Category Archives: Media Pass

Mie N Yu’s Blind Tiger Menu: Decadence at a Discount

Mie N Yu always seemed, to me, to be a place that wouldn’t be worth the money. The restaurant occupies an expansive space on a busy, high-end stretch of M St. Dark windows show glimpses of the bronze Buddha statues and lavish decor inside to passersby. It exudes an aura of exclusivity to say the least, and perhaps some pretentiousness, and that combination usually does not bode well for the quality of the food.

With that skepticism in mind, I warily accepted Mie N Yu’s invitation to try their new Blind Tiger Tasting Menu. I never refuse an offer for a free meal, and plus, the concept behind the menu intrigued me: the Blind Tiger is the name of a prohibition era speak-easy, and to channel that spirit, Mie N Yu offers this “underground,” $25 three course  menu only to people in the know. Those people could be their followers on Twitter (@mienyu), Facebook friends, or even readers of this blog!

Despite my skepticism, I have to say that I was very impressed with Mie N Yu–especially with the quality of the food. Their menu (and the entire restaurant for that matter) is inspired by the Silk Road, which means lots of Asian flavors and ingredients. My boyfriend and I started off with sunomono blue crab salad and zaatar hummus with ful–perhaps our two favorite dishes of the night. The salad was fresh, light, and perfect for a hot and humid DC evening. The earthy flavors of the edamame and soba noodles tempered the tartness of the pickled quail eggs, and a lovely rice vinegar dressing brought out the natural sweetness of the blue crab.

The hummus with ful was thick and smoky, flavored with just the right amount of zaatar (a Middle Eastern spice blend). Ful, a Middle Eastern condiment of Egyptian fava beans braised with roasted tomatoes and various spices, added an exotic element to the dish. Olives and warm naan bread were nice accompaniments, though I did wish the serving of bread had been bigger.

Our second courses were less memorable than our first. Though the Beijing style lacquered duck seemed to be a favorite among fellow food bloggers, I was less than impressed. The duck (sourced from a farm in PA) was very tender and tasty, but I prefer traditional Peking duck with its crackling skin and intense caramelized sweetness. I also found the “mandarin pancakes” to be more reminiscent of tortillas. The char masala lamb kabobs were not my favorite either. I was impressed that the lamb was locally raised in Virginia and ground in-house, but it had a strong, gamey aftertaste. The roasted coriander yogurt served with the lamb helped mask the flavor a bit, but not completely.

For our main courses, we ordered the Pakistani cinnamon and ginger striped bass and the Indonesian chicken “rica rica.” The bass (pictured above) was baked in a yogurt casserole, and the rice was rolled and soaked in the yogurt prior to cooking. As a result, both the bass and the rice were mouthpuckeringly tart. This was quite a surprise for my boyfriend and me–we both expected a mildly spiced, delicately flavored fish. The dish took some getting used to, but after a few bites (and plenty of sips of water), I was able to move past the sourness and taste the cinnamon and the ginger. It’s not necessarily a dish I would order again and again, but it’s certainly worth trying at least once.

The Indonesian chicken “rica rica” was deceptively delicious. At first, I thought the sauce was too mild, but after a few bites, I could taste the sauce’s complex, layered flavors. Sweetness came from shrimp paste, heat came from red peppers, and a slight tartness may (don’t quote me on this!) have come from tamarind. The chicken was cooked beautifully, and fell off the bone.

For dessert (which is not included in the Blind Tiger deal), we splurged on a pecan chocolate croustade with Sumatran cinnamon gelato and fresh berries. The croustade was out-of-this-world good: a warm, flaky pastry crust belied toasted pecans and just a touch of chocolate on the inside, drizzled with local Virginia honey. Eaten with the cinnamon gelato (made at Dolcezza just up the street), the dessert reminded me of a warm cinnamon roll. It was a decadent ending to a decadent meal.

Other random notes about the meal: be prepared to wait a while for your food. Just like Two DC found, there was a long lag between courses. But, that may just be part of the dining experience at Mie N Yu–it certainly gave us time to walk around the restaurant and enjoy the opulent surroundings. I didn’t mind at all, but if you’re pressed for time, I would head elsewhere. Our server was also very knowledgable and attentive, which I appreciated.

Though it’s difficult to remain objective at free meals like this, I can (objectively) say that the Blind Tiger menu is a great value: $25 for three generously portioned, well-prepared courses in a lavish, over-the-top restaurant like Mie N Yu is a steal. And, bottles of wine listed on the Blind Tiger menu are 50% off, and the most expensive bottle is only $28. (I recommend the Cono Sur Pinot Noir from Chile, despite the cheesy name.) I had a fabulous Blind Tiger meal at Mie N Yu, and hopefully, yours will be just as delicious and decadent.

Mie N Yu

3125  M St. NW

Washington, DC 20007

(202) 333-6122

For the Blind Tiger Menu, online reservations must be made between Sunday and Thursday.

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Silver Diner: Not a Greasy Spoon Anymore

I will admit that I’m somewhat of a food snob. On our first date, I warned my boyfriend that if Chili’s or McDonalds was our destination, he would almost certainly be dining alone that night (luckily for both him and me, he hadn’t chosen either of those places). I avoid chain restaurants like the plague, opting for local joints instead. My food elitism is precisely why, when I received an invitation to attend a menu sampling at the Silver Diner, I hesitated at first. I thought to myself, “A chain greasy spoon? No way.”

But when I read the invitation more closely, I was intrigued. The event was slated to unveil Silver Diner’s newly launched Fresh and Local menu to the DC blogger community. I’m a sucker for anything with the words “fresh” and “local” in the title, so I decided to check out the event with my friend Jen, of Fresh Cracked Pepper.

