When Mango Tree debuts in CityCenterDC in December, the two-story Thai eatery will be the first in the US for the Bangkok brand. Restaurateur Richard Sandoval of El Centro D.F., Masa 14, Toro Toro, and many more has teamed up with founder Pitaya Phanphensophon for the project. On the menu: classic and reinvented dishes found throughout Thailand, such as chicken satay and red curry duck with apricots.
One of the more traditoinal items is lightly spicy, aromatic tom yum soup with shrimp. This home-cook-friendly version is simple and relatively quick to prepare. Look for specialty ingredients like lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves at Asian markets, or a well-stocked Whole Foods, which often carries them.
Tom Yum Soup
17 ounces water
10 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 sticks lemongrass
1 4-inch piece galangal
6 kaffir lime leaves (available at Whole Foods)
4 bird’s eye chilies
4 tablespoons fish sauce
Juice of 2 limes
4 tablespoons sugar
6 button mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
2 teaspoons Thai chili paste
4 teaspoons coconut milk
4 cilantro leaves, thinly sliced
Thai parsley for garnish
Make the soup:
Place water in a pot over high heat.
Roughly chop galangal and add it to the water.
Crush the lemongrass with a rolling pin, meat tenderizer, or heavy spoon to release the oil and flavor, and add it to water.
Tear kaffir lime leaves and add them to the water along with the lime juice.
Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.
Remove from heat, and let stand for another 10 minutes to allow the flavors to infuse.
Using a strainer, strain the soup into a separate pot and place over medium-low heat so it's simmering but not boiling.
Serve the soup:
Add mushrooms and shrimp to the soup, and poach them for 4 to 5 minutes.
Once cooked, remove shrimp from the soup and place into two bowls.
Season the soup, stirring in the fish sauce and sugar.
Add coconut milk, Thai parsley, and Thai chili paste. Mix well.
Pour into the bowls over the shrimp and serve.
Chef Colleen Conrad has been tapped as the new toque for 14th Street hotspots Pearl Dive/Black Jack, replacing James Huff, who is relocating to North Carolina. Conrad most recently held a sous chef position at sister Jeff Black restaurant Republic in Takoma Park, working alongside chef/co-owner Danny Wells.
While you won't find big changes to the menu—those fried-chicken buckets aren't going anywhere—a few new dishes are already in play. Look for items like a crispy Brussels sprouts salad with Benton's ham and pickled onions, panko-crusted fluke with jicama-apple slaw, and whole wood-grilled black bass with spicy peanut sauce and winter greens. Fresh additions to the brunch menu are expected in the coming weeks.
One of the biggest changes at the typically crowded eatery isn't entirely chef-related: Pearl Dive is now taking reservations from 5 to 7, seven days a week. There's also valet parking for $12 until 10 on weekdays and 11 on weekends.
District denizens can now get their doughnut fix on the street from the Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken food truck. The mobile vendor, previously only licensed in Virginia, begins serving DC on Wednesday.
On the menu: doughnuts in flavors such as classic vanilla glaze, crème brûlée, and maple-bacon, and a lineup of fried-chicken sandwiches. Combinations like a crispy bird BLT, Buffalo chicken, and Old Bay-fried chicken come on savory doughnut rounds. Chicken fingers are also an option for those (kind of) counting calories.
Look for the black wagon in Friendship Heights Wednesday, NoMa on Thursday, and back in Ballston on Friday. Want to find it every morning? Sign up for our Truck Stops newsletter for the most current locations of your favorite street eats.
Update: Wednesday's stop has been cancelled due to rain, but the truck will be back on schedule in NoMa Thursday.
Absinthe popsicles at Menu MBK
405 Eighth St., NW
The bar team just revamped the cocktail menu at this Penn Quarter spot with some pretty creative new sips (and solids). In the latter category you'll find "frozen fairyland" absinthe popsicles, as well as Fernet Branca lollipops. Liquid drinks include bubbly spiked with limoncello and gin, and a cereal-milk white Russian.
