Monthly Archives: October 2014

Oegadgib, Annandale

Oegadgib
7331 Little River Turnpike
Annandale, VA 22003

For the second trip in a row, my plans to visit Kogiya, the latest Korean BBQ joint in the heavily Korean DC suburb of Annadale, were foiled. However, it worked out in the end as a tip from a friend and last minute organizing meant that my friends could dine with me at my tried and true Korean BBQ staple, Oegadgib. Prices there are reasonable for all you can eat Korean BBQ (at print, I believe it’s still less than $20 a person) and my previous trips provided good service, decent quality meats, and plentiful panchan.

After a friend and I did a small turnaround to find the difficult-to-locate restaurant, we got a table of 6 and waited for my other friends to arrive. After about 5-10 minutes they arrived too and we promptly got to our all you can eat Korean BBQ feast. Since it was a little late, most of us immediately started gorging on food as it arrived. Needless to say, I took only just a couple pictures. Regardless, here are some thoughts on most of the items that came to our table:

AYCE Korean BBQ at Oegadgib

AYCE Korean BBQ at Oegadgib

  • Kimchi – Oegadgib’s rendition is good, if not exactly different from most of its competitors. They did have both a napa cabbage and cucumber kimchi though. While I generally like the napa cabbage kimchi better, I like the cucumber one more at Oegadgib
  • Potato Salad – average, generic Korean potato salad, though I did like that it was mild and not overly acidic
  • Sauteed Spinach – admittedly, it’s just spinach that’s boiled and flavored slightly with a little garlic, but I just love this panchan as it works well to cut the fat of the meat when I eat it with rice
  • Tofu Soup – my friends LOVED the soup, which I can understand. I don’t think I have found another Korean BBQ place serving tofu soup in a pork broth and it’s a nice refreshing soup to balance the heavy meat
  • Steamed Egg – I love the steamed egg and I think it’s one of the best parts of eating at Oegadgib. Rarely have I seen this at other places and I find the steamed egg goes perfectly well with the panchan, meat, and rice around the table
  • Salad Greens With Dressing – along with the slices of pickled daikon, the salad greens (mainly leafy lettuce) works very well with the grilled meats. It dresses with meat with additional flavor and, along with the daikon, cuts the fat of the meat with a refreshing vinegary sour flavor
  • Thinly Sliced Beef Brisket – Now we get to the meat. For the thin beef slices, they were good though could use a little more seasoning
  • Pork Belly – A little leaner than I’m used to, but it was still delicious and worked especially well with the salad and pickled daikon
  • Beef Steak Cubes – Decent meat and worked well with the rice and the spinach. Nice and tender and was really flavored well with the juices of the brisket and pork belly

As for the service, pleasant and efficient, though maybe slightly less attentive than usual. The servers help you cook the meat, without being overbearing (like Honey Pig). The servers refill your panchan quickly as well as any water glasses. They did seem a little taken aback at first when none of us wanted any beverage aside from water, but it turned out fine.

All in all, not the best Korean BBQ I had, but pretty solid and definitely one of the best in the DC area. The great bonus was that I was able to introduce three of my friends to the wonders of Korean BBQ as well. I’m glad all of them seemed to enjoy their first taste of all you can eat meat deliciousness.

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Red Egg, New York City

Red Egg
202 Centre Street
New York, NY 10013

Over the years, my experience in eating dim sum over my many visits to New York City has had a number of ups and downs. While certainly New York has dim sum far above and beyond most of America (including my hometown of San Diego), much of it pails to comparison to what I have eaten in suburban Los Angeles, much less Vancouver. Because of this, I have generally shied away from dim sum in my last few trips to the Big Apple. However, in the interest of this blog and upon the number of good recommendations Red Egg had across the spectrum, I decided to invite some friends and eat some dim sum on my recent trip there.

Red Egg

Red Egg

When a friend and I walked it, I was immediately struck and fascinated by Red Egg’s decor. It’s very modernist chic in its approach, with dimmer lighting, black tables, and even a full size bar. While we were waiting for another friend, I continued to look around very intrigued. Despite whatever concerns I may have had about the quality of the dim sum based on the decor, the fact that the servers were dressed up and spoke Cantonese very fluently. With a little piece of mind we ordered the following:

Gailan Stir Fried With Garlic

Gailan Stir Fried With Garlic

  • Gailan Stir Fried In Garlic – The lightly blanched then quickly stir fried gailan (Chinese broccoli) was perfect. The stems and leaves were perfectly crispy yet a little tender and the garlic gave it a nice flavor without being too overpowering
Chicken Satay

Chicken Satay

  • Chicken Satay – Decent chicken satay with nice flavors, but nothing that really stood out. However, it’s not a traditional dim sum item so I give Red Egg a pass on this
Cilantro Rice Noodle Rolls

