If you had told me a few years ago that there would be fine dining at the Navy Yard, I would have scoffed at you. Not because I don’t think that it’s a place in the city with great potential, because it actually has unlimited potential to be a destination spot for visitors and residents. But to me, the Navy Yard was where my husband used to work. On a ship. Which sat in the water. Sure, people work there, but the height of dining at the Navy Yard was going to the cafeteria at Urban Outfitters, or the occasional food truck day here and there. Then the new buildings came and the pharmaceutical companies followed. Then came the hotel. And now here we are, a Navy Yard that has a Marc Vetri restaurant. I’d been wanting to go to Lo Spiedo for awhile, but I couldn’t conceive of dragging the husband there. So when M asked to go out to dinner on a random weeknight, I suggested it on a whim. Funny thing is, she was thinking the same thing. So we hopped in the car and headed down good ‘ol Broad St. For those of you unfamiliar with the Navy Yard, Lo Spiedo is right where the front entrance is, just on the left. There is a little parking lot, but also plenty of parking on the street. It was truly bizarre going into the Navy Yard, after hours, without needing special employee access. It was fairly early, and because it was an impromptu decision, we didn’t have a reservation. The place was fairly packed though, with a heavy happy hour crowd from the companies next door, but we luckily got a table. M ordered the Geisha cocktail, a freakishly strong mix of La Colombe Different Drum Rum, orange, and an actual little rose. I would have been passed out on the floor if I drank one of these. I had a house-made ginger beer which was tart yet delightful. I am fairly terrible when it comes to ordering food. Too many choices clouds my decisions. So one of my favorite things to do is ask our server for their favorites and their recommendations. This beef tartare with bagnetto verde was not one of her recommendations, but was the only thing that we ordered that wasn’t on her list. The idea of raw beef isn’t necessarily something that would have appealed to me in the past, but after going to Korea last year and eating some amazing raw sliced beef, now I’m totally up for trying some rawness. This was good, but not particularly exciting or interesting, so it’s not something I’d have to try again. This spot is a small plates restaurant, so we ended up getting a bunch of things and sharing, just the way I prefer to eat, where I get to try a lot of different things. So all of these items were recommended by our adorable tattooed server: the spit-roasted vegetables with romesco and sicilian olive oil, the spit-roasted octopus, and the rignette pasta with macellaio bolognese. Man, that girl knows what she’s talking about. I don’t think I’ve ever had anything with romesco sauce before, but damn, I loved it. It was savory and sweet at the same time and a perfect accompaniment for the roasted veggies. The octopus was perfectly cooked and didn’t need any flavoring at all. It was like a really well-cooked steak, meaty and substantive, really quite great. Those two dishes were actually cooked on the spit, as per the name of the restaurant, which means the spit. But my favorite dish of the night was the rignette pasta. I don’t know what rignette is, but it’s long and squiggly edged pasta, chewy, with plenty of surface area for whatever delicious sauce its cooked with, and this bolognese was really awesome. To me, truly a perfect dish on all levels. I cleaned the plate and could have eaten more. Overall, a great meal with a great friend. I’m excited to come back and try other dishes on the menu. Looks like I’ll be back at the Navy Yard some more!
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This year for my mom’s birthday, she actually didn’t pick sushi! It was a mom’s birthday miracle! Not that I would have minded, but I was excited to mix it up for once. She got to pick, and this time she decided on Buddakan. Can you believe that I’ve never been? So we were all excited to check it out. I was quite surprised at how large the restaurant was inside. When all you get to see from the outside is a big door, you can’t really see what’s happening on the other side. There are a lot of tables here, and several levels. We tried the spicy rock shrimp bao buns. These were like the pork ones, but without the oink, and included pickled slaw and jalapenos. These were nice and spicy and zesty with a sour and sweet crunch. Let’s face it, I love anything with crunchy slaw on it. For those of you non-pork eaters, this is a great way to enjoy a bao experience.These are the General Tso’s Dumplings, which were filled with chicken and a hot & sour broth. M really liked these, and ate most of them, but I only thought they were ok. If I want dumplings, I’ll stick to dim sum garden!I’m a sucker for Mao Po Tofu, so I got that as my main entree. Oh this was really great guys, one of the best mao po tofu dishes I’ve ever had. I have no idea if this is genuine or authentic or whatever, all I know is that I thoroughly enjoyed everything about the way Buddakan made their’s. I would come back here just for this dish in a heartbeat.The birthday lady got the miso black cod served with bok choy, shiitake mushrooms, and a unagi sauce. I tend to think that ordering miso cod in an asian restaurant is always a safe bet, and this one was no different. It was also a good sized portion, not too small, not too big, perfect for my mom.
M is a sucker for seared tuna. If it’s on a menu, any menu, he’s bound to order it. And of course he did here. This is the wasabi tuna tataki with ginger somen noodles. First of all, look how beautiful the tuna is. It was like looking at stained glass or something. Second of all, M said this is the best tuna he has ever eaten. EVER. IN HIS LIFE. He’s not one for such hyperbole, so for him to say such a thing, he meant it.
Even though we were all beyond stuffed, we had to get some dessert, specifically the dip sum doughnuts, which were five spice doughnuts with blackberry jam, chocolate sauce, gingered cream cheese dipping sauces. Oh my word. And the best part was that they’re served in a typical chinese takeout container, so it was super easy to take home, which we definitely did! All in all, this was a delicious and fun meal. I’ve been to a number of Stephen Starr restaurants and had positive experiences at all of them, so far. I’d have to say Buddakan is now my favorite!
After watching a particular spot on south street turn over very quickly in the short time I’ve lived in the neighborhood, I was intrigued to finally see a sushi spot open up there. So on a night when we had out of town guests over, we walked over to check out Kidari Sushi Yatai, on South St, between 18 and 19. On a weeknight, the place was pretty busy! We showed up just in time to be able to get a table for 6. It’s a byob! The miso soup was good and the house salad, the typical salad you get at a sushi place with the ginger dressing, was especially good. It was rather large with mixed greens, cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes, and a fresh ginger dressing. This is one of my favorites types of salads, so it was a good sign that the rest of the meal would also be good!
The Sushi & Sashimi on table for two. We’re not sure why they call it “on the table” instead of “regular” like most places do, but hey, it must be their thing! This was a large assortment of various sushi and sashimi, and it also included a dragon roll, a spicy tuna roll, along with the soups and salads. It was a nice variety of fish for the sushi choices and sashimi choices, and everything was fresh.
We also got some more adventuruous and curious rolls. At the bottom is the Texas Roll – a yellotail, roasted shallot, and avocado roll topped with jalapeno, crab meat, and bacon. Yes, I said bacon! We had to order it, just because, and it was a bonus that it was good! In the middle is the Rittenhouse Roll – salmon, avocado, red tobiko, scallion and crunch on top of california roll. Also very good. And in the back was one of the special rolls of the evening, whose name I totally forget. They were all great. In fact, all of the food here was great. And I was so, so, so happy because of it. The service was very friendly and I can’t recommend this place enough as a nice new neighborhood sushi choice.