Bottomless dim sum brunch at Ping Pong Dim Sum
900 Seventh St., NW/One Dupont Circle, NW
Fall means the start of “East West” bottomless brunch, launching this Saturday and Sunday. Pick unlimited plates from traditional dim sum trolleys like dumplings and buns, as well as fusion dishes such as five-spice pork belly eggs Benedict with Sriracha hollandaise. To drink: an unlimited tableside mimosa bar. The meal and drinks are $36 per person, with service from 11:30 to 4 on weekends.
Hot chocolate menu at Fiola
601 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Things get cozy starting on Thursday with the launch of a hot chocolate menu starring three flavors of Amedei Italian cocoa: Toscano white, dark, and gianduja. All are served with oversize, house-made marshmallows and cookies.
Bacon burger at Macon Bistro & Larder
5520 Connecticut Ave., NW
Macon took second place at the epic Brainfood Burger Battle last weekend, and celebrates by serving the beef-and-bacon patty at the bar for one week only. The burger comes topped with house pickles and tomato aïoli, with a side of fries ($14).
Dollar oyster happy hour at Second State
1813 M St., NW
The Pennsylvania-themed restaurant opens Tuesday with a good deal for bivalve-lovers: $1 oysters throughout the restaurant from 5 to 6 on weekdays.
Mexican barbecue at Toro Toro
1300 I St., NW
Chef Richard Sandoval launches a global barbecue series at his downtown grill, where you'll find specialties from Mexico, Japan, Korea, and more. First up, through December 31: Mexican barbacoa with dishes such as mezcal-braised beef cheeks, crispy ribs al carbon with tomatillo sauce, and more. The specialty items are offered during dinner only.
Good news for the celiac crowd: Toki Underground will host a gluten-free pasta pop-up with Michelin-starred chef Mark Ladner of New York City’s Del Posto.
Come November 6, diners can get a taste of Ladner’s Pasta Flyer, a fast-casual concept that promises to deliver Italian-style bowls of gluten-free noodles “as fast as a bowl of Japanese ramen.” The menu features three pasta shapes—screws, elbows, and tubes—which can be sauced with pesto, alfredo, or marinara, and topped with proteins such as a truffled egg. In addition to the bowls, you’ll find veggie burgers from Del Posto pastry chef Brooks Headley.
Lunch and dinner will run from 11:30 to close. As with past Toki pop-ups, space is limited and no reservations are accepted, so better queue early.
Welcome, yet gain, to another shortsighted piece on Washington's dining scene from the New York Times. Journalist Jennifer Steinhauer—the same writer who called DC's coffee culture "meh" and named Capitol Hill the dominion of junk-food purveyors—pens another assessment of our culinary landscape. The topic du jour: the recent emergence of neighborhood restaurants.
"For decades, Washington’s dining scene has been made up mostly of two kinds of restaurants," writes Steinhauer. "There are the expense-account steakhouses and hushed white-tablecloth hotel eateries catering to the political class with money to spend. At the other end are the cheap ethnic restaurants dotting the city and its outlying suburbs."
I couldn’t agree more when it comes to the article’s main theme: Washington boasts more destination-worthy neighborhood haunts than ever—wonderful places like the Red Hen and Daikaya. This evolution is worth celebrating (or even noting in the New York Times), and it's a promising progression. But to paint the recent dining past as so black-and-white, or ethnic and white-tablecloth, does a disservice to the many eateries that came before Petworth Citizen and Crane & Turtle, Steinhauer’s harbingers of the city’s dining future.
Just look at the “once-dicey” Adams Morgan, where my parents spent many date nights at La Fourchette in the ’70s, and where Meskerem introduced the greater public to Ethiopian food when it debuted in 1985. We ate at both when I was growing up, as well as at Sushi Ko in Glover Park—Washington’s pioneer sushi restaurant—Johnny’s Half Shell in Dupont (then more casual than the current Capitol Hill iteration), and Austin Grill during the Ann Cashion golden years, before she opened Cashion’s Eat Place.
