Thursday, February 24, 2011

Weekender in Europe

This blog is called "TwoDC" for a reason. It describes those things that the two of us do in DC. So why then would we post something about our recent trips to Europe (pictured: Madrid and Paris)? Good question. Let me explain.

When you grow up in Southern California and move to DC, that means several things. First, it means that in order to visit friends and family you end up making a lot of weekend trips to the West Coast. To that point, we traveled to California 6 times in 2010 alone, and never stayed more than 3 nights.

The other thing about growing up on the West Coast is that you develop a belief that Europe is this far-off destination (at least a 12 hour flight) that requires an embarrassment of riches and two weeks of vacation.

It took us a couple of years but I think we've finally figured it out. If we can do a 36 hour trip to LA (which is a 6 hour flight) over a weekend, why not do the same in the opposite direction? Sure, travel is somewhat of a pain and a 7 hour flight is nothing to sneeze at. But unless you've hit the life lottery, you'll probably never have the time, money, health, etc. to make frequent travel easy. Instead, you have to make it a priority.

But when you decide to pick a weekend and fly off to Paris, you'll find it isn't as hard or as expensive as you might think. Here is the formula that works for us:
  • Find a 3-day weekend and add a day: Remember, just because you get the day off to celebrate President's Day, that doesn't mean that Europeans do (i.e., not always long-weekend crowds). 4 days gives you 3 days in a city which is enough to get a taste.

  • Minimize jet lag through scheduling: Take the after work red-eye and sleep as much as you can on the way there. Arrive in the morning and stay active. The excitement of the trip will carry you through that first day in Europe. On the fourth day, take the afternoon flight home (arriving in the evening) and try to stay awake on the plane. You'll be tired when you get home and have no problem going to bed that evening.

  • A smooth flight is everything: You don't want to waste a day in Europe recovering from a bad flight. Fly direct if possible. Choose a plane with TVs at every seat. Choose seats strategically; J and I now seek out planes with rows of only 2 seats (often found near the back) leading to more room and one less aggravation.

  • Find a deal: Traveling in low-season might mean less than ideal weather but also prices that are half what they usually are. Go where the deals are. We flew direct to Madrid last May for $400 per person on a promotional fare.

  • Soak it all in: Do the touristy things but also dive into the culture. Don't fly across the sea to do the same things you can do at home. This might mean eating or experiencing something odd or disturbing (note: we included the picture where the bull appears to be winning, but that's not the whole story).

  • Do your homework: Some people like guide books (we like the Eyewitness series) and others like the Travel Channel. Either way, study up on what you'll be seeing and doing. It provides for an infinitely richer experience. Study a map and the public transit situation. You don't want to do this on the fly. And don't forget to learn a few key phrases. You'll be surprised how far that extra effort will get you.
  • Be spontaneous:It is cliche but what is more evocative of youthful love than dreams of weekends in Paris? Just do it. And once you're there, go with the flow. Part of the beauty of travel is being open to those situations that are completely unplanned.
So there it is, our quick guide to a quick weekender in Europe. Now what are you waiting for?

J Says

I still remember my first long flight. I was 8 years old and my family flew from LA to New York for a summer vacation. I remember sitting in that United seat (it seemed so big back then) and being in awe of the overhead movie and the airplane food. Fast forward a couple decades and a zillion flights and, while I'm not in awe of plane travel, I remain just as wide eyed about setting foot in a new destination. Ask B about the first time I caught a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower...

Yes, we understand that not everyone can just pick up and go to Paris for the weekend. However, we are proof that it isn't as hard as you might think it is. B's tips are great but I'll add a couple of my own:

Make your plane seat your friend: We can't afford to fly first class. Instead, what I've learned to do is to make my coach seat as comfy as possible. I travel with a comfort kit that includes fuzzy socks, a folding footrest (seriously), an eye mask, ear plugs, neck pillow, travel blanket, Benadryl, sanitizing wipes, Emergen-C, a healthy snack, headphones and a great book. Call me crazy or OCD but I guarantee I'm one of the most comfortable people in coach. This stuff all fits in a backpack that can slide right under the seat.

Research your food options
: You don't want to land in a country where you don't speak the language and get ripped off on a crappy meal. Know where you want to eat and map it out. For Paris, I used Twitter to solicit meal suggestions and got some great tips. Other resources are your friends who have been before you, and countless food/travel websites. I always check Tom's Postcards before a journey, too. However, even with all the planning in the world, sometimes the best memories come from just trying something on the street.

