H Street Life – June 2017


June is generally a pleasant month in the District. The spring showers have receded, but summer’s heat hasn’t yet fully set in to stay. It might be the perfect time to explore through a stroll or a ride on the streetcar. H Street NE has been the birth of many things, including Taylor Gourmet and &Pizza. Now a fried chicken franchise, well established in South Korea, hopes to launch its American expansion from our corridor. Will we see a repeat of these earlier successes? Only time and taste will tell.

Khan’s Bar & Grill Transforms into Choong Man Chicken
The signs for Khan’s Bar & Grill were quietly removed recently and replaced with new signs advertising Choong Man Chicken (https://www.choongmanchicken.com, 1125 H St. NE). As those who closely watched the transition will know, Choong Man has an owner in common with Khan’s, which previously served food cooked on a Mongolian grill.

Choong Man Chicken is a fried chicken franchise based in South Korea, and this is actually its first location in the United States. That won’t be the case for long, however, with plans calling for other Choong Man Chicken restaurants to open soon in Virginia, Houston, and Las Vegas. Because the Choong Man Chicken franchise comes from South Korea, so do the seasonings and equipment, even the plates and fryers. In Korea, Choong Man Chicken is largely a carryout operation with some seating, but the Khan’s layout was set up differently with more space, seating, and a bar. The owners decided they could make it work. Choong Man would keep Khan’s bar, put a cooking and carryout space up front, and add a new twist in the middle.

That special addition is a fish counter, where customers once selected ingredients to fill their bowls before turning them over to the Mongolian grill master. The team at Choong Man steams, grills, or fries up the fish, shrimp, snow crab legs, clams, and oysters behind the glass counter as customers order them. They use a dedicated fryer, so you needn’t worry about getting fishy fried chicken. Choong Man will also serve seafood steamers on the patio, which should be perfect for the Maryland blue crab they plan to have in stock soon. Dogs are welcome on the patio, so feel free to bring your leashed canine friends along.

Korean fried chicken generally has less breading than its American counterpart, and is known for its crispy shell. Choong Man Chicken offers its regular fried chicken, as well as seasoned options such as garlic soy sauce, spicy garlic, and red hot chicken. The snow onion chicken comes topped with white onions and a special Choong Man white sauce, but you can also order it in extra spicy and curry flavors. The tikkudak chicken is fried and then roasted with the goal of crisping it up without making it too oily. Chicken cooked tikkudak style comes in your choice of ganjang (soy sauce), gochujang (spicy), and curry. The fried chicken is cooked to order.

The Halal Guys Set Up Shop along H Street NE Corridor
The Halal Guys (www.halalguysdc.com) are now open at 814 H St. NE. They threw a party to celebrate the opening, complete with live music, DJs, giveaways, prizes, and even free food for the first 1,000 customers. The Halal Guys serve sandwiches and platters with falafel, gyro meat, and chicken, as well as side orders of fries, hummus, and tabouli, and they offer baklava for dessert. Limited seating is available at tables toward the front.

Insomnia Cookies Serves Late-Night Sweets
The chain Insomnia Cookies (https://insomniacookies.com) recently announced plans to add an H Street location. The new shop will open at 1309 H St. NE sometime this summer. As its name implies, Insomnia Cookies stays open late and is known for delivering fresh baked cookies until 3 a.m. You can get the standards, as well as flavors such as chocolate peanut butter cup and S’mores Deluxe. Order some milk for dunking your treat, or turn it into an ice cream sandwich. Insomnia also offers brownies and cookie cakes.

DC Harvest Now Serves Lunch on Fridays
DC Harvest (www.dc-harvest.com, 517 H St. NE) now serves lunch on Fridays. Lunch is available for parties sitting down to dine between 11:00 a.m. and 2:15 p.m., but the restaurant serves drinks and dessert until 3:45 p.m. The “still evolving” lunch menu includes favorites from the popular brunch menu such as baked brioche French toast, tri-tip steak hash, and crispy quinoa cakes. It also offers two sandwich options and an entree salad. The full bar will be available, as well as bottomless mimosas and bloody Marys. The Friday lunch menu also features non-alcoholic mocktails, including a cucumber ginger lime spritzer.

Annual Trinidad Garden Tour Is Back on June 11
The Trinidad Garden Tour returns on Sunday, June 11. The free tour is volunteer-run and open to the public. As in previous years, the day starts with a 12 p.m. social at 1130 Montello Ave. NE. From there, the group will continue on to look at various gardens around the neighborhood. The event not only gives you a chance to peek into the normally private backyards of homes on the tour, it’s also a valuable source of advice and ideas from friends and neighbors. Gardens on the tour include those focused on growing ornamental plants and those dedicated to herbs, fruits, or vegetables.

Smith Commons Reaches Out to Local Families
Local restaurant Smith Commons (www.smithcommonsdc.com, 1245 H St. NE) is welcoming families with a new kids-eat-free initiative. Children 12 years of age and under will be able to eat free off the kid’s menu with the purchase of a regular entree, 4:30-9:00 p.m., Tuesday-Thursday, and at Saturday brunch (11 a.m. to 3 p.m.).

Jimmy Valentine’s Lonely Hearts Club Toasts 10 Years
Hard as it may be to believe, Jimmy Valentine’s Lonely Hearts Club (www.jimmyvalentineslhc.com) recently celebrated its tenth anniversary. The tiny tavern, nestled into a storefront at 1103 Bladensburg Road NE, has spent the past decade luring in both neighbors and visitors in search of an off-the-beaten-path hotspot. In 2011, Jimmy Valentine’s appeared on a short list of best late-night bars in the country.

Cyclebar Headed to NoMa
Cycling studio Cyclebar (https://noma.cyclebar.com) will open at 1140 Third St. NE, Suite A-102, in the NoMa neighborhood. A note posted to the studio’s website announces that they will give away 2,500 free rides as they “get up and riding.” You can sign up on the website under the rider link for more details.

For more on what’s abuzz on and around H Street NE, you can visit my blog at http://frozentropics.blogspot.com. You can send me tips or questions at elise.bernard@gmail.com.