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NYC Pre-Christmas Getaway

23 Dec

With the exception of last year, a weekend trip to New York City has become a December tradition to celebrate my birthday and take in the Christmas magic in the city. My husband doesn’t quite share my enthusiasm for dealing with NYC  in what is probably the busiest time of year, but he’s a gem and indulges me all the same. He’s a keeper.

After dealing with insane traffic, we finally made it Friday evening and had a really great Italian dinner at Basso56 before turning in like the lame suburbanites we are. The next day, however, was the highlight. We picked up a few Christmas gifts at Columbus Circle before heading down to Momofuku Noodle Bar, where I really wanted the pork belly bao. I mean look at these bad boys:

Pork Belly bens with hoisin, cucumber and green onions

My mouth is salivating just looking at them again. The ramen was pretty good, but not the highlight. I realize how ridiculous it is that we ate here for lunch, which is only two doors down from Ko where we had dinner reservations. But whatever.

The 12-seat restaurant dishing out 10 plates plus other bites for dinner is really not to be missed. From lychee with frozen/shredded foie gras, ravioli with celery and shaved black truffles, pan seared skate, venison and other mouth-watering plates – we were delighted and stuffed by the time we left. If you live in NYC or are visiting, make this a priority.

Before leaving Sunday afternoon we had lunch with a friend in Chinatown at Joe’s Shanghai for soup dumplings. Sadly, DC doesn’t have any soup dumpling spots so this was a must for me.

The main event – Xiao Long Bao Pork Soup Dumplings are all of it! We ordered two baskets for the three of us (don’t judge) and were able to sample the crab and pork version due to our neighbors who over ordered for two.

Pork soup dumplings

I’ve always been curious of wine chicken, and now know to order it. Very good and refreshing. Pickled cabbage always a good one, too. It was nice to have someone else to eat Scallion Pancakes with, since Anh isn’t a huge fan.

Pickled cabbage and wine chicken dishes

As we left the restaurant and walked around Chinatown, I asked if there are good Vietnamese restaurants around Chinatown or elsewhere in the City, and she didn’t have many solid go-to spots. Are any readers NYC residents or travel there often? Curious to hear about your Vietnamese secret (or not) spots!

Dubai Atlantis and Nobu Eats

1 Oct

We spent the first part of our honeymoon in Dubai, which was the connection en route to the Maldives – our ultimate and final destination. In truth I hadn’t ever thought of visiting the country – except maybe to Abu Dhabi for the Formula 1 grand prix – and was excited to experience a new culture in travel. It’s an interesting place, Dubai. They are trying so very hard to make it the ultimate tourist destination.

If you visit in winter (November – March) and love to shop til you drop, this is the place for you. Dubai is Las Vegas, without the casinos. So if  you prefer the more sinful attractions of Las Vegas and could do without the 13 hour flight, hit up the Las Vegas strip.

Poor hubby’s sickness got worse in the hot, humid desert heat and he spent our first day at the Atlantis Palm Island in the clinic on a nebulizer. Someone from the wedding was patient zero and got a bunch of us sick. We will find you….

Anyhow, after hitting the ahhh-mazing ESPA, I was ready to have our first real night out on the Honeymoon. Sick or not, I was going to eat well and enjoy it, damnit! As expected, I was not disappointed.

Nobu omakase dishes and photo with my husband. Continue reading

Pho Cong Ly Annandale

9 May

When we relocated to the Springfield area, we were excited to be near one of his favorite Vietnamese restaurants from years ago. Unfortunately, Pho Cong Ly Backlick Road had closed up shop and left before we were able to move in. Imagine my delight when driving to Annandale I noticed a Pho Cong Ly sign in another shopping center off Braddock Road.

We scoped it out last week as I was in dire need of pho. True to his memory, the cha gio (crispy spring rolls) are still top notch. The goi cuon (summer rolls) rice paper rolls were too wet and breaking apart. Tasty, but broken. Hey, it was 8:30 PM and they closed at 9. I’ve learned not to expect the best when folks are trying to close up for the night.

Their pho was OK, but per usual Pho 75 is still the winner. We’ll definitely be back for other dishes as it’s closer than trekking to Eden Center for other prepared dishes when I don’t want to cook.

It appears as though they’ve adopted a new management style, which means a sparkling restaurant, merchandise (Cha Gio T-shirts, anyone?) and credit card machines. FTW.

Check them out:

6920-I Braddock Rd
Annandale, VA 22003

(703) 712-8355

Tucked in the back corner near Gold’s Gym.

PhoWheels DC Lunchbreak

20 Apr

I have a healthy appetite and can put away some serious food. PhoWheels DC put me to the test, and won the first round. Although I work at the epicenter of tourism in DC, there are little to no food options nearby. Thankfully the DC food truck scene makes it easier to have a great lunch of nearly anything you could want, just a short Metro ride away. The line was short, and food came fast.

When given the option, I almost always go with pork belly. Theirs is 5-spice rubbed and piled high inside split french bread. They also have a croissant sub roll, which I’ll have to try next. I’m also a sucker for add-on eggs. The Sous Vide fried poached egg is amazing, and completely indulgent.

Pork Belly Banh Mi with Fried Poached Egg on top and Vietnamese Iced Coffee

Honestly, I only made it through half of the banh mi – eating the entire egg, of course. It was delicious, although the Do Chua (pickled carrot and daikon radish) was on the bland side. Major fan of the thin strips of cucumber. Too many Banh Mi spots overlook this essential ingredient.

The cà phê sữa đá (ca fe sue-uh da), Vietnamese Iced Coffee, reminds me of an ice cream version. Perfect for the hot early spring day.

I’ve long been a fan of the spork – a far superior to their independent brothers. PhoWheels have CHORKS. Chopsticks + Fork = genius.  Seriously?


Another bonus, they prepare amazing Vietnamese dishes off the truck. Check out their Instagram channel for inspiration.

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