Chill the Eff Out: As you can probably tell, I have a tendency to over-plan and over-worry. However, traveling has taught me that the best way to enjoy yourself is to go with the flow. In Madrid, I might have had a slight panic attack about missing a train. After wiping away a few tears (and boarding the train with plenty of time) I realized that missing the train wasn't the end of the world. Take a deep breath and take the time to look around you.

Leave your phone at home:
You don't need your smart phone for traveling. While I appreciate the safety and convenience of these devices, I also appreciate not having my work email at easy access. I wear a crappy watch and carry a foldable map. The rest we work out by asking locals or hotel concierges. You usually can always send the "we're alive" email to your family from the hotel's business center anyway. Trust me, those zillion work emails will be there when you return.

Bon voyage and enjoy. There's a big world out there waiting for us to check it out.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Sunflower Vegetarian Restaurant

Sunflower Vegetarian Restaurant is proof that you should not judge a book by its cover. After noticing the restaurant's sign many times as we navigated the treacherous Seven Corners intersection, we finally decided to check it out. Judging by the sign and the outside of the restaurant, Sunflower looks like a standard cafe.

As you enter, you're greeted with an impressively tacky yet wonderful display of sunflowers on every surface. You might feel as if you've stepped into a Mary Engelbreit calendar. After we were seated, B asked me if I'd read about any of their popular dishes. His eyes grew wide when I told him that they are famous for their General Tso's stirfry. "Huh?" said B as he eyed the decor, "this is an Asian place?" Sunflower shatters all stereotypes about what Asian food can be and what kind of dining room it should be served in.

We tried the aforementioned General Tso's Surprise (chunks of soy protein in a hot kung pao sauce garnished with carrots and broccoli) and the Sweet and Sour Sensation (soy protein with chunks of pineapple, zucchini, and carrots in a sweet and sour sauce). These are two dishes we'd likely never order at a standard Chinese joint, but I'd read rave reviews about them. I'm glad we listened to the people. Instead of drowning in heavy sauces, these dishes were lovingly blanketed with bold yet somehow light sauces. The vegetables, often a mushy afterthought, were crisp and begging to be eaten. The soy protein in the General Tso's was crispy on the outside and silky soft on the inside, and was the kind of dish that makes me think I could handle being a vegetarian. The sauce on the Sweet and Sour Sensation was spot-on, but the preparation for the soy protein left it a little on the mushy/chewy side. You wouldn't mistake this dish for meat but it might be a welcome curveball.

I washed down this delightful meal with the Vitality juice featuring celery, carrot, and apple. You can also create your own juice blend from a variety of fruits and veggies. As a final note, Sunflower serves brown rice with most dishes and I give kudos to the rice chef for dishing up a perfectly textured bowl of brown rice. We make a lot of brown rice at our house and I will happily admit that Sunflower's rice would dominate ours in a head-to-head matchup.

I'd love to hear your menu recommendations for Sunflower. It's one of those menus where everything looks intriguing and I don't know what to try next. Guess we'll just have to make a lot more trips to Virginia to try it all.

Second Thoughts from B

To borrow from the immortal Monty Python, "And now for something completely different..."

I spent New Years 2004 in Seattle. Several things jump out at me from that trip. The lousy weather and series of delayed flights to get there, the absence of my new girlfriend J, hours upon hours playing Golden Tee, a depressing showing by Michigan in the Rose Bowl, a wonderfully cavernous REI store, the search for Seattle Seahawks memorabilia for my French labmate, and a particularly interesting piece of modern art.

As with any New Years trip, there is a story behind each of these memories, but let me focus on the art exhibit. In a modern, white room sat three white pedestals, with three small TVs at eye level. Each TV was playing a close-up of the Asian artist as he recited Beastie Boys lyrics. The point of the piece was to highlight the juxtaposition of an Asian man celebrating the work of a Jewish group that rose to the top of a typically African American art form. It made you think about race, cultural boundaries, and the concept of ownership and normalcy.

