City Paper is not for tourists
The Dish: catfish sub
The Location: Oohhs & Aahhs, 1005 U St. NW, (202) 667-7142.
The Price: $8.95, with one side
The Skinny: Between the heat outside and the bubbling deep-fat fryer inside, the temperature behind the counter at Oohhs & Aahhs, the soul-food hole on U Street NW, must be close to 110 degrees Fahrenheit. But owner Oji Abbott refuses to doff his whites—or, in his case, his black chef’s jacket and toque. He’s either a fool or foolishly committed to his art. One bite of his catfish sub, and you realize it’s the latter. Because he prepares his sandwiches individually, dredging each thin fillet in a seasoned flour mixture and carefully monitoring its progress in the fryer, Abbott will make you wait for your food. But it’s time well spent. The perfectly fried fish—crispy and salty on the outside, tender but not muddy on the inside—comes tucked in a lightly grilled sub roll and topped with your preferred condiments. (Note: The mayo-heavy tartar sauce is a must.) When paired with O&A’s legendary mac and cheese, a truly toothsome side of pasta and at least five cheeses, the sandwich rises to the level of a soul-food classic. But if you do order the combo when the mercury’s hitting triple digits, for God’s sake, wait upstairs. It’s air-conditioned up there.