Rick’s NC BBQ

Rick’s NC BBQ
5482 Southern Maryland Boulevard
Lothian, MD  20711
410.741.0227

Rick’s NC BBQ is owned by Ricardo, but Ms. Chrissy and her son, Michael, runs the place.  This small carry-out place offers BBQ pork ribs, sandwiches (pit beef, chicken salad, chicken breast, rib sandwich, and rib dog), NC pulled pork, fried/baked chicken, chicken strips, wings, shrimp, BBQ meat by the pint, kid options (nuggets), various sides (cole slaw, wedges, beans, corn nuggets, mac n cheese, collard greens, and potato salad), and party tray/catering options.

The hubs and I came here for lunch, and we tried the following:  1/2 Slab of Ribs Platter (this is dry-rubbed, the ribs were pretty okay, but a little too fatty for our liking – we’d probably ask for a leaner cut next time; comes with the NC vinegar sauce as well as the sweet sauce; the platter also comes with your choice of 2 sides (we opted for corn nuggets and collard greens; the corn nuggets were little deep-fried nuggets filled with cheese and sweet corn – more sweet than savory; the collard greens was fantastic with the vinegar sauce, as it gives that nice little Old Bay kick to it – was pretty addicting!); NC Pulled Pork (cooked perfectly, this was super moist and had some nice exterior crispies – great with the sweet sauce, but the hubs preferred the vinegar sauce); a 4 oz Pit Beef Sandwich (I absolutely LOVED LOVED LOVED this sandwich!

I’ve tried the pit beef in Baltimore, and I was just not a fan; however, Rick’s version was juicy and flavorful, in thick-cut slices, and the 3 sauces that came with (the chipotle, the creamy horseradish, and the sweet sauce) just pushed this sandwich out to another dimension!!!). The bun that was used (Martin’s Potato Roll, I believe), was soft and fresh, and really held the meat well together.  This was super delicious, that I had to get the bigger version, the ‘7 oz Big Momma Pit Beef Sandwich, with extra sauce, of course!!!

We also tried the Chicken Platter (this was more of like a baked chicken – thin crispy skin, seasoned well, but very simple and not greasy; I just wished there was some type of a better hot sauce than Tabasco!; this also came with a choice of 1 side, so we opted for the mac-n-cheese (I wasn’t a fan of this, as it wasn’t a thick creamy kind that I usually prefer it being).

We added some wedges (a little less crispy, but you can request them to be prepared more crispier), beans (slightly sweeter, I enjoyed the little bits of white onion throughout), and the potato salad (more egg-y and tangy, this was creamy and yummy).

To wash it all down, we had their house-brewed Sweet Tea – this was quite refreshing with the perfect amount of sweetness!

Service was super friendly – Ms. Chrissy and her son, Michael, were sooo incredibly sweet and awesome!

This little gem is worth checking out!  I can’t wait to go back to get more of their Pit Beef sandwiches and try out their fried seafood and wings!

+Pit Beef sandwich with the 3 sauces!!!
+Sweet Tea
+Collared Greens with vinegar sauce
+Potato Salad
+Beans
+Corn Nuggets
+ask for Ms. Chrissy and Michael
+friendly staff!

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Rivera’s Restaurant

Rivera’s Restaurant
6552 Backlick Road
Springfield, VA  22150
703.451.5344

Rivera’s Restaurant is a small little Latin restaurant offering appetizers (such as pupusas, yuca fritas, taquitos, ceviches, etc.), soups, tacos, pollo a la brasa, fajitas, fish/chicken/seafood dishes, and daily lunch specials.

I tried their #38, which was the Lomo Saltado de Carne (you can also opt for chicken instead), that came with a side of yummy fluffy rice and beans.  This was an extremely generously-sized plate, with super flavorful sauteed beef strips with red onion slices and sliced tomatoes – this dish was absolutely DELICIOUS!!!  The beef was juicy, and the sauteed onions were just lovely!

You also receive two bottles of green and the aji sauce.  The aji sauce, while more mustard-y, was a perfect pairing for the lomo saltado dish!

We also tried a Pupusa de Queso, a cheese pupusa – this was a bit forgettable, as there wasn’t much cheese within, and the exterior wasn’t as crispy as I usually like it to be.

