Young and Hungry

They’re on a Boat: D.C.’s Latest Mobile Food Vendors Are Going Nautical

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I want to order some ice cream, but I’m drifting away with the current. “WHAT FLAVORS DO YOU HAVE?” I shout over the lawn mower–like hum of the generator aboard Nauti Foods, the Potomac River’s new food purveyor. I clumsily paddle forward, then backward, before the cheery, sun-tanned crew points out a rope I can cling to as I exchange $4 for a Dolcezza blackberries and cream push-pop. Sitting in a kayak just upstream from the Key Bridge is absolutely the most ridiculous way I’ve ever ordered an artisanal gelato.

The 24-foot pontoon boat has all kinds of other snacks, too: ice cream sandwiches, popsicles, granola bars, chips, coconut water, sodas, Pellegrino, and hot dogs grilled onboard. Nauti Foods is so trendy it even has New York–style bagels from the much-hyped Bullfrog Bagels pop-up and vegan cookies from Sticky Fingers. A long white board advertises “today’s menu,” but it’s a little bit difficult to read unless you’re right up close. Such are the drawbacks of the paddle-thru.

My cold treat is threatening to melt onto my life jacket, but I can’t beat the setting for a Saturday afternoon snack. I try not to drop my paddle in the water as I dig into my gelato and stuff the Nauti Foods temporary tattoos they handed me into my pocket. When I’m done, I dispose of the plastic push-pop in a white Nauti Foods-branded plastic bag with a carabiner to hook onto my kayak. (That way, no trash will end up in the river.)

Nauti Foods is D.C.’s first-ever food boat, or floating food truck, depending on what you want to call this new breed of mobile eatery. The vendor vessel, which launched last weekend, is captained by couple Ari Fingeroth and Tammar Berger. He owns a small home-remodeling company, and she consults with the World Bank and co-owns U Street NW’s Off Road Indoor Cycling. “We’re doing this as a side thing to entertain us and hopefully fill a void on the river,” Fingeroth explains. The duo plans to hit the water every Friday through Sunday until mid-September. By next summer, they expect other food-slinging ships will follow in their wake.  Read more They’re on a Boat: D.C.’s Latest Mobile Food Vendors Are Going Nautical

Gut Reaction: Daikaya’s Cold Ramen Is All About the Noodles

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After some delays, Daikaya's cold ramen finally made it onto the menu a couple weeks ago. The debut of the summer dish took a little longer than expected after one of the key ingredients—tare (or sauce) that flavors the broth—was held up by the Food and Drug Administration en route from Japan. The tare was custom-made for Daikaya by Nishiyama Seimen Company, which also produces its ramen noodles.

The wait was worth it, though, because the cold ramen trumps the hot stuff on a warm summer day. I stopped by for lunch earlier and opted for the spicy sesame version at the recommendation of the bartender. (You can also choose a soy-based broth.) The noodles are boiled and chilled to order and served in a shallow pool of liquid rather than submerged like a soup. They come topped with chashu (thinly sliced pork), nitamago egg, corn, cucumber, kombu, cherry tomatoes, bean sprouts, arugula, carrots, ginger, and shredded nori. There's also a vegetarian version with marinated mushrooms rather than pork (which the bartender said was his favorite—even as a meat-eater).

The advantage of the cold noodles is that they don't get soggy and soft like they do if you don't slurp them down fast enough in a hot ramen soup. Instead, the texture is pleasantly chewy and al dente. And as co-owner Daisuke Utagawa points out, you can actually taste the distinct flavor of the noodles when they're served this way. Sadly, due to kitchen-space limitations, the only time you'll be able to try this $14 bowl is weekdays during lunch in the second-floor izakaya (not the ramen shop). Read more Gut Reaction: Daikaya’s Cold Ramen Is All About the Noodles

PETA Recognizes….Ben’s Chili Bowl?

DSC00388Ben's Chili Bowl is basically one giant ode to meat. It smells like meat. Meat on the grill is the first thing you see when you walk on the door. Hell, it's the home of the half-smoke. So it might seem a little strange that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals—whose motto contains the phrase "animals are not ours to eat"—decided to recognize the shop's new airport location for its "Best of Reagan Award." The new accolade honors Ben's for offering things like vegetarian chili, dogs, and burgers...but really?

Really. PETA spokeswoman Lindsay Rajt explains that the organization wants to give cred to restaurants that make an effort to be partially meat-free, not just all-vegetarian joints.

So why of all the restaurants in the city, many of which have far more vegetarian offerings, did this meat palace win the award? "This award deals specifically with the best of Reagan Washington Airport, and so we're recognizing Ben's Chili Bowl because they just opened this brand new spot last week," Rajt says. "Of course, there are other vegetarian and vegan options in the airport, but Ben's is really taking it up a notch."

Rajt says she personally is also a fan of Ben's. "It is definitely a favorite and a place I make sure to take all my family and friends when they visit the District."

This is not the first time PETA has bestowed its approval upon a meat-centric restaurant. Smoke & Barrel in Adams Morgan got a nod for its vegan wings as part of PETA's round-up of the top 10 vegan wings in the country.