Now, 7 years later, I've encountered a similar mash-up in the form of the Sunflower Vegetarian Restaurant. Set in a country kitchen that would typically produce a buttery steak or savory meatloaf, we were served Asian dishes that celebrated vegetables and healthy living. At the risk of getting a bit preachy, this dining experience - like that art exhibit in Seattle - showed what amazing things that can be achieved when we allow ourselves to think outside of the norm and combine the best of our different backgrounds. Maybe the people behind Sunflower are visionaries showing us the way to a greater future. Maybe they're just regular people trying to make a buck by doing something new. Either way, I'm sure to remember this deliciously odd eatery for many years to come.
Sunflower Vegetarian on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Our Valentine's Day Tradition at McDonald's

Happy belated Valentine's Day to everyone!

For those of you who follow us on Twitter, I feel like we owe you a bit of an explanation. We've talked about our splitting of duties (one plans Valentine's Day and the other plans our Anniversary), but not our McDonald's tradition. "Wait B, hold up. You're telling me that you eat out at so many places in DC that you have a blog about it, but for Valentine's Day you go to McDonalds?" Yes. And we have been for years.

When J and I first met, she hadn't had much luck with boyfriends and Valentine's Day. Unfortunately, my first opportunity to impress was thwarted by a friend from eastern Europe who had decided to pay me a visit. While I redeemed myself with a trip to Santa Barbara in the days after, our first Valentine's Day included a third wheel at a burger joint in Hollywood.

Still, her low point came courtesy of an ex-boyfriend who "took" her to McDonald's, but asked her to pay. Not surprisingly, and luckily for me, this relationship didn't last... though we do pay homage to this ridiculous idea of romance by recreating it every year.

It is fun to have a tradition that doesn't involve fighting the crowds for the last reservation at the popular hot spot in town. In fact, it is quite the contrary. We've got the place to ourselves. It is just us, Ronald, and a few oddballs that share our love of fat, salt, and fried (insert whatever word you'd use to describe their "meat").

Both J and I grew up adoring Happy Meals, but not surprisingly, we've since traded the Hamburgler and Grimace for innovative chefs and fresh foods. That's not to say we don't love the occasional chicken mcnugget. In fact, we crave them... making our Valentine's Day meal a real treat that we look forward to months in advance.

That's our story and we're sticking to it. For the record, we do celebrate Valentine's Day in a more traditional manner on another day. Getting a reservation on the 13th or 15th is a breeze and sometimes we take advantage of the long President's Day weekend (like going to Paris!!!). But on the 14th, it is Mickey D's all the way.

A few random thoughts about Valentine's Day while we're on the subject.
  • Valentine's Day is a contrived and corporate idea. At the same time, it is a good excuse to do something nice for your beloved. You can't argue with that.

  • The most backwards thing about Valentine's Day is that guys are made to feel obligated to buy cards, flowers, chocolate, and jewelry for their ladies. If the day is about romance and love, why is that a one way street?

  • It's the thought that counts. Really. We go to McDonald's and for us, that is romantic.

  • Celebrating love doesn't have to be serious and formal. Again, our Valentine's Day often involves a ball pit and a clown.

  • Even if you don't agree, if something is important to your significant other, it needs to be important to you. I'm still learning this one...

  • Finally, to quote the immortal Andre 3000, we should all strive to make "every day the 14th."
J Says

WHEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!! Pardon me, I'm still completely giddy that B surprised me with a trip to Paris this weekend. Sorry ladies and gentlemen, he's taken. Now I get to come up with an equally awesome surprise for our anniversary in August. I have 6 months and 3 days to figure this out.

As excited as I am for Paris, I still love that we have our simple, silly McDonald's tradition. We both squealed with excitement as we tasted our first McNugget in many months. We might lose readers over this post, but this is who we are and what we do as a couple. We try not to take ourselves too seriously and to always, no matter what life throws at us, keep a sense of humor.

While the Golden Arches represent a lot of really terrible things, there is no denying that they have also hosted some incredible memories. From our Valentine's Day tradition to the time that we drove (with my awesome dad and friends) from LA to El Paso for a UCLA football bowl game and stopped at McDonald's to brush our teeth. We'll never forget the cashier who, upon seeing our UCLA shirts, said "I know what UCLA means! It means U Can't Locate Anything!" You just can't manufacture memories like this.

So, while you might think Valentine's Day is completely lame, see how much fun you can make it if you step back and inject a little (or a lot) of silly into it.
McDonald's on Urbanspoon

Friday, February 11, 2011


We last wrote about Mark's Duck House that serves up incredibly tasty Asian cuisine in a decidedly non-chic atmosphere. We now present Zentan that serves mostly tasty Asian cuisine in a very chic atmosphere.

