Silver & Sons Barbecue and Lao Sze Chuan: Tradition!

Pickled tongue, brisket, kasha varnishkes, borscht, cucumber salad, and Vernor’s Ginger Ale.  I can still picture my Eastern European grandmother toiling away in her small Detroit kitchen as my cousins and I waited impatiently for Friday night dinner to be served. Food and memory are inextricably linked, and this vision appears to me whenever I eat dishes that are inspired by Jewish tradition.

Thanks to Chef Jarrad Silver of Silver & Sons Barbecue who recently sent me on a lovely trip down memory lane.

Silver & Sons Barbeque

In March 2020 Jarrad Silver was helming the kitchen at Birch & Barley. It was the last restaurant meal I would have for some time, and the flavors of his Mediterranean-influenced dishes stuck with me.  Silver made a pandemic pivot by purchasing a smoker and launching Silver & Sons, selling barbecue from his home. He’s now taken it on the road with a food truck, where his Jewish background seeps into his food in the most delightful ways.

Silver & Sons Barbecue

Silver’s brisket, lemon schmaltz potatoes, challah, and babka bread pudding are reminiscent of my grandmother’s cooking. Silver reimagines the classics with flair and finesse.

His smoked chicken makes me swoon. Sourced from Freebird Farms, the birds are bathed in a 24-hour brine of citrus and fresh herbs and rubbed with smoked paprika, garlic powder, and white peppercorns.

Silver & Sons smoked chicken

We always include Silver’s pastrami flavored mushrooms in our order. They give my pescatarian husband something to chew on, and I find them a very satisfying accompaniment to the meat. They are especially good tucked into a home-baked challah roll, which Silver makes using his grandmother’s recipe.

Silver posts on Instagram that his short rib pastrami is one of his most popular options.  The short ribs are brined for 8-10 days, coated with cracked coriander and his five peppercorn blend, and smoked.

Silver’s unique spice blends amp up the sides including chickpea napa cabbage slaw, mac and cheese, hickory smoked beets, and smoked deviled eggs. They also bolster a trio of sauces- the ketchup-based Bulldog, Spiced Cider Vinegar, and Baharat Mustard. This is my favorite- a sublime blend of dijon and whole grain mustards, brown sugar. and a mixture of paprika, peppercorns, mace, turmeric and dried lime.

Look for the truck on Wednesdays and Saturdays at Captain John’s Market in Cabin John, Maryland. On other days you can find the truck roaming around various Montgomery County locations. Check out the Silver & Sons website or Instagram @silverandsonsbbq for details. 


Lao Sze Chuan

My family moved from Detroit to Annandale, Virginia when I was nine years old. Sunday night dinners at Chinese restaurants became a tradition, which I guess classified us as a stereotypical Jewish family. It is what it is! Duck Chang in Annandale- still famed for its Peking duck- became a favorite destination when it opened in the mid-70’s.

A visit to Lao Sze Chuan triggers memories from this period of my life. The restaurant opened in N. Bethesda next to Whole Foods in October 2021. It’s big and bustling with dramatic décor which includes lots of greenery and flourishes of gold

Lao Sze Chuan was founded in 1998 in Chicago.  It comes to the DMV with loads of acclaim behind its name. This includes being named the No.1 Chinese Restaurant in the U.S. by Travel and Leisure (2013), a spot on the Michelin Bib Gourmand List (2010-2016), and mentions of its food on numerous listicles.

I am not one to shy away from heat, which is why I find Szechuan cuisine so appealing. I can fuel my passion at Lao Sze Chuan with spicy sour fish filet in pickled cabbage broth.  Tender chunks of fish swim in a vinegary broth tossed with pickled cabbage, Szechuan peppercorns, and loads of red chili peppers. Despite the one pepper spice rating displayed on the menu, this dish makes my water glass and I inseparable. And that’s why I love it.

Lao Sze Schuan sour fish filet

Those red hot chili peppers appear often at Lao Sze Chuan- most notably into a signature dish- chef’s special dry chili chicken. Crunchy on the outside and tender on this inside, this fuels my desire for a speedy return here.

Lao Sze Chuan dry chili chicken

Tibetan lamb chops, perched atop a layer of irresistible steaming potatoes bring the heat in a more literal fashion. The chops are served still flaming, which adds an element of drama.

Lao Sze Chuan Tibetan lamb chops

Peking duck is another specialty of the house.  Look for a plate of duck skin which is dusted in sugar to proceed the duck set. Fond memories of those visits to Duck Chang come rushing back.


Lao Sze Chuan Peking duck

This hot new restaurant will also satisfy diners who aren’t looking for a tongue-lashing.  There are classics including sesame chicken, chicken and broccoli, and sweet and sour pork. Or you can adventure into the unknown with sea cucumber millet stew or double fried pork intestines.

Lao Sze Chuan, 20 Paseo Drive, North Bethesda, MD


Speaking of tradition, I write this as many of us are preparing for Passover or Easter.  Wishing all who celebrate a happy and healthy (!!!) holiday.

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