Photo courtesy PETA

Last Night’s Leftovers: D.C.’s Iconic Dishes Edition

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D.C.'s 15 signature dishes [Thrillist]

Your "craft" rye whiskey is probably from a factory distillery in Indiana. [Daily Beast]

What really makes a good value in restaurants? [Post]

People are stealing Dacha's beer boots and bringing them to other bars. [Eater]

Rogue 24 will go a la carte. [Washingtonian]

Izakaya Seki will celebrate its anniversary with all-you-can-eat tuna. [PoPville]

Former Bourbon Steak chef John Critchley lands at Barcelona Wine Bar. [Zagat]

Photo of the U Street Taco by Jessica Sidman

 

Pizza Vinoteca Will Let You Control Your Server With an iPad

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Ever wish you could better control the pace of your meal or stop your server from interrupting every five minutes? Pizza Vinoteca, a New York-based restaurant coming to Ballston in early September, will use a high-tech system to let diners customize their experience without the pesky problem of talking to another human being.

Each table at Pizza Vinoteca will feature an iPad that not only acts as a menu and ordering system, but also allows you to determine how fast you want your food to come out and how much attention you want from the server. If you’re looking for some privacy, for example, you can opt for limited waitstaff interruptions. (And just in case you change your mind, there's a "call your server" option on the tablet.) The screen also provides photos of dishes plus ingredient and allergy information. Grabbing something to-go? Digital kiosks will take your order, and a large screen and ticker display will track its progress.

The New York outpost, which opened in March, has similar gadgetry, including infrared grills and Enomatic wine dispensers. Business Insider has lots of photos if you want an idea of what’s to come. Read more Pizza Vinoteca Will Let You Control Your Server With an iPad

Boundary Road Launches Weekly Guest Chef Series for August

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Chefs seem to be everywhere but their own kitchens these days, as guest-chef nights have proliferated at restaurants across the city. Restaurateur Mike Isabella notably hosts Industry Takeover Nights the first Monday of every month where local and visiting chefs and mixologists take over the kitchen of Graffiato’s first-floor pizza bar. And this summer, Mandu launched a late night pop-up called Anju on the first Friday of every month featuring the likes of Birch & Barley chef Kyle Bailey and Daikaya chef Kastuya Fukushima. And now, the latest guest chef series comes from Boundary Road on H Street NE.

Every Sunday at 10 p.m. throughout August, a different chef will have rule of the kitchen to cook whatever he or she pleases. Boundary Road’s own chef, Brad Walker, will kick things off on Aug. 3, but he’ll be followed by toques from Toki Underground, Cashion’s Eat Place, The District Fishwife, and others. The guest chefs will also get to choose a movie to play during their shifts, and the “industry combo” of Natty Boh and a shot of Old Overholt rye whiskey will be $6.

Check out the chef line-up below.  Read more Boundary Road Launches Weekly Guest Chef Series for August

Last Night’s Leftovers: Waterfront Dining Edition

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Where to dine along the waterfront [Eater]

Wonderland Ballroom celebrates its 10th anniversary this Sunday. [PoPville]

Bub and Pop's will launch a weekly supper club. [Washingtonian]

Zero Degrees Zero Minutes pop-up attracts die-hard foodies. [Post]

Seven new ice cream shops in D.C. [Zagat]

Can Lyman's Tavern resurrect pinball culture in D.C.? [DCist]

Photo of Osteria Morini by Jessica Sidman

Is D.C. a Whiskey or a Gin Town? (And Other Fun Trends Data)

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Yelp unveiled a new tool last week that lets you search how often certain buzz words appear in reviews over the span of several years in different cities. The snapshots give insight into important questions like: Is the doughnut really the new cupcake? Is D.C. a gin or a whiskey town? And is terrible service on the rise? Y&H played around with some keywords to find out. Try it out for yourself at yelp.com/trends and feel free to share any other trend revelations in the comments. Read more Is D.C. a Whiskey or a Gin Town? (And Other Fun Trends Data)

Last Night’s Leftovers: Food Trends Edition

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Food trends compared over time and across the country [Eater]

A review of The Partisan's restrooms [DCist]

What to do and where to eat off of the new Silver line [Post]

After Peacock Room will reopen Aug. 10. [PoPville]

Tom Sietsema has a parody Twitter account. [WBJ]

Jam: so hot right now [Express]

What to eat at Creme's brunch [Zagat]

What products do chefs buy generic? [NPR]

Photo by Jessica Sidman

Yet Another Steakhouse Is Coming to K Street NW

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Downtown D.C. needs another steakhouse like it needs another Pret A Manger. But here's another one anyway: A liquor license notice reveals that a place called Claudia’s Steakhouse is coming to 1501 K St. NW. (The entrance is actually on 15th Street NW, near the new G Street Food.)

The notice describes Claudia’s as a “new full service upper tier restaurant serving Latin infusion cuisine in a steakhouse environment. Entertainment to include live band performances and dancing during evening hours." The place advertises 300 seats and a sidewalk cafe for 45.

The restaurant will be located on a couple blocks from Toro Toro, another Latin and South American-inspired steakhouse. There's no shortage of those lately either.

More info as it's available.

Photo by Jessica Sidman

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