If a place boasts that it has over 200 items on its menu and attempts to serve "Asian cuisine" without focusing on a particular region, chances are high that it won't be fantastic. iPOH Asian Cuisine proves this theorem.
I was curious about the restaurant's name. At first glance I thought it was some sort of IHOP knock off. Our friend and dining companion suggested that it might stand for something like "International Palace of Hunan." My other friend Mr. Google taught me that Ipoh is a city in Malaysia that is famous for its food. Maybe the owners resorted to the funky capitalization to stand out.
I'd imagine that a restaurant owner on this stretch of Connecticut Avenue in Woodley Park would do just about anything to stand out. Is there a more nondescript and unexciting stretch of restaurants in all the land? In a one block span you have about 5 generic Asian restaurants, 4 generic Italian restaurants (one of which definitely sucks), a handful of Indian restaurants, and a few Mediterranean restaurants thrown in for good measure. Can anyone honestly distinguish these places from one another?
We gave iPOH a shot and, while it wasn't an unpleasant experience, there is nothing we ate that was interesting enough to send us back. We ordered three dishes and shared them family style. Judging by the prices, you'd think three dishes plus soup would be enough for a party of three, but the portions were less than generous.
The first dish was described as Spicy Lemongrass Chicken (mushroom, sweet peas, carrots, green and red peppers, and chicken in a spicy lemongrass sauce). The chicken was nicely cooked but the sauce was a bit baffling. Isn't lemongrass supposed to be green/yellow and isn't it supposed to taste like lemongrass? Maybe they gave us sweet and sour sauce instead.
I selected the Malaysian Chow Kueh Teow noodles (stir fried flat noodles with tofu, egg, bean sprouts, soy sauce, and chili paste). A pretty standard noodle dish but the chili paste had a nice slow burn that jazzed things up a bit.
Since we ordered two spicy dishes, B chose the mixed vegetables to cool things down. It was a very ordinary rendition of mixed veggies in garlic sauce. We asked for mixed veggies and we got mixed veggies, but not too many...
I was hoping that iPOH would disprove my theorem about generic Asian restaurants and restaurants on Boring Street (err, Connecticut Avenue in Woodley Park). Can you show us a place that will prove me wrong?
Second Thoughts from B
If you find yourself at iPOH, make sure you bring a friend and a camera (for the record, we were 1 for 2, but our friend provided iPhone pictures). With food this nondescript and forgettable, the friend will allow for an enjoyable evening while the camera will increase the chances that the night will be memorable. The food only serves to make you full... if you can afford to order enough of it.