Last week, as compared to the previous week, wasn’t a peach. It was stressful. All of the jobs are busy and we started our taxes and they’re terrifying and general February blah-ness. But there were some highlights.
This past Friday Anju, a monthly industry guest chef night at Mandu on K Street, returned for the first time in 2015. Yesoon and Danny Lee of Mandu hosted along with Chef Jonah Kim of Yona. The guest chefs were Haidar Karoum from Estadio and Mike Friedman of The Red Hen. Adam Bernbach of 2 Birds 1 Stone and The Red Hen’s Sebastian Zutant took over the bar.
Anju starts at 10 p.m. and runs until 1 a.m. This is way past my bedtime. I prefer to start a night out with happy hour, an early-ish dinner, after-dinner drinks around eight and in bed or on the couch by ten. But this was on my 2015 District To-Do List, so I put my party pants on and made it happen.
Because we live so close to the restaurant, we slacked off about showing up on time, and arrived to a huge line out the door. Rookie mistake.
Luckily, a kind panda arrived to sate our appetite with mini hot dogs.
By the time we got inside to put our names in (Anju doesn’t take reservations), we were told the wait would be two hours and thirty minutes. It took a great amount of mental fortitude, but we decided to stick it out, relocating to Silo for a drink while we waited our turn.
It wasn’t quite a two and a half hour wait, but it was close. By the time we sat down, we were starving. All of the dishes were $6 each, or $15 for three. We ended up ordering six, which was the perfect amount of food at a great price.
To start, we had the stuffed kimchi with brined pork loin and tofu. This was okay, but I found the spice and flavor to be muted.
Up next we had the spam jajang with cubed spam, potatoes, zucchini, black bean paste and rice. I was surprised by how much I loved this dish. Spam is good!
We also had the charred beef tongue with fresh radish kimchi, crispy purple sweet potatoes and parmesan dashi. This dish was so rich and, as much as I don’t want to use this word, succulent. I think this was the best fusion of Red Hen and Estadio’s European flavors and Korean food.
Another favorite dish was the fried Brussels sprouts with Korean bbq spice, pickled ramps and a dwengjang aioli. I found the aioli to be a little bit overwhelming but the bites with less of it were delicious.
We tried the (unpictured) soondae arancini with blood sausage, oysters, smoked pork sausage and chojang. It was okay, but felt a bit unfocused and out of keeping with the rest of the dishes.
The arancini, as well as the fried chicken wings, weren’t our first choices. We had ordered the korchetta, which was crispy stuffed pork belly, sweet garlic gochujang and kimchi and the curred beef short rib bao dumpling, but they had run out of those items by the time we were were seated.
As we were finishing up, several local chefs showed up to try the dishes, including Mike Isabella who I apparently almost ran right into because I was in such a mad dash for my bed as we were leaving. I did catch a glimpse of his back, so that was cool.
Overall, we had a great experience at Anju despite the fact that we’re nowhere near cool enough to be out that late, eating after midnight. Things like this make DC so great.
The rest of the weekend was lovely as well. We spend Saturday at the winery, working the tasting room and then helping to set up some wine and chocolate pairings we’ll be featuring next weekend for Valentine’s Day.
The weather was beautiful yesterday, so I took Ashton on a walk around the neighborhood, much to his delight and Tom was able to play golf. One nice day in the dead of winter can really go a long way.
Stay tuned for details on our excursion to Hoyo Azul in the Dominican Republic later this week!