Category Archives: DC Area

Guapo’s @ Fairfax, VA

Final post on my noming adventures in DC area (for now).  I was super excited when my boyfriend wanted to take me to a Tex-Mex restaurant. He doesn’t usually like this type of cuisine, so we rarely go to these places.  However, he went once before and I guess he liked it, so he wanted to bring me here. I was very touched, haha.

Such a typical Tex-Mex store front

There are apparently a few Guapo’s located around DC area, and their website claims that its a family business. Their menu looked excitedly Tex-Mex too, or maybe all the Spanish is just throwing me off.  My boyfriend recommended the Carne Asada sizzling fajita, which was a 10 oz. marinated skirt steak, and he himself got the Camarones Brochette sizzling fajita, which was “Jumbo shrimp stuffed with cheese and jalapeno peppers, wrapped in bacon.” It was a promising meal.

Chips, salsa, and some sort of cilantro(?) spicy green sauce.

The chips and salsa were complimentary, which was awesome.  The salsa was very watery but had lots of chunky tomatoes.  The green sauce was hot, but flavorful.

It was sizzling indeed!

See the smoke in the picture? Our entrees came out sizzling hot with oil cracking, smoke and smells drifting, and butter in the air.  It reminded me of the “hot plate pepper beef” dishes you could order in Taiwan, which was also sputtering with butter and came out sizzling hot.  The food made a spectacular entrance, which I loved.

Shrimp!

The shrimp came sizzling too, although not as exaggerated as my steak.  The shrimp look really, really big in the picture due to it being wrapped in bacon, which was also awesome.  Both entrees came with melted butter in that little metal cup, onions and pepper beneath the meat, guacamole (which I swear they added cream to it), sour cream, and some chopped up tomatoes that can barely be called a salsa.

Pinto beans and Mexican rice

Each fajita came with a bowl of delicious pinto beans, Mexican rice, and 3 flour tortillas (not pictured).  The flour tortillas were kind of thick, in my opinion, but super soft and fluffy so I liked it.  I got to taste one of the shrimps, and they were fat, juicy (from the bacon), crunchy, and exactly what I would want from my shrimp.  It was GOOD.  However, it was lacking in cheese or jalapenos… I could only taste the bacon and shrimp.

Tastey, tastey steak fajita

So about the steak… man, that was a good steak.  Marinated to the core, tender and juicy, I was pleasantly surprised by how good it was. Also, there were some grilled jalapenos on the side and we cut those open and put it into our fajitas too.

However, after finishing my meal, I noticed that the meal was not very… Mexican, or Tex-Mex.  Maybe I don’t know what Tex-Mex is supposed to be like, but in terms of flavors the meal was mostly salty, buttery, and meaty.  In fact, I almost feel like the steak was marinated in soy sauce or something.  The onion and peppers and tomatoes didn’t really have any flavor.  I imagine Mexican food to be salty and sour, and tastes like cilantro, lime, or tomatoes.  Another complaint is that despite the fact I loved the sizzling part, I hated the oil pooling at the bottom, covering my onions and peppers in oil (butter?) too. I guess one can’t ask for too much.

Overall, despite not being what I expected it to be, the meal was amazing and tastey.  That’s probably why my boyfriend like this place, now that I think about it.  I would definitely ask him to bring me back here again. =D

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Sprinkles @ Georgetown

I have been waiting SO LONG to do this post. There are so many things I have to say, not just about the amazing cupcakes I had at Sprinkles. To begin, let me describe to you what my impression is about the food blog/sites that I usually hang out at.

I have an obsession for food, obviously, and the best way to deal with the obsession other than eating food is to go on sites like food gawker and taste spotting.  These are sites that have a lot of users posting to it constantly with beautiful photography of food that looks and probably tastes amazing.  Now when I first entered this blogging-sphere, I was excited to submit photos from my blog to food gawker, hoping to share my food obsession.

I was rejected. Sadly.

Of course, what I didn’t realize was that there was actually a standard for the photos submitted to food gawker, hence why the pictures are always gorgeous (some more gorgeous than others). Now, I’m not someone who is particularly interested in photography as a hobby. Pictures are nice, and pictures of food are even better. That was my relationship with photography before. But now that I have this blog, I began to realize that having people read my blog is harder than it seems. If I had prettier pictures, and was able to submit to sites like food gawker, I would get more traffic and all that jazz. But I’m not interested in photography.