Originally, celeb chef Todd English was set to open a restaurant called Cha in the trendy Donovan House hotel on Thomas Circle. Something went awry and English pulled out, allowing Toronto chef Susur Lee a chance to jump in and turn Cha into Zentan, his ode to pan-Asian cuisine. While we're getting a little tired of the "modern pan-Asian cuisine" schtick, we decided to give it a go.

After waiting for our friends in the lobby (and fully enjoying the fun globe chairs that hang from the ceiling), we stepped inside Zentan for dinner.

Our group of four had some trouble deciding what to order so we went ended up ordering a little of everything. From a sushi roll appetizer...

To Chef Lee's famous Singapore Slaw that boasts 19 ingredients doused in a salted plum dressing...

To the carmelized black cod with miso mustard...

To the stir fried pearl noodles...

To the Cantonese marinated skirt steak with shallot brown butter, chili ponzu, and hazelnuts...

To a platter of assorted sushi rolls. It's safe to say that we over-ordered. We had to force ourselves to finish the sushi platter, but that doesn't mean it wasn't good sushi. The sushi, like everything else we tried, was solid. While we liked the dishes we tried at Zentan, it lacked pizzazz or uniqueness that is going to make us run back. With so many pan-Asian restaurants in town, you have to do more to stand out than have cool dangly chairs in the lobby.

Zentan is worth a visit if you have a friend staying at the Donovan House or you want to grab a drink and sushi (or the very good pearl noodles) at the bar. However, steer clear of the $12 specialty cocktails. For $12 I expect a bigger glass or at least a cocktail that tastes like some effort went into it. My Spicy Thai Martini was not nearly as exciting as its name.

Second Thoughts from B

We just celebrated our blog's 2nd anniversary, which made me reflect on the approximately 180 dining experiences that we've written about. Not surprisingly, some very good restaurants have faded in my memory. There have been times when J has mentioned a place that we've been that just doesn't register in my brain. Unfortunately, I think the food at Zentan might just fall to this fate.

Don't get me wrong, the food was quite good and certainly not lacking in flavor. As evidenced by my overly tight waistline as we left the restaurant, I liked everything, with the possible exception of the Singapore slaw. Despite a myriad of ingredients, I found it particularly bland - especially compared to the other dishes - which made me wonder why it was considered famous when it was the most forgettable thing I ate that night.

"So B, what are you complaining about other than an uninteresting salad?" Really, nothing. Nothing at all. But I could rattle off a dozen or more Asian-inspired chic hot-spots within the same price range that are all within walking distance of Zentan.

Despite all this, the couple next to us clearly found Zentan to be a uniquely special place. In fact, it'll be a place they remember for the rest of their lives. Right before one of us uttered a snarky "get a room" comment in their general direction, we noticed that Zentan had been chosen as the best place to pop the question. It wouldn't have been my choice... so I must be missing something.
Zentan on Urbanspoon

Thursday, February 10, 2011

TwoDC Turns Two!

Two years ago today we started out on a journey to record our lives in DC and, just maybe, provide a couple of helpful tips to those who were new to DC like we were. After two years of posting, we've noticed some themes:
  1. We like to eat out. We've written about roughly 180 restaurants ranging from a gas station serving amazing fried chicken to the genius of Jose Andres' MiniBar.

  2. B likes to order lamb. I stopped counting at 16 posts.

  3. We have amazing friends. Budak, Matt, Alix, Victoria and many others have tolerated our photo taking and have joined us on our quest to find the next great meal.

  4. We love each other. After hundreds of posts, we're still giddy about sharing our next adventure together.

  5. We love DC. This blog has helped us discover so many amazing places and faces in DC. DC might not be where we grew up, but it's home now. (Parents in CA: stop crying, this is not our way of announcing that we're staying here forever).
We hope that if we keep writing, you'll keep reading. We'd love to know what you like and what you don't like about TwoDC and we'll promise to keep trying new places, trying to take better pictures, and trying to come up with new ways to describe a lamb dish. We also promise never to use the words "resto" or "ressie" or to call ourselves foodies or foodists. We've got a lot to see and eat in Year 3, let's go!

Second Thoughts From B

Happy blogoversary to us indeed. It is amazing how much this blog has given us over the last two years. While we hope to have shined a spotlight on many of the things that make DC such a wonderful place to work and live, the process has allowed us to truly embrace the idea of "being tourists in our hometown." By actively seeking out new experiences, we've stumbled across countless hidden gems that are ignored by life-long residents.

