Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Adam Express

As we continue to train for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, we have been killing two birds with one stone by taking "training" walks in the evenings while also exploring new neighborhoods. On this particular evening, we walked up 14th Street to Columbia Heights to meet a friend for dinner. B had heard rumors of a Korean BBQ restaurant in the area, which we eventually stumbled across in the Mt. Pleasant neighborhood.

Since we didn't have a restaurant name or address, we weren't sure we were in the right place at first. The "Korean Japanese Food" and "Sushi" signs in the window weren't promising as we've often found that places that try to capture all of Asia in one menu end up serving mediocre cuisine. Once we entered, we saw "Best of DC" newspaper articles plastered on the walls and figured we had found the place we were seeking (we later realized that it was actually one newspaper article that had been photocopied and placed all over the place...).

Adam Express is a "hole-in-the-wall" in every sense. It's a tiny place with the seating area consisting of a small counter with four stools. It's not very clean and you wouldn't notice it if you were driving down the street. We knew we were either in for: A) an amazing authentic Korean food experience or B) a case of indigestion. Luckily, Option A won out.

The restaurant is run by a sweet older Korean couple who are eager to please. They giggled as B took photos of his food and even sang Korean hymns for us after other diners said that they had just come from choir practice. Amazing Grace in Korean and Bi Bim Bap? It was, as Barnabus Stinson would say, Legen ....wait for it....dary.

I ordered the Bi Bim Bap, which is rice, veggies, beef, and a fried egg served in a ceramic pot. The rice continues to cook as you eat it, leaving crispy grains to scrape off the side of the pot. Despite my unappetizing description, it's actually really good. I added a generous amount of Adam Express' hot sauce and I was in Bi Bim Bap heaven.

B ordered the Bulgogi which is thinly sliced and marinated beef, served with steamed rice and veggies. As is often the case with very thin cuts of meat, it was a bit dry. Next time we'll stick to the Bi Bim Bap or try one of the other signature Korean dishes that offers a bit more spice.

When B finished his Bulgogi he noticed this lovely Christmas scene on his plate. Even in April Adam Express is showing the holiday spirit.

The Bi Bim Bap is enough reason to walk several miles to Adam Express. I also love the homey atmosphere and the fact that they take credit cards (a rare occurrence for places like this). This is a neighborhood that is still "in transition," so I wouldn't recommended walking there alone at night.

Second Thoughts from B

Quirky, charming, and cheap. Finding places like Adam Express is what makes exploring a new city so much fun. Sure, most people know the expensive, Top 10 list, places to be seen with the celebrity chefs but knowledge of hidden neighborhood gems is what makes you a local. Well, that and building a healthy resentment for tourists who stand on the left side of the Metro's escalators.

My bulgogi was good, albeit not the big hit of the evening (that would belong to J's bi bim bap), but the whole experience was what will keep bringing us back. Smiling hosts and a good, solid meal... sometimes getting it right can be so simple.
Adams Express on Urbanspoon

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