Choong Hwa Won and Ja-jang Myun

Sorry about that title but this great experience comes from K-town, one of Washington DC metro area’s greatest densities of tasty food (aka Annandale).

I was gratefully introduced to Choong Hwa Won by Sang Han (shout out to you Sang) and have never been disappointed since. When going there, I have only ordered two things, ja-jang myun and dumplings, an awesome location for both. And I shared this specific experience with a college friend, Kevin Kusunoki.

Choong Hwa Won

Ja-jang Myun tastes like total Korean comfort food and boy does it feel like comfort. Not only is it incredibly affordable ($4.99) for a huge amount, but it really is so good and satisfying! It also comes with some traditional Korean kimchi and side veggies. Here are those sides:

Kevin

 

IMG_5848 IMG_5833And here are the noodles with my buddy Kevin modeling the food for me:

Noodles

 

IMG_5840 IMG_5844And here are their dumplings which you can order fried or boiled; how do you not get fried?

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And anyone who knows me, knows that when you go to Annandale to eat, you have to finish the night off at Shilla Bakery. Shilla is not only a place for their baked goods (which are quite good) but also for the amazing Bing Soo!! Bing Soo is a solid dessert; it includes shaved ice, ice cream, flavorful sauces, mochi, fruit and more depending on what flavor you get. Although I do really enjoy the Green Tea Bing Soo, Strawberry still seems to be my favorite.

Shilla

 

IMG_5862 IMG_5863And here is the Bing Soo; really trying to let you appreciate the size. Try and bring someone along to share. I’ll be the first to admit that it is hard to finish by yourself, especially after Ja-jang myun… But then again, everyone has those days. πŸ™‚

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IMG_5858

 

IMG_5857And like I said, Shilla does offer a few other things, including some pastries for really good prices. You can also sample almost anything while there! πŸ™‚ One of my favorite pastries is a Strawberry Cream croissant type of thing… It is quite buttery and sugary, great combo. πŸ™‚ You can buy them in individually wrapped packets for $1!

IMG_5850Here are a few other great items!

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These are just two spots in Annandale which also happen to be in the same parking lot as each other. πŸ™‚ However, there are so many other wonderful places that I have tried and have yet to try there so if anyone wants to make a trip down there? πŸ™‚

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A City for Serious Eaters

Happy Belated New Year! Chinese New Year that is… I got to spend it in Asia this year. It just so happens that it is the year of the snake. However you may feel about our creepy crawler animal friend, I liked some of the decorations, especially in Singapore. Here’s a shot in Chinatown with a large snake lining the street.

Chinatown Singapore

 

We happened to walk through Chinatown on our way to the infamous chicken and rice food stand. One of Singapore’s national dishes is their chicken and rice and apparently Anthony Bourdain vouched for a specific food stand. Desmond can tell you the story behind it all which includes some drama and rival stands being built but I was mainly interested in the food so I may not remember all the details. Β πŸ™‚

Food Stalls

 

There are a lot of food stalls around Singapore that look like this but this one has the famed Chicken and Rice as seen below. You can also see Des ordering from the stand on the left, with a light blue sign.

Chicken and Rice IMG_0651

 

And for dessert, we got another famous Singapore item, Lao Ban’s Soya Bean (custard?). I should have taken notes…

Soya bean

 

The Chicken and Rice wasn’t my favorite meal ever but it was solid, satisfying and tasty. It is also a Singapore staple so a must try… and this dessert was good too! But if you have a serious sweet tooth (like me), it may not be sweet enough.

We continued on from here to meet up with friends. Singapore has a serious hipster scene to rival Portland (even though I’ve never been to Portland, I’m assuming). I wanted to share part of that scene with you: Group Therapy. That’s the name of the coffee shop.

Group Therapy

 

Group Shot

 

In case you were wondering, I’m the white guy on the right… πŸ™‚ And see those egg cartons holding the sugar? Totally hipster… I enjoyed them.

That was one evening… The next morning/afternoon (whenever we got up), we experienced what was probably my 2nd favorite meal in Singapore, the Fried Oyster and noodles. I think it was just this fried oyster though on Upp Serangoon (sp?), because I tried it again later and it just didn’t measure up. We washed it down with some delicious milk tea.Noodles

Fried Oyster

Milk Tea

 

And before I bring this posting to a close, let me just share with you the Taro Pie at McDonalds. I have a mini-obsession with Taro flavored things, I really enjoy the flavor so I was uber excited to find this. Just like the apple pie but with Taro!

Taro Pie

 

Me with Taro Pie

 

(Notice the forehead sweat, this was after 15 minutes of drying off)

And to close: the reason for this blog title is an article about Travel Tips in Singapore, with the below quote from Anthony Bourdain with which I completely agree!

