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

KoChix

KoChix
7554 Telegraph Road
Alexandria, VA  22315

703.924.3030
Daily, 11 AM – 9 PM
http://www.kochix-va.com/

I am a HUGE fan of Kochix, as I’m a frequent customer of their DC location (don’t even think about bringing up the other KFC chain, Bon Chon, that people seem to be so hypnotized under/obsessed with; you haven’t tried KFC right until you’ve tried Kochix!)

The menu is pretty extensive, offering their specialty of Honey-Spicy (offered in mild or in hot) and Soy Garlic wings/drumsticks; subs, and appetizers (dumplings, Vietnamese garden roll, etc.).

I’d heard about their weekday lunch buffet, so I was curious in checking them out.  They have a bibimbop area with delicious banchans (pickled cucumbers, radish, bean sprouts, kimchi, etc.), as well as spicy dwegi bulgogi, mini fried dumplings, sauteed mushrooms, fried rice, and their signature chicken (drumsticks only).

I actually really enjoyed my meal!  The bibimbop was really tasty, as the banchans were all deliciously seasoned and yummy; I loved that you can control the amount of sesame oil and gochujang you put in (bottles available at the buffet).  The drumsticks, while not my favorite part of the chicken, were still quite delicious!!!  Perfectly fried, perfectly coated with the sauce, crispy exterior – YUM!

I loved how Mr. Choi, one of the owners, was very meticulous in making sure that the chicken was always freshly-cooked and monitored when there needs to be more delivered to the buffet!!!  Talk about quality control!  The spicy dwegi bulgogi was pretty good, too, cooked perfectly with the onions.  The dumplings were okay, but still addicting.

Ms. Vildan welcomed us so warmly and she was super sweet and friendly!  The Chois, a husband-and-wife team, were both very sweet, and we got to talk with Ms. Choi for a bit as she shared a bit of history of the restaurant and the family business (the sister-in-law owns the DC location).

Definitely will be coming back for them Soy Garlic Wings – the plus side is, while DC’s location is a carry-out only joint, this place has plenty of seats to dine-in!  Check this great local business out!

+best KFC
+Soy-Garlic Wings
+AYCE weekday lunch buffet (from 11-2PM)
+ask for Ms. Vildan
+ask for the Chois
+dine-in option

Chalait

Chalait
224 W 4th Street

New York, NY  10014
212.929.0266
Mondays – Fridays, 7 AM – 7 PM

Saturdays & Sundays, 8 AM – 7 PM
http://www.chalait.com/

I really love Chalait!  The hubs and I had just landed in NYC, and while we were on our way to get some breakfast, we saw Chalait – we had to stop by to check it out!

The place itself is so cute – bright, white, and open with clean lines.  The menu offers tartines, sandwiches, matcha, coffee, and tea beverages.

Teena welcomed us warmly, and gave us some suggestions and recommendations.  We ended up getting a Miso Butter Toast (crispy toast smeared with miso butter, a perfectly soft-boiled egg, sliced avocado, and a side of arugula salad; this was sooo yummy!  The saltiness from the miso butter paired perfectly with the crispy toast and the avocado; yum yum yum!); a Matcha Latte (matcha shot with steamed milk – I opted for whole milk; this had a wonderful deep matcha taste to it, and it was creamy from the steamed milk; it even came with a lovely latte art!); and, a cup of Chalait Hot Chocolate (matcha latte with chocolate sauce – this was not sweet at all, as it was more of a twist on the matcha latte with a drizzle of chocolate).

Anthony, who was the professional barista, was super cool and super awesome!

There are little hooks under the counter to hang your bags, and the place itself was a nice refreshing way to begin your day!  I would love to come back and try out their other plates and their other matcha-oriented beverages.  Check this cute little gem out!

+Miso Butter Toast
+Matcha Latte
+beautiful latte art
+ask for Anthony, the awesome barista!
+ask for Teena
+bag hooks under the counter!

Sugar Sweet Sunshine Bakery
126 Rivington Street
New York, NY  10002
212.995.1960
Mondays – Thursdays, 8 AM – 10 PM
Fridays, 8 AM – 11 PM
Sundays, 10 AM – 7 PM
http://sugarsweetsunshine.com/

Sugar Sweet Sunshine Bakery is such a cute bakery!  The hubs and I stopped by here to check out their baked goods, as I’d heard that they had some awesome pudding and cupcakes!

The place is owned by Peg & Deb and has been around since ’03.  The menu consists of cakes, cupcakes, layer cakes, pudding, pies, bars, cookies, iced sugar cookies, and custom-order offerings.

I tried the Pinch Me! cupcake, which was a strawberry cake topped with whipped peanut butter mousse – OMG, this is literally one of the best cupcakes I’ve had!  I really loved how fluffy and moist the strawberry cake was, and the light whipped mousse peanut butter-flavored top was a lovely pairing!

I also tried a small cup of their Banana Puddin,’ and this was plain MAGICAL – chunks of bananas throughout, the pudding itself was the right consistency of creaminess and thickness, and it had a lovely delicious taste!

The staff here were super friendly and awesome, and there are some tables where you can enjoy your treats.  I loved the Polaroids of the locals’ pups that’s taped on the wall by the cashier – so cute!

Definitely a cute bakery to check out, and I can’t wait to come back and try out their other cupcakes, pies, and cookies!

+Banana Puddin’
+Pinch Me! cupcake
+friendly staff
+Polaroids of pets