Day 13: Culinary Journey in DC

Had the worst meal in my 10 days in the US so far. It was at the Bistro Bis, located at the Hotel George. Had a soupe de poisson (seafood soup) which was basically tomato soup with cheese, cos the seafood was missing both in flavor and appearance. Followed that up by what was probably the most abysmal treatment of trout (or any fish) I am ever going to encounter. It was panfried and served on top of some spinach, onions, and stuff. It was bland (which means a lot since I’m always complaining that food is too salty, rich, or buttery), and had a nasty bitter after taste, which unfortunately diffused into the spinach (otherwise the saving grace of my entree). Dessert was marginally better, if only because the ice-cream was probably purchased from some supermarket nearby.

Anyway, I kicked up a little fuss with the manager and bartender guy, and the chef came out a little later to apologize, with a cold towel [was this some apology ritual? cos I didn’t know how to react]. Eventually, though I in no way asked for this, the manager struck my orders off the check, so I basically got a free meal. Under other circumstances, I would probably be gleeful like a kiasu Singaporean at this unexpected bonus, but since nothing about my lunch was remotely pleasurable, I felt no sense of victory at obtaining the free meal.

Went to look for the remaining clues for the spy quiz after the lunch. First up was the Japanese-American Memorial for the answer to some question on the internment of Japs during WW2. Then we had to go to the Supreme Court to find out which was the first president to be pubicly inaugurated (James Monroe). And with that, the questionnaire was completed, and we went back to claim our free wine – from a New Zealand winery located in Spy Valley, apparently near some satellite station.

The wine wasn’t good, much too sour, although it was slightly better once it was allowed to breathe. We didn’t actually do much sight-seeing here, mostly just chilling out in restaurants, bars, or in the hotel room watching The Simpsons on DVD (season 2 — excellent stuff).

Dinner was at this pretty good restaurant called Thai Place on Pennsylvania Ave near GWU. We had the papaya salad (not spicy enough, but very refreshing to eat nevertheless), coconut soup (not spicy enough either, but brimming with shrimp and mushrooms), and a very good seafood green curry. Lots of bamboo shoots, shrimp, scallops, and squid. It was so good we ordered another entree, sauteed mussels.