Toki Underground

Every major city has seen an influx of ramen restaurants. Washington D.C. was no different. However, in 2012, Toki Underground hit the scene. Not only did they bring ramen, but they brought their creativity along with some new takes on Taiwanese favorites. In my opinion, saying this stuff was fusion really takes away from their creations. It’s more like New Asian in my book. Something you’ll find in Taiwan or Japan, but refined for the critical foodies here in the city.

We showed up for lunch right when it opened and saw a few groups already lining up. Once the door opens you walk upstairs into a place that I’ll describe as hip. You got a good view into the kitchen, a bar, and decor that’s a cross between street art and Anime pop. That’s cool in my book.

There were surprisingly a lot of seats and they were set up bar style. That it, you’re either sitting at the bar where they serve alcohol or along the walls where you sat side by side with everyone. In the middle was the table where the servers hung out. Pretty simple to turn around to flag one of them down. So you can say they were pretty attentive given this layout. I can’t say much about speed since we were about the third order to hit the kitchen and yes, our food came out quick, very quick.

Overall, I think this would be a regular spot for me, especially for dinner, if I lived in the area. But either way, I will be back at some point to try out more bowls.

Toki Underground
1234 H Street NE
Washington, DC 20002
+1 (202) 388-3086

Verdict: Great bowl of ramen that’s full of taste, but don’t leave without trying their fried chicken gua bao.


May’s Crab House

No visit to Maryland is complete with out some Maryland blue crabs. Correction, a lot of blue crabs, steamed and smothered in Old Bay seasoning. And I don’t mean like a dozen. They talk bushels here in Maryland and in this particular case, it was all you can eat, which can mean multiple bushels depending on your group. There are several all you can eat crab places around the D.C. area, so make sure you read up on them. Some aren’t locally sourced. May’s happens to be.

The restaurant was located in the suburbs of Montgomery County on a back road parallel to the 270 Highway. It kinda looks like a Colonial house converted to a restaurant, then fitted with an outdoor patio for summer fun. Would have loved to see the Friday night crowd, but it was pretty chilly. Not too many people willing to freeze their asses off no matter how much beer you get them. We chose to dine inside.

You’ll see from the pictures that you should just focus on the crabs here. My eyes were larger than my stomach and I got too much other stuff. I would have been fine spending hours there with beer and crabs catching up with my friends. Instead, I was full by an hour and fighting off food coma. If the chairs had been more comfortable, I would have dozed off. Oh the dreams of I’d have. Over two dozen crustaceans would be waiting for me. Fortunately, or unfortunately on how you look at things, they’d all be the smaller to medium ones. Because that’s the size you get in the all you can eat menu. The large ones were kept to the ones that don’t gorge, like I tend to gorge.

May’s Restaurant
5640 Urbana Pike
Frederick, MD 21704
+1 (301) 662-4233

Verdict: Not bad. Stick to the crabs and you’re good. I’ll come back if I’m staying close by.


8407 Kitchen Bar

I met a friend for lunch here at 8407, courtesy of a look up on Yelp. It was nearby where I was staying. Yet knowing it was in downtown Silver Spring, I was worried about parking. Don’t fret, it’s right next to a large parking garage. Bring quarters or have your smart phone ready. You can pay via mobile as long as you sign up.

The layout of the place was unexpected. Upon entering, there’s a bar to the right with some table seating next to the window and towards the back wall. You’d think the venue was small, but if you’re seated in the main area, upstairs, you’ll know this place was set to plenty of medium to large parties. Given it was lunch, we only needed a table for two. Plenty of seating. Oddly enough we were seated next to a wall rather than the window. Sure, I’d usually change tables, but my friend happen to be pregnant and she was already seated. Why would I make a fuss.

Anyways, onto the food. Not sure why some reviews categorized this place as a gastropub. I think it’s more American with variety. It doesn’t have that edgy takes on dishes. Nor do I think they should. Their dishes are pretty solid and you’re meant to sit down, take your time, and enjoy the meal. Yeah, like a restaurant, restaurant. But if you insist, go ahead and order rounds of sophisticated beer and nibble on your food into the night. I won’t stop you.

8407 Kitchen Bar
8407 Ramsey Avenue
Silver Spring, MD 20910
+1 (301) 587-8407

Verdict: Good food if you happen to find yourself in Silver Spring. Though, I wouldn’t go out of my way to try it.


There’s Shake Shack!

We had some time before my presentation at UMCP, so we did some sightseeing. First we went to the National Cathedral and then… nothing else. On the way down to the White House, we saw Shake Shack. Actually, scratch that, I saw Shake Shack and some how convinced everyone to stop for an early lunch. Eventually, the food coma would kick in and us as tourists ended.

Everyone had Shake Shack before, but I’ve only known this one. Never the one up in New York. But if this was close to the real deal, it’s got me sold on its burger. The place itself was a bit difficult to get to. Even when I spotted it, we had to round the block given the one way streets. It was also on a sharp corner, making maneuvering tricky with all the double parked cars. Lucky for us, we found parking in front of the place. Sweet! Even sweeter, was the fact that we were early. No lines! The place was very clean and the view into the kitchen was well lit by the big windows. Not sure why I stare at the menu, I’ve only ordered one thing. Given that this was a craving run, I didn’t want to stray from my usual. We ordered and I did my best to convince everyone that a Shack Stack with a malted milk shake was the best way to go. Even though I tried nothing else. After they tried my shake and saw my burger, they knew I was right. Flash forward to the next day, they went back (without me) and got what I had. Nirvana!

Trust the ox.

Shake Shack
1216 18th St NW
Washington, DC 20036
+1 (202) 683-9922

Verdict: I’ll always stop by given the chance, but maybe not if there’s a line.


Pre-Flight Check

Well. It was time to say goodbye to my old home town. So good to have see all my friends and family. Sometimes we forget how lucky we are to know such good people. Especially the ones that accept you even when you don’t keep in touch like you used to. Age and time have been playing their cards against each other and we were only the chips in the game. How has it been two years since I’ve been back? It felt like yesterday when I was back here for my buddies wedding. Now they are having a kid and I didn’t know until eight months in. If this has taught me anything, it’s to enjoy your time with the chips around you. Who knows when you’ll be out together again.

Got a little too sentimental for you? Fine.

Back to places and food.

I had to close the loop on the pho places here. So for lunch I met a friend over at Pho Golden Cow. This place was your definition of hole in the wall. Stuck inside a small little strip mall, that had the most fucked up entrances, was this little shop. Don’t expect the place to be spotless clean. Don’t expect it to be organized. Just don’t knock over any boxes and pray the air was circulating, because you’re going to order one steaming bowl of soup. And sure, the description may sound like your typical neighborhood pho place, but take it down one more notch. You know, where the table was all rickety, because the wad of paper holding up one of the legs went missing. And each movement made you spill a bit of your soup. Yeah. That’s the place. But guess what. I didn’t mind. didn’t mind at all. The pho was great and I didn’t even finish. I couldn’t. I left some noodles and concentrated on polishing off the chicken. Gotta love that feeling. Cause you know, it’s pho. Not the most filling of meals.

That’s what I thought as we had some time to kill before the airport.

We went to the Thai Buddhist Temple to check out the street food. No, this was not your typical Asian street food variety. It’s American grade cleanliness in regards to street food. Unfortunately, I was still full by the time we got there. It’s a forty-five minute drive from Virginia to Maryland to the points we were traveling between. Next time I’ll make sure to save room for it.

When will that be? Not sure, everyone here was married now. No mandatory reasons.

I’ll have to come back here as an actual vacation. A vacation in DC, really.

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