Saturday, December 28, 2013

Spices Food Review

General Tao Chicken

Mention Asian food and Cleveland Park in the same sentence; and my mind races to Yenching Palace. The landmark eatery with the cozy, blue booths and dirt-cheap prices closed back in 2007, leaving the door open for a new local champion of Asian cuisine. Although it gets plenty of competition from nearby Nam-Viet Pho 79, it doesn't take a food critic to tell you that Spices is the new "king of the hill." My most recent visit merely puts an exclamation point behind it.

Beautiful to look at, Spices rules the roost with exceptional service and top notch food. With no shortage of choices, I felt obliged to sample a traditional General Tao Chicken (for $12 with broccoli and jasmine rice.) It's not the healthiest choice (by far) but a good barometer for a go-to Asian restaurant. The space is gorgeous and more importantly, spotless. Seats are well-spaced, and there's a long bar for additional seating and quick access to Spices' impressive sushi selection.

Portions are generous, and carry-out items come smartly packaged (including those cute containers of rice.) Broccoli is fresh (ditto for the rice) and the chicken is crisp and tangy as advertised. I love the chicken, although the sauce isn't near spicy enough for me. My friend Debbie swears by their Basil Chicken, and the tears in her eyes certify it's plenty spicy. Perhaps somewhere in the middle would be perfect. That said, I could order this once a week and be happy each time.

I've never once walked away disappointed, and the service here rivals Palena for best in the neighborhood. It's not cheap; but worth every penny, when you factor in consistency and quality.