Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Things Come in Small Packages on Maple Ave.

Maple Ave

Maple Ave
147 Maple Ave. W.
Vienna, VA 22180

Maple Ave is not what you might expect it to be if you haven't read about it. It's tiny. Parking can be challenging, and if you miss the driveway by a split-second you end up in a car wash. So, forewarned is forearmed.  Pay attention!

I had been remiss in visiting this restaurant. I'd heard about it in 2009 or so, but didn't get there until today. It's cozy. The service is good, and the food is pretty amazing. This is the Organic Beet Salad - poached beets, Laura Chenel chevre,red wine vinaigrette, spiced walnuts.

Here's a close-up.  Note the attention to detail.  His plates are very pretty. 

This was my appetizer. Thai Okra - caramelized okra, garlic lime chili sauce, scallions. I think there may have been a hint of fish sauce in it. It was a great starter. There was no stickiness left in the okra.  It was nice and crisp and the sauce rocked.

Here's a closer shot. Perfectly crispy.

This was my entree: Pork Belly Fried Rice

It consisted of Polyface pork belly, zucchini, red onion, cilantro soy, and pickled red onions. There was heat, but it was a nice heat.  I could have taken it a bit hotter, but the flavors were complex and it wasn't necessary. The dish was practically overflowing and I took a good bit of it home for snacking...

This is the Moroccan Chicken: boneless chicken leg, roasted vegetables, pearl cous cous, and cool saffron sauce. It was nicely done. Moist, flavorful, understated spice.

Overall a great meal.  I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this place or to go back for dinner with friends.  It reminds me a bit of Toki in the attention to detail combined with the creativity in such a small space.  Reservations can be had via CityEats or by calling the restaurant. I didn't have a problem getting at table for two at 1:00pm, but the place was full. Not an empty table to be had.
Sorry I didn't make it here sooner Chef.

Maple Ave on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Daikaya - Ramen for Lunch...Finally!

705 6th St., N.W.
Washington, DC 20001


So this is it.  It's finally open.There has been a lot of buzz about this place, and it is worthy.  
The first thing you notice is there isn't a sign. I stole this picture from some one's posting.  Note the facade is metal and intended to develop a patina. I'm taking a stab at this without research, but the facade appears to be koi scales.
Katsuya Fukushima was the chef on duty when I was there.  He had everyone working hard and slinging noodles.  Speaking of noodles, apparently the noodles they use are made in Sapporo, Japan, and are only sold to one other Ramen joint in the US, Ren's in Wheaton.

The upstairs isn't open yet, so there may be a small wait to get lunch there. 
 This is what the crowd looked like at 1:00 on a Monday.  Not too bad. The servers are still getting their sea legs, so be patient.
 I sat right by the pass so I could watch the action. It's fun to watch the machine crank.
 They've got bases, they've got broths. Each one is measured just so....even if it doesn't look that way to the casual observer.
 Soy Braised Eggs are a nice addition to the dish.

 Noodle storage.
 Some steamy bowls of goodness heading to the hungry.
 Notice that flame! They're not messing around. That wok landed on the fire a few seconds later and exploded in flame, in a good way...I tried to get a shot but it was overexposed. Second thing to notice: The bowls full of steaming water.  They warm the bowls before adding everything else in. Nice touch.

 I ordered mine with egg and pork belly.  The flavors subtle. More like Ren's in Wheaton than Toki. This is a light Ramen. If you were to skip the add-ins you could probably eat here a few times a week and not feel bad about it.

 Kat came out to say hello to me and JohnPaul Damato, who just happened to walk in a few minutes after me. JP said he wasn't feeling the love in the first pic...

How's this grab ya?!?
Kat obviously put a lot of time and thought into what he's doing here and it shows. I wish him and the rest of the crew all the best. If you stop in, tell him you read about it here!

Daikaya on Urbanspoon