Monday, May 30, 2011

Thai Iced Tea

It is HOT outside and feels like summer is already upon us. The best way to cope with the heat is a tall glass of Thai Iced Tea.

Every blog post I have about a Thai restaurant includes me ordering this AMAZINGLY delicious drink. It is strong-brewed black tea with other spices, which can include orange blossom water, star anise, crushed tamarind seed or food coloring. After adding sugar and dairy, it is a very refreshing and addictive drink.

I bought this kit at the Bangkok 54 market after lunch one afternoon for around $5. It makes 65 servings, which will save me a lot of $. The brand also sells the tea in individual tea bags, but only makes 30 servings. I'm sure you could find different brands of the tea at other Asian markets too.

This kits comes a bag of ground Thai tea leaves...

...and this cloth tea strainer (aka Spongebob's jelly fish net).

To make 8-10 servings:
1. Measure out 1/4 cup of the tea and pour it into the cloth strainer.

2. Brew it in 4 cups of very hot water (boiling is not necessary) for 3-5 minutes. It should turn a deep orange.
3. Add 1/2 cup of sugar.

4. Pour into a pitcher and let it cool.

5. Serve it over ice with a splash of half and half and ENJOY!
I found that it is better to double the recipe because it goes fast!

The box suggests trying the sweetened tea with lime, pineapple or lychee juice too. I haven't tried those yet, but sounds interesting.

If you don't have this strainer, I'm sure you could brew the tea like you would with any loose leaves. Or try using a tied up coffee filter or simple strain the leaves out before you serve.

Branded '72 - Rockville, MD

BBQ time! I brought my 2 girls with me to use my Living Social deal at Branded 72. Located in an industrial part of town, I've never noticed it before driving by. It has been around since 1972 and all of the meat is cooked Texas-style with hickory wood in an enclosed pit for 16-18 hours.
It has its own parking lot with the closest metro station being Shady Grove on the red line.

The interior looks a bit old fashioned. There are 2 sections: the bar has tables with a server, and the main dining area is open seating for the chow line.

There is a small sauce station with 3 BBQ sauces: Original Texas,  Roasted Habanero and Rockville Red #12. All of them were not spicy.

Lots of open seating available.

My cousin ordered the Barbecue Sliders (Three mini barbecue sandwiches and choice of two
homemade sides) for $10. She got the Smoked Corned Beef and Texas Beef Brisket with Mac N Cheese and Collared Greens. She wasn't crazy over her food.

My friend ordered the Texas Chili Bowl for $5. She said she liked it.

I ordered the Single Smoked Meat Plate (choice of meat, 2 sides and Texas toast) for $12. I went with the Texas Beef Brisket, Mac N Cheese and Collared Greens. I found the Mac N Cheese and Collared Greens bland. The brisket was decent, but I had to really pile on the sauces because it was drier  than I prefer.

It's great the place has been around for so long, but the atmosphere and staff was lacking energy. My cousin and I ordered pretty much the same thing and both of us found the food lacking flavor.

387 E Gude Dr
Rockville, MD 20850
(301) 340-8596
Branded 72 on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 16, 2011

Comet Ping Pong - Chevy Chase, DC

Pizza and ping pong anyone? The bf and cousin helped me use my Living Social deal at Comet Ping Pong. Interestingly enough, I had driven by this place a bazillion times going downtown, yet it was an episode of Food Network's Diners, Drive-In's and Dives that caught my attention. There is outdoor seating and ping pong tables when the weather is nice. There is street parking around the restaurant. The closest metro station is Tenleytown-AU on the red line.

I had no idea what to expect, but the decor reminded me of an 80's tennis court (?) The splotchy concrete and iron benches didn't make the place feel welcoming even though it is a chill place. I wonder if it looks cooler at night. It gets really loud with the concrete and metal throwing off the acoustics too.

The bf thought it was awesome that Bruce Lee was on the menu. If you haven't seen the clip of "him" playing ping pong with nunchucks, it's really tight.

The main focus of the menu is brick oven pizza, which comes in one size - around 10 inches. It's a good personal size. A limited amount of starters and desserts are also offered along with a full bar.

My cousin ordered The Hottie (Jalapeno, Comet Sauce, Pepperoni, Fontina) for $11. I don't mind fattiness, but do you see the puddle of grease? It wasn't spicy as the name would suggest either, and tasted like a typical pepperoni pizza. This was the bf's preference.

The bf ordered The Smoky (Smoky Mushrooms, Smoky Mozzarella, Smoky Bacon, melted onions, garlic) for $13. He wished there was marinara sauce (like on The Hottie) and found the flavors too smoky. This was my preference.

After seeing this pizza on TV, I ordered the Yalie (Fresh Clams, garlic, melted onions, Thyme, Parmesan, Lemon) for $15. It tasted fresh and it was a very different pizza, yet I found it a bit bland for my taste. This was my cousin's favorite.

We shared a dessert of Salted Caramel & Praline and Coconut ($5 for 2 scoops). The ice cream was made of local and organic ingredients. The texture was very creamy, but they both tasted very much the same, which was like vanilla. So that was disappointing.

Check out the back room! Who doesn't love free entertainment?

