In the DMV for a week! Starting in Falls Church at the Eden Center, then...

Back in Steamy City to see family and friends and immediately had to visit Eden Center. I went inside the building next to Princess Jewelry/Diamonds to #9, Chā Ôc Gia Huy. Very cool young lady allowed me to split 3 types of food into one big container and it was just $22.50 instead of the $45 that 3 big containers, one of each type, would have cost. Not sure if that is always the case but she did not miss a beat when I asked.
Any way, I wanted the Oc Nuong La Lot (beef with snail wrapped in betel leaf, maybe also called Bo La Lot?), Doi Huyet blood sausage, the thin Nem Nuong sausage, the Cha Tom Su on a stick and the Nuoc Mam Gung sauce on the side. She was unable to split the blood sausage but i got the rest to go, no table inside and outside was too hot with no tables nearby.
Just a delicious meal! I started with the beef wrapped in betel leaves and they were outstanding! Slightly chewy (i think that was the snails) and utterly delicious! The Nuoc Mam Gung (ginger sauce) was milder than I am used to but good too. Then it was the Nem Nuang thin sausage which were good but mild too. Finally I started in on the Cha Tom Su on a stick, which was supposed to shrimp according to my notes but the shrimp was overpowered by a very tasty mixture of ingredients I could not quite identify. Porky/chicken?
It was good but not as good as the betel wrapped beef. Which I thought was supposed to be pork.
Anyway, I was confused but very satisfied.
I have half of it in my refrigerator so I will enjoy a snack tonight, too.


After lunch I had to visit one of my favorite Arlington places, Total Wine for a bottle of Vinho Verde and maybe a couple beers. Great selection, threw in a Port sampler and a special treat for me, a bottle of Lindeman’s Cuvee Renē Oude Gueuze 2022. The beers were the Celebrator Doppelbock for my brother, the Sam Smith’s Oatmeal Stout for me, the Two Hearted Ale for me, the Trappistes Rochefort for my niece and her husband then two mistakes, I wanted the Lagunitas Little Sumpin IPA but got the Wheat IPA by mistake. Not sure who will get this but will bring it to lunch at my Niece’s. And then I grabbed a 6 pack of what I thought was Voodoo Ranger Double Imperial IPA to share but I got a fruit one instead. Niece’s lunch, too.
The big splurge was a small taster pack of Quintas das Carvalhas Tawny Port wines. I have had the 20 in Lisbon and liked it a lot, so tasting the 10, 20, 30 and 40 all at once will be interesting. I have a Brazilian friend who loves Vinho Verde so I think I know what the wine and the port will be used for! It is a good thing she lives within walking distance of my hotel. LOL!


Nice haul! What else is on your target list?

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That Port sampler looks devine.

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I am beered up for a couple days, so I think I will keep my eye on the food for now. I think A&J this afternoon for the pickled cabbage, either Xao Long Bao or Won Ton soup then braised pork with braised egg. They used to have the smoked duck on the bone at the Rockville one, I may check to see if they have it in Annandale.
The menu there is so long and it is really hit or miss for me since I know so little about the cuisine.
But I will still keep my eye out for the non-wheat Little Sumpin Sumpin Ale, the Ballast Point Sculpin IPA, the Tampa Bay Cloudy Donkey and the Industrial Arts Power Tools IPA.


I am looking forward to it!
I was in Lisbon a year ago and started to taste my way through a few of them as I was searching for “my” bacalau recipe. I had no idea there were over 1,000 types of bacalau so I was in for some surprises, but almost every tawny port I tried was enjoyable.

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So I went to A&J for a late lunch and had the Szechuan Cabbage Salad and the Braised Pork with Egg that I love. But I always try to order one or two untried dishes to see what treats I can find.
Well the Cabbage and the Braised Pork were outstanding, as usual.
But they were out of the Wontons so i changed my order to Shredded Pork and Mustard Green Soup with home made noodles. I ought to have ordered Spicy Beef Tendon again because it is good here, but I went with a blander soup that was only ok. I also ordered the Smoked Chicken which is rather good but the special Smoked Duck at the Rockville A&J was better, but it is not on the menu at either place now.
Good meal, again, and a ton of leftovers for tomorrow.


