Archive for the ‘Chinatown’ Category

Full Kee The Darling Of Chinatown?

I’m not from the most culturally diverse place.

Despite this however sometimes I’m surprised at the selection of eateries in Washington D.C.’s “Chinatown.” I find it funny that I can find numerous Mexican, steakhouse, and fast food cuisine- with an Asian restaurant mixed in the mis-matched bunch. Chinatown back in my hometown of Boston blows DC’s version out of the water.

Granted there are some Asian touches that I suppose makes Chinatown a Chinatown: Asian lettering on the Ruby Tuesday’s, shady “trading company” stores where my friend Adam can buy herbal remedies made out of bee venom and tiger balm, and I suppose that big ol’ arch also effectively marks the neighborhood as Chinatown-like. Still I’m not too experienced when it comes to eating Chinese food in Chinatown.

So when I found myself in Chinatown after the Georgetown game this past Saturday, my friend Adam and I decided to actually find a Chinese food restaurant to have some lunch. After consulting Yelp we settled on Full Kee, who’s reviews were more polarizing than Avatar. We knew we were going to eat at the best, or the worst restaurant in Chinatown. It was a risk I was ready to take for my friend, and my loyal readers.

We were lucky to grab a table before the post-game rush came through the door. The cozy little place isn’t very pretty, but most restaurants in a Chinatown type district aren’t. The place fit the typical Chinatown image- complete with a butcher at the front window chopping up ducks.

While we ordered and waited for our meals my friend Wendi stopped in, hoping to get lunch before a Chinatown bus ride. She told me Full Kee was her favorite place and that we made a great choice. Her opinion was backed up by the long line that had already formed out the door.

The food was everything I expected out of a Chinese food restaurant: the chicken was covered in some sort of brown sauce, the duck was crispy, and the whole meal was certainly fat and greasy. It certainly wasn’t bad but I may need a repeat visit to decide if it is particularly good.

What do you think? Is Full Kee the best Chinatown has to offer or is there another place I should try?

Full Kee
509 H St NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 371-2233
http://www.fullkeedc.com

Chinatown Coffee Company A Welcome Perk

Photo courtesy Chinatown Coffee Company

Photo courtesy Chinatown Coffee Company

Earlier this week I met with the big man himself, Sean Bonner (the father of Metblogs and all around mysterious person.) We talked about all sorts of business and other matters over a coffee at Chinatown Coffee Comapny. I learned while I was there that it’s operated by former Murky Coffee owner Nick Cho. I’m happy to see that their operations and some of the baristas found a new home in DC after they left Clarendon.

The coffee is definitely top notch and the baristas make sure that your special cup is perfect before they hand it off, all hallmarks of Murky, and from my view the experience was rather drama free. I didn’t know how expressive Chinatown Coffee Company’s current Coffee guru was until I read the write-up on WCP’s Young & Hungry.

Besides great coffee I was intrigued by the environment. Fans of Murky would remember a hodge-podge of second-hand couches and chairs. For Chinatown Coffee, owners Max & Katie Brown enlisted Robert Gurney to create a space that is both minimalistic and modern. When you walk in you’ll see an undecorated orange wall on the right side of the store and exposed brick on the left. Don’t write off the design as lacking however, I thought the metallic finishes and bare lights above the prep areas tell you that the design was thought out- not unfinished.

I walked in to see the typical crowd of laptops, indicating that the store’s Wi-Fi was alive and kicking; and I was happy to have been able to grab a street parking spot right next to the store- however the easy parking was probably more because the store’s location is on the fringes of Chinatown. Despite it’s somewhat odd location, Chinatown Coffee Company should be a hit to those in the neighborhood looking to escape the corporate chain brews and environments.

