Dining Notes – June 2017

Choong Man (Korean) chicken does a brisk carryout business

Korean Spice Is Nice
Things are heating up in the Atlas District, and we don’t mean just the weather. A recent arrival is Choong Man Chicken, 1125 H St., which opened mid-April in the space formerly occupied by Khan’s Mongolian. The newcomer specializes in several kinds of Korean-style fried chicken, plus ultra-fresh seafood. The latter is tantalizingly displayed out front.

Friend/fellow diner Tony, who has lived in Seoul, explained that chicken and beer is a natural combo in Korea. Choong Man is a sort of hybrid, with a lively sports bar in back and a fast food/carryout by the entrance. Picnic tables provide outdoor seating.

After getting sake (served in a shot glass) and a good Malbec at the bar, we ordered and paid for our food at the counter, then waited for our numbers to be called. Up front, water is 99 cents but free at the bar.

Peter ordered a plate of seven moist, crunchy, deep-fried jumbo shrimp. Tony chose butter-tender scallops dusted with what tasted like Old Bay. Fellow diner Nan went for the boneless “red hot” chicken pieces coated with a palate-searing chili sauce. I had the much tamer fried chicken wings. Orders come with very good, tangy coleslaw but limp, tasteless fries.

Choong Man is open daily for lunch and dinner; call 202-399-6010.

Lebanese Lunch
On another recent foray to Atlas District’s “restaurant melting pot,” Peter sampled the flavorful cuisine of Micho’s Lebanese Grill, a small, welcoming eatery at 500 H St. NE. Lunching solo, Peter ordered the shawarma mix platter with butterfly roasted chicken and thin-cut roasted lamb and beef atop a bed of rice. Along with hummus, fattoush salad, turnips, pickles, tahini sauce, and garlic paste, the heaping platter (only $14) was enough to feed both of us for dinner that evening in addition to his lunch. Service was swift and amiable.

Other platters include the $12 vegetarian mix, chicken kabob, and kafta kabob (both $14). Micho’s also offers a variety of pita meat and veggie wraps. Adventurous patrons may build their own wrap or bowl by choosing a meat or veggie along with toppings. Micho’s is open Sunday-Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday-Saturday from 11:30 to 3:00 a.m. Micho’s delivers orders over $20. Call 202-450-4533.

Ethiopian Restaurant Row?
Will the Atlas District become another Ethiopian restaurant row? For years, we’ve savored Ethiopic (especially the vegetarian platter) at 401 H St. NE. We recently lunched at Addis, 707 H St. NE. The three-year-old eatery is handsomely appointed with brick-lined walls, colorful photos (including a PowerPoint presentation of Ethiopian scenes), and an attractive, inviting bar area.

We ordered Addis Combo #2, consisting of lamb and beef stew, yellow lentils, collard greens, tomatoes, chicken legs, and egg (which came first?). Peter added fried tilapia, nice and crunchy, but watch out for bones! Simple, budget-priced wines are available by the glass (including Ethiopian honey wine); there’s also Ethiopian beer. Addis is open daily for lunch and dinner; call 202-758-2273.

Coming Soon
Up the street, coming soon is Farmbird, 625 H St. NE, specializing in grilled chicken. Hatched by buddies Dan Koslow and Andrew Harris, who launched a catering business out of Union Kitchen, their first bricks-and-mortar enterprise will showcase house-brined chicken breasts and thighs, plus made-from-scratch sides like mac and cheese and roasted Brussels sprouts. Their birds are raised humanely on regional farms, we’re told.

Nearby at 11th and H streets NE, look for the first DC outpost of Two Boots Pizza. Named for the shapes of Italy and Louisiana, the New York-based eatery – which has locations nationwide – will specialize in Italian and Cajun cooking.

Spring Fling
Beuchert’s Saloon, 623 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, welcomes spring and summer with a new menu. Tapping seasonal bounty, chef Andrew Markert is preparing pan-fried softshell crab, lamb and oyster meatballs, banh mi sandwiches, roasted asparagus, grilled ramps with cured quail egg. A sprightly cocktail list complements the fare. Beuchert’s, the Prohibition-era speakeasy featured on WETA-TV’s “Neighborhood Eats,” is open daily. Call 202-733-1384 or visit www.beuchertssaloon.com.

Chop Chop
The Capitol Riverfront got a little healthier with the addition of Chopt, a “fast casual” salad and wrap eatery. You’ll find it at 1257 First St. SE in FIRST Residences, a 450,000-square-foot, mixed-use development. At last month’s grand opening, almost 1,200 people converged on the leafy newcomer for free salads. Guests also contributed to DC Central Kitchen, a nonprofit devoted to ending hunger and poverty. Eventually joining Chopt on the building’s ground level will be Taylor Gourmet, Chipotle, Rasa Indian Grill, and Roti.

I Scream …
Sometime this fall, Hill residents will be able to cool their palates with ice cream and other goodies in the ever-rising Hine School Project. As the Hill Rag reported, the 800-square-foot Trickling Spring Creamery is sliding into the North Building of the mixed-use development in the 700 block of Pennsylvania Avenue SE. Based in Chambersburg, Pa., Trickling Spring sells ice cream and other dairy products in Union Market.

Hop to It
On a chilly afternoon last month, I hopped over to Eastern Market’s Market Poultry (202-543-7470), where proprietor Melvin Inman carries wild rabbit trapped in British Columbia. The $11 per-pound price seemed steep, but the result was worth it. After marinating the creature overnight in red wine, vinegar, garlic, and spices, I cooked it for several hours and served it with potatoes and vegetables. It’s also good with polenta. The meat was delicious, richer and gamier than other rabbit I’ve eaten. It tasted like venison. But why the sudden craving?

Blame Peter. He got a hankering for rabbit after we visited New York last month. In Manhattan’s financial district we lunched at the Dead Rabbit Grocery & Grog, an Irish watering hole. Dead Rabbit was named world’s best bar in 2016, and its “bar program” was nominated for a James Beard Award this year. (It didn’t win.) The moniker seemed rather macabre, so we looked it up and learned the name came from a notorious New York gang of Irish immigrants who terrorized the Five Points area (near present-day Chinatown) in the mid-19th century. A prop – a vintage newspaper clipping – from the Martin Scorsese movie “Gangs of New York” is displayed in the three-year-old pub.

Yes, Dead Rabbit serves rabbit.

Ambar, 528 Eighth St. SE, is hoping to erect a roof deck with a retractable glass roof. Designed by Gayll Worsley of W+W Associates Architects Pc, the project anticipates table seating for 48, plus 15 at the bar. Construction should start in about two months.

Yet More Tacos?
Bearnaise, Spike Mendelsohn’s charming French bistro at 315 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, closed last month. We will especially miss the duck confit. A sign outside thanked customers while telling them to expect a “pop-up taqueria” in that space.