For this week's review, Tom Sietsema heads to two Bethesda restaurants to see if anything has changed there. First up: Food, Wine & Co., under the direction of chef Michael Harr — the verdict is 2.5 stars.
Easier than ever to spot from outside, Food Wine & Co. also looks and tastes fresher through the doors, where servers navigate the high-ceilinged dining room in new aprons and the menu reads like a list you'd see in fashion-forward Logan Circle or Shaw. News flash: Food Wine & Co. has begun serving bone marrow, frog legs and octopus
Try the chicken liver torchon, or one of the soups. The Arctic char, though, is disappointing. [WaPo]
Meanwhile, Passage to India gets two stars. More than half the dishes on the restaurant are new, despite the restaurant being ten years old.
The tandoor-baked breads make swell sops for the curries; a colorful side of housemade pickles is a lot of flavor, and fire, for just under $5. Each main course is bolstered with a fragrant scoop of rice and a pretty salad of cabbage and crisp bell peppers.
Warning — the meats are often overcooked. [WaPo]
The $20 Diner heads to El Paraiso in the hopes of Tex-Mex food but ends up with Salvadoran cuisine. With sort of an odd Italian influence. But they make a good chimichanga.
My favorite dish at El Paraiso came with a side dish of absurdity. The chicken chimichanga has all the subtlety of a Led Zeppelin tribute band, and yet I was inexorably drawn to its fatty excess, where I was rewarded with big, satisfying bites of crusty tortilla entombing sweet, well-seasoned meat. I appreciated the comedy of the moment. Here I was at a Tex-Mex wannabe run by Salvadorans and enjoying a dish that apparently comes from .?.?. Arizona. [WaPo]
Todd Kliman visits both floors of the new Daikaya. Of the ramen, he says:
What Daikaya and its ilk—including Toki Underground and a slew of wannabes—are putting out is to the packaged stuff what seared tuna is to canned fish. This is an amped-up, cheffed-up concoction, starting with the complex broth that provides its deceptively simple foundation. There are four at Daikaya, among them the delicate shio and the soy-flavored shoyu, which is so porky it's like slurping down liquefied barbecue (in the best sense). The noodles are flown in from Japan—few ramen joints in the States make their own—and they have the springiness of al dente pasta.
He finds the small plates upstairs to be exciting, but sometimes simple dishes like the onigiri are best. "You know how a perfect hamburger can make you almost indescribably happy? It's the same feeling. Nothing showoffy. Just a simple thing, sublimely rendered." [Washingtonian]
For First Bite, Tom Sietsema checks out another Bethesda restaurant — Yuzu. He isn't too hot on the tomato tempura, mixed pickles or the yakitori.
The kitchen has a better handle on sushi, based on my supple sample of yellowtail and firm bite of squid, their sea-clean flavors pricked with wasabi.
"Anything you'd tell the next customer?" a young server curiously asks as she drops off the check. I didn't share my feelings then and there, but I can here: Fill up on the raw fish with vinegared rice, folks. [WaPo]
Tyler Cowen hits up Bob's Shanghai 66, where there is "consistently excellent Chinese food...The Xiao Long Bao are quite good and you can get them with either pork or "crab yolk," both are worth trying. The Peas with Mustard Greens are a must and in general this place has the best and freshest greens of any Chinese in the area." [TC]