Have some poke, man!

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Poke! Poke! Poke!

Sorry, this blog has been a bit dormant of late. I recently secured a new job and am trying to tie up lose ends before I leave the old one. That, however, hasn’t stopped me from enjoying all that D.C. offers. That includes getting involved in the local poke craze.

Today during my lunch break, I checked out Poki District in Chinatown. Check out the Poki District menu. A good math problem would be how many different combinations of poke can you create. While I know the answer is a finite number, the possibilities seem limitless! I went with the zucchini noodles, salmon, spicy tuna, crab meat salad, pineapple, tangerine and the strawberry sauce. Oh, and I put waaaay too much onion crisp on top like a noob. That OK though. I still enjoyed my bowl of delight. With a fork and not chopsticks because I’m a bad Asian sometimes, haha.

Poki District offers a casual, bright–and maybe a little narrow–setting for those who don’t want to just grab and go. Some counter-style seats are available by the storefront window, and some seats and tables are also in the rear. This place often has lines though, so be prepared to practice patience here.

I haven’t tried all the other poke places in the area (and have no idea how authentic the poke is here), but Poki District whet my appetite for more for sure.

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Oh, what a night: U2 at FedExField

U2I haven’t been to a large concert in ages. (I think the Muse concert I attended a few years ago in San Diego was my last major one.) Preferring smaller venues and more intimate performances, I tend to shun large stadium tours. That said, a band like U2 definitely knows how to put on a show, so I didn’t pass on the chance to see them last Tuesday.

And what a show it was. They played mostly hits from the Joshua Tree album but also my favorite U2 album, War. I’m not a fan of the band’s more recent tunes, but they played some of their more recent songs like Beautiful Day and Vertigo because, hey, you gotta give the people what they want, right? However, no matter what they perform, the band really brings it.

It was a predictably balmy evening, but when the sun went completely down all was well. The seats were in the 300-level, which were quite good — close enough to see the action on the stage but also convenient to the stadium’s amenities.

I still want to check out smaller venues like the Birchmere in Alexandria, Virginia, or head back to Wolf Trap in Vienna, also in Virginia, when the weather is cooler. The Verizon Center in downtown Washington also hosts many live musical acts. Maryland boasts many music venues as well.

On a less important note, our drive during rush hour to FedExField reminded me how lucky I am that I don’t drive to work. Taking public transit and working from home both are blessings. That said, leaving after the show ended was a breeze, and I was back home in no time. Okay, really more like 30 minutes, but still much less time getting home than getting there.

So many shows, so little time … Or money … Or some other excuse I have not to do all the D.C. area has to offer. But I’m working on it!

Throwback Thursday: My sister’s wedding

Clo's weddingHey, all — it’s been a crazy couple of weeks, and I’ve also been a little under the weather due to some bad Chinese food. I’m not going to tell you who the perp is … All I’m going to share is it’s an Asian eatery not far from me on Wilson Boulevard in Arlington, Virginia, and its name contains the letters T, N and R. It should really just replace those letters with M, S and G because I’m pretty sure that’s all that’s in their food.

In the meantime, here’s a pic where I’m being silly — shocker — from my sister’s wedding last weekend at Pine Manor in Mount Prospect, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. It’s basically the reverend’s house, complete with a cute backyard that serves as a perfect backdrop to a small ceremony. Plus, the reverend takes care of everything from the cake to the ceremony to the photos, depending on the wedding package you choose. If you want something simple yet memorable, Rev. Pam is your ma’am. She says she’s done over 100 weddings, and I believe her. She’s a pro.

I also want to give a shout-out to JuliAnne’s Salon and Spa, who did my sister’s and my hair for the special occasion. My loose-looking updo generated a lot of compliments. It turns out you don’t need to go to a high-end salon to get great results. I’ll be back for sure for haircuts and similar services. If you happen to be in or near Schaumburg, check it out.

It’ll be another warm weekend here in the so-called swamp — and another Washington Nationals game on Sunday. This will be my third game this year. (I usually only attend one or two a year.) The team, which is leading the National League East as of now, is the hot ticket in town — figuratively and literally.

Sugo Osteria & Pizzeria: So good!