The hubs and I also tried their horchata, which was had the perfect creaminess, not-too-grainy, with a nice little kick of cinnamon – very refreshing!

One thing I thought was hilarious was that the restaurant had 2 TVs, one playing K-dramas, dubbed in Spanish – it was super entertaining!

Service was super sweet and friendly – Ms. Mirna and Ms. Damaris were both wonderful!  I’ll definitely be back for their lomo saltado as well as to try out their pollo a la brasa!

+#38 Lomo Saltado de Carne
+mustard-y aji sauce!
+Horchata!
+ask for Ms. Mirna and Ms. Damaris
+friendly staff!
+dubbed K-drama (!!!)

The Sushi Bar

The Sushi Bar
2312 Mount Vernon Avenue
Alexandria, VA  22301
571.257.3232
Daily, 5 PM – 12 AM
http://www.sushidelray.com/

WHERE HAVE I BEEN FOR THE PAST 2 YEARS?!  I never knew that The Sushi Bar had been part of the Del Ray neighborhood for a couple of years now.

This small, unassuming sushi restaurant with a small obscure sign, owned by Chef Saran (also known as ‘Chef Peter’, who apparently trained under Chef Hiroyuki Sakai, my most favorite Iron Chef of all time!!!) Kannasute, offers literally one of the best ‘contemporary’/’creative’ omakase that I’ve experienced!!!

The hubs and I came here for a little date night, and calling in advance, found out that the restaurant does not take any reservations – first come, first serve.  When we arrived, we only waited for about a few minutes to sit at the sushi bar in the back.  While waiting, we were served some water as well as the menu to look over.

The hubs and I decided to go with the omakase – and, I’m so glad that we did!!!  We started off with some authentic Japanese Kobe tataki (!!!), with some microgreens and a house sweet sauce – slightly seared, the Kobe was cooked perfectly and subtly tasted grilled; Blue Fin tuna with some duck pate and tobiko; salmon belly nigirizushi with fresh ginger sauce; some bluefin tuna tataki with sesame; toro tataki with some garlic ponzu, carpaccio sauce, spicy sesame oil, and schichimi togarashi; and, a tower of fatty tuna, sea urchin, monkfish pate, tobiko, garlic ponzu, and chili lime sauce.  The uni/sea urchin was literally one of the most freshest, most creamiest, and the most delicious uni I’ve head in ages – it had such a clean and wonderful taste, I was super pleasantly surprised!  The eel?  Perfectly grilled and had the perfect ratio of the sauce.  None of our plates needed a dip in the soy sauce or anything – everything was perfect seasoned, dressed, and drizzled on!

For dessert, we were presented with a black sesame ice cream on a crispy phyllo bird’s nest – super amazing!!!  The crispy phyllo nest had a lovely drizzle of honey, and the black sesame ice cream was not too sweet and a great complement – a wonderful way to finish the meal!

Each plate was beautifully-presented, creative, had great attention to detail, and all the fish was just super fresh and wonderful – you can really taste the quality!

Chef Kannasute and Chef JJ were both super sweet, friendly, and welcoming, and the staff (Kirin, Ashley, and Nathan) were all just super awesome and attentive!!!  The hubs and I were both huge fans and really believe that this is literally the best restaurant in VA!!!

Even better, the omakase also changes, so just let the Chef know and he’ll always provide a different, creative offering the next time!!!

Just note that the sushi bar has only 6 seats, so you may have some wait – however, it’s totally worth it!  I also LOVE the fact that this place is 18+, so no screaming/whining kids (there may be some adults doing these acts, but that’s a whole another story AHAHA).  The restaurant has a deep red decor, is clean, small, and cozy.

Definitely check this gem of a sushi restaurant out – you will NOT be disappointed!!!

+order the omakase!!!
+contemporary and creative = keep that in mind!
+super fresh fish!!!
+black sesame ice cream for dessert!
+ask for Chef Kannasute and Chef JJ
+ask for Kirin, Ashley, and Nathan
+18+ only!
+limited street parking off of Mount Vernon
+located in between Holy Cow and Pork Barrel

Han Dynasty

Han Dynasty
90 3rd Avenue
New York, NY  10003
212.390.8685
Mondays – Wednesdays, Sundays, 11:30 AM – 10:30 PM
Thursdays – Saturdays, 11:30 AM – 11 PM
http://www.handynasty.net/

Han Dynasty is a Sichuan restaurant chain based in Philly.  The hubs and I stopped by to check this place out, as we had heard that they were famous for their dan dan noodles.