One of my early childhood food memories is discovering pho at the shuttered Germaine’s on Wisconsin Avenue, which served superb Vietnamese dishes in a fine-dining setting long before Daikaya came along. And while Ben’s Chili Bowl was never the kind of Grey Lady-revered place “where the stroller set settles in with the small-batch-bourbon swilling groovesters for some solid roast chicken,” it’s an iconic “residential neighborhood” restaurant, even by Manhattan standards.
Was there a culinary scene in Harlem before Marcus Samuelsson’s Red Rooster? Did the stroller set and swilling groovesters put Brooklyn on the dining map?
While neighborhood spots like Petworth Citizen may be "the future of dining in Washington, D.C.," they hardly arrived yesterday.
Day of the Dead: The first round of Halloween-related events starts on Monday with Oyamel's annual Day of the Dead Festival. The tequila-fueled kickoff party from 6 to 9:30 stars a live band, drinks, and samples of special dishes like chipotle spare ribs and Veracruz-style fish (tickets are $60). Drop by the restaurant through November 2 for a variety of festival-themed dishes and drinks.
Pumpkin-y pours: Seattle brewery Elysian Brewing takes over seven taps at City Tap House on Tuesday from 5 to close. A selection of fall pumpkin beers is available from $6 to $13.
Beery fun: Cash in your chips for charity at Jack Rose on Wednesday, which hosts a Sam Adams-fueled casino night benefiting the American Breast Cancer Foundation. A $20 door donation allows access to all the card games played with "fun money," complimentary snacks such as clams casino (get it?), and one free drink ticket. Don't feel like gambling? Stop by the bar on Saturday between noon and 5 for a New Belgium Beer carnival with $5 draft specials, festival foods such as corn dogs and cotton candy, and activities along the lines of psychic readings.
Bubbles: Marcel's celebrates Champagne Day on Friday with a five-course meal paired with exclusive glasses of bubbly. The $175 meal includes duos like roasted venison with brandied cherries and venison jus matched with Agrapart & Fils, Brut, ‘7 Cru’ from Avize, France. Guests seeking a more casual experience can still get a taste with $55 flights in the bar.
Harvest Festival: In honor of the new National Geographic Museum exhibit, "Food: Our Global Kitchen", there's a free Harvest Festival on Saturday from 10 to 3. The museum hosts family-friendly activities like chef demos and tastings, a produce scavenger hunt, fruit and vegetable painting, and more.
Lunch with Batali: Zaytinya offers the chance to lunch with one of the biggest chef-lebrities, Mario Batali, on Sunday at 12:30. The Food Network star is in town to promote his new cookbook, America Farm to Table, and you'll sample dishes from the book alongside wine pairings. Tickets ($95) include a signed copy.
Monster brunch: Get in the spooky spirit at STK on Sunday, which hosts a Monster's Ball-themed brunch. In addition to mimosas and eggs, guests can participate in a costume contest with prizes including a free dinner for two and VIP access to the Huxley. Reservations are taken between 11:30 and 6.
Cookbook-inspired dinner: Politics & Prose teams up with Buck's Fishing & Camping for a Sunday dinner with cookbook author Aglaia Kremezi at 6:30. Guest chef Alexander Zeppos recreates dishes from his new work, Mediterranean Vegetarian Feasts, each paired with different Greek wines. Tickets are $94 per person.
Spice dinner: Spice master Lior Lev Sercarz cohosts a spice dinner at 2941 on Sunday with reservations between 5 and 8. The $70, eight-course menu starts with zesty cocktails, followed by an array of specialty dishes and wine pairings (optional for an additional $70). Call the restaurant for reservations.
A notable chef change to start the week: Will Artley will leave the kitchen at Pizzeria Orsoon Tuesday after two-plus years. A release
from the restaurant says the toque will depart the Falls Church eatery "to focus on personal ventures related to his impressive milestones in the health and fitness world." Taking the Fit for Hope winner's place: Bertrand Chemel from Orso's upscale sister venture, 2941. Chemel will oversee both concepts.
The French chef will begin to make menu changes in the coming weeks, including more fresh pastas and a range of seasonal Italian plates. Wood-fired Neapolitan-style pizzas will remain a large focus, as will the family-friendly atmosphere. Stay tuned for more details on the new menu.