H Street Life

Photograph By
Elise Bernard

BAB offers fast-casual Korean fusion fare

Spring has sprung and H Street NE is blooming. Stroll down the corridor to see the changes. Here are a couple of great options for those looking for the inspiration to get gardening.

Street Food at BAB Korean Fusion

As one of H Street NE’s newest additions, BAB Korean Fusion (1387 H Street NE Suite A, http://www.babdc.com) has been generating quite the buzz. The new fast casual restaurant, from the team behind the popular Tony’s Breakfast (1387 H Street NE, http://tonysbreakfast.com), specializes in rice (or quinoa) bowls ($7-9) with selected protein (short ribs, bulgogi, pork, chicken, flounder, or tofu) and a choice of a mixture of veggies (backyard, Southeast, or house). Each bowl comes topped with an organic cage free egg, toasted sesame seeds, and the house-made kochujang (a Korean hot sauce).

On my first visit, I enjoyed a bowl with the Korean short ribs (galbi), house veggies (jalapeno, edamame, daikon radish, pickled cucumber, Umma’s kimchi) and brown rice. Unsurprisingly, BAB is vegan friendly (Ask them to omit the egg on your tofu bowl!). In addition to the rice bowls, BAB offers vegetarian dumplings (scallion, tofu, sweet potato noodles for $8), a quesadilla ($8), kimchi fried rice ($7), a Korean-style quick ramen ($6), Japchae (a stir-fry of sweet potato noodles for $9), a seafood pancake ($8), and tacos (three for $9).

Looking for some extra crunch? Pick up a bag of Korean snack chips. Then, quench your thirst with a Puck’s soda, a Korean soda from the cooler or a cold barley tea. Those wanting a bigger kick can grab a canned coffee, a Monster, or a Bacchus-D (a non-carbonated Korean energy drink). While stools and counters line three walls, there are no tables. So, dining in at BAB is best for individuals or small groups. The restaurant is open at 11 a.m., but closed on Sundays. BAB closes at 9 P.M. Monday through Thursday, but stays open until midnight on Friday and Saturday nights.

Bladensburg Road: The Next Garden District?

If local store W.S. Jenks Hardware (910 Bladensburg Road NE, http://www.wsjenks.com) and Cultivate the City (http://www.cultivatethecity.com) Bladensburg Road will become a gardener’s first destination. The two are partnering on a rooftop farm concept at Jenks. It’s a multi-phase project they’ve dubbed H Street Farms. Cultivate plans to build and run rooftop greenhouses in which they will raise a variety of plants that will be for sale at Jenks.

On a recent weekend I met with Jenks owner Jerry Siegel and Cultivate the City Founder andCEO Niraj Ray to learn more. Ray explained that the plans call for a single 20-by-16 foot greenhouse that will be supplemented later by three smaller growing facilities, as well as five gallon planters with benches. The exterior southern wall of Jenks (above the 7-Eleven) will eventually be replaced with a living wall of plants. Plant sales will take place downstairs at the main Jenks counter. Once things are up and running, customers will be able to visit the rooftop farm on weekends as well as for events and workshops.

The ultimate goal for the rooftop is to craft a comfortable space where the community can come to relax and visit with friends during a shopping trip. Siegel showed me preliminary renderings depicting tables with umbrellas. He is exploring the possibility of inviting in a local food vendor or pop-up restaurant to serve food and drink during daylight hours certain days. Late in April, 405 Yoga (1000 Florida Ave NE, http://www.405yoga.com) began offering classes for its members on the rooftop Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

Cultivate the City’s plant offerings at Jenks will extend beyond the varieties one can typically find at Home Depot. Think Holy Basil (ideal for Thai cooking), interesting tomato varieties, and the heat of Trinidad Scorpion Peppers. Cultivate also offers a seedling CSA program perfect for those who want to grow unusual varieties of plants, but aren’t interested in starting them indoors from seeds. This year’s first CSA batch (of cold weather plants) was released on April 15, and the warmer weather seedlings will be ready on May 15.

As part of their efforts to get us all gardening, Jenks also recently added products from some other local organizations and producers. Underground Greens (http://www.undergroundgreens.com) microgreen kits allow for windowsill gardening, and the live microgreens from Little Wild Things City Farm (http://www.littlewildthingsfarm.com). What an attractive gift to bring to dinner party! Indoor growing tents purchased from Let’s Grow DC (http://www.letsgrowdc.com) make it easy to start seeds inside anytime and even raise entire plants indoors. Keep an eye out for special soil blends on their way from a Virginia-based farm.

The Annual Trinidad Garden Tour

Every year residents, and friends, of the Trinidad neighborhood set out on a tour of local gardens. Many yards are impressive, showing off the residents’ years of gardening. Other green spaces belong to beginners. Visit all sorts of gardens including those focused on containers. Some gardeners focus on ornamentals, while others lean more towards herbs or vegetables. This year’s tour will take place May 22. Those interested in adding their garden to the tour can email trinidadneighborhood@gmail.com. The free tour is a project of the Trinidad Neighborhood Association (https://trinidadneighborhood.org).

All Day Breakfast at DC Diner

The father and son team behind the newly opened DC Diner (802 13th Street NE) aren’t new to the restaurant game. However, they are confident their offerings will entice folks to take a step off the corridor to give their fare a taste. Order up waffles, omelets, salmon cakes, and other breakfast items anytime. Their rotating sandwich menu includes a no-filler crab cake made from scratch (broiled, not fried), a turkey burger, a shrimp salad Po’ Boy, and a vegetarian sandwich with Portobello mushroom, bell peppers, onions and spinach. All sandwiches come with chips or a side of hand-cut fries.

The DC Diner is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. The space is small. Indoor seating is limited to side counters, but the wide sidewalk is perfect for al fresco eating.

The Trinidad Garden Tour shows Trinidad in full bloom
W.S. Jenks & Cultivate the City dig into urban farming

For more on what’s abuzz on, and around, H Street NE, you can visit my blog at http://frozentropics.blogspot.com. Send me tips or questions at elise.bernard@gmail.com.

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