Their menu was pretty extensive, offering appetizers (such as pork belly with sweet chili oil sauce, beef & trip in chili oil, spicy crispy cucumber, etc.), soups, noodle dishes, fried rice, various entrees (dry pot, cumin-focused, etc.), specials (ginger duck, spicy tofu fish, spicy hot pot, etc.), vegetables, and lunch specials.

We got an order of the Dan Dan Noodle as well as an order for the Cold Sesame Noodles.  YUM!  The Dan Dan Noodle was super spicy, but the flavor was pretty good – the noodles were slightly overcooked, but I am thinking because of the heat from the sauce, as this is a hot noodle dish.  This is probably one of the best dan dan noodle I’ve had!

The Cold Sesame Noodles was also unbelievably good, and the hubs remarked on how it is one of the best cold sesame noodles he’s had!  The noodles were cooked perfectly al dente, and the sesame sauce was just so peanuty and yummy!

I highly suggest in ordering both of these noodle dishes, as the Cold Sesame Noodles is a way to ‘cool’ off your tongue after eating the spicy Dan Dan Noodle!

Note that the menu rates the spiciness level from 1-10 (the Dan Dan Noodle is rated at a 6 – no joke!).

Service was a little on the slower end but friendly, so just be persistent in waving them down if you need anything!  I can’t wait to go back!

+Cold Sesame Noodle
+Dan Dan Noodle
+spiciness level is noted on the menu

Ninth Street Espresso

Ninth Street Espresso
Lombardy Hotel
109 East 56th St
New York, NY  10022
646.559.4793
Mondays – Fridays, 7 AM – 7 PM
Saturdays & Sundays, 8 AM – 5PM
http://www.ninthstreetespresso.com/

The Ninth Street Espresso is considered the first quality-driven, specialty coffee bar in the city.  They are located between the Harlow and the Lombardy Hotel, and have a very small, but honest menu – since this is a coffee place, they offer what they are known for: coffee!  Brewed coffee, iced coffee, espresso, and espresso with milk (they also have tea, too).

Underneath the cash register, there is a little case of pastries from Balthazar’s: plain and almond croissants, danishes, and muffins.

I had the espresso with milk and an almond croissant.  The espresso came with a cute heart art on top – very strong, but very tasty, and probably one of the best espressos I’ve had!

The almond croissant was also nice, as it was pretty large, had a nice caramelized/crunchy crust with slivers of almond, and it was perfect with the cup of espresso.

The baristas here are friendly, professional, and really take care in making a perfect cup (you can see that in how they prepare the beverage for you!).  Definitely a cute place to stop by to get some caffeine!

+delicious espresso with milk
+Balthazar pastries (almond croissant)

Cocoron

Cocoron
61 Delancey Street
New York, NY  10002
212.925.5220
Tuesdays – Saturdays, 12 PM – 3 PM, 6 PM – 11 PM
Sundays, 12 PM – 3 PM, 6 PM – 10:30 PM
http://www.cocoron-soba.com/

I’ve been wanting to try out Cocoron for a while, a little soba shop owned by Yoshihito Kida.

This small eatery has few tables and a wrap-around counter seating, and offers appetizers, salads, kobachi, cold and warm soba, vegetarian soba options, and desserts.

I really liked the cute little characters, decorating the menu as well as the chopsticks.

The hubs and I shared a Yokozuna Dip Soba, which was a miso-based broth that comes out bubbling, filled with vegetables and meat.  It was saltier and slightly thicker, but the saltiness is offset by being paired wonderfully with the perfectly-cooked soba noodles.  Some just dump the whole noodles into the broth, but those who like to eat dainty-ly, dip the noodles in it.

Once you are done, you are given a little jar of hot soba water where you ‘dilute’ the leftover/remaining broth.  This changes the taste of the broth completely, which you can now drink it more of like a soup (called ‘soba-yu’).

I’ve only had cold soba noodles before, but this dip version is just so delicious and much more preferable!  The broth is super flavorful, and it really warms you up – perfect for cold weather or if you’re sick!

Service is super friendly and super sweet, and once you’re done, you are given some hot green tea.