I live just outside D.C. in Virginia but have some friends residing in Maryland because I’m soooo worldly … But seriously, I don’t visit Maryland enough though. Annapolis and Baltimore in particular have some great eats, especially for seafood lovers. This morning, however, I ventured a little closer to another Washington suburb, Potomac, to check out Sugo Osteria & Pizzeria for the second time.

My pal Lauren and I go way back to when I first moved to D.C., and it turned out we had a couple of mutual connections in addition to both of us working at the same place back in the day. (I was an employee while she was interning for the summer.) We’ve stayed in touch on and off through the years. She’s had fun adventures teaching in New Orleans and going to graduate school in New York City while I’ve chugged on in D.C. … Now’s she’s back here for good because one can never stray away from this crazy, er I mean pretty city!

Lauren’s birthday is around the corner, hence the celebration at Sugo, one of her favorite restaurants. The brunch here is something to behold. Twenty-five cent mimosas, $35 all-you-can-eat Italian tapa-style dishes, and enough energy to power an entire town. It gets loud there! Perhaps that has something to do with those twenty-five cent mimosas …

The area offers so many choices for brunch. While I can’t say this is my absolute favorite brunch spot (the service is a little spotty–the waitress left us hanging for long periods of time), the food and concept are definitely unique, with fun, delicious little dishes like the Nutella waffle, smoked salmon benedict, carbonara and breakfast pizza that’s suitable for any time of day.

If you’re still skeptical, there are those twenty-five mimosas … I can vouch for the grapefruit ones. They’re sweet!

A night at Nationals Park

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The above pic is in honor of Bryce Harper’s walkoff home run that won last night’s Nationals game vs. the Philadelphia Phillies 6-4. Despite the unusually chilly weather, the win warmed my heart.

The Washington baseball team is currently in first place in its division, the National League East division. However, it’s early in the season. Somehow the team, full of talent, always manages to flame out in the playoffs come fall. Will this year be different? Eh, let’s just ride it out and enjoy the regular season first. Live in the moment and all that.

Completed in 2008, Nats Park in D.C.’s Navy Yard is always good times. Situated on the Anacostia River, the area around it has changed tremendously since it was built. Now surrounded by restaurants, bars and brand spanking new apartments and condos, you can spent your entire weekend — or life — there.

Good luck to Bryce & Co. in today’s double-header vs. the Phillies. Oh, and Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there!

Flashback Friday: That time I spotted the Rosetta Stone

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Last month I briefly stopped in London, and it was on my list to see the British Museum this time around. So, I did. This museum is arguably most known for housing the Rosetta Stone.

What is the Rosetta Stone? According to the British Museum website, it’s a “part of grey and pink granodiorite stela bearing priestly decree concerning Ptolemy V in three blocks of text: Hieroglyphic (14 lines), Demotic (32 lines) and Greek (54 lines).” (Ptolemy V was Egypt’s ruler at the time, around 196 B.C.) According to History.com, the decree attested “to his generosity and devoutness.” It was the first translation of  hieroglyphics, the writing system of ancient Egypt, ever. Pretty cool, right?

Admittedly, I had forgotten exactly what the Rosetta Stone was when I visited the museum. I just know I wanted to see it, among other artifacts from ancient Greece and Rome. Luckily museums are a great place for learning, so once there I learned about the Rosetta Stone all over again. I still marvel at looking and being around things that existed centuries and even millenia ago. Thank you, museums!

Some signs around the British Museum were slightly apologetic (from my point of view) about pilfering all those artifacts in the 18th and 19th centuries. Some heartache still exists among the British, French, Greeks, etc. about who really owns these objects. As my friend jokingly pointed out later that day, finders keepers! So true, unfortunately. Or fortunately, because we don’t know exactly how these objects would’ve fared otherwise.

The free British Museum is crazy busy. You must get there first thing in the morning, or you’ll be standing in lines that snake outside its gates and along the street in front of the museum. I arrived around 10:30 a.m. on a Tuesday and only had to wait 20-30 minutes. However, when I left a few hours later, the queue was quite long.

In general, patience is a virtue in London. In this otherwise fast-paced city, you’ll be waiting a long time most of the hot tourist destinations such as the British Museum and the Tower of London. But they’re worth the wait.

