Welcome to the Northern Virginia Restaurant Blog.

Restaurant reviews in Tyson's and surrounding area... mostly

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Palace Garden Korean Restaurant, Annandale, VA

Palace Garden
7131 Little River Turnpike
Annandale, VA 22003 

(703) 256-9292

If it wasn't for a deal offered by Groupon or Specialicious (can't remember which coupon we had), we would never have tried this place. Getting deals like these is definitely an incentive to try a new place. The food was great. All the dishes we ordered, including seaweed salad, avocado salad, Beef Soon Doo Boo, Seasoned Korean Chicken BBQ, an assortment of sushi, and the wide assortment of small typical Korean "banchan" side dishes were delicious. They were fresh, tasty and plentiful.

Unfortunately, the service made us feel less less than welcomed. The waiter's favorite word seemed to be "no," regardless of what we asked. The restaurant was clearly shorthanded on wait staff, so a waiter and two others who appeared to be his helpers were running around between tables, with barely enough time to stir the food on the BBQ or refill waters. Requests to make a dish more spicy was met with at least several "no's" and a request to take a photo of our table was also declined because he had to run to another table. It was hot and stuffy in the restaurant, the exhaust systems were definitely not working properly.

We had a great time with our friends, as always, because after all, it's the company and the food that make a great evening. Our advice: if you like Korean food, but don't care about the service, this is not a bad place. But for an all-around better experience, almost any other Korean restaurant in Annandale would be better.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Karamara Ethiopian Restaurant, Arlington, VA

3205 Columbia Pike
Arlington, VA 22204

Next to the Panda Express Chinese restaurant, this place looks much smaller than it is. We came to Karamara for a "linner," so besides us there was only one other table occupied. Walking in, it seems like a tiny carry out, but the upstairs opens up to a large dining room. The feel of the place is dark and dingy. Railing along the stairs is broken exposing dried gummy glue. There was only one waitress, who was very nice, but clearly more preoccupied with getting the kitchen ready for dinner than with the diners in the restaurant.

We ordered a vegetable sampler of 5 items, including spicy lentils, a pico-de-gallo type of side mixed in with pieces of injera called "fit fit", a mixture of boiled cabbage, potato and carrots and chick peas. As opposed to most other Ethiopian restaurants, like Meaza or Merkamo or Lalibella, the flavors here were definitely toned down and not great. We ordered 2 types of tibs, which is the typical Ethiopian dish consisting of pieces of steak grilled with jalapenos. We ordered the house specialty tips, the Karamara Tibs, and the regular Beef Tibs. The Karamara tips were dry and flavorful. However the Beef Tibs came in a oily sauce that even as a fan of stews, I found very oily and runny, coupled with the fact that there was a very weird and unsavory flavor to them. It was like a mixture of being "gamey" and... just weird, not in a good way.

We tried this place because we had a Specialicous coupon and love Ethiopian food. Washington DC metro area is very lucky to have so many wonderful Ethiopian restaurants, so we have tried most of them. Unfortunately, Karamara is not a restaurant worthy of a second trip.