Chinatown Coffee Company
475 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 559-7656
www.chinatowncoffee.com

Spy At Night: Check Out Free Community Nights At Spy Musuem

dsc02220I’ve always wanted to check out The International Spy Museum, one of the more popular tourist attractions in DC, however trying to pony up the admission fee and make the 5 PM cutoff time during the week was daunting. Well for thrifty spenders like me, or those looking for a fun and free activity this summer should check out Community Nights at the Spy Museum.

On the last Wednesday of the month, the museum opens itself up for local DC citizens to check out the permanent exhibition at the museum for free! All you have to do is to RSVP for any one of the times which are more friendly for those 9-5’ers to make.

Last night I attended one of these nights with PQ of PQ Nation and we had a great time. The exhibit was very interesting to walk through, something I could actually go again to explore and take in further.

So for a little mystique that won’t steal your wallet, check out the Spy Museum Community Nights!

Good Morning, Mr. President

Teddy Never Wins

Teddy Never Wins

This morning, I was greeted atop the Gallery Place Metro escalators by none other than No. 26 himself, President Teddy of the Racing Presidents Nats mascots.  He was passing out little red coupon cards to try and entice folks to head for the ball park this Memorial Day weekend.

That’s because this weekend the Nats and O’s engage in a little interleague play to kick off the summer season.  Now, the team is calling this the Battle of the Beltways, which might be a little generous.  Each team is in the basement of its respective division, after all.  But don’t despair, baseball fans…there’ll be fireworks on Friday night, Saturday is Hat Day (first 20,000 fans), and Sunday is Kids Jersey Day (#11 jersey for the first 10,000 kids).    Selected seats are 25% off with coupon code, “Battle”.  See you at the ball game!

Aveda A Cut Above The Rest

Photo courtesy Aveda Institute DC

Photo courtesy Aveda Institute DC

Class Photo Day when I was in 1st grade was quite the experience.

I made the bold decision to go with a “mad scientist” hairstyle that was the result of seeing how long I could go without getting a haircut. It goes without saying that after that class photo I made it a mission to get regular haircuts. Trust me it’s good for the world that my hair doesn’t reach those levels ever again.

When I moved down to these parts I experimented with different chains before settling on a couple of Hair Cuttery locations that I usually visit at the top of every month. The results would range from good to bleh. So when my roommate recommended a visit to the Aveda Institute DC over at Gallery Place I was open to try out the school of cosmetology for a high risk/reward experience.

Even though the thought of actually making an appointment to get a haircut seem somewhat daunting and metrosexual like, my roommate reassured me that many males interested in well grooming do it. I made the call and scheduled an appointment for Saturday morning. The time slot worked well since I wanted to get up early to shop at H&M nearby. Maybe I’m more metrosexual than I thought.

0404090830I arrived early at Gallery Place promptly at 8:30, the storefront that sat between The Loft and City Sports already had a line going out the door. I thought I was lucky that I made an appointment til I realized that the entire line had appointments for the same timeslot and were all being pushed upstairs to the salon/studio area.

The upstairs portion of the institute appeared to take up the entire second floor of the commercial building. The sight look like it was pulled straight of a Bravo network reality show. Bright lights, modern style, and the low drone of techno music filled the space. Rows upon rows of styling stations were homes to an army of cosmetology students. They all donned black clothes and aprons but each had appropriate pieces of flair that told me that they were creative, ambitious and ready to win Project Runway cut my hair.

0404090837As we went upstairs we lined up at a reception desk where each of us confirmed our appointments for a second time while signing legal waivers. I was getting my haircut by a student, not a master- so they probably didn’t want me suing them if I were to lose all my friends, my job, and any chance of meeting ladies because of a bad haircut. I eagerly signed- anxious to become somebody’s guinea pig.