Despite its small geographic footprint, the England and United Kingdom had–and still have–such an impact on the world. You can never learn enough about them.

Proof has brunch now, and it’s pretty good

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I don’t normally eat beef or meat in general, but I make an exception for biscuits and gravy. I mean, look at the above–wouldn’t you?

Local favorite Proof has been around a long time. Known for its refined menu, diverse wine selection, and classy, dark interior, it began offering brunch last month. Thank goodness. I love Farmers Fishers Bakers, but if one more person suggested going there again … I’d probably go, but I’m ready for new brunch options. After all, I brunch a lot. So a friend and I checked out Proof’s brunch last Sunday.

Back to biscuits and gravy. B&G is one of the many classic brunch items available at restaurants of all segments, but Proof’s take was a unique spin. These weren’t just ordinary B&Gs. The sausage and gravy were spicy, and the garnish on top was sweet. Actually, these elements sort of overpowered the biscuits. Nonetheless, they were a great way to start the meal.

I then had an octopus salad while my friend had a more traditional brunch favorite, waffles. While my salad was good, it was small; I was still hungry. Therefore, I capped off the meal with espresso-filled donuts complete with chocolate sauce for dipping. So yes, I attempted halfway through my meal to be healthier and failed miserably. Next time I should just go full brunch from the beginning, right?

Seriously though, no regrets. Everything I ate was delicious and flavorful. Service was prompt and friendly.

I don’t think too many people know about Proof’s brunch yet because it wasn’t busy. when we were there. Once they do, good luck getting a reservation!

Fancy pants and not-so-fancy pants eats in and around D.C.

Tadich Grill

A scrumptious seafood salad at Tadich Grill in Washington, D.C.

This past week I went out to eat a lot. My wallet didn’t like it, but my tastebuds did.

China Chilcano
Last Friday I tried another one of Jose Andres’s Penn Quarter eateries, China Chilcano. Generally, I don’t like his restaurants. They’re all about tapas (yes, I know he’s from Spain), which aren’t my favorite. However, he seems like a nice guy (I thoroughly enjoyed his Haiti special on PBS), so I still give him and his restaurants a chance from time to time. I’m very glad I did this time.

CC is an upscale Asian-Peruvian fusion restaurant, and I’m surprised how much I enjoyed it. The interior is stylish and fun without being intimidatingly so. The space invites lots of light. I can’t believe how great and flavorful the quinoa salad was. Yes, quinoa can taste good! Furthermore, the waitstaff answered our questions about the menu and overall treated us well.

I’ll definitely return soon because it’s $20 lunch special can’t be beat with an appetizer, main dish and dessert all included. Maybe I’ll sneak in a drink too next time!

Sonoma Cellar
Last Saturday was my friend’s birthday, so we celebrated in her neighborhood, Old Town Alexandria. We gathered that afternoon in Sonoma Cellar‘s outdoor patio in the back and enjoyed some rosé and a charcuterie and cheese plate because it’s never a good idea to drink without eating, haha.

I was surprised that this place wasn’t more busy on such a beautiful holiday weekend. Loved the stringed lights all around us, a simple yet cute touch. Best kept “secret” in Old Town, I think. (I put secret in quotes because maybe it’s only a secret to me.)

Lost Dog Cafe
After drinks at Sonoma Cellar, we chowed down on some pizza at Lost Dog Cafe, which is also in Old Town. I’ve only had Lost Dog delivered; I never visited the restaurant itself until now. As expected, it was good.

We all enjoyed individual pizzas; I had the seafood pizza, which was yummilicious. LDC also sells all the craft beer one could want to imbibe with their impeccable pies.

Very casual, family-friendly restaurant for those times you just want to chill with your peeps. Lost Dog’s pizza almost makes me forget how much I miss Chicago-style pizza. Almost.

Peter Chang
As you probably know, last Sunday was Easter. I’m not religious, but holidays tend to be a good time to get people together. So a former co-worker (and current neighbor), her husband and I went over to our fave Peter Chang in Arlington. I tried something new (for me), the pan-fried salmon, while my friends enjoyed some chicken and tofu.

