Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Spicing Things Up in Cleveland Park

Finding good Asian food in DC that is both metro-accessible and reasonably-priced is an unusually hard task. On one hand, you have the Wolfgang Puck’s The Source; on the other you have the little Chinese carryout shops where they specialize in Americanized menu items like kung pao chicken. Now, don’t get me wrong, both types of places serve their purpose, but sometimes all I want is something in the middle. Thankfully Spices in Cleveland Park fits the bill.

I first found out about this little gem when I was interning in Woodley Park. On nice days I would sometimes walk the 5 or so blocks to pick up food for the office. Then I found out that they deliver (!) within a 2 mile radius. That was mighty helpful when I went to American because there were absolutely nights where studying came before cooking. The other night Spices once again came to the rescue when I needed a place between Tenleytown and Dupont on the red line to meet a friend.

Spices is nestled in the grouping of stores and restaurants on the east side of Connecticut Avenue. The décor is nothing to write home about, but it doesn't take away from the overall dining experience, either. What’s on the plate is far more important. There is a long wooden bar offering sushi as well as some traditional Asian-fusion dishes including crab-meat wantons, pad-thai and chicken teriyaki. Their sushi is clearly fresh and is easily the best you can find in the immediate area. Without a doubt you can find better in the city, but I would venture to guess that this is the best that can be delivered.

On the side of the menu that includes the appetizers and the main entrée, I am a big fan of Spices’ chicken fried rice. Not only does it taste fresh, it lacks the insane amounts of oil that you tend to find in most renditions. Although it isn’t in the menu the vegetable tempura is worth asking about and ordering. Yes, it’s fried making it slightly unhealthy, but it is wonderfully crispy, something that most tempura lacks. One night my friend ordered the Vietnamese grilled shrimp that was served over vermicelli. The bowl that it came in was presented beautifully and the flavors complemented each other to create a refreshing and filling meal.

Although we opted out (it was a Sunday night after all), Spices does offer ½ price drinks Sunday – Thursday nights (5 – 7pm). If you are one who likes to have a cocktail with your dinner, this is a great deal especially because few if any of the mixed drinks are over $8.

Is Spices going to win any “best of” awards? Probably not. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a well-priced, local restaurant that can fulfill your needs for a good meal at a good price.

1 comment:

  1. Oy, Spices is perhaps my least favorite restaurant in DC. I find that they use an ironic lack of spice in their dishes...