I lost every game we played after lunch but it was fun, and the boys had a blast.

As my pizza comments suggested, we all preferred someone else's pizza. So 2/3 of the way through the meal, we traded clockwise. The environment and concept is very different from other brick oven places in the city, but the pizza itself didn't shine. For the portion size, I found the price to be high. As a group, we felt the ping pong was the highlight of our lunch. The demographic is inclusive of everyone because there was a kid's birthday party at the same time yuppies were grabbing some drinks at the bar.

5037 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington, DC 20008
(202) 364-0404
Comet Ping Pong on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Bombay Bistro - Rockville, MD

The first time I had tried Indian food was at Bombay Bistro when I was probably 10 years old. It was one of the original Indian restaurants in the area. I decided to re-pay it a visit after all these years with one of my good friends.

There is parking in front and along the side of the restaurant. The closest metro station is Rockville on the red line.

The place is small on the inside with pretty simple decor. Our booth looked and felt a bit worn down though.

The menu consists of regional dishes from both the North and South of India.

My friend and I shared an appetizer of Aloo Tikki (Potato patties stuffed with spiced peas, served with assorted chutneys) for $5.95. We wanted something non-fried, and it was the 1st time I had heard of this item, and I liked it a lot. Nice consistency, and flavorful.

We both ordered Garlic Naan (leavened white flour bread with garlic) for $2.50. Each of them were the size of a small pizza. They had a lot of garlic and I appreciated the large portions.

I ordered the Saag Paneer (homemade cubes of cheese cooked with spinach) for $10.95, which was the closest thing to Palak Paneer (my fav!). However I've realized the difference between the dishes is what I'm not a fan of - the consistency. The Saag Paneer is thicker and I prefer the smoothness of the Palak Paneer. I also found this dish a bit bland.

My friend ordered the Lamb Rogan Josh (lamb cooked with an assortment of spices and
tomatoes) for $12.95. I liked it better than my dish because it had a lot of spices and was more flavored.  The presentation was cute with the candle. Both dishes were served with basmati rice.

Our server was helpful when we were trying to understand the dishes. The garlic naan was the highlight of our meal. I would probably order something else next time, though the assorted chutneys helped my dish a bit. I found the prices to be average for Indian food (low teens).

98 W Montgomery Ave
Rockville, MD 20850
(301) 762-8798
Bombay Bistro on Urbanspoon

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Bangkok 54 - Arlington, VA

I've missed you guys! It's been close to a month since I've posted (horrid). Life has been crazy busy but I'm back and ready to bring you along on my eating adventures. Let's go...

Many of my friends have considered Bangkok 54 their favorite Thai restaurant in the metro area, so I went with a couple of them to see for myself.

There is a front and back entrance with a small private lot behind the restaurant. The closest metro station is Pentagon City on the blue/yellow line.

The interior is very clean with a blend of Thai and contemporary decor. It's really cute in there.

The menu has a standard amount of items that I've seen at other Thai restaurants, but what makes them unique is their interpretation of the dishes. The food presentation was a nice bonus.

Thai Iced Tea!

I've included pics of my friends' dishes for visual reference.

We started off with 2 orders of Fresh Rolls (avocado, carrots, cucumber, fried tofu, lettuces, and vermicelli noodles) for $5.95. These are different than typical Spring Rolls and are AMAZING! The avocado makes this appetizer memorable. Next time I'm ordering one for myself and I'm not sharing.

Top: Green Papaya Salad (Shredded green papaya, peanut, tomatoes, garlic, dried baby shrimp, seasoned with chili, fish sauce and fresh lime juice) for $6.95. I've tried some that had too much fish sauce, but this was not the case here, when I tried a bite.

Bottom: Daily Special - Fried Soft Shell Crab. Beautiful presentation and great with the accompanied sauce.

Top: Roast Duck Curry (roasted duck, pineapple and cherry tomatoes in spicy red coconut-curry sauce) for $12.95. The pineapples were a great addition and I'm ordering this as my entree next time.

Bottom: Pork Belly Stew (I couldn't find this on the menu, so maybe it was a daily special). Reminded me of a Vietnamese dish that has whole boiled eggs with the pork. We all wished it was fattier.

Onto my my dish! I ordered the Penang Curry (panang curry in the light creamy coconut sauce with sweet basil served on top of steamed broccoli) for $10.95. I always order my curry with fried tofu because I like how it soaks up the sauce. I liked the curry sauce, but I thought there were too many crunchy vegetables.

We ordered some Mango and Sticky Rices for the table, which was a great way to end our meal. The rice was slightly salty, which added another element to the dessert.

Very minor observation, but we all agreed that the silverware was awkward to use because it was rounded.

The restaurant has a lounge and a market next door!

I got myself some delicious goodies and will have a short post on how to make Thai Iced Tea.

I had a great experience. The place was super cute, and not pretentious. The service was fast and nice. Everyone's dish was good! I was pointing out a few things I'd prefer with the dishes, but none of them tasted bad. I'm looking forward to coming back and trying dishes that other friends have suggested. I also ordered Pad See-Ew to-go for the bf and he thought it was exceptional.

2919 Columbia Pike
Arlington, VA 22204
Bangkok 54 on Urbanspoon