[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!

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[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!

Samgyeopsal, Ultimate Meatlovers’ Dish

Samgyeopsal!

The picture up there said it all. Pure delight in your mouth. Every single person in Korea has had this and vegan population in Korea is pretty insignificant probably because samgyeopsal is so irresistible!! You can’t go vegan with this meat cooking right in front of you!

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What’s cooking on the pan:

– Meat: Go to any Asian grocery store (in my case, I go to H-Mart) and look for “sliced pork belly”. It is basically thicker bacon meat that’s not cured or smoked. Frozen samgyeopsal works just fine too.

– Garlic: Slice garlic cloves and just throw them in the pan with the meat. No rules.

Kimchi: Yup. Kimchi it is. Even if you might like the strong taste of kimchi normally, you will be pleasantly surprised with the amazing taste of cooked kimchi. Trust me and try this.

– Pan? Your regular non-stick frying pan works fine but if you want to get a little fancy, try your breakfast griddle! It seems that someone made it just for samgyeopsal without telling anyone this secret! *Warning: lots of grease!

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“Triple-S” Salad – Spicy, Sweet and Sour!

It’s got all the flavors that you can imagine. Just grab a bag of any lettuce at the supermarket. I usually get red leaf and a mix of other greens. All you have to do is to toss it with this mind-blowing dressing!

Pepper flakes (2) + Soy sauce (2) + Fish sauce (1, optional) + Honey(1) + Vinegar (2) + Sugar (2) + Minced Garlic (1) + A hint of sesame oil

After tossing it nicely in a big bowl, if you are into a nice presentation, sprinkle some sesame seeds! ALL DONE!

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SoMac! = Soju + Maekju (Beer, in Korean)

A complete Samgyeopsal meal is finally served with some SoMac! Soju can be purchased pretty much at any ABC store in Virginia for $4-$6 a bottle (it’s kinda sad because it’s less than a dollar in Korea). 😦 Anyway, watch these people make SoMac. ->; So Cool! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JL6oWNgAZNs

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No exaggeration. Not a month goes by without Samgyeopsal in Korea. If you have a regular job, not a week goes by without it. This is meat lovers’ ultimate pilgrimage so you should try it some time. If it’s too much headache for you to do it at home, go find any Korean style BBQ restaurant. It is one of those things that you can’t really mess up! Enjoy!

Make your own pickles! Don’t forget Soju!

There’s nothing easier than making home-made pickles! The pickled cucumbers are traditional ones that you see in the supermarket. However, the sexy, dark one on the right side is what I call “Grandma Pickles“! You know why they are great? Even my grandma, who is a notorious cook, can make these pickles and they are so yummy! So anyone can make them and they taste heavenly especially with BBQ’d meat! I usually put these pickles on the table when we have samgyeopsal! That’s a cut of pork belly and it’s gonna have to be another seperate post, if not, a book!

Here’s the simplest secret recipe >>>>>> vinegar : sugar : soy sauce : soju = 1 : 1 : 1 : 1 

You can put them all in a pot and boil. When it gets to a boil, turn it off and wait a couple minutes for it to cool down. You wanna pour the yumminess onto cut-up veggies when it’s still hot. Obviously, use a glass jar. 😉

You can pretty much pickle ANYTHING. In the picture are banana peppers (which I love!) and onions. I put a couple of garlic cloves and a few pieces of jalapenos for the flavor as well. My mom sometimes uses carrots, cucumbers and radish too, which are all great. If you don’t like anything too salty, add a half portion of water. 😉

What’s different here is the thing called SOJU! Soju is a what I call “Korean vodka”. It doesn’t really have any strong taste but Korean people for some reason seem to love this. It usually has 20% alcohol and people drink it out of shotglasses, usually in a “bottoms-up” pace. They say “Gun-Bay” or “One Shot” before they empty their glasses. How old you are really matters in Korea so if you are younger, you have to pour soju with two hands. It’s all about showing respect. It’s a dollar in Korea but you gotta pay at least $5 a bottle here in the states, depending on where you are. Most ABC stores in VA carry them so maybe get two bottles and use one for your pickels and the other for some dinner entertainment!

If you do make my GRANDMA PICKLES, keep me posted! Let me know how they come out 🙂

[Restaurant Review] Sushi Naru – Alexandria, VA

▣ Location: 540 John Carlyle St., Alexandria, VA 22314

▣ Tel: 703-535-5540

▣ Sushi / Roll / Asian Cuisine

▣ Yelp Rating: ★★★★☆ (as of July 25, 2012) – Click stars for more info!

 

I work in Alexandria, VA. Even though I work right off King Street, which is full of great restaurant options, I try not to go too far because I have so much S*** to do every day!!!

Me and my girls today decided to go back to this sushi restaurant nearby AGAIN because we all loved it so much last week. Sushi Naru!

I’ve never been there for dinner but according to one of the attorneys in my office, this place has some amazing tofu salad. Anyway, we get their lunch buffet.

Not only do they have fantabulous sushi/roll options, but they also have a “hot food” section – bulgogi, lomein, fried tofu, mussels, dumplings, and heavenly miso soup! Miss F (not gonna mention her full name) had never had miso soup in her life until this afternoon. She fell in love with it, had two full bowls of it and she still couldn’t stop talking about it. That’s how darn good it was! Another good thing about this place is that you can accommodate lots of different needs – meat lovers, seafood lovers, and even vegetarians!

They are very hospitable and quick to serve you. It gets quite hectic during their lunch buffet hours, but that’s a good sign. And one thing about this place is that it doesn’t feel cheap. I am sad to say this but some Asian all-you-can-eat places could be kinda (or sometimes REALLY) crappy. However, it actually feels nice to sit there and enjoy your meal at Sushi Naru. My girls were all about their lamps, whether they could be from IKEA or Crate and Barrel.

I might go there for dinner to see what it’s like some time soon!

Next time you are near King Street, come check this place out. You might catch me with my coworkers talking about very important stuff like “where did you get those cute earrings?” 😉