Thursday, March 19, 2009

A Crazy Idea?

A Crazy Idea?
Riding this morning, I remembered that recently DC was soliciting suggestions as to what to do with their stimulus money. (I can't find the link right now, and I''m not sure they're still taking.) Of course I wrote in saying we should have more bike lanes and expanded mass transit. Now I'm thinking that the two could be even more related than anybody's tried to make them.

Why not build an elevated bike trail on top of the above-ground Metro lines?

I'm mainly thinking of the Red Line from Silver Spring to Union Station here. It's a section of town that is far from the Crescent Trail and that could use some more healthy people going through it. Yes, there are a few bike lanes woven through the grid around there, but bike lanes are unsafe compared to dedicated bike trails, even elevated ones.

Here's how it works, how it would be safe, and how it makes money: make the bike trail above the Red Line only accessible at Metro stations. Charge a high one-time fee for each bike that people want to use on it (and this will tie into DC's push for bicycle registration) OR supply rental bikes at major hubs. Also charge a flat $0.50 fee every time a cyclist enters the Red Trail. This charge would necessitate having a Smartrip that was also registered.

The charges should not ever be increased, because there'd be very little cost to maintain what will essentially be a cover for the train. The excessive registration would be to help Metro get over the fact that people could theoretically stay on the Red Trail all day, with access to the rail possible (though unlikely, due to the elevation and the side-railing that Metro would put up).

I understand it might be difficult to construct, and I would never want Metro to go through with it if it would shut down the Red Line to do it. But how cool would a Red Trail be?

(I don't know about the name, though. Sounds a little... Cold-War-ish?)

On the Trails: Custis, Crescent, Georgetown Branch

On the Trails
Today I woke up in Falls Church. Don't ask me how I got there (although under duress I might let slip it had something to do with Go).

I decided to bike back to Silver Spring, so I went the most even-sloped way I know: Custis Trail to Capital Crescent Trail to Georgetown Branch Trail. I predicted it would take me over two hours, but it actually took just under 2.

It's really just so nice to take trails the whole way. No traffic. No death hills. Green and blooming stuff around you.

Actually, there was a fair amount of bike traffic on the Custis and the Crescent. None on the Georgetown Branch. Why is that? Is it because it's unpaved and people don't want to get their road bikes all bent? Maybe.

On my ride I noticed that the torn-up part of the Crescent had been fixed. You know, the part on the hill, just south of the park where you cross into Montgomery County? The one that had a gravel side-path for three years or so while we waited for somebody to finish it? Well, it took over three years, but it's done. Now that's efficiency.

I enjoyed my ride so much, I had a crazy idea...

Sakana: A Good Alternative to Sushi Taro?

Sakana: A Good Alternative to Sushi Taro?
Since Sushi Taro did not open in time for my birthday, we went instead to Sakana.

Sakana is best with the Japanese food other than sushi, but their sushi is still decent.

Their appetizers are what really get me. I like the spinach dish at any time of year, but I like their tofu dish in the summer. I've also had their nabeyaki udon (noodles in a clear broth with seafood etc) and it's really nice on cold days.

Today we had sushi, and it seemed better than normal today. The spicy tuna was better than usual. The yellowtail with scallions roll was subpar somehow, like there wasn't enough fish or flavor, or both. The green caterpillar roll was overpriced for what you got; a $10.95 roll is supposed to be a huge maki, but instead they just loaded a regular-sized roll with too much avocado. The unagi was great, though, and the nigiri tuna and salmon were good for the price.

I really like Sakana's take on tempura sushi: rectangular-pressed blocks with crunch on top and in the middle. We had both the veggie tempura roll and the sakana sushi tempura roll (which I think was shrimp). Really good texture, no oiliness, and just enough shrimp to the rice to make it feel worth it.

It's too bad about Sakana's service. Although today there was a dude with a teapot and water pitcher going around, on other days (when it's just the middle-aged woman) our drinks haven't usually stayed full. Also, better order everything you want right away. It'll take a while for your (sushi) order to come, but once it does, the waitstaff doesn't look out for a second round of orders.

So, while Sushi Taro's rebuilding, I suggest Sakana for a cheapish alternative where you can also partake in other Japanese items. This is only if you're committed to dining in Dupont Circle, though; there are better places, but they're more expensive.

