Friday, July 26, 2013

Bowie Restaurant Project: (70) Ichiban Sushi Asian Bistro

For an explanation of the Bowie Restaurant Project, look here.

For a list of all the Bowie Restaurant Project reviews, look here.

Ichiban Sushi Asian Bistro, 3921 Evergreen Pkwy.
Most Recent Foursquare Check-in: 7/23/2013
Total Foursquare Check-ins: 2
Pre-Foursquare Visits: Yes
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

I was really hoping to like this place better than I did. My previous visits were all in the days before they annexed the former Dunkin' Donuts location next door and added "Asian Bistro" to their name. At the time it was one of the few place in the area to get sushi, and I remember liking it a lot.

On my first recent visit, I got some takeout Thai curry. I had been disappointed in the blandness of East Moon's Thai food, so a colleague's tip that Ichiban now served Thai food seemed like a good excuse to see if I could do better. Unfortunately, the meal was similarly bland, until the end, when I hit a pocket of heat.

To confirm that I wasn't just misremembering what Thai food is supposed to taste like, the next day I got a similar meal from Lemongrass in Crofton. It wasn't super-hot, but it had more of a kick, and the flavors just tasted correct. I hope to visit Thai of Waugh Chapel soon in my quest for a Thai place to recommend, but my top recommendation definitely isn't going to be in Bowie.

For my second visit, I went with five co-workers. The service was pretty good, although our waitress seemed to depart the table fairly quickly. I had to ask twice to get water along with my tea.

I couldn't put my finger on what I didn't love about the miso soup, but one co-worker said, "not enough miso" and another described it as "watery."  The salad was fine, but the sushi was underwhelming. There was nothing wrong with it, but I didn't get that, "Oh boy, I'm eating sushi" feeling I usually get.

I was tempted to give it 3 stars on the basis of my memories from a few years back, and the fact that my co-workers were more enthusiastic than I am, until I thought of another element. Prices. The sushi lunch special at Ichiban is $13 for five pieces of sushi and a California roll.  At East Moon, it's $10.95 for seven pieces and a California roll. At Golden Pavilion, it's $11 for the same.

I'd recommend either East Moon or Golden Pavilion over Ichiban, with a slight nod to East Moon. The area still doesn't have one sushi place I'd drive past all the others to get to. Christina and I really enjoyed our meal at Fuji in Waugh Chapel recently, but it wasn't better than East Moon. I still have to try Sakura, and a few other non-Bowie locations before I can definitively say there is no "go-to" sushi place in the area.

So 2.5 stars.

Bowie Restaurant News

This review begins a countdown of sorts for me (at number 10). After this, I have 9 more reviews to write to complete my goal of reviewing every Bowie restaurant. (Of course, at least three new restaurants will probably open before then.)

Bowie Living reports that the Olive Grove continues its extensive renovations to the former Outback and expect to open in the fall.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Bowie Restaurant Project: (69) Carolyn Quinn's

Carolyn Quinn's is now closed.

Carolyn Quinn's Menu
For an explanation of the Bowie Restaurant Project, look here.

For a list of all the Bowie Restaurant Project reviews, look here.

Carolyn Quinn's, 3872 Town Center Blvd.
Most Recent Foursquare Check-in: 7/8/2013
Total Foursquare Check-ins: 2
Pre-Foursquare Visits: No
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Finally, a reason to visit the food court! Carolyn Quinn's offers homestyle dishes like baked chicken, mac 'n' cheese and cornbread. I am not generally a fan of fried food, but I really enjoyed their fried tilapia.

Co-workers I dined with felt that the food was honest and uncomplicated. Don't go expecting a lot of fancy spices.

The first time I went there, the co-owner and his daughter were there. He said he (Quinn) and his wife (Carolyn) had combined their name to get the name of the restaurant, and that the food that they were serving comes from family recipes. That's telling -- the food is what you'd expect of a home-cooked meal if you visited a friend's house who was a good cook.

He said that he had initially intended a "soft opening" before doing much promotion, but that things had been busy from the start. One promotion you may want to participate in is texting "feedme" to 81680. If you do it before you go to Carolyn Quinn's, you get a coupon good for 10% off a meal that day. If you do it after you visit, as I did, that coupon doesn't do you much good, and when you try to use it again, it says you've already gotten your coupon. I think I am supposed to get more coupons eventually, but so far I haven't gotten any.

Anyway, not only is it head and shoulders above any other place in the food court, I feel like it starts out in the top tier of Bowie restaurants. Since you're in the food court, the atmosphere isn't top-notch, and you're not going to find anything that stuns your palate. But the food will be very good, and there's not much else like it in the local area.

Bowie Restaurant News

Progress is being made on a couple of other new establishments. The Olive Grove is doing major exterior work on the exterior of the old Outback, and Anthony's Pizza and Pasta has a "Coming Soon" sign and has gotten started on an interior remodel of the old Peepers space.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Bowie Restaurant Project: (BB4) Nautilus Diner

For an explanation of the Bowie Restaurant Project, look here.

For a list of all the Bowie Restaurant Project reviews, look here.

Nautilus Diner, 1709 Transportation Dr., Crofton
Most Recent Foursquare Check-in: 3/24/2013
Total Foursquare Check-ins: 6
Pre-Foursquare Visits: Yes
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Bowie needs a diner. The "Beyond Bowie" series is designed to spotlight restaurants that Bowie "should have, but doesn't." A city of 54,727 people (2010 census figure) should have a diner. But it doesn't. It has an IHOP, but that's not the same thing.

Until then, we'll have to continue to head up Route 3 to Nautilus Diner in Crofton. They have everything you'd want in a diner: a novel-length menu, breakfast anytime, Greek specialities (it doesn't have to be Greek, but a diner should specialize in some sort of ethnic cuisine), late-night hours ('til 1 am), desserts and cocktails. I'm a little disappointed it's not 24 hours (though I've never wanted to go there in the middle of the night myself), and I don't like the Greek food as much as Plato's Diner in College Park, but it's still a solid showing.

The service has generally been pretty good. If it's slow, they've been known to put us with our toddlers in our own section to give them room to wiggle without disturbing other customers.