They lined us up against the wall as I checked out the soldiers of style gulping down coffee and gossiping before getting their assignments from a teacher. I took a look at the group and realized I was one of two guys that were getting haircuts. So much for not feeling emasculated. Each of the stylists were handed slips of paper and proceeded to call out names. I heard my name called over the music of my iPod and I walked over to a girl who looked like MIA. Her name was Isabel and she had long dark hair and wasn’t wearing pants- she was donning that leggings and a really long sweater look that told me she was trendy and “with it.” She wore a black scarf around her neck and had a pair of brown leather boots then stopped at her kneecaps.  Yes I was checking my stylist out and I have to say it was the first time I’ve done that. Usually the nice Asian ladies at the Hair Cuttery don’t get that kind of reaction from me.

0404090838She walked me across the room and sat me down. We then had a short discussion about my hair that was more in-depth than the usual two sentences I give my usual stylist. She was took notes of what I said and tossed a couple ideas out that she shared with a supervisor. It was funny being a visual aid for the student who opened with, “Patrick likes to wear his hair short. He usually doesn’t do a lot to his hair on a daily basis so today we’re going to…” Now I definitely felt like I was on a reality show.

The supervisor listened, agreed, and signed her sheet. She then asked if I wanted  scalp massage. “It’s part of the Aveda experience,” she replied when she saw my quizzical reaction. Of course I agreed and she presented a sample of oils and got to work. Scissors have yet to touch my hair and I was already liking what I saw.

After the rub down she shampooed my hair with some kind of exfoliating shampoo that she was excited to try, “I haven’t gotten to use this one yet so I’m excited to see how it works.”

We then got to business of actual hair cutting. She opened a black case that looked suitable for a fine cigar or a 9mm. It held a pair of scissors that she used to attack my hair.

Unlike my usual haircuts which are often a mindless speed through of chopping different lengths of hair, Isabel’s work resembled an artist attacking a canvas. Her cuts were calculated as I saw her work on my hair carefully and delicately. “We are all perfectionists here,” she told me while pulling strands of hair and measuring them up, “some people think they can come here and get a cut in an hour but we want to do a good job and we pay attention to detail.”

The cut lasted two hours but it feel like two hours. I was fascinated to see the transformation of my hair that was occurring at a slower pace than my past cuts. It gave me lots of chances to give feedback and hear my stylist arrive at all the same conclusions I usually hear when I get my haircut. “Wow your hair grows in fast,” she replied while trying to navigate my scalp.

After the cut was done a supervisor came over to inspect the results and answer a couple of questions she had about approaching different parts of my head. The supervisor showed her a couple of tips while finishing up the back of my head. Isabel and I then proceeded downstairs where I paid and parted ways. The cost of the cut wasn’t too much more than what I would pay at Hair Cuttery- and I felt it had higher upside to have an aspiring student get all creative with my head. Of course I did risk getting a bad cut from a beauty school dropout, but that was kind of adventure I was up for this month.

I was pretty happy with my cut and I would definitely recommend Aveda for anyone looking for a Salon experience at a discount- and is willing to gamble a little bit.

0404091048

Aveda Institute
713 7th St NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 824-1690

DC Video: Cherry Blossom Madness In Metro

I couldn’t avoid the crowds as I tried to make my way to a Heat/Wizards game over at the Verizon Center. These were the crowds I had to put up with at Metro Center.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x74zpnMwHxM[/youtube]

Now this is why I stay away from the Cherry Blossoms.

Wednesday’s child

After work yesterday, I was walking from the bus stop to the Swanky Safeway (I love you, Circulator) and spotted this lonely skeleton:

What once was useful, has been discarded

What once was useful, has been discarded

It’s not exactly providing the trash bin with shelter from the elements.  Why not fold it up before trashing it?   What color was the umbrella, before it lost its skin?  Did it have fun polkadots?  Was it the usual DC Black?  Did it bear the logo of one of this town’s myriad law firms?