So, when J and I were brainstorming about how to best celebrate our second full year as cyberexplorers of the Nation's Capital, we turned to Ben's Chili Bowl. Clearly there is nothing hidden about this local culinary gem. But it is where a tourist would go, and they do have really tasty cake!

As I sat in Ben's back room with a hand covered in their famous chili, I encouraged J to jump right in (to the chili cheese fries that she loves so much) and get her fingers dirty. This has been our mantra throughout our time in DC and we hope we have inspired others to do the same. This is a rich city that is completely unique to any other place in the world. And like the bottom of Ben's red plastic baskets, you'll almost always be rewarded for digging a little deeper.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Mark's Duck House

Goong Hay Fat Choi! Happy Chinese New Year.

For those that are unfamiliar, the Chinese and most Asian cultures have used a lunar calendar for thousands of years and traditionally celebrate the lunar New Year, which usually falls somewhere in January or February. The Chinese zodiac consists of 12 animals that rotate every year. So without further ado, welcome to the Year of the Rabbit!

When I was growing up, Chinese New Year meant two things; lai see and mountains of Chinese food. Lai see are money-filled red envelopes that are usually given to junior family members by senior family members (married adults). Clearly an upgrade over the Western New Year which usually consisted of a night with the grandparents and Dick Clark, while my parents were out partying.

Unfortunately, for you, our New Year's wishes cannot be accompanied by lai see. So let's get to that other highlight of Chinese New Year... the mountain of Chinese food. We've long lamented the lack of Chinese food options in DC and I'll be the first to admit that I'm a bit snobby about it after cutting my teeth on the food of LA's Chinatown. But in this case, there are no ifs, ands, or buts. My New Year's gift to you is Mark's Duck House in Falls Church which is, in my experience, the best Chinese food in the area. Not only is it good by DC standards, it is good by LA standards.

I'm sorry? What did you say? Good by LA standards? Yeah, I said it. But let me further the point. If Mark's was located in LA's Chinatown, I'm guessing it would become my family's go-to place. Yes, I was that impressed.

This last Sunday we joined our good friends for dim sum in the crowded and lively dining room. It took 45 minutes for us to get a table but before our butts had warmed the seats, food was arriving.

There are a few things to look for in great dim sum and I quickly went through my checklist. Hot and fresh? Check. Large selection? Check. Good ratio of ingredients (i.e., lots of filling)? Check? Quick and efficient service? Check.

But the one thing that is usually not on the required checklist is uniquely outstanding dishes. Dim sum to me is comfort food. I know what I like and tasting my childhood in these familiar dishes is the goal. But this was Mark's Duck House and let me say, it is aptly named, because the duck is outstanding.

All my life I've been eating duck, mainly because my mother loves it and Chinese food is meant to be eaten family style. But I've never gotten particularly excited about it. Mark's changed all that because this was my first high-fiveable experience with duck. Happy New Year to me indeed!

J Says

Despite what you might be thinking, I didn't marry B because he's Chinese... meaning I could eat noodles more often. Well, at least that's not the only reason I married him. However, being welcomed into a Chinese family has many benefits. My favorite are the New Year traditions of starting the year with a clean house (I'm weird!) and eating noodles. The long noodles symbolize long life and good luck for the coming year. Another excuse to eat noodles? Count me in!

While the noodles at Mark's Duck House were not the best I've ever had, I give high marks to the rest of the dim sum dishes. My favorite, ham sui gok (football-shaped fried dumplings), had the perfect thick layer of glutinous rice and were served hot and crispy. I could eat a dangerous amount of them.

May this new year bring you good luck and plenty of tasty dim sum. Just save me a ham sui gok, please!

Mark's Duck House on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Four Sisters

We recently returned from an amazing trip to Vietnam and Cambodia. We fell in love with the hustle and bustle of Vietnam's cities...

and were awed by Vietnam's natural beauty...

But we also developed a serious love affair with Vietnamese food. On our trip, I went steady with Mr. Noodle (no, not my favorite college restaurant in Westwood) and ate noodles every meal of the trip. Whether doused in soup or stir fried with vegetables, I couldn't get enough. B urged me to step outside my starchy comfort zone and together we sampled fried silkworm pupae, pig knuckle, mud snails, eel liver, and durian. When we returned to the U.S., we were eager to retain our connection to Vietnam and found that there's no easier way to do that than through food.

