Tom Siestema gives two stars to Water & Wall, Tim Ma's new Arlington restaurant. He says the chef "slips a pleasant surprise into almost every dish" there.
Chicken is a delicious strategy here, by the way. Two appetizers are based on the bird. One is a liver pât ésweet with onions, bold with garlic and spirited with Maker's Mark. The lush mix is spread on crostini with ribbons of duck prosciutto and offered with pickled red pepper relish. (The chef likes sweet and heat in his food.) [WaPo]
Meanwhile, his First Bite has plenty of praise for New York import Osteria Morini.
The newcomer, under the watch of executive chef Matt Adler, made the neighborhood more enticing the moment it started serving pasta and pouring vino on Nov. 19 (at a user-friendly 20 percent discount on the food, since discontinued). Order scallops capped with salsa verde and arranged on carrot-sweetened lentils, or rosy lamb and fried bell peppers sharpened with an aged balsamic vinegar, and you, too, are likely to wish you lived closer. [WaPo]
The $20 Diner finds himself overwhelmed with the choices at Jeff Buben's Woodward Takeout Food.
Every time I walk in, I discover something new, maybe a doughnut not yet sampled or an off-the-wall special, like chirashi sushi, that cries for attention. The shop has had a Sisyphean effect on me: I feel as if I'll never fully experience the place. There's always one more plate that seems like it will complete the picture. [WaPo]
Todd Kliman writes a love letter to Korean fried chicken joint BonChon, now with a sleek location in Arlington. The chicken, naturally, is the main attraction.
Of the three options—drumsticks, strips, or wings—the last is the way to go, for both ease of eating and juiciness, though all have the same extraordinary crunch; you can hear it when someone at your table chomps down. Tom An wouldn't divulge the cooking method in an interview, but one of the secrets to the chicken's irresistibility is that it gets fried twice. (I'd bet a month's salary that the sweetness of the meat comes from brining.) The result of that two-step process is less skin than carapace, thick and nearly impregnable. Your choice of sauces—the "hot" is incendiary, the "soy garlic" more sweet than salty—is painted on liberally after the second frying, and the wonder is that this dousing doesn't make the skin the least bit soggy. [Washingtonian]
Don Rockwell writes about Proof and Vidalia. At the former, he recommends the sauteed lamb chops with ragou of farro and lamb shoulder, which is "three beautiful chops, presented like the Triplets of Belleville atop pistachios, dried apricots, whipped yogurt (hiding underneath everything), pomegranate, almonds, and sumac. It sounds busy, but this very North African dish utilizes all these components to offset the intensely lamb-y lamb – it's so refreshing to have lamb that doesn't taste like beef." [DR]