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The GW Hatchet

AN INDEPENDENT STUDENT NEWSPAPER SERVING THE GW COMMUNITY SINCE 1904

The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Crime log: Subject barred after shoplifting at bookstore
By Max Porter, Contributing News Editor • February 26, 2024

Dish of the Week: Alice DC’s Brisket Phở

We split two entrees: the pho ($13.99) and a banh mi ($12.99) for a warm, late-night meal.
Alice+DCs+savory+and+smokey+pho%2C+complete+with+a+side+of+bean+sprouts%2C+basil%2C+lime+and+chili+garlic+oil.
Emily Perez
Alice DC’s savory and smokey pho, complete with a side of bean sprouts, basil, lime and chili garlic oil.

Nestled between countless bars and clubs, Alice DC brings a home-cooked, family feel to the fast-paced bustle of U Street. 

Conceptualized by professional breakdancer and restauranter Sonny Tran, Alice DC is a swanky multistory concept bar, lounge and restaurant complete with purple fluorescent LED signs and floral walls. Head Chef Ngo Mai Oanh, Tran’s mother, serves up a variety of Vietnamese and Chinese street foods, ranging from pho to chinito wings. 

I walked into the whimsical and dimly lit front of the restaurant, passing walls lined with twinkling lights and potted plants. Standing tables and barstool chairs lined the wood-paneled walls and oversized windows looked out onto the chaos of U Street. Flashing strobe lights lit a hallway toward the back of the restaurant, leading one through a “rabbit hole” to the bar and club. 

My friend and I arrived at Alice DC on a Saturday night at 8 p.m. and found ourselves to be the sole customers in the restaurant. We were immediately greeted by Chef Oanh and were offered a few recommendations as we mulled over the menu at the register. 

The smaller appetizers like the bao buns ($9.99) and jiaozi potstickers ($7.99) sounded enticing, but after looking over all the options, we quickly realized how hungry we were.

We decided to split two entrees: the pho ($13.99) and a banh mi ($12.99). After much deliberation, we chose the Korean BBQ chicken as our meat for the banh mi, over the pork belly and chicken, intrigued by the addition of barbecue sauce. 

After getting settled in our wooden bar stools at the shop’s entrance, we watched as the U Street corridor’s nightlife began to unfold while listening to the sounds of pans banging, knives sharpening and food sizzling. Amidst the cozy, family atmosphere of the restaurant, I could hear the excitement coming from the club in the back as they prepared for a night filled with dancing to ‘80s pop hits.

Served in a simple plastic bowl in case we decided to take it to go, the aromatic pho arrived first. Steam arose from the traditional Vietnamese noodle soup complete with braised brisket, cilantro, scallions and onions. The dish came with a side of bean sprouts, basil, lime and chili garlic oil, which we eagerly added despite warnings that the broth was already spicy. 

The pho was savory, smokey and slightly peppery, which complemented the tender and juicy brisket. The bean sprouts and scallions added a satisfying crunch to balance out the melt-in-your-mouth texture of the brisket and rice noodles. The scallions, onions and bean sprouts all added bits of fresh earthiness to the savory broth. Wanting to maximize all the possible flavors of the soup already emanating smells, I dumped the entire bag of bean sprouts, basil, lime and chili garlic oil in, which gave the bowl an extra kick. 

It has been years since I first tried pho, and needless to say, after devouring this one I will be coming back for many more bowls of this heartwarming dish. 

As we were halfway through slurping the comforting broth and noodles, the Korean BBQ chicken banh mi arrived in a plastic basket lined with red gingham paper. The banh mi sandwich was filled with pickled carrots and daikon radishes, cucumbers, cilantro, mint, basil, Fresno chilis, sambal and kewpie, all of which spilled out of the roll of bread. 

As I took the first bite, I felt the BBQ chicken sauce drip down my hands onto the basket, a welcome sign of the flavor explosion that was to come. The chicken was soft and slightly tangy, while the pickled carrots and daikon radishes provided a burst of sweetness that cut through the savory BBQ sauce. The Fresno chilis integrated heat and crunch into the sloppy joe-like sandwich while the soft white roll soaked up the sauce. 

While the leaves continue to turn and the temperature drops, consider taking a trip down the rabbit hole at Alice DC by trying their comforting, classic Vietnamese dishes.

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