The Food Critic’s Picks: 5 Dishes to Try Now

Plus the one dish to steer clear of.

Chicken gyoza at Bantam King. Photograph via Bantam King Facebook.

Some highlights (and a lowlight!) from a week’s worth of meals.

The five best (in no particular order):

Chicken gyoza at Bantam King

These chicken-filled dumplings are the sleeper hit among all the ramen and fried chicken at this Burger King-turned-Daikaya-sibling. Pro tip: If you get the fried chicken platter, save one of the King’s Hawaiian sweet rolls to sop up gyoza’s savory, Sichuan-peppercorn-laden soy/vinegar sauce.

Tarte flambee at Jacques’ Brasserie

The more casual (but still lace-curtain-lined) room inside of L’Auberge Chez Francois serves a bang-up version of the Alsatian classic, with a crust as thin and brittle as a Carr’s table water cracker, nubs of smoky bacon, creme fraiche, and a layer of caramelized onions. Plus, you get to pre-game with the kitchen’s fantastic garlic bread with herbed cottage cheese.

Coconut-jaggery pancakes at Rasika

I’m not crazy about many of the desserts on Rasika’s dinner menu, but at brunch, this is one sweet the kitchen gets really right. The modest-sized pancakes are threaded with coconut and deliver a serious hit of cardamom. A dark caramel sauce takes the place of maple syrup.

Fedelini with clams at Casolare

If you’re a fan of linguine with clams, get yourself over to Michael Schlow’s latest spot. Here, super-thin noodles are tossed with sweet clams, tangy crushed cherry tomatoes, and an almost obscene amount of garlic.

Soft shell crab bocadillo at Estadio

This summer sando is nothing fancy: just an airily fried Maryland soft-shell crammed onto a slider-sized ciabatta, then accented with remoulade, tomato, and pea shoots. Time’s running out for this bad boy, so get it while you can.

And the worst:

Matcha cheesecake at Bantam King

Green tea desserts burn me Every. Single. Time. This mini-wedge of stiff cake riddled with slightly bitter matcha powder—and doused in strawberry jam—was no exception.

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Petworth.