Went to four frequently mentioned Chowhound restaurants during my business trip to DC last week and here is what I found:
Lunch at Full Kee: We each got shrimp dumpling soup and loved it; the dumplings were perfect, with a delicate broth, very good and satisfying overall. We also shared a plate of roast pork, which had just came out of the oven and was really quite wonderful. The roast duck, however, was flabby and largely tasteless.
Dinner at Ten Penh: Two of us ordered (at different times) the TP Cosmo. Mine was very good and not too sweet. My friend ordered one after sending back the martini with the octopus in it -- not because of the octopus but because it was an uninspired, tasteless drink. Her cosmo came out five shades darker than mine and very syrupy tasting. Different bartenders? Three of us shared three appetizers and two entrees. The tuna tempura roll appetizer was excellent, as were the steamed pork and crab shu mai dumplings with chinese black vinegar dipping sauce. The Peking Duck style spring rolls were OK but nothing special. We had the red thai curry shrimp. The shrimp were good and fresh but there needed to be a better balance of more spicy and less sweet in this dish. We then had the whole crispy fish with a tamarind dipping sauce. The fish was fresh and well prepared and huge, the tamarind sauce was lovely. The waiter put the fish on the table with some very large serving implements and walked away. We called him back to ask whether he planned to serve us the fish (at least the first cut as so many decent Asian restaurants do) and he said no, he'd leave that up to us. Call me cranky but when I spend this kind of money I expect a little more in the way of service rather than wrestle with a big fish and large serving implements. I've been before and probably will go again, but it just doesn't seem to be as good as it was last year (it was a Monday night).
Lunch at Bistro Bis. Maybe it's me, but this restaurant seems to be getting a little tired. We shared an onion tart appetizer, which was lovely. I then got the steak salad - a special I think, which was just OK. Probably should have gotten the diver scallops but I often order the same things here and am not inspired by much on this menu any more. We shared an apple tart for dessert. It was good, but very difficult to cut with a fork and we could not get the waiter's attention to get a knife, and believe me we tried. Not sure I need to go back.
Lunch at Equinox: This lunch was my favorite of the week and my first meal at this restaurant. We each had the radiccio and bibb lettuce salad with toasted pine nuts and shaved parmesan -- a lovely combination in a light vinagrette followed by wonderful seared maine diver scallops over polenta with brussel sprout petals and applewood bacon. We practically licked the plate clean. Unfortunately no room for dessert this time, but I'll be back. This restaurant reminded me of what I used to like about Bis.