I highly recommend in avoiding the bathroom, as it is super small, unisex, and the heater is on non-stop (I almost passed out!) – just use it to wash your hands!

Another note is that this place is cash only.  I can’t wait to go back!

+Yokozuna Dip Soba
+Soba-yu (dilute with soba water with remaining broth to sip)
+friendly staff
+avoid the bathroom!
+cash only

Hush Supper Club

Hush Supper Club
Washington, DC
Fridays, Saturdays, & Sundays by reservation only
http://www.hushsupperclub.com/

Hush Supper Club is an underground Gujarati Jain Indian supper club in the DC area.  You can only get ‘invited’ to partake in the dinner once you apply (yes, you actually have to submit a mini application answering some questions and a photo of yourself)!  This is a way for the host to get to know a little bit about you (and make sure that you are not some psycho) as well as strategically plan for an interesting group of unique individuals.

The location, time, and menu are all divulged on the morning of your reserved date (offered usually on the weekends) and you get to have supper with 11 other attendees.

The experience itself is about 6+ hours (which goes by unbelievably quickly with the stimulating, intellectual conversations on culinary traditions, culture, and religion) while enjoying a set course menu (you can advise of any food allergies/aversions).

We had Kachori with Cilantro Chutney & Tamarind Chutney (little spherical samosas), Chana Chaat (fresh, delicious, and addicting!), Masoor Dal, Saffron Pulao with Cashews and Peas, Makai no Chino, Green Beans with Peanuts (one of my absolute favorites, this had perfectly-cooked al dente green beans with a bit of a salty kick to it), Spinach Parathas (thin and spicy, a great way to dip into your sauces), Cucumber and Mint Raita (great to add a saucy addition to the items), a cup of Masala Chai (not sweet but perfectly spiced and soothing), and Sheero (creamy and multiple kicks from the spice).

The menu changes often, but each dish was fresh, flavorful, and delicious!

The atmosphere was relaxed and fun, and it was definitely a one-of-a-kind dining experience – we absolutely LOVED it!

Definitely check this supper club out – you will learn a lot and meet very interesting people, and I’m so glad that there’s a club like this one, right here in DC!

+underground supper club
+homemade Gujarati Jain cuisine
+great cultural experience!
+6+ dining experience
+mini application process required

Kobe Japanese Steak House

Kobe Japanese Steak House
860 Capital Centre Boulevard
Upper Marlboro, MD  20774
301.333.5555
Daily, 11:30 AM – 10 PM
http://www.kobeJS.com

There are actually 7 locations (Upper Marlboro, MD; Largo, MD; White Marsh, MD; Leesburg, VA; Martinsburg, WV; Grandville, MI; and, Kansas City, MO).  This one is located in the mall, the Boulevard at Capital Centre (across from Cold Stone Creamery).

The menu offers different hibachi options and sushi and specialty rolls (each location has their own special line of rolls, so be sure to check out the menu carefully).

When we walked in, we were seated promptly at one of the teppanyaki tables.  My husband and I decided to share the Dynamite roll from the ‘Appetizers’ section, which is described as the ‘#1 seller’ – it is deep fried with salmon, tuna, and red snapper, drizzled with a nice tangy Japanese mayo and a spicy sauce – it had a great batter on it, and it was actually pretty tasty (I was also pleasantly surprised to see that the sushi chef was Japanese!)!

For our entrees, we picked the Hibachi Filet Mignon – this came with the mushroom soup (I usually pass this on to the hubsters), salad with ginger dressing (loved the dressing as it was very tasty and was served with a great amount (I love it when the lettuce is literally swimming in it!), 2-piece shrimp appetizer (juicy and delicious), stir-fried vegetables, noodles (slightly on the sweeter side; it has been a while since I’ve seen a hibachi place offering noodles as part of the hibachi experience!), and, fried rice (at an extra charge; otherwise, you can opt for steam rice instead).

Our chef was Moddy, who stated that he was from Indonesia – he had a great laugh and was quite entertaining.  The onion volcano didn’t work (which is my favorite part), but the food was seasoned and served up wonderfully!

All the items were delicious, and there was a LOT of food – I was impressed at how much meat they gave you, as I thought they made a mistake in adding an extra filet!  I loved how generous they were with the meal – my husband finished up all of his (amazing), but I still had plenty of leftovers for the next day.