(By all means, don't go to Uni for sushi! It's just down the road on P Street, but it's terrible!)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sushi Taro Updates Website, Prolongs Sushi-Shaped Hole in My Life

Sushi Taro Updates Website, Prolongs Sushi-Shaped Hole in My Life
For those not in the know, Sushi Taro (17th & P NW, above the CVS) was the best place to get sushi in DC. While other places might have had more expensive, exotic fish, and still others had a more sophisticated, bistoesque feel, Sushi Taro had the best fish for the price. Even forgetting about price, the sushi and sashimi there really was fantastic.

Sushi Taro closed for renovation around New Year's. Their website was wiped away to simply say "Sushi Taro restaurant is closed for a complete renovation until early March, 2009. We apologize for any inconvenience caused by this."

Early March, I thought? Perfect! My birthday is in late March. We might be able to restart the tradition my friends and I had of going to Sushi Taro for birthday lunches.

Sadly, Sushi Taro changed the word "early" to "late" on their website, dashing my hopes and dreams.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Chariots For Hire, kstreet lounge, and Manny & Olga's

Last night I went to a birthday party for two of my friends. It wasn't really my scene, but it was great hanging out with good people.

We started out on a party bus, courtesy of Chariots For Hire. (Please note, H&C, that Chariots For Hire capitalizes the "F" in its own business name.)

It wasn't quite what I had pictured. I had pictured a double-decker bus with an open top, a staircase, and a fully-stocked bar. Yes, what I had pictured was probably impossible. This is what we got:

Except instead of cheesy Chariots of Fire music, we listened to a mix ranging on the scale from M.I.A. to Hanson, but staying mostly on the M.I.A. side, thankfully. The TV screens played Fast Times at Ridgemont High for the first two hours and Wanted for the second. A couple of times the laser hit me in the eye.

The bus was basically a city bus with comfy benches. The 35-person limit is a real limit; we had 34 and were cramped.

As I looked around at my friends drinking, I thought, why a bus? We were cramped, we were jostled, it was difficult to get drinks if you weren't sitting up front, the music was a little loud, and we weren't even going anywhere far away. But the discomfort and the cheesiness were all part of the fun. Besides, being driven while drunk to the Lincoln Memorial at night was something that was pretty special.

Our first stop, before the Memorial, was kstreet lounge (Note, H&C, that they don't use capital letters in their name, and they don't put a space after the "k".)

I'd never been, so I was interested in what it was like. Because of some special through the bus, we didn't have to wait very long to get in.

Inside, it's about what you'd expect for a clubby kind of place. Loud music, bad remixes (the Losing My Religion cover remix was particularly terrible), and lots of people on a Saturday night. And a lot of ladies.

From 10 to 12 on alternating Saturdays (?), ladies drink free. Seriously, there were a lot of drunk women up in that joint. I wasn't really looking for anyone, just standing in one place talking to the group I was with, and I had two encounters. The first one splashed her drink on my arm. She was very sorry, and talked with me for a bit, but she was the sluttiest-dressed girl within visual range, so I was kinda uninterested.

The second girl reached out and grabbed my arm for support while she put on her shoes, then pulled me into a little bit of dancing with her. She asked "Are you single" as the first thing she said to me. I replied I was. It turns out we have a mutual acquaintence, so I might be seeing more of her... actually, probably not; too busy studying.

kstreet lounge was pretty boring for me after a while. I don't like shouting to talk, so I was disinclined to talk, which is pretty much the only thing I do at bars. We got back on the bus and went to the Lincoln Memorial.

Ever tried to get a bunch of drunk people together for a group photo? Kinda hard to do.

At the end of the night, I was screwed by daylight savings time. I had thought that Metro would be running when I got off the bus at 2:00 am. Except there was no 2:00 am. My cell phone totally skipped that hour, stranding me in DC.

So I went back to one of my friend's houses and ordered some Manny & Olga's cheesesteak. I must say, I love that everything in Adams Morgan stays open until ridiculous hours. Especially Manny & Olga's. Their cheesesteak is the worst-for-you-slash-best cheap cheesesteak in town. Added benefit: they stay open until FIVE A.M.! Slight disadvantage: they're very unreliable, time-wise and order-wise. But hey, that's okay.

I woke up the next morning and found that someone had drunk my left contact (which I'd left in a plastic cup in the bathroom). I went home with one seeing eye and didn't eat until 3pm today.