Midnight Movies at E Street

There are lots of good things and bad things about living in DC.  Of the good:  the E Street Cinema.  Cozy, cute, and convenient.  And whee! showing midnight movies for the next coupla months. No Rocky, but it’s a tantalizing list:

Quentin Tarantino‘s Pulp Fiction • Nov 7 & 8
Johnny Depp in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas • Nov 14 & 15
Christian Bale is an American Psycho • Nov 21 & 22
Harrison Ford in Raiders of the Lost Ark • Nov 28 & 29
Who ya gonna call? Ghostbusters • Dec 5 & 6
David Bowie & Jennifer Connelly in Labyrinth • Dec 12 & 13
Jeff Bridges in the Coen BrosThe Big Lebowski • Dec 19 & 20

Of the bad?  Finding a place to get a bite that’s open after a midnight movie. But hey, it’s better than it was, see listings at here and here.

Coming home

As G. and I drove back into DC late on Sunday night, I commented that “there’s nothing like a weekend in New York City to make you feel like you live in a backwater town.”  The lack of cars! The empty sidewalks!  The open sky!  DC was so… peaceful after the jam-packed-24-hour-ness of NYC.

Okay, so their Chinatown trumps ours.  But a brief comparison between the Union Square Farmer’s Market and the Dupont Circle Farmer’s Market revealed similar pricing for at least the basics we looked over.  And we didn’t see anything there we don’t get here, so perhaps our lower population density isn’t always a disadvantage.

Get your creative juices flowing on Saturday at the 2008 Arts on Foot

On any given day, if you’re craving a little art and culture, there is always an exhibit or performance or demonstration to quench your appetite.

Well this Saturday, plan to venture to Penn Quarter for an extravaganza of art and crafts and performances.  Bombard your senses with 2008 Arts on Foot, a one-day visual and performing arts festival that kicks off the DC fall season.

In addition to the outdoor festival on F street between 6th and 9th Streets, the following venues will also feature activities, exhibits and performances:

Smithsonian American Art Museum and Portrait Gallery: The museums will host booths at the street festival that offer hands-on activities for children.

National Theatre: Come to the inaugural performance of Saturday Morning at the National. Carrie’s Dream is a true story of an African-American girl growing up in the rural south. This interactive show features sing-alongs and reflects the humor and struggles of a family coping with life in a segregated society. Performances are at 9:30 and 11:00 am. Though free, tickets are required and will be distributed 30 minutes before the show on a first come, first served basis. The Helen Hayes Gallery at the National Theatre is located at 1321 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW.

Warner Theatre and Woolley Mammoth Theatre: Take a back stage tour of the theaters. See the Arts on Foot events schedule.

Old Post Office Pavilion: Enjoy live performances by the Levi Stephens Band (alternative soul), Phaze II (smooth jazz), Uncharted Waters (smooth jazz funk), and Kirk Lamkin & Pulse Level (smooth jazz). Performances take place on the Pavilion Stage and are free to the public.

Canadian Embassy: Picture enthusiasts will enjoy a collection of 330 images entitled – 50 Years of American Photojournalism. The photos capture moments from the civil-rights movement, the various wars from 1939 – 1989, and famous people.

Landmark E Street: The DC Shorts Film Festival presents free family films with genres ranging from animation to sci-fi to comedy to experimental. Free tickets will be distributed at the DC Shorts booth at 10:00 am on a first come, first served basis.

National Gallery of Art: At 12:30 pm, catch “O Dia do Desespero (Day of Despair),” a documentary style film about the final hours of Camilio Castelo Branco’s life. The movie speculates on the creative process of the 19th-century Portuguese writer.  Then at 3:00 pm watch “The Last Conquistador ” which follows the  controversy over sculptor John Sherrill Houser’s most important commission, the world’s largest equestrian bronze of Spanish conquistador Juan de Oñate. Filmmaker John Valadez will be present to lead a discussion after his film.

National Museum of Women in the Arts: Visit the NMWA booth on 8th and F Streets to create your own unique artist’s accordion book.  All materials provided for you to create a masterpiece.

In addition to all the arts activities, don’t miss the wine tastings and culinary demonstrations. A fun-filled day for all ages!

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