For a lot of Asian American kids, restaurants hold a special place in our hearts; they are where we met up with other families, played on our handheld video game consoles for hours on end and also where our parents teased us in the middle of sharing a meal in front of the whole family. Georgetown has a surprising amount of Asian restaurants despite its small size; each manages to celebrate its own cultural heritage, even though some offer a much more enjoyable dining experience than others.
Of all the Asian restaurants in Georgetown, my least favorite is Kintaro. This restaurant is a small ramen shop I used to frequent if I ever wanted a quick bowl of ramen, but I eventually grew tired of going when every time I went I left almost as hungry as I was when I entered. Kintaro is my least due to its miniscule serving size. The ramen bowls leave me unsatisfied every time I eat there. In addition to ramen, Kintaro also serves sushi, small plates and entrees, such as teriyaki and gyu-don, a type of beef bowl.
Zannchi is a Korean restaurant located on Wisconsin Avenue that specializes in bibimbap – rice bowls that come with a mix of vegetables and protein in a heated stone bowl. I love bibimbap in general, and even though Zannchi’s offerings can’t compare to anything you can get on the West Coast, their food comes closer than any other Korean restaurant I’ve been to. Each bowl at Zannchi features a wide array of well-prepared ingredients; carrots, lettuce, bean sprouts and green onions fill the bowl to the brim, but each bowl itself is fairly small, which makes their food overpriced. There’s no wrong way to eat bibimbap, but I recommend mixing everything up so you can get a mouthful of each different texture and flavor with every bite. The store itself is pretty small, but its convenient location right below Kung Fu Tea makes it a great spot to grab a meal and then wash it down with some boba tea.
When it comes to Asian restaurants in Georgetown, Mai Thai is a serious contender for the best in the neighborhood. This is probably the closest restaurant to campus, and it specializes in Thai food. I always go here, not only because of its location, but also because I know I will always be stuffed after coming. Some of my fondness for Mai Thai also stems from the many heartfelt and difficult conversations I’ve had with friends over a tasty Thai meal. I’ve taken my friends from Las Vegas here and they loved it — as did my mom. I always order the Pad See Eew, which is a flat rice noodle dish that comes with vegetables and a meat of your choice. This place gets crowded and loud, but I always make great memories whenever I go here; the raucous ambiance provides the perfect environment to have an enjoyable dining experience in community with friends.
However, almost no restaurant can compare to none other than Dumpling & Beyond. I really like this place, partially because it’s been catered to so many club events on campus. Regardless, this place is a great spot to get downright delicious dumplings. I’m a regular pork and vegetable dumplings person, so I frequently get that order. The shape of the dumplings themselves are somewhat irregular from traditional dumplings, but what they lack in aesthetic value is made up in each dumpling’s flavor and heartiness. D&B probably has the most “authentic” flavor out of all these restaurants. Much like Mai Thai, I love D&B because of the layout that reminds me of restaurants back home; it might just be something as simple as the lighting and tables, but something about D&B always fills me with nostalgia and makes every visit a meaningful time, whether it’s with my new friends from Georgetown or with my parents when they come to visit me.
The streets around Georgetown University offer a surprising amount of delicious Asian food that draws upon culinary traditions from a diverse swath of the continent, making for plenty of opportunities to try new foods and enjoy your old favorites.
Tyler Chan is a junior in the College. Food for Thought appears in print and online every other Friday.