The first time I visited DC’s Chinatown, I thought I was going to cry. Or maybe puke. In either case, it was an adverse reaction. “Chinatown” is a joke–a bunch of chain stores and restaurants with Chinese characters tacked on their neon signage. Most of the translations are purely phonetic (Clyde’s Restaurant is “ke si lai”, etc.) and in traditional characters, probably because someone on a city planning committee thought it looked more “Chinese” than simplified characters. This, of course, does not bode well for the state of Chinese food in DC. This fact has been a source of major disappointment on multiple personal and gastronomic levels.
Commercialization aside, there are still a handful of Chinese restaurants in Chinatown, including the much fabled Eat First. For some reason, white people think “Eat First” is a funny or clever name. The cranky Sinophile in me would like to point out that it’s actually a very common thing to say in Chinese, a culture that is so food-centered that the common greeting is not “How are you?” but “Have you eaten yet?” But I digress. Last week, Lee and I decided to meet up after work to try Eat First, which has been consistently ranked on various best bargain and best ethnic restaurant lists around town. Read the rest of this entry »