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Ten Penh and other weekend chow (long)

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Ten Penh and other weekend chow (long)

Marra | May 20, 2003 03:13 PM

I asked for help with picking amongst Asia Nora, Ten Penh, and Yanyu last week -- Hounds were helpful to me both in the food and accessibility areas. Because I wanted to take Metro from Crystal City with my brother who had just flown in from Geneva, Ten Penh's location was the deciding factor. The trip in was quite low-stress (no change of trains, and a brief 2 block walk from the station to the restaurant) and the food was very good, so this was a winner on both counts.

The Ten Penh menu had a lot of choices that looked good -- took us a while to decide on what we would get. The menu has a notation about informing the server of any food allergies, and we did tell the server that my brother has a nut sensitivity. He was helpful in identifying which dishes my brother should steer clear of.

For starters I had the spicy tuna tempura roll, and my brother had the steamed crab and pork dumplings. I enjoyed my tempura sushi which was nicely (but not too) spicy. The dumplings were also quite good, tho the portion is fairly large -- if you have a small stomach, I don't know how you could do justice to your main after eating these. Ony possible negative is that the sauce for the tempura roll tasted pretty much like the standard soy-based sauce -- there was nothing I could detect as ponzu, which is what the menu says it comes with. Maybe I just don't know what ponzu sauce is! 8-)

For mains I had the wasabi pea crusted grouper, served on sauteed pea shoots with a carrot-ginger sauce, my brother had the chinese smoked lobster on fried greens. I really enjoyed mine -- a nice flavor and having a vegetable in addition to the protein was good. Same with the lobster which comes cut up so it's easy to eat. We managed to demolish everything on the plates.

Forgot to say, before our appetizers, server brought us small portions (in a vodka-style shot glass) of a spicy asian tomato gazpacho. Good start to the meal.

My brother doesn't drink alcohol, so I was looking at the wines by the glass but wasn't thrilled by either of the riesling choices. They had a half-bottle of Domaine Weinbach alsatian riesling, so I ordered that. It was a very nice match to the spicy food.

Service was good -- friendly without being too friendly, and they did a good job of refilling my wine glass even tho the bottle was in an ice bucket a bit awya from the table.

We even got dessert, which I rarely do. They had passion-fruit/green tea ice cream. We split that -- it came in a bowl with three small scoops. I think we managed to eat almost the whole thing between the two of us.

I thought about getting soft shells (special, not on the menu) but the presentation didn't sound very interesting. Sweet and sour sauce, and some accompaniment that sounded ordinary -- I can't remember what now. It just didn't stand up to the interesting choices on the menu.

We also had good chow the rest of the weekend. Lunch at Taqueria Poblano in Del Ray. My brother spent one year in Santa Fe in college, so I thought he'd like it. My memory is that this place gets described as the DC area's closest thing to New Mexico style. He didn't disagree with that, and ate all his steak tacos al carbon. I had a green chile pork burrito, which I couldn't finish -- too big for my stomach! 8-) There were a lot of refried beans in the burrito, but I didn't really mind because they were really good. Unfortunately, the end of the burrito I started with had mostly beans and none of the other stuff (pork, cheese, pico de gallo) so I might have had more than my share of beans. To go with it I had a tamarind cooler, which I really enjoyed. The waiter offered me sugar, but I didn't think it needed any. In fact, I think it would have been too sweet with sugar added.

Then on Sunday night we had dinner at Monroe's also in Del Ray. I got the soft shell crab special there -- advertized as a ginger scallion with lime (?) butter preparation. When it came, the crabs were covered with a lovely mix of chopped tomatoes, scallions, and some ginger (not over powering). They were very good and I highly recommend them. Brother also enjoyed his penne with lamb ragu, tho he did say it was almost too flavorful with both lamb and some kind of ham (either pancetta or prosciutto I think) in the sauce.

I ordered dessert again (so much for saying I almost never get dessert!) -- got the panna cotta with raspberry coulis. I loved this! I am a sucker for custard types of desserts, and this was really good, especially since it doesn't have the egg which can make true custards so rich. This was more like Junket than other custard desserts. I loved Junket when I was a kid, so I really enjoyed this -- a nice clean flavor of sweetened milk.

Monroe's is an old favorite for me, and this simply confirmed that I will keep it in the rotation. Good food at reasonable prices, with a comfortable neighborhood feel. I'll definitely go back to Taqueria Poblano -- I wish Old Town had places that had this kind of neighborhood feel as well as the more upscale places that are there.

All in all, a good chow weekend! Maybe my brother needs to come visit more often if it gets me out to restaurants! 8-)

Marra.

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