I don’t why I thought PC wouldn’t be busy on Easter, but it was. A host seated us immediately, but lots of kids were around. Nothing wrong with kids; it was just unexpected to see so many based on our past visits there. We still had a good time. It’s not a fancy schmancy restaurant (it’s in a strip mall, after all), but the food is high quality nonetheless. PC isn’t your typical, greasy fast-food Chinese food at all.

I had forgotten PC delivers through various third-party services, so maybe I’ll do that sometime. But then it wouldn’t feel like such a special treat, would it?

Not that notable, but we hit a nearby Dairy Queen for dessert afterwards. It’s been a looooong time since I’ve been there. Nothing like a chocolate-dipped cone to take me back to childhood!

Tadich Grill
Literally a block from my office, Washington’s Tadich Grill has storied roots in San Francisco, Calif. My co-worker had never been, so we went.

The menu can overwhelm with all its choices, but I always get a salad. They’re hearty salads; I never leave hungry. This time I had a mixed seafood “Louie” salad. (Louie refers to its special dressing.) She had the lobster roll and loved it.

The items here are pricey, so I don’t come here often. But TG has a great outdoor seating area in the front of the restaurant right on Pennsylvania Avenue, and the waiters don white coats, which feels like a bit of a throwback. It’s a nice, fancy-pants respite from a hectic day at work.

Bistrot du Coin
A friend from Chicago is in town for a conference, so I had a chance to hang out in Dupont Circle in D.C. last night. It’s been a while I “partied” in the city on a weekend night! I took the opportunity to suggest another one of my other faves, Bistrot du Coin. I never pass up an opportunity to introduce a newbie to this place.

She had chicken with frites while I had a nicoise salad with a Leffe Blonde. (I scarfed down an Oreo-flavored cupcake at the super-cute CakeRoom in Adams Morgan before we dined, so I guess that’s why I went a salad … Kidding. I actually like nicoise salads.) As usual, the food was simple yet splendid.

BDC is relaxed and yet full of life. Lots of laughter and conversation around us without being too crazy loud. Also, those who know me well know how much I love low lighting. (I guess it’s the only part of me that’s remotely romantic, ha!) Anyway, it was a great Friday night.

D.C. area restaurants are really bringing it lately. A week filled with old and new eats, I’m looking forward to having more of both soon!

Back from luminous London and magnificent Madrid

temple_de_debod

Alliteration is easy yet effective, am I right or am I right?

I’m back from my week in Europe. While it’s great to be back home, I already miss London and Madrid. Both are great cities with a lot to offer; I’ll definitely return.  I’m already scouting out my next Spain excursion! I’m considering a language immersion program because it was fun speaking (however broken my Spanish was) and listening to another language. But that wouldn’t happen until 2018, and I still have a lot to do in 2017.

I’ll post more about the specific things I did abroad soon. For now, I’ll share my pic of the Temple de Debod. It’s a cool — to say the least — structure in a beautiful park, Cuartel de la Montaña Park. Originally from Egypt, apparently it’s best to view it at sunset, but it was not that busy on a Sunday morning. As we all know with travel, one must choose his or her battles.

All the parks in Madrid are phenomenal, in fact. I spent hours in El Parque de Retiro walking, reading, and taking pictures.

Anyway, I’m not traveling much until my sister’s wedding in Chicago in June and then back to Europe in the fall. I am happy about the downtime because D.C. has a gazillion things to do that I’ve haven’t done such as the National Air and Space Museum near Dulles Airport in Virginia and the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

I’m also seriously jonesing for Peter Chang because Chinese food FTW always!

Anyway, back to the grind … Until the next adventure …

 

An unbelievably beautiful day in London

I’m in London now. While I don’t have a ton to share yet, I do have some random photos from my afternoon stroll around Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. I had to leave before I saw Kensington Palace; I hope to catch a glimpse of it before I leave town.

Normally I disdain discussing the weather, but yesterday’s was nearly perfect — 60s, sunny, dry. However, quintessential London rain is expected to return today. Oddly, I find this comforting.

We also walked around the Notting Hill neighborhood, which was incredibly cute.

Day Two will be filled with touristy highlights I missed my first time here. And I’m not saying that with disdain. I’m a tourist and proud if it!