We too were in Lisbon and wow, Port!


Thank you for the great report! I got a couple of things from Chā Ôc Gia Huy back in March, but never got around to posting about Chā Ôc Gia Huy. The variety of the place is impressive.

I got a bunch of beautiful snail rolls, wrapped in some kind of interlocked noodles. Sadly, they didn’t taste as good as they looked, but were a little chewy and didn’t have much flavor. I didn’t eat them until a day later, so maybe I didn’t give them a fair test, though.

I also got the nem chua chien, a fermented pork dish with a delicious dipping sauce, reminscent of the sauce that comes with Thai sun dried beef in many restaurants. This was very good snack food.

They had two versions of the nem chua chien, one the proprietor called “raw” and one he called “cooked,” and he strongly suggested I buy the “cooked” version. I did, though I’m pretty sure by raw, he just meant “cured.” But when he called it raw, I mentioned there’s a town in Japan that specializes in raw chicken dishes (really raw). The proprietor responded, “That sounds even more dangerous than our pork.”

Which I didn’t think was the best marketing technique.

(The FDA does have health standards for how curing must be done, and submission for FDA approval can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. But if you worry about that kind of picky stuff, you probably wouldn’t be excitedly grazing in a place like Chā Ôc Gia Huy.)


That fermented pork looks really good!
I got uncooked minced pork (laab mu?) in Vientiane years ago, it was marinated in lime and chili overnight. Simply delicious! The owner of the cafe asked me if I wanted my laab family style or tourist style so I went with the family style. Loved it.
When I told the concierge/desk clerk at my hotel what dish I had he visibly flinched.
Unfortunately the family style was the uncooked version and the tourist style was the cooked version and I was violently and completely ill for 3 days. If it weren’t for pedialyte and charcoal I really wonder if I would have lived.
Pity. I really loved that dish.
Cha Oc Gia Huy really looks like a place that you could keep finding delicious foods as you work down their menu.
I think the name of the place looks like it would look right at home in the Klingon language, oddly enough. I could just imagine Worf ordering blood sausage there.
And I wonder if they were really unable to split portion the blood sausage or the waitress had instructions not to serve it to whitebread looking customers.


Wow so wish I lived near a thriving Viet Community! Jealous
Nem Nướng is usually pretty lightly seasoned, more sweet and umami. Makes a great Gỏi Cuốn without the Noodles and a fried rolled Eggroll skin in the Roll.
Thịt bò lá lốt is just Beef in Betel Leaves Ốc lá lốt is Snails with a Pork Paste usually.
Same for the Chạo Tôm, Pork Paste is a common addition.

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Love both of these, but particularly the latter—such a refreshing beer.


I visited Hong Kong Palace for a late lunch today and it was a treat. Started with the Cold Chengdu Noodles and they were pretty good. Not enough of the red chili sauce at the bottom no matter how much I twisted and twirled the noodles off the bottom of the plate. Well presented, though, and a nice dish.
The waitress asked me how I liked my Cumin Lamb and I said, “Spicy but not way hot. Maybe 4 out of 5?” And it was perfect, just a slow build up to a bit of forehead sweat, no cold rivulets of sweat running down the back of my neck as I breathe fire and gasp for air. LOL!
The flavor was really good, though the lamb was a touch dry. The wok char on the veg and chilis was good, too.
Nice waitress and a very pleasant meal!
It was hard to walk past Padaek…


I had a similar experience in Lebanon. We had a driver, a really nice man, and we stopped at a famous restaurant out in a small town. Among the things we got was raw kibbe. We knew it was a risk, but it was a very famous restaurant so we felt okay about.

And none of us got sick … then.

But our driver had a cooler with ice in it with him and he suggested I take the leftover kibbe back to our apartment, so we could cook it later.

Big mistake. I cooked it up a couple of evenings later. Toni (my wife) refused to eat it, so she was fine, but I apparently didn’t cook it long enough and woke up the next morning feeling pretty queasy.

