And So It Continues. . . (Little Spice Thai)

My apartment hunt goes on. *sigh Today’s expedition took me to Hanover, MD, a stone’s throw from Baltimore. For those of you who have never experienced apartment hunting in a city you know nothing about say a quick thank you now, because trust me, it’s not something you want to do. Since I knew there was a chance I’d be depressed or at least disappointed after the day’s apartment viewing, I found a Thai restaurant nearby to enjoy lunch at afterwards. Yes, food makes me happy. I was hoping that if the apartment search went poorly the food would be yummy and the day wouldn’t be a complete waste.

As it turns out, today must’ve been my lucky day because the apartment search went relatively well and the Thai restaurant I found was good! Little Spice Thai (don’t you just love that name?! Too cute!) is located in a small strip filled with other ethnic restaurants – Pakistani/Indian, Mexican, and Italian. The moment I walked into the casual and cute dining room I was greeted by the delicious fragrance of Thai spices. It made me excited for what would surely be a satisfying lunch. Little Spice Thai has an excellent lunch menu offering a variety of Thai specialty dishes all priced under $10. For such a steal you get a generous entrée, appetizer, and dessert. Yum!

One of my favorite restaurants in Memphis is Emerald Thai Restaurant. They also have a superb lunch menu. For under $10 you get your choice of soup and entrée. Since it was just down the street from my job I ate there all the time. Unfortunately Little Spice Thai did not offer soup on their extensive lunch menu. Sad face.

My momentary sadness over the lack of soup quickly departed as I scanned the menu. Seriously, any Thai dish you’ve thought about trying was on the menu, and all the lunch items can be made vegetarian. Score! I decided to depart from my usual Thai choices – pad king, pad kaprow, pad Thai – instead opting for the pad panang. The moment it arrived at the table my eyes and nose were delighted. Colorful and fragrant was the pad panang. My taste buds were equally pleased by the creamy and flavorful sauce. The vegetables, shrimp, and jasmine rice were a wonderful mix of delicousness. This was the perfect ending to a rather promising day of apartment hunting.

pad panang from Little Spice Thai

Little Spice Thai
1350 Dorsey Road Suite L
Hanover, MD 21076
(410) 859-0100
www.littlespicethairestaurant.co

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Oh How I Miss You (Emerald Thai)

emerald thai

Located in East Memphis in a unique food enclave of ethnic fare you’ll find Emerald Thai Restaurant, one of my favorite lunch spots. This casual Thai restaurant serves a variety of Thai curries, noodle and rice dishes, and soups. The menu is extensive, making it difficult to narrow down your choices. If you’re new to Thai cuisine or simply looking for an inexpensive way to enjoy some favorites, Emerald Thai’s lunch specials are sure to satisfy.

Due to its location in an easy to miss strip on Mt. Moriah in East Memphis, you may be tempted to discount Emerald Thai restaurant but then you’d miss out on one of the city’s crown jewels of ethnic food. Emerald is family owned and operated, and you’ll feel right at home as soon as you enter the casual and cozy atmosphere. If you’re in the area during lunch time, you must take advantage of their $5.99 lunch specials. For such a small price you can enjoy classic Thai dishes, like pad kaproa, pad king, and pad thai to name a few, that are big on flavor. The lunch specials also include either a choice of soup or other side item. No matter what you decide rest assured that your dish with be fragrant and flavorful.

On several occasions I enjoyed a relaxing lunch of my favorite tom yum soup, which I always requested be made extra spicy, and pad king (mix of ginger, red or green pepper, onion, other veggies, and meat, in this instance shrimp). Both were always bursting with flavor and spicy. Before the waitress would set down my steaming bowl of tom yum soup, the aroma would alert me to its impending arrival setting off a Pavlovian reaction. Never was I disappointed and neither will you be! Treat yourself to tantalizing Thai fare at Emerald.

Emerald Thai
5699 Mount Moriah Road
Memphis, TN 38115
(901) 367-2827

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Just In Time For Lunch (Bangkok Joe’s)

Last week one of my bfs came in town. Yay for visitors! We have a slightly weird obsession with boat tours and go on one in whatever city we’re in. Of course that was one of her requests for her stay, so I found a boat cruise on the Potomac which by the way wasn’t terribly exciting and I will not be subjecting future guests to experiencing. What WAS exciting, however, was the Thai lunch spot we found. As has become standard for my treks around DC we walked around the block trying to find the place only to end up a few steps from where we started. *sigh

Bangkok Joe’s is located on the Georgetown Waterfront. Its sleek and sophisticated interior sets the tone for delicious and tantalizing fare. Although it is a dumpling bar our lunch choices did not include any dumplings. Maybe next time. I opted for the Tofu Basil and Spring Roll. The Spring Roll was light and crisp, a crunchy appetizer while waiting for my entrée to arrive.

Bangkok Joes Spring Roll

The Tofu Basil was an aromatic mix of fried tofu, green beans, onions, scallions, and sweet peppers tossed in chili-garlic-basil sauce served over rice. It was a spicy blend of flavors and textures.

