Valentine’s dinner at Farrah Olivia

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How was your Valentine’s Day? Mine was delicious!

Crystal City in Arlington has quite a few dinner options and I’ve been dying to check out this place called Farrah Olivia. It is run by Chef Morou. Farrah Olivia is actually in the restaurant called “Kora.” That’s right. A restaurant in a restaurant. That was where our v-day dinner took place.

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Bread is served with 4 types of spreads: apple chutney, ricotta cheese with radish, bok choy pesto and cheese with chili! (Bok choy pesto was my favorite.)

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Amuse. Raw oyster with chopped peppers and gelatin pepper bubbles! I saw how they made these on tv one day and today finally got to taste them! I wouldn’t mind just a raw oyster itself but it’s so fun with those peppery bubbles!

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Pan-seared scallops. The seaweed used for garnish had really good taste. I wasn’t too crazy about the candied lemons in the sauce but the scallops were perfectly cooked. (Often, it is so easy to overcook them. Who likes rubbery scallops?! :()

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Seared mahi in Japanese style broth over puréed cauliflower. Shiitake mushrooms were just delightful!

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Duck cooked rare. Ginger Brussels sprouts, flan, Ivorian mole! So many different flavors were nicely plated! 🙂

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Basically, when you walk into a restaurant, they take you to a small, private room. Thats Farrah Olivia. It could fit 10-15 tables. Overall, the food was good. However, I guess my expectations were too high. It is not an “upscale” restaurant by any means. The servers were a little too busy and distracted. They were rushed to get your orders in and clean your table. They stack up the dishes in front of you when you are done. Not that it’s wrong but, it being so private and “exclusive,” I was expecting more than just good food. 😉

What was your v-day dinner? I don’t think it really matters whether you went out to a nice restaurant or cooked pasta at home. As long as we have good company, it’s happy Valentine’s!

[Restaurant Review] Oby Lee – Arlington, VA

▣ Location: 3000 N Washington Blvd, Arlington, VA 22201 (Clarendon Metro)

▣ Tel: 571-257-5054

▣ Coffee / Wine / Crepe

▣ Yelp Rating: ★★★★★ (almost! 😉 as of December 27, 2012) – Click for more info!

This very hip, fun eatery / coffee house / wine bar is located a little off Clarendon Blvd in Arlington. As soon as you walk in, you sense great coffee aroma, see all the wine bottles and smell the food. The owners, Oby and Ula, are the friendliest people that you will ever meet! 🙂

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Say hi to the snowman! 🙂 The best thing about Oby Lee to me is that they KNOW coffee. Oby, the roast master, actually roasts beans himself. Even their flavored coffee drinks, including the m.a.g.i.c.a.l peanut butter cup latte, are really great! (Just talking about it makes me wanna go get it now!)

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Oby Lee is one of those places, where you get your food and drinks and, at the same time, keep looking at other people’s dishes, thinking, “Man… What is that? That looks delicious too!”

Oby_PuffinNot only do they have great breakfast options, such as the “Puffins”, they also have savory quiches to die for. Oby_quicheNot a big fan of quiches? That’s ok. Here’s what I always get! CREPES!!! The picture below is their roasted chicken salad crepe, which is served with baby green salad. You can see them make it with the cool crepe maker and it’s really fun. Oby_Crepe_ChickenEven when I drop by after dinner, I get this crepe below! Strawberry and whipped cream crepe! It’s very berry delicious! I one day took some of my friends and they LOVED the banana nutella crepe. That’s right. Bananas + Nutella = Heaven!Oby_Crepe_StrawberryThere’s one reason why other “coffee & wine” places around here can’t beat Oby Lee. WINE FOUNTAIN! I love thee, fountain. I am not a much of a drinker. However, I enjoy sipping on wine. The problem usually is that I end up getting drunk after a half glass. Oby Lee has solved this problem! You can purchase their wine card and charge it at the counter. This machine gives you three options: full glass, half glass and TASTING – my favorite! To people like me, it’s perfect! I can still taste 4 different wines and stay sober!Oby_FountainSo, bottoms up! Next time you visit Oby Lee, if you see me, come say hi! 🙂

[Restaurant Review] Lebanese Taverna – Arlington, VA

▣ Location: 5900 Washington Blvd, Arlington, VA 22202

▣ Tel: 703-241-8681

▣ Deli

▣ Yelp Rating: ★★★★☆ (as of September 18, 2012) – Click for more info!

I am very glad to be reviewing this place. It’s been a while since I posted on the blog and I’m so happy that it’s Lebanese Taverna today. 🙂

I found this deli on our picnic day this weekend. To me, picnic=food (go figure, what’s not about food? ;))! So we went to this deli to pick up some shawarma but I got so carried away that I ended up getting more than I could handle (again, this happens quite often). As you can see in the picture, the meat is prepared on a spit. To be completely honest, I don’t really know much about Arabic food so I can’t tell if the food was “authentic” but you know what? Who cares? It was so delicious! My grilled taouk (meaning chicken in Arabic) was heavenly as well.

