The Washington Post’s Tom Sietsema gives Dirty Habit a try and dives right into the dishes: the charred eggplant with sauteed bok choy and shiitake mushrooms in a sherry-honey glaze "makes for good grazing," as do the meatballs with ground duck, foie gras and smoked bacon, then fried to a gentle crackle: "Those sepia marbles break open to reveal mozzarella in their centers; an underliner of tomato sauce zapped with Korean hot pepper paste counters the richness."
Chef Kyoo Eom, who moved over from Poste, is a Korean native and says he’s serving "kind of food he likes to eat himself or make for guests at home" (think braised short ribs with house-made kimchi, pickled radishes and sushi rice).
Some turn-offs at Dirty Habit include warm, house-baked potato rolls that lose their appeal when they cool off, and sky-high wine prices (go for a cocktail instead, like the mezcal-fired Prickly Position, flavored with pineapple syrup, lime and an ice cube hot with serrano). [WaPo]
The Washington Post’s Emily Codik treks out to Annandale’s To Sok Jip, where a boring wait spilling out into a suburb’s parking lot is worth it for "unapologetically bold Korean cooking." This is the real deal, she reports:
This is where Koreans go for a reminder of the unfussy food served back home: hand-rolled noodle soups, bubbling stews served on portable gas stoves and stir-fried meat, red and slick with chili paste.
Among the popular picks at the fast-paced restaurant: broiled mackerel and the whole fried croaker and the jeyuk bokkeum and a pork-and-vegetable stir-fry served on a sizzling platter with raw garlic and scallions. And the cheonggukjang jjigae is a fermented soybean soup with tofu and "deep funky flavors." As far as "showmanship," the clear winner is the boodae jeongol stew, served on a gas burner "that offers little in balance, but a lot in punchiness and history" (the recipe stems from the Korean War). Misses include the "bland" dolsot bibimbap and the "letdown" of a cloying kimchi pancake. But don’t let those stop you from going, she instructs. If anything will get customers lining up again soon, it’s the seafood and scallion pancake. [WaPo]
Sietsema is hot on Richmond this week. He writes about seven highlights that are worth the drive from D.C., including Sugar & Twine, Spoonbread Bistro, Shagbark, Rapp Session, Peter Chang, Metzger Bar & Butchery, and L’Opossum. As for Metzger, he raves about the steak tartare, while one "hit" at Chang’s spot is the calamari, "whose pleasant heat is tempered by a dipping sauce made fruity with pineapple juice and applesauce." And the young months-old Shagbark offers food "that embraces" both Virginia and the South, and Spoonbread is a "handsome" restaurant and bar in the Fan District. [WaPo]
Washington City Paper’s Caroline Jones checks out the chili crab fried chicken sandwich at District Fishwife at Union Market, and her conclusion isn’t great (1.5 out of 5): "Though conceptually well-intentioned, this sandwich fails on execution. From the messy construction to the lack of flavor, nearly everything needs improvement." [WCP]
Don Rockwell visits Kyirisan in Shaw, and thinks the chef's cooking could benefit from a "less is more" approach. "Ma has the ability to use an extraordinary number of ingredients within a single dish without making them overbearing — although I do wish he would consider refining his recipes to become a bit more minimalist, as many ingredients seem to be superfluous — not detrimental, but also not necessary." [DR]