And that’s the thing that irks me. I feel so pressured to buy a fancy camera with fancy lenses, set up a photo shoot studio for my cooking/baking products just because I want to maintain a food blog. I feel pressured to pick up photography as a hobby, just like all of those other successful blogs other there. I don’t want to do it. I just want to share food pictures/recipe.

So in defiance, I started to follow a few blogs with mediocre photography, people who obviously don’t have DSLRs like me. Yet, I soon lost interest in those blogs. Why? It was simple: the pictures were not appealing. Hanging out in those parts of the food community had “trained” my brain into wanting perfectly lit pictures with the perfect composition and colors. I now realize that people don’t take gorgeous pictures of food because they are snobby with their fancy 600 dollar DSLRs and 600 dollar lenses. People take these pictures because well lit, well composed food photography is better than pictures taken from your phone’s camera. Maybe I’m not interested in photography as a subject for the sake of photography, but I’m all for food photography.

In light of this, I took the chance of meeting up with my boyfriend to do a photo shoot with his DSLRof these tastey cupcakes I got from Sprinkles.  Its my first time using his camera without his help, hence the lack of skill/proper lighting.  I didn’t know what I was doing, and I didn’t know how to read numbers to make sure lighting wasn’t off (which most of them were).  However, I did want to play with focus and composition and whatnot, so that’s what the pictures are mainly about.

To the cupcakes: I got a banana chocolate cupcake and a chocolate marshmallow cupcake.  The first one was basically a banana cake with milk chocolate butter cream on top, and the second one is a dark chocolate cupcake with dark chocolate butter cream/ganache (?) with a little bit of marshmallow filling in the middle.

These cupcakes were amazing, just like the ones in Vanilla Pastry Studio. (On a side note, I can’t believe I haven’t reviewed that place yet!) I think I liked the chocolate marshmallow one better simply because I love dark chocolate.  However, the banana cupcake itself was very good: fragrant, banana-y, soft and fluffy. It might have contained some banana chunks, I wasn’t sure, but it definitely smelled like bananas. I also liked that neither of the cupcakes have too much butter cream; that stuff can be too rich or too sweet, and I loved the subtle flavors that wasn’t being covered by the sweetness. However, there was a strange aftertaste for the banana cupcake… I wasn’t sure if it was because they used some sort of banana extract or what.

The chocolate marshmallow cupcake was disappointing in the fact that I was expecting an actual marshmallow or marshmallow phlough-like thing.  It turns out it was just “marshmallow cream,” as their site tells me. If you think about it, isn’t that just corn syrup, vanilla, and heavy cream? After all, that’s what you would be tasting in homemade marshmallows, unless you added some sort of extract or oil to it. Still, the dark chocolate is very well executed. It was not to sweet and had a deep chocolate taste.

Bottom line? I love their cupcakes.  They are good. I will hopefully be getting some more when I visit my brother at La Jolla. =)

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Ray’s Hell Burger

Its been a while since I have reviewed a restaurant.  Honestly, its because I don’t have money.  =(  I try my hardest not to eat out even though I have all the time in the world to now.  Ironic, isn’t it?

This past weekend, I spent my time with my boyfriend down at DC area.  He lives in the faaar suburbs of Virginia, but we did go into Washington DC for a while.  Since he is a picky eater, I always have a hard time choosing restaurants for the both of us to go to.  However, burgers are always a safe bet, and since Serious Eats posted “the best of Washington DC” the day that I left for DC, how could I not visit Ray’s Hell burger?

I was expecting a nice place, but it turns out its just a small fast food-like store

Anyway, their menu is extensive, in terms of burger eating, but also tiny, in terms of the restaurant.  They do have two very special items that I knew immediately I would be getting: bone marrow ($5) and foie gras ($10).  I am not fond of the taste of liver (although I have never tried foie gras) so I decided to go with the bone marrow topping.  My boyfriend chose their normal cheeseburger (called The Mack) but it comes with their special sauce.

THE MACK – American Cheese, Beefsteak Tomato, Lettuce, Pickle, Red Onion – RAY’S HECK SAUCE

A very regular burger, but a very juicy and tastey regular burger.

THE DOGCATCHER-Roasted Bone Marrow, Persillade, Lettuce and Tomato + Roasted Garlic

See that huge chunk of meat-like slab? That’s the bone marrow, and let me tell you – its the best thing on a burger ever.

