I've been to the new Ballston Quarter a couple of times, and I wanted to mention the three places I tried in one thread.
We started off at Mi and Yu Noodle Bar, which I had fond memories of when I was in Baltimore a couple of years ago. This is a major spot to know about for ramen and steamed buns that are not specifically traditional.
We tried the roast duck topping over ramen noodles in a duck sambal broth. The sambal takes its cue from Indonesian flavors, so it is very different from traditional ramen. The flavors and the texture of the thin and curly noodles was exceptional. WIth the selection of toppings, noodle style, and broth, there are lots and lots of possibilities here. It would take a while to go through the combinations. I also got the herbed meatball buns, which were excellent. A major delight.
Next up was a Bentley pizza from Timber Pizza. They did a great job with this pizza. Fine crust, super cheesy, and the spicy toppings were cut with a drizzle of a hot honey sauce. BTW, this is not Neapolitan style crust or toppings. They only had two combo pizzas listed on the menu, but they also had a couple of specials. Aside from that, you can certainly do a 'build-your-own' pizza.
Pasta and sauces are listed separately at Cucina al Volo, so with mix n' match, you could go here many times and not get the same combo twice. We got the fettucini with bolognese sauce. The sauce was served nice and hot in temperature, but was otherwise unremarkable and maybe even harkens back to school cafeteria days. The fettucini was al dente, but very thick and dense and not particularly pleasant. I could see going back for other combinations, though. I haven't given up yet.
All of the places will definitely seperate you from the money in your pocket much faster than you'd think from a shopping mall food court. In the case of Mi And Yu and Timber Pizza, certainly worth it.
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