme brulee (a/k/a “my bacon dream cream”) was pretty damn good.  Be prepared for bits of bacon in your custard that give it significant texture.  If you can get over this, you’ll be just fine.

My friend got the roasted banana pudding.  I thought it was okay, but my friend really liked it.  The third option was the chocolate bread pudding, but we couldn’t handle any more food at that point.  I’ll try it next time.  Rest assured, there will be a next time(s).

Smoke and Barrel on Urbanspoon

Burger Wars: Best burger in DC?

BBP's Sweet Potato Fries, vanilla "spiked" milkshake, and Philly burger

It used to be the case that a burger was just a burger.  It was greasy and cheap.  When did the burger become elevated to a gourmet food?  And when did opening a gourmet burger shop become the new thing to do?  Burgers and milkshakes are the focus of the newest burger joint to hit DC streets: Bobby Flay’s Bobby’s Burger Palace or “BBP” for short.

Recently, I hit the streets, checking out BBP, Shake Shack, and BGR The Burger Joint to see what the fuss was all about.  Which is my favorite? Read on!  The answer isn’t simple.  Each place offers its own variations — some better than others — on the classic burger.

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