Food Diary: How a 27-Year-Old Consultant Eats on $225K/Year in Washington, DC

7:58 pm Magpie and the Tiger, a new restaurant serving Korean-American food, is at the top of both my and my boyfriend’s “to eat” list, so we book our Saturday night reservation there. I haven’t eaten a proper meal all day, and we end up ordering the majority of the menu. For drinks, I order the Matcha Sunset, a cocktail with grapefruit, yuzu, habanero, and matcha that comes virgin off the menu, but is no longer that when I add soju to it ($9.00 virgin, $16.00 with alcohol). My boyfriend orders a bottle of Hana Makgeolli Takju ($48.00), a Korean rice wine, for us to split. Starters include the focaccia di recco ($13.00), which is reminiscent of a scallion pancake, and the mala tteokbokki ($16), a particularly spicy version of the Korean rice-cake snack. These are followed by the yachae bokkum ($15.00), made of bok choy, mushrooms, and a 63 degree egg, and the lobster ginger-scallion guksu ($47.00). The noodles have a softly chewy bite and are not doused in a heavy sauce, which really allows them to shine; they are some of the best noodles I have had in recent memory.

The star of the show is the whole rib kalbi ($68.00), which serves the beef sliced ​​off the bone and comes with umami rice, ssamjang, and red-leaf lettuce. I grew up eating ssam at home, but this is the tastiest Korean barbecue lettuce wrap that I’ve encountered. I must’ve stopped engaging in conversation, because my boyfriend tells me “you just entered a different world” after my third wrap. I know this dish is a winner because my boyfriend, whom I have never seen take leftovers from a meal, asked for this to be wrapped (no intended pun). Dessert is the ube hotteok ($9), an ube ice cream on top of a warm doughnut. Our check comes with two shortbread cookies in the shape of magpie birds, and is $306.24, $20.00 of which I have already paid for when I made our reservation, and the remainder of which is covered by my boyfriend. Again, relationship equity.

11:00 pm Our final stop of the night is at L’Annexe, a cocktail bar in Georgetown that serves the most unique drinks I’ve seen. We usually run into our friends here, and have also befriended its management. We often partake in a “team meeting” (a round of tequila shots) with the bar staff when we come. I once brought pandan and activated charcoal as drink ingredients, just to see what L’Annexe could come up with. (I think the latter is benign in small doses, but beware that it can be a medication disruptor.) Soon afterwards, they were both on the menu—the pandan in a drink called Spruce Banner, which includes gin, arak, mastiha, chartreuse , cucumber, lemon, mint, and the activated charcoal in a drink named Esmoquin, featuring mezcal, crème de cacao, and orange bitters. I’m not saying I’m responsible for this, but I’m not not. One of the chefs at Chez Billy Sud, a nearby French bistro, even liked it so much that he asked the L’Annexe staff how this drink came to be—and then he came up to me in the bar to thank me for helping create it. Tonight, the bar manager brings us a round of champagne upon arrival, and it is this service and familiarity that keeps us coming back. I put in an order for Honeydew You Love Me ($18.00), a frothy gin drink with notes of melon and a soft green hue, which may now be my favorite drink of all time. I grab the check for the both of us and tip extra, so it comes out to $50.00.

Saturday total: $70.00

Illustration by Maggie Cowles

Sunday

8:40 am For fear of waking up my boyfriend at an ungodly hour on a Sunday morning, I take my morning Americano and work meetings in the hallway outside of my condo. I return to find him already awake and watching golf—the final round of The Open is on.

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