In D.C. Dream Day, we ask our favorite people in the area to tell us how they would spend a perfect day in the District. See previous dream days from Mayor Muriel Bowser, the BYT’s Svetlana Legetic, Story District’s Amy Saidman and more.
There are a couple different ways to think about all the things Simone Jacobson does, including being the general manager at Union Market’s Burmese bodega Toli Moli, teaching yoga to inmates at D.C. jails and organizing arts events across the city, like the 2017 Peace Ball and the IlluminAsia festival at the Freer and Sackler galleries. Jacobson, 33, thinks of herself as a “community and cultural connector.” Those who know her well have another phrase for it. “A lot of my friends call me Auntie Sim. I’m like the community auntie,” Jacobson says. “I feel really lucky to have all these connections.” She’s calling in all those connections on her dream day — and inviting a few VIP guests, too.
Two of my chosen-family sisters live here, but the other three are all out of town, so they’d have to fly in. After all the sisters get here, we’d rent some sort of vehicle: Airstream, limo, car service. We check into some kind of huge, fancy suite at the Mandarin Oriental.
I would take everybody to Alison Beshai’s house. Alison owns Locale Workspace, and her personal home — every detail of it is perfect. I would invite my favorite D.C. chefs to come and cook for us: Mario Monte at Colada Shop, Bobby Pradachith at Thip Khao, any of the chefs at Ambar and my mom. We’d do a Cuban-Laotian-Serbian-Burmese breakfast mashup, and I would invite a hodgepodge group of guests. I would love for the Obamas to be there (it’s not far from their house — we’ll send the car); Eric Wang, my business partner, who’s my favorite person to eat with; [chef] Eddie Huang, who’s also from the D.C. area; [journalist] Alex Wagner, who is half Burmese; and Oddisee, my favorite D.C. rapper. I think that would make for a fascinating conversation.
After this incredibly fulfilling breakfast, we would obviously go to Spa World. Spa World is a sanctuary to me. Of course [we’d get] the works — the body scrubs, the shiatsu massages — and then Korean barbecue at Honey Pig.
I would meet my whole family — my mom, my sister, my brother-in-law and my two perfect nieces — and we would go to the National Zoo. Like all children, they really love the animals. There’s something about the zoo and the freedom to make noise and explore. It’s my favorite thing to do with my family.
I couldn’t decide between dim sum and pho. Because Pho Viet is my absolute favorite place to eat period, but I think that Da Hong Pao [near Logan Circle] is pretty good. The one distinguishing feature of Da Hong Pao from the dim sum places in the suburbs is that they have really great service, which actually is a little bit disarming.
I’m a person who absolutely does not enjoy shopping. The only place I enjoy going is Violet Boutique. I love that place. They have affordable clothing that changes all the time, and they treat you like you’re precious royalty no matter if you’re buying one $5 pair of earrings or spending hundreds of dollars, which is usually what happens with me. They’re also really inclusive in terms of size. I never have trouble finding things there.
Post-nap, I would like to find some rooftop with a view and I would hire some of my favorite instructors to do a private yoga session for us with the singing bowls. I’m just imagining doing that on some rooftop with the breeze and the bowls.
Driving over to Malcolm X Park, which some folks call Meridian Hill. I would bring a little picnic with catering from Dorjee Momo; some uni toast and some cocktails from Himitsu; some Z&Z flatbreads; and of course some Ruby Scoops.
And then a big dinner party for everyone I could possibly gather at either Kaz Sushi Bistro or Peking Gourmet Inn. As we chase these food trends, [these] places to me are D.C. institutions where people are masters of their craft. For me, Kaz is the gold standard when it comes to balancing tradition with some innovative things.
I have learned most of my life lessons from college to the present dancing salsa. Bossa Bistro and Lounge has a really great live band on Saturday nights. Then a dual set with DJ Ayes Cold and DJ Jahsonic. Anywhere I can get both of them in the same place is about the most free and happy you’ll ever find me.
For a late-night snack, there is an orca platter at the Old Ebbitt Grill that has lobster clams, crab, shrimp and oysters. It’s absolutely the pinnacle of decadence.
We drive to Assateague Island and make a beachside fire so we can fall asleep to the ocean. Then we wake up and we have a little gypsy band: Huda Asfour, who is an oud player; Jabari Exum, who plays the drums; Curry Hackett who plays the horn; Nistha Raj, who plays the violin; Michael Bowie, who plays bass; Christylez Bacon, on beatbox, spoon and freestyle; and Maimouna Youssef, who just performed with Common at the Kennedy Center.