I gotta say, their salad selections are excellent as well as their dip/sauce options. Like most delis, you can buy these sides by the pound. Some of my favorites include garlic-fried cauliflower, tabouleh, stuffed grape leaves, cous cous and anything with eggplant! Not to mention their garlic sauce, their salads are so fresh and refreshing. As I write this, my mouth is literally watering. You might end up spending 30 minutes there when you go pick up one thing, though. They have so much to offer – cookies, jam, wine, great beers, cheeses, dried fruit AND this awesome dessert called Halawa Chocolate , aka Halva. It is made from tahini so it’s dry, crumbly. Very rich in flavor but because of the dry texture(?), I couldn’t eat more than 4 small bites of it after lunch but it was so good that this might be my favorite chocolatty dessert now! Do you like Whoppers? It kind of tastes/feels like the malted milk inside, if you will.

If you are planning a weekend picnic with your family and if you live in Arlington or anywhere close enough, go to Lebanese Taverna and get yourselves some great lunch! I can’t wait to go back!

P.S. If you are looking for a quite, nice, beautiful picnic please, check out Mason Neck State Park!

[Restaurant Review] Thai Square – Arlington, VA

▣ Location: 3217 Columbia Pike, Arlington, VA 22204

▣ Tel: 703-685-7040

▣ Thai

▣ Yelp Rating: ★★★★☆ (as of August 22, 2012) – Click stars for more info!

……THE.BEST.THAI.RESTAURANT.OUTSIDE.OF.THAILAND……

Since I went to Thailand last year, I’ve fallen in love with Thai food. I would totally trade it with Korean food, which I grew up on my entire life until now. I even took a cooking class during the three week long trip in Chiangmai, Thailand. Absolutely fun! Now that I’m in the states, I see Thai restaurants literally everywhere. It wasn’t like this when I was here 5 years ago. In this case, “the more, the better” doesn’t necessarily work because you have too many to choose from! If you live in Arlington, your “which Thai restaurant do you want tonight?” problem is about to kiss goodbye to you. Thai Square it is!

The picture is my second favorite Thai dish: Floating Market Noodle Soup. Guess where they usually sell them? 😉 These noodles are Thai people’s comfort food and they don’t even cost a dollar in Thailand. You see small restaurants selling just this noddle soup quite easily. No other restaurant in the states has given me those fried noodles to go with this noodle soup so far but Thai Square knows how to serve this dish. I didn’t even ask for the fried noodles and honestly I didn’t even expect those when I opened the bag at home. You season it with fish sauce, pepper flakes and/or sugar, which are btw their staple condiments. It’s got so many different flavors that it tastes crazy! Sour, sweet, meaty, herby, salty, fishy, spicy and you name it!

What’s best here, though, is my favorite dish! Remember my first post on the blog? Fried rice with shrimp (←click for details)! The thing about that dish is that you can’t really mess it up. I haven’t had any bad experience with it. Plus, my coworkers are all hooked now! However, not messing up is one thing but being the best at cooking the best dish in the world is another! THEY KNOW THAI FOOD. Even their take-out/delivery food tastes goooooood!

Great service. Greater location. Greatest food. What more needs to be said? Do I get paid to advertise this restaurant (hmm.. that would be nice)? They don’t even know I write about them. I WANT EVERYONE TO TRY THIS RESTAURANT! That’s all.

Next time you go there, get a nice cold glass of Thai iced tea with your scrumptious meal!

[Restaurant Review] Philadelphia Mike’s – Arlington, VA

▣ Location: 1615 Crystal Square Arc., Arlington, VA

▣ Tel: 703-416-6640

▣ Deli/Sandwich

▣ Yelp Rating: ★★★☆☆ (as of July 7, 2012) – Click stars for more info!

This sandwich place located in a mall in Crystal City, owned by a nice Korean family, offers a steak sandwich that’s better than the “real” Philly cheese sandwich I got in Philadelphia years ago. Maybe expectations were too high?

Anyway, they were very quick to serve their food and the best part was the quality of their meat. They use thin slices of beef, which is somewhat similar to bulgogi meat (if you are familiar), and that could taste REALLY CHEAP a lot of times but they use good quality meat. It was not dry. It had a nice amount of veggies and the cheese on top wasn’t overflowing. Their sub rolls were nice and soft as well (personally, I am not a big fan of “baguette” style, hard bread).

One of the complaints I see online about this restaurant is that “their food is too bland”. I kind of understand where it’s coming from. Their food is not salty! It’s a good thing! To me, “American food” is usually very salty. This was perfect for me but I was thinking while eating there, ‘Hmm… Some jalapenos would be nice in the sandwich.” So if you think it’s too bland, ask them for a couple of pieces of jalapenos, which will give a nice kick without giving yourself a chance of a future hospital visit or two.

The mall isn’t all that great but if you are in the area, go check this restaurant out! Oh, and they have root beer on tap, which has become my favorite soda (I hardly every drink soda but I get a craving from time to time).

Stay inside! It’s over 100 degrees out here! Mother Earth is angry I think… Oh well, AC+watermelon evening!