Cilantro Rice Noodle Rolls

  • Cilantro Rice Noodle Rolls – Excellent rolls with a nice cilantro flavor. The soy sauce on top was lightly drizzled which was perfect, as sometimes rice noodles can get too soggy and overpowered with sauce if there’s too much. The yu choy that came with it was alright.
Daikon Cakes

Daikon Cakes

  • Daikon Cakes – Fried decently, though could have been a little crispier. Didn’t quite have as much fillings of green onion, Chinese sausage, or small dried shrimp at other restaurants, but some times less is more.
Chicken Sui Mai

Chicken Sui Mai

  • Chicken Sui Mai – While I definitely still prefer pork sui mai, these were nicely done. The wonton skins were light and delicate as they should and the chicken was steamed well without being rubbery
  • Bamboo Shoots Dumpling – The skin was absolutely horrible. You could even tell from looking at it. It all fell apart because the dumpling skin (which should hold up and have a little chew to it). The filling was bland and mushy too.
  • Pan Fried Vegetarian Dumpling – Not as bad as the bamboo shoots dumpling, but the filling was still mushy and the skins were not even crispy, even if they did hold up.
Sweet Creamy Buns

Sweet Creamy Buns

  • Sweet Creamy Buns – Despite the vegetable dumpling disaster, these were a great way to end the meal. The filling was a bit runnier than I am used to but the salty sweet custard filling was just marvelous in terms of flavors.

All in all, the flavors were good in helped restore my faith in New York’s dim sum scene (although New York shines more in other regional Chinese cuisines). I was also a bit surprised that even though the decor was a bit modernist, that at least half the tables were filled with Cantonese speaking families. It speaks well to Red Egg that they are able to pull a balance of both non-Chinese young professionals and traditional Chinese families.

The bill wasn’t that cheap though, coming to be about $19. At that price, I am glad that the food is better, but it still needs some improvement before it hits the level and prices charged in the best places around LA and San Francisco.

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Uncle Zhou, New York

Uncle Zhou
83-29 Broadway
Elmhurst, NY 11373

Henan, a province situated in the North China plain and mostly south of the Yellow River (thus it’s name 河南, as in south of the river), has been considered the cradle of Chinese civilization. It’s home to both the ancient Xia and Shang dynasties, and Luoyang, in the western part of the province, is considered one of the 4 ancient capitals of China.

Despite all this, until a week ago I never really had Henan cuisine. As a person with Cantonese ancestry, in far southern China, much of my life has been dominated by the cuisine of Southern China (which was sinicized later in history). Although geographic boundaries tend to be contentious, much of the Chinese cuisine I’ve eaten would not really be classified as Northern Chinese. All of this makes sense in context of the Chinese diaspora in the United States where I have had fair more contact with the cuisines of the people that have moved here, including Cantonese, Fujianese, Taiwanese, Sichuanese, and the foods of Malay and Vietnamese of Chinese descent.

Thankfully, with a good friend’s move to the Elmhurst neighborhood of Queens in New York City, I had the perfect opportunity to taste the cuisine of Henan and much of the North China Plain.

We entered Uncle Zhou a little after noon and were one of just a handful of customers. We picked a seat closer to the window and the door and promptly looked at the number of options available. After about 10 minutes of looking at the menu and not totally sure of what we wanted, we finally decided on three items:

Lanzhou Beef Hand Pulled Noodles

Lanzhou Beef Hand Drawn Noodles

  • Lanzhou’s Beef Hand Drawn Noodle – The lamian (hand pulled noodles) were perfectly al dente and the variations of thickness of the noodles from its hand pulled texture gave a very fresh quality to the dish. The beef was a bit tougher than I expected and the broth a little deeper, almost like the broth of Tiawanese style niu rou mian, but it was all in all a great dish.
Lamb Dumplings

Lamb Dumplings

  • Lamb Dumpling – The lamb filling was pleasantly light and felt a lot like tasting a pork and chives dumpling filling. The wrappers were thicker than I liked, coming from a Cantonese tradition that has very thin and delicate dumpling skins, but definitely good. It had a good chew and absorbed the sweet soy sauce very well.
Beef Knife Shaved Noodle

Beef Knife Shaved Noodle

  • Beef Knife Shaved Noodle – The noodles were definitely softer in texture than the hand drawn noodle, but still pretty good. They were thin and ribbony, as I would expect. The beef was more tender than that in the hand drawn noodle and the broth was lighter too. However, they were also fairly similar and we may have wished to order another dish as the flavors definitely ran very similar to each other.

The service was fairly great as well with gracious refills of water. Although the waiter was a little pushier in the beginning, it was excellent service once we ordered. Also, the bill was excellent. I believe we paid $14 totally in the end, which is quite a bargain for such great food.

I still have a bias for Southern style cuisine, and Cantonese in particular. However Uncle Zhou’s showed me how delicious the cuisine of Central and Northern China can be. I definitely look forward to more food from Northern and Western China to come, including a hopeful stop or two to taste Xinjiang or Dongbei cuisines the next time I’m in New York or LA.

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