Our server was Ms. Regina, who was such a sweetheart, and she checked up on us throughout our dinner.  This place was happening, even on a Monday night – you can tell that this place is a favorite, and the fact that it was even busy at the beginning of the week shows you how well this place does!  I found out from Moddy that it was Korean-owned, so that was interesting to know! Definitely a great experience and a wonderful find, I’m glad I was able to check this place out – I will definitely be back!

+Hibachi Filet Mignon!

o1

Savvy Treats

Savvy Treats
90 West Montgomery Avenue
Rockville, MD  20850
202.422.5173
Tuesdays – Saturdays, 11 AM – 7 PM
Closed Mondays & Tuesdays
http://www.savvytreats.com/

Savvy Treats is a small little bakery in Rockville that offers cakes, cupcakes, mini cupcakes, and breads.  They recently added some pies (such as the pumpkin pie, pecan pie, and the apple) as well.

Owned by  Ms. Cheryl, who is the most personable individual ever, she was super sweet and made sure that we got everything we were looking for!

Ms. Cheryl mentioned that there were some fresh mini cannolis, so I had to get myself one of those!  I also got some of their cupcakes (Chocolate Peppermint Truffle, Red Velvet, Toffee Crunch, and Salty Caramel), as well as an assortment of their holiday sugar cookies (mitten-/candy cane-/gingerbread man-/star-shaped ones) and a slice of their pumpkin pie.  I liked the gingerbread man and the Chocolate Peppermint Truffle (super dense and decadent, I liked the peppermint touch).

Recently, I had a chance to try one of Ms. Cheryl’s breakfast breads – the Banana Nut is to DIE for!  It was so moist, filled with a great generous amount of nuts, had a lovely banana taste to it, and it was overall a wonderful bread to chow down on!  Make sure you get a chance to check those out!

They also have milk, coffee, tea, juice, soda, and water for beverages, some apparel wear, and Papyrus greeting cards (super convenient!).

This is more of a to-go bakery, but there are some stools where you can enjoy your treats before you go. Check this adorable and tasty bakery out!

+Banana Nut breakfast bread!
+cupcakes
+breads
+addition of pies!
+cannolis
+ask for Ms. Cheryl
+free parking in shared plaza lot

Potatopia

Potatopia
378 6th Avenue
New York, NY  10011

212.260.4100
Sundays – Thursdays, 10 AM – 10 PM
Fridays – Saturdays, 10 AM – 11 PM
https://potatopia.com/

I think Potatopia is just super cute!  If you’re a fan of potatoes (who isn’t?!), be sure to check this place out – their menu offers build-your-own potato hits (you first start off by choosing a protein (oven roasted chicken, marinated sirloin steak, spiced beef, vegetarian chili, BBQ pulled pork, smokehouse bacon, or cajun shrimp), then you pick your potato (baked potato, baked sweet potato, mashed potatoes, tater tots, smashed red skins, thick-cut chips, shoestring fries, cajun curly fries, sweet potato crinkle cut fries, or waffle cut fries), toppings (such as marinated tomatoes, roasted mushrooms, hot pepper relish, parsley, fresh garlic, etc.), cheeses, and a sauce (like savory bacon aioli, greek yogurt honey, horseradish, BBQ, etc.)), or for those who are indecisive, you can try one of their signatures.

I tried their Bacon Overload, which contained shoestring fries (regular fries), double smokehouse bacon (an overwhelming amount!), red onion slices, smoked gouda, and scallions; I swapped out the chipotle aioli for the garlic aioli, which was a great substitution – the fries were super crispy and hot, and the toppings were of massive amount.  I really liked how this place takes the ‘bacon overload’ literally, as there was tons of bacon in it!  The garlic aioli was creamy and was of a generous drizzle that there was enough for dipping opportunities for all the fries in the bowl.

I loved the potato logo that they have (on the napkins and on the cups), and there is even a little pad where you can sketch your own ‘potato’ – AHAHAHA

Staff here were super friendly, and there is plenty of counter/bar seating.  If you’re craving for some potato-y goodness, check Potatopia out – you won’t be disappointed!

+’Bacon Overload’ – swap the chipotle aioli for the garlic aioli!
+cute potato logo