The evening proved once again that you should never judge a book by its cover. My skepticism was proven wrong, and Jen and I came away with mostly positive impressions of Silver Diner’s new initiatives. The event began with introductions from owner Bob Giaimo and Head Chef Ype Von Hengst (pictured above). Giaimo discussed the rationale behind revamping Silver Diner’s menu and his decision to go the fresh and local route. He explained that after a month of conducting focus groups with Silver Diner customers, he discovered an overwhelming demand for fresh and local cuisine. More importantly, he found that diners were willing to pay more for locally sourced ingredients–compensating for the additional costs that the Diner would incur.

Chef Ype then presented the new menu offerings. Having grown up near a farm in Holland, where his mother brought him along to buy fresh milk and vegetables, he is passionate about bringing local ingredients to the Silver Diner. The first round of tastings included a summer citrus salad, chopped asian salad, and a variety of sliders (salmon, pesto turkey, hamburger, tomato mozzarella).

Chef Ype boasted that the strawberries (in the citrus salad) arrived in the restaurant that morning from a farm in Delaware. They certainly brightened up an otherwise run-of-the-mill salad. I also enjoyed the salmon and turkey burger sliders: both were served on whole wheat buns (sourced from a local bakery) and tasted juicy and tender.

Next, Chef Ype served the entrees (as if the surfeit of sliders and salads weren’t enough!): 600 calorie smothered BBQ meatloaf, 600 calorie vegetarian noodle stir fry, gluten free shrimp scampi with Maryland goat cheese and locally grown asparagus, brown rice with edamame, and guacamole pepperjack burger (which used hormone-free ground beef).

The guac burger was delicious: the patty was cooked with a perfectly pink center, and the addition of avocado, cheese, and bacon pushed the burger over the top–in a good way. The shrimp scampi, made with gluten free brown rice flour pasta, was also surprisingly good–and not an entree you’d expect to see at a diner. The earthy asparagus, along with the tangy Maryland goat cheese, added color and sophistication to the dish. The only dish that I wasn’t a fan of was the noodle stir fry (though I do applaud Chef Ype for using whole wheat pasta). The teriyaki sauce was a bit cloying for my taste.

Of course, I couldn’t leave without sampling some dessert: apple pie, chocolate cake, and a gluten free brownie sundae (sorry, no photo of the sundae available). The desserts were decent, but a tad too sweet for my taste. I did enjoy those fresh, juicy Delaware strawberries, which made another appearance atop the apple pie.

The night ended with some fabulous complimentary gift baskets, which included fresh bunches of asparagus, more of those delicious strawberries, Greenberry’s coffee, a Silver Diner mug, and 2 bottles of Virginia-brewed beer.

I think Silver Diner’s Fresh and Local menu is quite admirable. Yes, “fresh,” “local,” and “organic” have become buzzwords in the food community, and there are many restaurants out there that just slap on those labels without doing the legwork. But Silver Diner is not one of those establishments.

After listening to Bob Giaimo and Chef Ype, it’s clear they have done extensive research and found the best local ingredients they can afford: asparagus and strawberries from Delaware, hormone free beef from New Jersey, eggs from Lancaster County, PA, and locally baked buns. Some would argue these locales are not local enough. But in my opinion, that’s close enough and still way better than buying strawberries from, say, Mexico. And, perhaps most importantly, the food is tasty: not all the dishes were winners, but overall, I was very satisfied with my meal.

Head over to the Silver Diner in Clarendon to try their new Fresh and Local menu for yourselves! (The menu will be implemented at other Silver Diner locations soon.) I’m sure you’ll be surprised, like I was, to find that it’s not your typical greasy spoon anymore.

Silver Diner Clarendon

3200 Wilson Blvd.

Arlington, VA 22201

703-812-8600

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Redwood Restaurant and Bar: A Classy Bethesda Eatery

On Tuesday evening, I attended the launch party for Rill Architects at Redwood Restaurant and Bar, located in the heart of the posh Bethesda Row. (Full disclosure: I received an invitation from the PR firm running the event and attended as a media/blog guest. The new category, Media Pass, designates these types of events.) I’ve walked past Redwood many times, and my eyes always wandered to the scrumptious-looking plates arriving at the tables outside. Luckily, the event on Tuesday gave me a chance to try some of their offerings.

Redwood’s interior features dark mahogany tables and walls, tall windows, and modern lighting. The firm chose Redwood as their party location  specifically because of its impressive architectural design and aesthetic.

But enough about the ambiance; now onto the food! A classy selection of appetizers were served buffet style in the bar. I always love a good cheese platter, and the one served at Redwood was particularly good: brie, bleu cheese, pepperjack, and a few other types of cheese were accompanied by spiced cashews and dried apricots and figs. Thinly sliced crisped french bread was also on hand.

My other favorite dish of the night was the risotto balls. For those who have never tried these delectable treats, I highly recommend them–especially if you like risotto. Risotto balls are basically risotto (the decadent Italian rice dish) rolled into a ball, coated in flour, eggs, and breadcrumbs, and then deep fried to perfection. Redwood’s version did not disappoint: crisp on the outside, cheesy and soft on the inside, and absolutely delicious with the marinara sauce. Other dishes served that night included a vegetable platter, Asian dumplings, grilled focaccia with various pestos and spreads (though the risotto balls were clearly the star).

I will definitely be back to try Redwood’s full menu sometime soon. Their Sunday Jazz Brunch, which features live music from 12-3 p.m. and freshly made apple cider donut holes (yum!), sounds amazing. Maybe I’ll snag one of the outdoor tables this Sunday, and then head next door to Dolcezza for some dessert.

Redwood Restaurant and Bar

1721 Bethesda Lane

Bethesda, MD 20814

301-656-5515

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