Washington Post restaurant critic Tom Sietsema raves about David Chang’s D.C. restaurant, awarding a rare three stars (“excellent”) to the 3-year-old establishment that just got a big menu refresh from new chef Tae Strain. “Whatever your fancy, bing is da bomb,” Sietsema writes of the Chinese flatbread crisped on the grill. He’s into all seven embellishments that go with it, especially the crumb-covered oyster gratin enriched with Parmesan. Shrimp and pork dumplings “ignited” by lemongrass are favorites, as are heartier offerings packed with dry-aged beef and ground lamb. Sietsema suggests going as a group to dig into the family-style orders such as the “big and beautiful” whole-roasted chicken with spiced yogurt and pickled chiles accompanied by garlicky basmati rice flavored with chicken fat and topped with fried eggs. Leave room for the steak ssam, which comes with a gamut of condiments like a red chile paste. For dessert, the sticky toffee pudding is “light rather than heavy” thanks to shredded carrots in the batter, and lemon in a dollop of caramel whipped cream. Sietsema finds staff is super accommodating and all about making sure diners make the right picks for their plates. “Long story short, Chang got it right with his new hire: What a difference a Tae makes.”
Lupo Verde Osteria
Sietsema also heads to Palisades’ new, tri-level Italian eatery, pleased to find the fried artichoke served at the original Lupo Verde has carried over. A new dish he’s excited about is the fried octopus with fennel salad atop compressed watermelon and ramps, which makes for a “refreshing seafood salad,” he says. On the pasta side Sietsema favors ridged ravioli with garlic cream, sharpened with anchovies. Chef Matteo Venini, a native of Lake Como, Italy and alum of fine dining restaurant Tosca, also makes a mean dry-aged steak seared in a cast-iron pan and finished with smoked butter that’s served with “equally delicious companions” of smashed fingerling potatoes, sweetly mellow figs, and toasted hazelnuts. His few gripes: Sietsema wishes the tonnarelli with pepper and pecorino, and the garganelli with meat ragu and fried basil were cooked a little longer. Meanwhile, the duck confit with charred blood oranges “is less interesting than the match reads on paper.”
Ethnic Dining Guide author Tyler Cowen gets all fanboy about Falls Church’s Egyptian restaurant, which he says just might be “the best Middle Eastern food around right now.” Everything tastes fresh and vital, including Lebanese appetizers like hummus. To switch things up, Cowen suggests getting the veal kabob. The restaurant itself is well-lit and extremely comfortable to sit in, he notes. And while prices are reasonable (considering the quality), he warns it’s not exactly a cheap eats spot.