Food Truck Review: Far East Taco Grille

May 31, 2012 § Leave a comment

Finally I ate at a non-chain food place! I promise this will happen more often. At lunch today I was in a hurry so I decided to grab something to eat at one of the many food trucks lined up outside the office. There was such a variety of cuisines, but I decided to go to the one that seemed the most popular. Far East Taco Grille looked promising. It is a fusion of Mexican and Korean cuisines.

The truck offers a make-your-own taco set up. You first pick a protein (steak, pork, chicken, tofu), then a topping, and a sauce. You either get a corn or flour tortilla, and 1 taco is $3 and 3 tacos is $8. I decided upon a steak taco topped with kimchi relish, salsa roja, and onion and lime, in a corn tortilla. The line was a bit slow, but worth the wait! The kimchi is deliciously crunchy and spicy, and the meat is cooked Korean style, a little sweet and spicy. The steak was a bit fatty and juicy, and all the flavors worked well together. The corn tortilla provided a pleasantly soft and slightly sweet backdrop.

My only complaint is that the steak was maybe a touch too sweet. Then again, I much prefer savory foods over sweet foods, and usually dislike the sweet-and-sour combination. But overall, great fusion place, though I do wish the line would move along a bit faster. I guess people just had trouble deciding between all the interesting options.

Restaurant Review: Chop’t Creative Salad Company

May 30, 2012 § 1 Comment

Sorry for the unpicturesque photo! I took it after my meal was half eaten. For lunch today all of the interns decided to venture out into the neighborhood to grab a bite. A few of us wanted to check up Chop’t, a place down the block where people were lining up outside the door. The concept is pretty simple – pick a salad base, toppings, and then the person behind the counter uses a multi-knife contraception to rapidly chop up the mixture into bite size pieces. It’s nice because salad is usually such a messy meal to eat. The people work so quickly that the I got my food in no time, despite the large amount of customers. I picked a romaine base with eggs, carrots, broccoli, sugar snap peas, and their spa ranch dressing.

It was a massive salad – mostly volume from the romaine lettuce, but I definitely could not finish the entire thing in one sitting. The ingredients were fresh and crispy, and I loved the spa ranch. Their line of spa dressings caters to the health conscious, and the spa ranch had a very mild and light taste. They also gave me a random piece of tortilla with my salad.

One complaint I had is that you receive 4 free toppings with the base of the salad ($5ish), but once you are up to the counter choosing the toppings, there is nothing letting you know which toppings are included in the free category and which costs extra. So egg whites, avocado, meats and cheeses all have an additional fee. Still, I got an enormous, healthy meal for about $7, so I can’t complain.

Restaurant Review: Potbelly Sandwich Shop

May 30, 2012 § Leave a comment

There are so many Potbellys scattered around the downtown DC area, and now I know why! Potbelly is a sandwich chain, with a menu of signature sandwiches such as meatball, chicken salad, turkey, mediterranean, etc., as well as salads and sides. They offer both white and wheat breads, which I found far superior to Subway. The sandwiches automatically are toasted, and the bread becomes deliciously crusty and chewy.

I ordered the turkey sandwich in the original size. The sandwich is sliced in half and wrapped up (half is pictured above). It’s filled with plenty of meat, and the meat tastes fresh and unprocessed. Additionally, toasting the sandwich makes it sturdier and not apt to turn soggy from the vegetables and condiments. The original size sandwich is just under $5, making it in my opinion a far better deal than many other sandwich chains. I will definitely frequent this place many more times over the summer for a quick and reasonably priced meal.

Restaurant Review: Johnny Rockets

May 28, 2012 § Leave a comment

It was difficult to find a place for dinner on Memorial Day! We wandered around the college campus but many restaurants were closed. There was one that did not have air conditioning. Finally, we discovered that a Johnny Rockets was open. It is a 1950s style diner, with a menu full of classics such as milkshakes, burgers, and fries.

I decided to get the “Streamliner,” which is a vegetarian burger made with a Boca patty. It also includes grilled onions, lettuce, mustard, and pickles. I realize that this is probably not the standard order of someone who wants to go to a Johnny Rockets but if you are vegetarian/vegan/health conscious, this is a good choice. It comes with a side of fries or salad, at $7.59.

If you’ve ever had a Boca patty, that’s basically what this burger tastes like. It is made of soy protein and has a pretty generic taste and a meaty texture. With the mustard, onions, pickles, and some ketchup, it can almost pass as a real burger. The bun was a generous size and it was lightly toasted, maybe with a bit of butter (vegans beware!), giving it a slight crunch.

So don’t rush to Johnny Rockets to get this burger, but it’s an acceptable meal if you are in the situation. Kudos to the restaurant for catering to people with dietary restrictions. Alternatively, vegetarians could also order a grilled cheese.

Restaurant Review: FroZen Yo

May 28, 2012 § Leave a comment

I’m in DC as an intern for the summer so expect to see lots of restaurant reviews for the area. Today was Memorial Day and the weather was sweltering. I went with a group of friends to catch the National Parade down Constitutional Avenue. The temperature was probably in the 90s and after about an hour of standing under the blazing sun, we were ready to hit up a summer favorite – frozen yogurt!

I’ve been to plenty of frozen yogurt places, and FroZen Yo has a familiar setup. It is self-serve, so you grab a cup and fill up on different flavors and toppings. I forgot the exact price per ounce but I think it’s around 40 cents. There were about twenty different flavors of frozen yogurt, ranging from the classic chocolate, tart, and vanilla, to cheesecake and pistachio. I didn’t see anything truly out of the ordinary. I got a combination of the original tart and the pistachio.

I always say you can tell the quality of a frozen yogurt place by its original tart flavor. After all, this is the base from which other flavors are made, right? FroZen Yo’s tart was a bit lackluster and possibly more sour than I expected. The pistachio didn’t taste like the nut but had a pleasant sweetness which I enjoyed. The texture of the frozen yogurt was creamy, not icy, which was also a plus.

The place was really crowded and there was not good seating, but what else can you expect for a place in the middle of DC during a holiday weekend? It was a refreshing break from the afternoon heat, though nothing out of the ordinary.

Restaurant Review: Sushi on Chapel

May 13, 2012 § Leave a comment

Sushi on Chapel is a popular place for students. I went there near the end of the semester to grab dinner with a couple of friends. It was a Monday night a little past 6pm, and the restaurant was only about 1/3 full. The place is located down some stairs, in the basement, so the lighting is rather dim. We were in a hurry and the waitstaff assured us that we could be out of there in an hour.

Prices were fairly reasonable for a sushi place. I started with the miso soup which was $2. It arrived almost immediately. The broth was fragrant and light, not too salty, with tiny chunks of tofu. It was a satisfying appetizer.

Next I ordered off the vegetarian roll section of the menu. The avocado and pickled Japanese radish roll sounded intriguing. Sushi on Chapel uses this special purple rice in all of their rolls. It is really nutty and chewy, very similar to brown rice. It added a nice contrasting texture to the creamy avocado and crunchy pickled radish. I really enjoyed each piece – the avocado was especially outstanding, perfectly ripe, rich, and smooth. This roll was $5.50. The pickled ginger on the side was standard.

Overall, I enjoyed my visit here. The service was quick and polite, and didn’t seem frustrated by the fact that we three college students needed to split the check. Additionally, there is a 10% off discount with a student ID. I definitely want to return next school year and try some of their other rolls.

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