Our Favorite Eats and Drinks from the 2018 AT&T Best of Washington Party

The "tasting menu" table at Daikaya, Bantam King, and Haikan.

We love Washington’s dining scene because it’s so global, and that diversity was on display last night at our annual AT&T Best of Washington party. Partygoers at the National Building Museum feasted on Korean barbecue, foie gras canapés, Indian uttapam, tuna crudo, and Japanese soft serve—not to mention an equally eclectic lineup of drinks. So what were some of the highlights? To the list! 

A raw Hokkaido scallop with tomato water and wasabi as part of the speed-tasting menu.

Best in show: Speed-tasting menu at Daikaya/Bantam King/Haikan
Washingtonians don’t mind lining up for interesting food—yes, even inside a food event. A queue formed quickly for chef Katsuya Fukushima’s boundary-pushing “tasting menu,” where guests rotated seats around four different stations for drinks and dishes prepared a la minute. We sampled raw Hokkaido scallops with tomato water, wasabi, and basil flowers, and an onsen egg with roasted chicken jus.

Best one-bite snack: Clams at Chiko
No cumbersome three-bite hors d’oeuvres here. Chefs Scott Drewno and Danny Lee have crafted the perfect one-bite canapé: sweet chilled, marinated clams that you slurp directly from their shells.

Chiko clams.

Best feast: CherCher’s Ethiopian spread
Volume eaters flocked to the large platters of vegetables, lamb stew, tibs, and doro wat supplied by this stellar Ethiopian restaurant.

Best surprise: Mujaddara from Unconventional Diner
Guilty admission: we couldn’t have told you what mujaddara was before seeing it on Unconventional Diner’s table, and to be even more blunt, the brown-on-brown mix didn’t look promising. To our surprise, it was one of the best bowls of the night—with fragrant Lebanese lentils, deeply caramelized onions, and cooling yoghurt.  

Best shameless use of butter: Italian “Cubano” sandwich from Osteria Morini
Butter makes everything better. So you can bet that focaccia sandwiches stuffed with Italian meats and Calabrian chili tapenade that were fried in copious amounts of butter are going to be good. 

Best takeout inspiration: Dan Dan noodles from Tiger Fork
We couldn’t get enough of these mini Chinese takeout containers filled with spicy noodles, morsels of pork, scallions, and lump crab. 

Best on-the-go cheese course: La Serena cheese-and-membrillo cones from Jaleo
Creamy Spanish sheep-milk cheese plus a layer of quince paste. What’s not to love?

Best luxe bite: Foie gras parfait from the Oval Room
The ultra-rich cup was perfectly accented with cherry gelee and fried chicken skin.

Best cocktail: the Redbeard from Cotton & Reed
We could drink Lukas B. Smith’s masterful mix of locally-distilled rum, Campari, and ginger beer all summer long—and thanks to this recipe, you can too.


Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.

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 Logan Circle.