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Cheap Eats: Great Dishes for Every Palate
Comments () | Published August 16, 2013

Sometimes, when you approach a cuisine that's new to you, it's hard to know where to start, especially when you're faced with a 150-item menu. And sometimes, you might eat a certain type of food all the time, but get mired in the rut of ordering the same thing (tom kha kai soup, pad Thai, repeat). If either of those scenarios sound familiar—or you just feel like trying a few new dishes—check out this guide to the iconic dishes that anchor the many ethnic cuisines featured in our 2013 Cheap Eats package. We've got something for every palate, from tame to adventurous to extreme thrill-seeker. And of course, we'll also tell you where to find our favorite versions. Happy eating.

  • CHINESE
  • VIETNAMESE
  • THAI
  • KOREAN
  • INDIAN
  • JAPANESE
  • SOUTH AMERICAN
  • MEXICAN AND SALVADORAN
  • CUBAN AND CARIBBEAN
  • ETHIOPIAN
  • MIDDLE EASTERN

Tame

The soothing soup bobbing with ethereal shrimp dumplings at Full Key (2227 University Blvd. W., Wheaton; 301-933-8388).

Adventurous

Chinese-style hot-and-sour soup—thickened with duck blood—at Michael’s Noodles (10038 Darnestown Rd., Rockville; 301-738-0370).

Extreme

Duck tongues tossed with basil at Joe’s Noodle House (1488-C Rockville Pike, Rockville; 301-881-5518).

Tame

Delicate fritters of sweet potato and shrimp, wrapped in lettuce and dipped in nuac mam, at Minh’s (2500 Wilson Blvd., Arlington; 703-525-2828).

Adventurous

Crunchy lotus-root salad topped with pork and shrimp at Four Sisters (8190 Strawberry La., Suite 1, Falls Church; 703-539-8566).

extreme

Bubble tea made with durian—the infamously stinky tropical fruit—at Song Que (6769 Wilson Blvd., Falls Church; 703-536-7900).

Tame

Chicken with basil and bamboo shoots in spicy, coconutty red curry at Sisters Thai (4004 University Blvd., Fairfax; 703-267-9619).

Adventurous

Fried beef jerky with chili sauce at Elephant Jumps (8110-A Arlington Blvd., Falls Church; 703-942-6600).

Extreme

Floating market soup, with rice noodles, pork rinds, and pig’s blood, at Nava Thai (11301 Fern St., Wheaton; 240-430-0495).

Tame

Gingery, double-fried wings at DaMoim (7106 Columbia Pike, Annandale; 703-354-3211).

Adventurous

Soondubu jigae—a roiling-hot, chili-spiked stew with tofu and shellfish—at Lighthouse Tofu (Vit Goel)(Annandale, Centreville, and Rockville).

Extreme

Sul leung tang, an intensely meaty, milky soup made by slow-cooking beef bones, at Gamasot (6963 Hechinger Dr., Springfield; 703-256-0780).

Tame

Yogurt-marinated, bone-in tandoori chicken at Turmeric (405 Maple Ave. E., Vienna; 703-938-0100).

Adventurous

Poblano chilies stuffed with spiced lamb at Malgudi (2400 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202-333-3120).

Extreme

Extra-fiery goat vindaloo at Curry Mantra (9984 Main St., Fairfax, 703-218-8128; 1077 W. Broad St., Falls Church, 703-992-0077).

Tame

Thinly pounded, fried-pork tonkatsu with a sweet, Worcestershire-like sauce at Mikaku (3065 Centreville Rd., Herndon; 703-467-0220).

Adventurous

Ikura, a sushi-bar staple of salmon roe (sometimes topped with a quail egg), at Sushiko (2309 Wisconsin Ave., NW, 202-333-4187; 5455 Wisconsin Ave., Chevy Chase, 301-961-1644).

Extreme

Ankimo, custardy, rich monkfish liver, at Kotobuki (4822 MacArthur Blvd., NW; 202-281-6679).

Tame

Ceviche mixto, with scallops, octopus, and squid, at Asi Es Mi Tierra (2559 Ennalls Ave., Wheaton; 301-942-2842).

Adventurous

Aguadito, a Peruvian chicken soup with gizzards, at the Chicken Place (2418 University Blvd. W., Silver Spring; 301-946-1212).

Extreme

Enrollado mixto, a massive Bolivian pork terrine with pickled vegetables, at Llajtaymanta (7236 Arlington Blvd., Falls Church; 703-204-0593).

Tame

Carne asada tacos with onion, cilantro, and tomatillo salsa at Xitomate (5850 Waterloo Rd., Columbia; 410-750-8787).

Adventurous

Braised-pork tacos with onion, cilantro, radish, and lime at Tortacos (9629 Lost Knife Rd., Gaithersburg; 240-632-9423).

Extreme

Pork-cheek-and-pork-lip tacos at Taqueria la Placita (5020 Edmonston Rd., Hyattsville; 301-277-4477).

Tame

Jerk-chicken sandwich at Just Jerk (9005 Lanham-Severn Rd., Lanham; 301-459-5375).

Adventurous

“Buss up shut”—a torn roti with goat curry—at Teddy’s Roti Shop (7304 Georgia Ave., NW; 202-882-6488).

Extreme

Jamaican sauté of salt cod with ackee, a tropical fruit, at Jerk Hill Cafe (6543 Ager Rd., Hyattsville; 301-422-6351).

Tame

Doro wat, chicken and egg in a rich berbere-spiced gravy, at Shagga Coffee & Restaurant (6040 Baltimore Ave., Hyattsville; 240-296-3030).

Adventurous

Dulet—simmered lamb liver and tripe—at Meaza (5700 Columbia Pike, Falls Church; 703-820-2870).

Extreme

Slices of raw beef with whiskey at Abay Market and Restaurant (3811 S. George Mason Dr., Falls Church; 703-998-5322).

Tame

Chicken-breast kebabs with saffron rice and salad at Rose Kabob (126 Maple Ave. W., Vienna; 703-255-2557).

Adventurous

Qabili palow—spiced basmati rice with carrots and raisins covering hunks of marinated lamb—at Kabul Kabob House (514 S. Van Dorn St., Alexandria; 703-751-1833).

Extreme

Mughaz Karahi, a hearty tomato-and-green-chili stew with lamb brains at Ravi Kabob House I and II (305 N. Glebe Rd., Arlington, 703-522-6666; 250 N. Glebe Rd., Arlington, 703-816-0222).

  • Chinese
  • Vietnamese
  • Thai
  • Korean
  • Indian
  • Japanese
  • South American
  • Mexican and Salvadoran
  • Cuban and Caribbean
  • Ethiopian
  • Middle Eastern

Online Production: Mario Starks

Categories:

Food & Drink
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Posted at 12:21 PM/ET, 08/16/2013 RSS | Print | Permalink | Comments () | Washingtonian.com Articles