A colleague of mine has traveled around the world multiple times (when I grow up I want to be him) and has spent a good deal of time in Vietnam. He suggested that we meet at the grand dame of Vietnamese food in the area, Four Sisters, to share a meal and reflect on our trip.

Though I hear it can get quite crowded, we were seated immediately on a Tuesday evening. While we settled in, we ordered the shrimp toast appetizer. Vietnamese food can be intimidating to newbies because it is often served with a big pile of greens on the plate. I used to think that the Vietnamese are just super enthusiastic about garnishes, but soon learned that you're supposed to wrap up your food into a little bundle using the lettuce and other herbs. Our waiters (more on that later) were helpful in pointing out how to eat each dish. Once the shrimp toast was wrapped up in its lettuce snuggie, we dove in and found them to be crunchy, salty treats.

Because you can't walk 10 feet in Vietnam without encountering a spring roll (or a motor bike), we had to sample Four Sisters' version. I'm happy to report that they can go toe to toe with the best spring rolls we had in Vietnam... and we had a LOT of spring rolls.

Before we get to the next course, a note about the service. Somehow we ended up with two waiters. Normally this would seem to be a dream scenario, but our waiters never communicated with each other so we wound up asking and answering the same questions twice, usually with different results.

When Waiter A came to take our order, I asked him to recommend a noodle dish. He shook his head and told me not to order the noodles. While I absolutely appreciate a waiter who will steer you away from the less stellar dishes, Four Sisters has a whole page of its menu devoted to noodle dishes and I wanted to try one of them. It was a battle of epic proportions to get him to recommend a noodle dish, but I'm glad I fought the fight. The Hanoi style pork with rice vermicelli was one of my favorite dishes of the night.

Though pho - the ubiquitous Vietnamese noodle soup - is served for breakfast in Vietnam, we wanted to share a bowl for dinner. While not mind blowing, it was a richly seasoned and authentic bowl of warmth that helped combat the winter chill.

The grilled black pepper beef served over a bed of watercress and tomatoes was amped up with the help of salt and black pepper in lime juice. Definitely a solid dish, but not one I'd go running back out to far-off Merrifield for.

The dish worth running, nay, sprinting back for was the crispy sea bass filet sauteed in black bean sauce. We were so fortunate to be dining with someone who had navigated the Four Sisters menu three times previously because he steered us in the direction of this heavenly fish dish. It would have been easy to overlook if we were left to our own devices because of the boring description. It should be called crispy sea bass filet lovingly swaddled in the tangiest, tastiest sauce in the land.

Though we were bordering on comatose after stuffing ourselves silly, I couldn't turn down the opportunity to try a banana dessert. B doesn't like bananas, so I never order them when we're dining by ourselves. However, since we were joined by a fellow banana lover, B encouraged us to go for it. He happily sampled the coconut ice cream and strawberries while we attacked the fried banana drizzled with honey.

Returning from an epic vacation is always depressing. As you trudge back to work, you look at your watch and think about what you'd be doing if you were back in Vietnam. Luckily, Four Sisters is waiting for us in Merrifield to give us a taste of vacation any time we need it.

Second Thoughts from B

This last year J and I have been very fortunate to travel to some very far-off exotic places, and it is not by mistake. We've made it a priority to find the time (and money) to explore the world while we still have the flexibility to do so.

When we returned from SE Asia, the biggest question was, "Why did you choose to go there?" Probably the best (and easiest) answer would be; because we had never been there before. Of course there are many other reasons, but we believe that traveling is a lot about experiencing things that you've never been exposed to whether that's culture, philosophy, lifestyle, environment, and yes, surprise, surprise, food.

Fortunately for those of us living in DC, you don't have to travel to the other end of the Earth to experience an authentic Vietnamese culinary adventure. While there is nothing like squatting on a tiny plastic stool with a plate full of insects while surrounded by the indescribable noises and smells of Hanoi, a more formal meal can also transport you to a far away land. And without the need for industrial strength Pepto! (For the record, we've survived 3 continents-worth of travel without any problems)

From the service, to the art on the wall, to the flavors and aromas, Four Sisters could have easily been a part of our itinerary. If not for a more mixed clientele and a bill greater than 100,000 dong ($5), we might just have thought we were back in Saigon.
Four Sisters on Urbanspoon