A City For Serious Eaters
“New York may be the city that never sleeps, but Singapore’s the city that never stops eating. For a gastro-tourist, somebody who travels to eat, any kind of serious eater, Singapore’s probably the best place you can go for maximum bang in a minimum period of time.”

 

Eating Around Vietnam

Vietnam did consist of other foods besides Pho and Banh Mi so I wanted to share a few more things with you. Anyone who knows me knows that mealtimes are my favorite time of day, not just because of eating, but because of spending time with people. This trip consisted of a lot of mealtime and people time. Even though I still wasn’t able to eat every meal (sickness came and went), it was still good spending time with people.

Some of the best meals we experienced were at my friend’s aunt’s business. She had a chef cooking for them along with the employees and it was always reliably good home-cooked food. One of those great fresh meals were spring rolls. Always a favorite of mine, growing up, especially when they’re freshly wrapped.

Spring Roll Spread

Here I am enjoying my first roll… or maybe 4th or 12th…

Me Eating Spring Roll

Another good meal we enjoyed here was an omelet-looking thing (sorry I can’t be more descriptive, no one spoke English), but it was good! You just took the omelet mix in the lettuce wrap and put fish sauce over it like everything else.

Omelet Thing

This next meal may have very possibly been the same day. The noodles and rice were basic but the pork here was really good. The eggs always double the food appeal for me.

Noodles and Rice

Pork

 

At least half of the meals we had in Vietnam involved some kind of hot pot or hot plate. And most of these tended to involve goat or some kind of good meat!

Meat hot plate

 

And since most of our meals involved so much food, this one involved the hot plate and the Β hot pot. So above you see the meat mix (goat) and of course a ton of vegetables and then you can also wrap this up like a Spring Roll.

Veggie Plate

 

Wrap

 

And then the hot pot with a goat curry.

Hot Pot Goat

 

We each had individual bowls to eat the noodles and everything else. Below you see my bowl with what was probably the weirdest thing I ate while there… goat’s blood. It was pretty spongy and didn’t taste that weird but knowing it was blood made it weird.

goat's blood

 

And then to finish it off, more coffee! Or Nuoc Mia which we had whenever we got the opportunity. Nuoc Mia is a really good Vietnamese drink that is made from pressing sugar cane.

Nuoc Mia

 

And I know I’ve already shown a lot of pictures of Iced Coffee but this one is special. It’s special because it has chocolate in it! This was in a cafe in Ho Chi Minh City; I had never seen one like that yet so I definitely ordered that.

Iced Coffee with Chocolate

 

And if you’re worried about going to Vietnam and not being able to eat anything “normal,” don’t worry, you can get really good “normal” food there as well; like this rice and pork below!

Rice and Pork

Banh Mi and Seafood (mostly)

One of my most most most favorite things in Vietnam was the bread! I cannot express to you how excited I get remembering that bread… πŸ™‚ I think this was one positive contribution the French made during their brutal occupation that lasted for awhile. So, it might be debatable if it was worth it to get the bread, but I won’t get into that now…

Bread

Banh Mi was actually the first food experience I had after arriving in Ho Chi Minh City. We got into the airport, met the family, piled up in the van and started our drive home. FYI, this is what the traffic was like.

Bike Traffic

There was this one Banh Mi place we frequented every time we went to the city. Here is what it looked like.

Banh Mi Place

And this is what my first (of many) sandwiches looked like!

Banh Mi

And we went from that to our first meal. We got into town and went to my friend’s aunt’s business. Most of the best food we had on the trip came from this place. She had a cook working for her that made some great food. We would just lay out some cardboard on the floor and all sit around in a circle. This was part of our first spread!

The First Spread

These two dishes were seafood heavy as you can see. A lot of the trip consisted of seafood. It became a little much after the first week but the for the first week, I was still enjoying it!

First meal IMG_9068The next morning, for breakfast, we had something I had never had before and quickly became a new favorite, Hu Tieu. It’s another breakfast food in Vietnam, like Pho. There was a place across the street from our house that sold the best kind. If you didn’t make it there by 11am, they would sell out.

Hu Tieu

Almost everything, including these soups, got dressed up with more vegetables and sauces after they were served. These pictures are what they looked like before I did all that though. The Hu Tieu was served with a smaller plate of meat, also really good.

Side of Meat

Another favorite breakfast item included the Banh Mi but when they would give it to you with a fried egg… really good. And to make that even better, you would get meat with it sometimes. I guess I didn’t get a direct picture of it but you can see it in the background here.

Breakfast Banh Mi

And what better to finish it all off then with coffee again!

Coffee Pre-Mix

Coffee