Bangkok Joes Tofu Basil

The yummy and, I should also add, inexpensive lunch totally made up for the less than amazing boat ride on the Potomac. I absolutely loved the swank interior of Bangkok Joe’s and could so see myself stopping by for a drink at the bar or hanging out on the patio. Next time I stop by I’ll be sure to do just that. Oh and try the dumplings as well as the panang curry.

Bangkok Joe’s
3000 K Street Northwest
Washington, DC 20007
(202) 333-4422
www.bangkokjoes.com

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Gotta Have It (Mandu)

I could feel the beginnings of a Korean food craving so I took to Twitter and asked for some Korean restaurant suggestions in the DMV. Shout out to @lelalovebug for giving several recommendations. Since I wanted to hit up one of the Smithsonian museums, I decided to try Mandu on K Street as it was relatively nearby and open for lunch. You know I like to try new spots during lunch, because it’s a quicker meal and it’s typically less expensive than dinner meaning you don’t have to spend too many dollars on your new food find adventure.

Mandu is a cute little restaurant located in a commercial space a couple restaurants down from DC’s Busboys and Poets. I liked the décor which was very clean and minimalistic. What was interesting to me was that the only Korean employees were the people in the kitchen. Or at least that was the case when I went.

Of course, I had to order the mandu, because, I mean, hello the name of the restaurant IS Mandu and because they had shrimp and vegetarian mandu in addition to the traditional pork and beef. I went with the shrimp mandu getting half pan fried and half steamed. For my entrée I ordered dukk bok gi. I was really excited about the dukk bok gi because neither of the Korean restaurants in Memphis serve it. Neither of them have rice cakes either so this menu item made me doubly happy.

shrimp mandu at Mandu DC

The mandu arrived in no time which was good because I had worked up quite the appetite walking from the Metro in this ridiculous DC heat. The mandu was delicious! The chewy dumpling outside enveloped mined veggies and whole plump shrimp, a nice subtle flavor that was complemented by the accompanying dipping sauce. I will definitely be back for more!

plate of banchan at Mandu DC

While I was enjoying my mandu a plate of banchan was dropped off at my table. Excitement! Everything was yummy! I especially liked the broccoli. Then came my dukk bok gi. Ahhh! It was so fragrant. The combination of spicy smells and steam delighted my olfactory senses, and I’m pretty sure I did a happy dance in my seat. Oh! I forgot to add that this item was able to be made vegetarian. Yep, I love this place! The dukk bok gi was fantastic! The combination of thick spicy sauce, chewy rice cake, tofu, onions, and mushrooms made my day.

dukk bok gi at Mandu DC

I can’t wait to return so I can try the kimchi chigae, gotta be prepared for if/when I get sick, and the kimchi fried rice. Kimchi fried rice has to be one of my favorite Korean dishes. It’s so simple it’s ridiculous but I just love it. Add some tuna and I’m in heaven!

My first Korean restaurant try in the DMV was a success. I know I’ll be back to try a couple more menu items and maybe even happy hour for some good ol soju (Korean vodka). I have a few more Korean restaurants to try including one that’s open 24 hours! Excited!

Mandu
453 K Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 289-6899
www.mandudc.com

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In Case of Emergency (Asiana Garden)

Before I bid my final farewell to Memphis, I spent nearly a month on the road visiting friends and family. I returned to Memphis only to feel the beginnings of a cold. This just could not be! I only had a few weeks left and I certainly did not want to spend it in the confines of my bedroom. So you know what that meant. Time for the healing powers of kimchi!

Another locally owned restaurant located in East Memphis’ ethnic food enclave, Asiana Garden serves authentic Korean cuisine. Besides offering a variety of traditional Korean fare, Asiana Garden also has lunch specials that give you the opportunity to sample Korean dishes at a very reasonable price.

Whenever I feel a little cold coming on I know it’s time to get some good ol’ home cooking! Cultural home cooking that is. So I head straight to Asiana Garden, one of the two Korean restaurants in Memphis. I always get the kimchi chigae (chigae = Korean word for soup). Kimchi can refer to a variety of fermented or unfermented vegetable dishes but the kimchi in the all healing kimchi soup is the most well-known – fermented napa cabbage seasoned with a variety of spices.

Asiana Garden kimchi chigae and banchan

Kimchi chigae is cooked in a stone bowl and comes to the table all bubbly, extremely hot, and odoriferous! I always have to fight the urge to immediately spoon up some. So I wait as long as I can, approximately 7 seconds, before digging right in! After all I’m trying to combat a potentially deadly cold so who cares if the soup is still boiling! Ahhh. . . that first spoonful is always exactly what I need – perfectly spicy and delicious! By the end of the soup the spiciness of it had makes me sweat so much I’m sure I sweat out at least half of my sickness!

If you’re not a fan of the spice or if you’re new to Korean food may I suggest having the lunch bulgogi, my number one recommendation for anyone trying Korean for the first time. It goes well with the American palate. Plus if you get the lunch box you get to sample a couple other Korean dishes too. If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous you can always order the banchan (variety of Korean side dishes). Banchan comes with the entrees on the regular menu but not with any of the lunch specials. If you really want to sample Korean food I encourage you to order banchan if it doesn’t already come with your meal.

ASIANA GARDEN
5992 Mt Moriah
Memphis, TN 38115
901.795.6147

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