Tag Archives: Michelin

Thip Khao — Lunch on 10 June 2017

I’d never tasted Laotian cooking before I went to Thip Khao last week.

The restaurant came with great credentials: It’s on The Washingtonian’s “100 Very Best Restaurants 2017” list, and The Michelin Guide, which started rating Washington restaurants just last year, included it on the “Bib Gourmand” list of recommended restaurants offering two courses and a glass of wine or dessert for $40 or less. (The “Bib Gourmand” list is sort of Michelin’s version of a JV team—no stars yet, but keep an eye out, because some of them have the potential to go far.)

Siin/Muu Haeng

Siin Haeng

Most of the reviews of Thip Khao recommended starting with what the menu called “Siin/Muu Haeng — crispy sesame jerky, ginger, sriracha.” The “Siin/Muu” in the name indicated that the diner had the option of choosing either beef or pork. I chose beef.

I can’t come up with a better description of Siin Haeng than the one in the Washington Post’s review:  “…sun-dried beef teased with lemon grass and ginger should be what American beef jerky aspires to.”

Knap Paa

This is what my main, Knap Paa, looked like when it was served.

Just for a second, I hesitated. I get a tiny bit nervous whenever I see pod-like vegetation. I think it’s because I was traumatized as a child by watching Invasion of the Body Snatchers on TV late one night….


Whispering to myself, “They’re only banana leaves, They’re only banana leaves,” I eventually opened the packet. Inside was a small serving of monkfish grilled with rice, lemongrass, kaffir lime, ginger, and dill.

NB You don’t eat the banana leaves.

And this is the plated meal, including the sticky rice that arrived in a little basket, called a “thip khao”, which is where the restaurant got its name.

So, how was it?

Okay, but I wasn’t overwhelmed. Given the choice of another meal at Thip Khao or a return to Nam Viet, I’d take Nam Viet in a second. The Knap Paa was bland, and I could barely taste the monkfish.

Perhaps part of my dissatisfaction is a result of my decision to order from the regular menu, instead of opting for a second, much hotter menu that Thip Khao calls “The Jungle”.

Maybe next time.

Jaleo — Lunch on 8 February 2017

I decided to end 2017 Winter Metropolitan Washington Restaurant Week at two José Andrés restaurants. Andrés, a favourite of the Obamas, is a two-time James Beard award winner, the chef generally credited as “the man who brought tapas to America”, and the culinary consultant for the TV series Hannibal. He taught a culinary physics course at Harvard (with Ferran Adrià), hangs out with Anthony Bourdain, and is being sued for $10 million by a certain short-fingered vulgarian.

Last year, President Obama awarded him the National Humanities Medal.

When Michelin published its first guide for Washington last fall, four of the 19 restaurants on its “Bib Gourmand” list—restaurants where you can get two courses and a glass of wine or a dessert for $40 or less—were Andrés restaurants.

And it all started at Jaleo.

Ensalada rusa

Ensalada rusa

Andrés calls Ensalada rusa “the ultimate Spanish tapa”. It’s a simple but filling salad made with potatoes, tuna, and mayonnaise.

Croquetas de pollo

Croquetas de pollo

The chicken fritters, another standard tapa, have crunchy exteriors and soft, moist fillings.

Lomo de cerdo con salsa de queso Valdeón

Lomo de cerdo con salsa de queso Valdeón

This was the best dish: Pork loin over sweet, caramelized roasted onion, with a Valdeón bleu cheese sauce. I’ve had the Ensalada rusa and the Croquetas de pollo many times, but I’d never tried this before. A standout.

Flan al estilo tradicional de mamá Marisa con espuma de crema catalana

Flan al estilo tradicional de mamá Marisa con espuma de crema catalana

I pretty much stuck with the classics this meal. I ended it with this Spanish custard with
‘espuma’ of Catalan cream and oranges.

As always with José Andrés restaurants, I got a varied and tasty meal. In retrospect, I wish I’d been a little more adventurous in my selections.

Oyamel — Lunch on 9 February 2017

With today’s lunch, we come—at last!—to the end of yet another segment of Washington’s 32-days-long 2017 Restaurant Week, and when I write “32-days-long”, I’m writing literally.

Yesterday’s spot, Jaleo, was the first José Andrés restaurant; Oyamel is one of the most recent. The inspiration for Oyamel is Mexican street food, but the format is the same as that of Jaleo and several other Andrés places. It serves small plates, tapas style. Here in Washington, Zaytinya features Eastern Mediterranean mezze, and China Chilcano offers small plates based on the cuisine developed by immigrant Chinese workers in South America.

All four of them were listed on Michelin’s “Bib Gourmand” list of DC restaurants where you can get two courses and a glass of wine or a dessert for $40 or less.

Ceviche estilo Culiacán

Ceviche estilo Culiacán

The ceviche featured marinated striped bass with serrano, lime, onion, cilantro, tomatillos, and housemade salsa pequín. The base was cabbage, which the gave the dish an unusual accent.

Tamal verde

Tamal verde

“Tamal”, I learned, is preferred by some to “tamale”, because it’s the standard Spanish singular form of the word.  My tamal verde was filled with shredded chicken, with a green sauce of tomatillo, chile, garlic, and cilantro.

Chilorio de res

Chilorio de res

This was one great taco. It contained shredded beef braised in a rich and tangy
sauce of pasilla and guajillo chiles, topped with white onions.

Pastel de tres leches con piña

Pastel de tres leches con piña

They hooked me when the menu described the cake in this dessert as “rum-soaked”. It was decorated with pineapple gelatin and a pineapple salsa, and served with a scoop of caramel ice cream.


And that concludes 2017 Winter Metropolitan Washington Restaurant Week, which has left me exhausted and restauranted-out, which is a thing I just invented.

But we’re not quite finished. Alexandria Restaurant Week starts on Friday, 17 February, and runs for 10 days, so there’s more to come.