Travel with your taste buds: Street food shines in DC

Chaat is a popular Indian street food, typically served from roadside carts and stalls. (Thinkstock)
Bindaas
Serving Indian street-food favorites
3309 Connecticut Ave. NW (Thinkstock) (Getty Images/iStockphoto/Scott Biales)
Zentan
Monday nights, chef Yo Matsuzaki serves karaage, or Japanese fried chicken
1155 14th St. NW (WTOP/Rachel Nania) (WTOP/Rachel Nania)
Simit + Smith
Serves one of Turkey’s most popular street foods: the simit
1077 Wisconsin Ave. NW (WTOP/Rachel Nania) (WTOP/Rachel Nania)
Baker hands preparing khachapuri on kitchen table. Top view on cook making traditional georgian treat with raw dough and egg. Culinary, cooking, recipe concept
Compass Rose
Global street foods, including lamb kefta from Lebanon and khachapuri from Georgia
1346 T St. NW (Thinkstock) (Getty Images/iStockphoto/golubovy)
DC Dosa
Authentic South Indian lentil and rice crepes 
Union Market, 1309 5th St. NE (WTOP/Rachel Nania) (WTOP/Rachel Nania)
Chris Svetlik and Brian Stanford mix up the menu options at Republic Kolache with a variety of sweet and savory fillings that are then stuffed into an egg- and butter-enriched dough. (Courtesy Republic Kolache)
Republic Kolache 
A Czech/ Texan classic, served sweet and savory
At Hill Country Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, 410 7th St. NW (Courtesy Republic Kolache) (Courtesy Republic Kolache)
Arepa Zone
Serves South American-stuffed corn patties
Union Market, 1309 5th St. NE 
(Courtesy Arepa Zone) (Courtesy Arepa Zone)
BUL
Korean street food
2431 18th St. NW (WTOP/Rachel Nania) (WTOP/Rachel Nania)
This Jan. 12, 2015 photo shows bananas Foster crepes in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)
Point Chaud
Sweet and savory crepes 
1012 14th St. NW (AP/Matthew Mead) (AP/Matthew Mead)
Ankara
Serves Turkish kebabs, flat breads and other street food favorites 
1320 19th St. NW (WTOP/Rachel Nania) (WTOP/Rachel Nania)
MIAMI BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 21:  A general view of atmosphere at the Bank of America Lifestyle Seminar - Puffed and Stuffed: An Empanada Seminar hosted by Bunbury's Paula Costa and Josh Wesson during the 2015 Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival presented by FOOD & WINE at The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach on February 21, 2015 in Miami Beach, Florida.  (Photo by Jacqueline Romano/Getty Images For SOBEWFF)
Julia’s Empanadas
Choose from Chilean style, Jamaican style and vegetarian options
Three locations, including 2452 18th St. NW (Getty Images) (Getty Images For SBWFF/Jacqueline Romano)
greek gyros with tzatziki sauce and fries on parchment paper. Shot with selective focus in natural light.
Zorba’s Cafe
Greek classics
1612 20th St. NW (Thinkstock)     (Getty Images/iStockphoto/rez-art)
** FOR USE WITH AP WEEKLY FEATURES **   The main course for a Greek-style vegetarian meal consists of a combination of falafel, strongly seasoned fried patties made from ground chickpeas, wrapped in a bed of greens and pita bread and doused with tzatziki yogurt sauce.  (AP Photo/Larry Crowe)
Amsterdam Falafelshop
Middle Eastern pitas, salads and fries
2425 18th St. NW
(AP Images) (ASSOCIATED PRESS/LARRY CROWE)
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Chaat is a popular Indian street food, typically served from roadside carts and stalls. (Thinkstock)
Baker hands preparing khachapuri on kitchen table. Top view on cook making traditional georgian treat with raw dough and egg. Culinary, cooking, recipe concept
Chris Svetlik and Brian Stanford mix up the menu options at Republic Kolache with a variety of sweet and savory fillings that are then stuffed into an egg- and butter-enriched dough. (Courtesy Republic Kolache)
This Jan. 12, 2015 photo shows bananas Foster crepes in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)
MIAMI BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 21:  A general view of atmosphere at the Bank of America Lifestyle Seminar - Puffed and Stuffed: An Empanada Seminar hosted by Bunbury's Paula Costa and Josh Wesson during the 2015 Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival presented by FOOD & WINE at The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach on February 21, 2015 in Miami Beach, Florida.  (Photo by Jacqueline Romano/Getty Images For SOBEWFF)
greek gyros with tzatziki sauce and fries on parchment paper. Shot with selective focus in natural light.
** FOR USE WITH AP WEEKLY FEATURES **   The main course for a Greek-style vegetarian meal consists of a combination of falafel, strongly seasoned fried patties made from ground chickpeas, wrapped in a bed of greens and pita bread and doused with tzatziki yogurt sauce.  (AP Photo/Larry Crowe)

WASHINGTON — On March 15, a couple hundred people crowded under red paper lanterns and alongside platters of kushikatsu at Zentan in Thomas Circle to get a taste of a traditional Osakan festival.

The restaurant’s executive chef, Yo Matsuzaki, teamed up with Nobu Yamazaki of the Michelin-starred Sushi Taro for the event that highlighted a popular part of Japanese culture: street food.

“You’ll see things like takoyaki — that’s a very traditional street food. It’s a savory octopus kind-of puff. And katsu you put a bunch of ingredients on a skewer and fry it,” Matsuzaki said, describing some of the most common foods served in his hometown of Osaka.  

Matsuzaki is one of a handful of D.C. chefs putting street food in the spotlight. James Beard Award-winning chef Vikram Sundaram, of Rasika, recently opened the Cleveland Park restaurant Bindaas to showcase Indian small plates and snacks.

On T Street, Compass Rose features street eats from countries around the globe, including lamb kefta from Lebanon and khachapuri from Georgia, and food stalls and trucks throughout the city are packing big, bold flavors into handheld wraps, pockets and buns.

Matsuzaki, who dedicates Mondays at Zentan to a street-food favorite — karaage, or Japanese fried chicken — says he isn’t surprised that the casual culinary category is having a moment. Street food is approachable and it allows diners to experience exotic flavors in an informal environment — often times without a plate.

“It’s not expensive; it’s not stuck up. It’s relaxed and fun,” Matsuzaki said. “It’s simple food and it’s not too heavy.”

The next time you want to explore a corner of the globe without leaving the city, check out these local spots serving street-food favorites and let your taste buds do the traveling: 


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