But I wanted to push ahead with our planned day, so our driver took us to the historical cities of Sidon and Tyre. I was steadily fading, and the vomiting began in the middle of the ruins of Tyre. Then I basically passed out until we got back to Beirut, where I managed to sleep it off that night.

It’s the only time I’ve ever gotten sick from food while traveling.

There was a silver lining. Our driver was a supporter of Hezbollah and Tyre is only 12 miles north of the Israel border. Our driver really wanted Toni and me to see the museum that Hezbollah has established in some of its old tunnels along the Israel border, and we had agreed to go.

The kibbe-induced vomiting put an end to that plan, and probably saved me going on the “no-fly” list for the rest of my life.

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Cooking doesn’t always keep one from becoming Ill. The Toxins that some Bacteria produce are not broken down by heat, even if the Bacteria are killed.

Glad you were OK!


I just posted my Fogo de Chao review in another thread. Let me see if I can cut and copy it here. It was a very nice experience with good food and an excellent staff.


I used to live in North Arlington and there are a handful of restaurants that I used to eat at frequently that were not great cafes but they were good places that were fun to visit over and over. I visited two of my old faves over the last 24 hours and one held up while the other faded a bit.
First off, Arlington Kabob used to have my favorite lamb kabob and my second best chickpea dish in Arlington so I went back to check it out again. I tried the lambchops this time and they were cooked to a slightly crispy exterior and a juicy, flavorful interior, simply delicious. The dipping sauces were a bit less spicy but still good and the two types of rice were dished out generously. The veg were fresh and cold. The chole (not sure of the Afghani name) was good but not as rich. All in all, a nice meal though not as impressive as it used to be.

Next I visited Peter Chang’s, which is a hundred yards from my old shared house from my younger years. Over the years I have worked into the menu a bit here and have a few dishes that were summer favorites for me. I always start with the wonton soup because it is cheap, hot and subtly delicious. This time it was a bit blander but it was still rather good. They got rid of the bigger wonton cracker strips and subbed in smaller strips but it was still good. The waitress gave me a couple of the small complimentary egg rolls that were pretty forgettable. She was fast and friendly so that was nice. Then I had the Ghost Pepper Chicken (new to me) and the Lettuce Wrapped Chicken, one of my favorite summer dishes there. The ghost chicken was not packing enough heat and had a slightly funky texture but were good, not great. I probably should have ordered the Grandmas Noodles. The lettuce wrapped chicken was as good as I remember it. Cold crisp lettuce and rich savory chicken. Nice dish.

Neither of these cafes serve great food, but they are solid neighborhood cafes that consistently deliver good food. And the staff at both are good people.


I’ve never been impressed with the Arlington branch of Peter Chang. But I’ve recently had excellent to outstanding meals at his Chang Chang in Downtown DC, Mama Chang in Fairfax, and Nihao in Crystal City/National Harbor. Our dining companions at Nihao were a Chinese couple who have been temporarily living in the US for the past two years. They said they and their friends all think Nihao is the most authentic Chinese restaurant in northern Virginia.

It was a delicious meal but my favorite of his restaurants remains Mama Chang. One major drawback to Nihao is that our meal was the loudest meal we’ve had in a long time.

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Man, those kebabs!

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I think the kebabs at Arlington Kebab are a bit better than the chops but the chops were good too. Perhaps the surface was a bit crisper than I like but the meat was delicious!

Doug, the Peter Chang’s near my old neighborhood has been up and down a lot, but I do not believe it was ever one of Chang’s best locations. But I still like it. LOL!
Even right now I am tempted to go back and buy a bowl of Grandma’s Noodles.
They used to have a hot and numbing “flounder” that was really good even if the fish was probably really tilapia. And their King Oyster Mushroom Casserole was good too. But probably not as good as they are in his other places. One thing I noted this visit is that nearly every person there was a white person. There were no asians at all. That did not used to be the case and that may be part of the “not as spicy” aspect I noticed.

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