Top Ten New (To Me, At Least) Culinary Experiences of 2010

Mmm…tasty. Aiming for diverse recommendations here reflective of the places I’ve been in the past year:

Sichuan Pavilion in Rockville, Maryland. Probably too far out of the way to be worth your trouble if you’re just visiting, but go here if you live in DC.

— Roast Fish Legend in Beijing. I’m having some trouble verifying on the Internet that this place exists, but I have a photo and you may have a friend who can help you decipher the Chinese characters. It’s delicious. Get the roast fish (obviously); the black bean sauce is particularly good.

Kushi in DC. Very close to downtown, very close to the Convention Center, definitely come if you’re visiting the city. It’s a very unusual, very good Japanese dining experience. If you love sushi, you’ll of course want some sushi, which is excellent but similar to other excellent sushi; the real winner here is to explore the other options.

— Brunch at Casa Oaxaca, in Oaxaca. You can of course find a much better value for your money if you avoid doing anything this obvious, but the fact of the matter is that this was great brunch.

— No-name comedors in Oaxaca. Basically the reverse of the above. Point yourself away from the Zocalo and walk until you find yourself outside the city center and stop in for a bite or two at some places that have customers and smell good.

The Lab Gastropub is mostly just convenient if you happen to be doing something at USC, but they served french fries with some kind of pumpkin dipping sauce that was fantastic and has proven hard to replicate.

Xiabu in some shopping mall in Dalian, China. This is apparently a chain. They do hot pot. The people working there didn’t speak any English, but after a lot of furious gesturing Ezra Klein and I were able to persuade them to bring us 100 RMB worth of food, about 80% of which was delicious.

— Go to ethnic restaurants in Berlin and tell them “I’m not German”. Your (German) dining companions will be offended, but the results speak for themselves.

— If you’re ever in Ramallah, don’t miss the Palestinian-Italian fusion cuisine (think noodles or risotto with Middle Eastern flavors) at Orjuwan.

— Last but by no means least, El El Frijoles in Sargentville, Maine.