I didn’t try my boyfriend’s burger, but mine was definitely more than amazing.  The seasoning was spot on, the roasted garlic was crispy and fragrant, and, oh my god, the bone marrow.  Fatty, juicy, everything bone marrow is supposed to be, but also intensified the flavor of the burger patty. The bun was store bought, and tomatoes are just tomatoes… but the bone marrow with the patty, seriously.  If you ever have the chance to try the two together, DO IT.  It was probably the best thing I have had in DC area.

At this place, if you ask for medium rare, you get medium rare.  My boyfriend’s patty was raw in the center browned and cooked on the outside.  I stupidly asked for medium well, so it was a little dry on the tongue, but still incredibly flavorful and somehow still juicy.  I would go fro medium next time.

I do some complaints about this place though.  Apparently they’re not very good at remembering your order.  I asked for Cognac & Sherry Sautéed Mushrooms, which were not present on the burger.  I’m not sure if the persillade was even on my burger, and Ray’s heck sauce might have not been present on my boyfriend’s burger either.  This is definitely not just a single instance, because apparently one of his friends have also ordered bacon to go with his burger but it wasn’t on the burger when it arrived.  He even paid for it too.  And their fries are terrible.  Outright terrible.  It tastes like campus food.  Leathery, a little undercooked but also strangely over cooked at the same time.  Not seasoned, not potato-y, but costs like $2?? What’s with that?? I have heard that their sweet potato fries are amazing though, but my boyfriend doesn’t eat sweet potatoes so we weren’t able to get them.

Bottom line, I would, without a doubt, come back to this place again.  I want to try some of their other burger combinations, but I would stay away from those nasty fries, and probably be more attentive about the toppings I asked for.

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Matchbox: Chinatown

So I was in Washington DC two weeks ago.  My friend and I road tripped there (which almost got ourselves killed… sort of…) and I was at the Smithsonian and Washington Monument and such and such.  Touristy things aside, we went to Matchbox: Chinatown because it was really highly rated on yelp.  It was 3 o’clock when we arrived and we were starved by then.  The place looked small from the outside, but on the inside they had very interesting interior design.  You could see the pizza grill at the back.  All the tables had little match boxes placed in it, and overall the atmosphere was nice.

Mini burgers with a ridiclous amount of onion straws on top <3

So adorable

Matchbox is famous for their mini burgers and their pizzas, so we decided to get one of each and share.  There are 3 options for mini burgers: 3, 6, or 9 burgers, and it can be topped with gouda, mozzarella, or gorgonzola cheese.  Also, it comes with a lot of fried onions (which they called onion straws because of the thin cut), topped with grated cheese.  We got 6 mini burgers, and they were a lot more filling than we had expected.  I thought the burgers were only okay.  The brioche bread was very thick and dense, and I had a hard time getting my mouth around the burger to begin with (as small as it was).  I didn’t find it very well seasoned or anything.  Then again, I also had a heat stroke at that time so maybe that dulled my senses.  But my, those onion straws were the best onion rings (?) I’ve ever had in my life.  They were so… onion-y.  I love onions, and somehow they were really able to bring out the onion flavor.  One small piece and it saturates all your senses with onion flavor, with a hint of cheese.  The balance of cheese and onion flavor was perfect.  This dish is definitely worth getting, even if its just for the onion straws.  I wish they would sell the onion straws as an appetizer all by itself, but they do not.  =(  We cleaned the plate, and all that was left was shreds of grated cheese.

 

 

Pizza - half matchbox meat half sweet sopresatta & wild mushroom

Matchbox is a pizza bistro, so of course we ordered pizza.  They served NY style pizza.  I believe we got a big pizza, half of it was matchbox meat (pepperoni / spicy italian sausage / crispy bacon /
zesty tomato sauce / mozzarella) and half of it was sweet sopresatta & wild mushroom (with fresh herbs / zesty tomato sauce / mozzarella).  Sopresatta is a kind of cured salami, apparently.  The pizza was really good.  It was thin, which I liked, and the crust at the edges were a little bit burnt which made it crunchy.  The proportion of topping, sauce, and crust was really good.  I liked both pizzas, and I would definitely come back for more.

Unfortunately, even though it was not a busy hour, we still had to wait a long time for our food.  Perhaps it was because we ordered “well done” for our burgers, and that the pizzas take a while to bake regardless of what kind of pizza we ordered.  I was slightly annoyed at this because I was so hungry, but the food was definitely worth it.  If I ever went to Washington DC again I would come back for more.

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