June 25, 2012

Adam Express

Location: 3211 Mount Pleasant St NW (Columbia Heights Metro)
Cost: $10
Adams Express on Urbanspoon

Moving to DC was an adventure in its own right.  It's a 15-hour drive from Florida up to here, and my dad made the road trip with me to help me move all my heavy furniture in.  Two days, 3 storms, and 1 check engine light later, we were finally settled in...and super hungry.  Knowing my dad, I decided to look around for a decent asian restaurant, one that he'd actually like, since all the ones in Chinatown aren't that great.  What I found was Adam Express.

Make no bones about it - Adam Express is a bona fide hole in the wall.  This pace is literally a Mom & Pop restaurant; it's run by a husband and wife in their late 50s.  The husband makes all the Korean specialties; the wife rolls the sushi.  There are 7 seats in the entire restaurant, and no tables exist.  Dad had never seen a place like this before, but like I told him: a place that looks like this has to have good food, or else they'd be long outta business.

I really wish Adam Express had a website, but I doubt the two co-owners have time to make one, what with  working 7 days a week making each order as it's given.  For being a 2-person operation, the menu is pretty long and diverse, spanning Korean, Chinese, and Japanese cuisine.  The offerings are pretty classic for each type of cuisine, but as I soon found out, it's not the creativity, but the quality of the food that makes Adam Express the hole-in-the-wall gem it is.

We started out with the traditional Korean seafood pancake, made with eggs, flour, scallions, and shrimp.  It's hard to describe the taste of seafood pancake, but it is pretty darn tasty.  The egg and the dough make for a unique texture, and it's complemented by the saltiness of the seafood and the scallions, which are crisp and juicy from being only lightly cooked.

It's very authentic tasting as well, although I wish it included other types of seafood besides shrimp, of which there weren't very many.  Still, it's a great dish to start with, and the fact that I can see it being made in front of me makes it taste that much better.

Dad got the traditional bulgogi bibim bab, which consists of a number of different veggies, bulgogi beef, and an egg all on top of a bowl of rice.  Just like everything else at Adam Express, this was incredibly fresh, and I've come to realize that freshness is what sets good Korean food from great Korean food.

As for the taste, it too was spot on.  The vegetables were well cooked, marinated, and seasoned, and tasted just more...authentic than any other Korean restaurant I've been to.  It's hard to explain, but it tastes like I'm at a streetside diner in Korea.

As for me, I ordered one of the more creative dishes on the menu - the chicken bulgogi.  This isn't bulgogi like you've read about, though.  The sauce isn't the one that you routinely marinate beef in when you want to wrap it with lettuce leaves.  This sauce (must be an original creation) is tangier, creamier, and a hell of a lot spicier.  The spice, though, made me want to eat more and more despite the fact that each dish comes with quite a lot of food, and I was nearly full by the time I started eating.  The chicken breast, too, is cooked just right, without being overdone and dry.  If you're looking for something out of the box and a little different, give this dish a try.

What Adam Express boils down to is freshness.  Not just of the ingredients, but the preparation and the manner in which the food is served to you as well.  You really feel like you're being invited into someone's kitchen for dinner.  For showing us that truly small businesses can have a huge impact, and for showing my dad that holes-in-the-wall can provide good eats, Adam Express earns 4 Cherries.


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