As indicated in previous articles, I travel a fair amount and when I am looking for a dinner recommendation I usually send out a tweet to the Twittersphere looking for a suggestion. This week was no different from weeks past, so I sent out a “Return on Poetry” tweet to secure my hotel stay and then I send out a tweet asking for dinner reservations in Washington, D.C. In my tweet, I talked Eat24, Yelp (recently bought Eat24), Chef Andrew Zimmern and The Washington Post. To my pleasant surprise, before my eyes, Andrew recommended Rasika.
Rasika, named one of Zagat’s top 20 restaurants in America in 2014, is an Indian restaurant showcasing Tawa (Griddle),Sigri (openBarbeque), Tandoori and regional dishes. With two locations in the District of Columbia. One is located at 633 D St, N.W. in the Penn Quarter area and the other is on the 1190 New Hampshire N.W. in the West End area of the District of Columbia. Given that I particularly have a fondness for curry and Indian food, I opened up my Open Table app (see what I did there?) and made a reservation at Rasika. Unfortunately by meeting ran late and I had to cancel my first reservation.
After a quick bite to eat at Lincoln (highly recommend here too), I Uber’ed my way back to my hotel on Embassy Row, The Fairfax. While I was thoroughly disappointed that I had to cancel my 5:30pm reservation at Rasika, I re-opened my Open Table app and noticed that the 10:00pm reservation was still available. Not wanting to be deterred by cancelling my appointment, I went to Google Maps and lo-and-behold, Rasika West End was a short walking distance from The Fairfax.
After a workout in the fitness facility and a shower, I was headed over to Rasika West End. Although I wasn’t too hungry when the smell of curry standing outside the restaurant suddenly made me hungry. Given that Rasika West End closes at 10:30pm (granted I was able to finish my meal and rolled out at 11:00pm), I asked for some dinner recommendations from my waiter; however, I knew I wasn’t going to pass up some garlic naan.
The first small plate that was recommended to me was the Palak Chatt, which includes crispy spinach, yogurt, tamarind and dates. All I can say, is the combination of flavors in the Palak Chatt, was savory and sweet and although I had never had crispy spinach before coming to Rasika, I quickly found that my Palak Chatt was gone. Who would have thought that the tamarind and dates would perfectly compliment the crispy spinach dish, which was perfectly ready and delish.
Onto my main course, I let again my waiter suggest a dish for me, which was one of their specialties, the Lamb Rajasthani, which is a red curry dish including kashmiri chilies, black cardamom and garlic. When asked if I liked spicy foods, I said, “Bring it on.” The lamb was exquisitely ready and I found the red curry sauce to be mild, but the accompanying sauce (perhaps a harissa) added just the extra spicy kick I was looking for with this dish. After placing a dollup of basmati rice on my plate, I added my Lamb Rajasthani, the spicy sauce and then I used my hands. Screw the fork. I prefer to use my garlic naan as my fork, which was definitely the right thing to do tonight. The lamb was tender and I didn’t even need to use my fork and I kept chucking to myself, “Go Fork Yourself,” which is the name of Molly Mogren’s and Andrew Zimmern’s podcast. In fact, I just ordered a “Go Fork Yourself” tee-shirt, so hopefully it gets to be soon, perhaps this afternoon.
Although I was feeling content after my Palak Chatt and my Lamb Rajasthani, how could I leave Rasika without trying some Gulab Jamun for dessert? That was perfect for me. For those of you not familiar with Gulab Jamun, it is a milk-solid, known as kyoha in India and Pakistan, which is kneaded into a dough, sometimes with a pinch of flour, and then shaped into small balls and deep-fried at a low temperature. Rasika’s Gulab Jamun was a saffron pistachio rabdi and game with a side of cardamom ice cream. All I can say is “I screamed for this cardamom ice scream.” Okay, it was a squeal.
After I was done with my tremendous meal, I was very thankful that I had a short walk back to my restaurant to work off the Gulab Jamun, but in all honestly I did not feel full at all given that Rasika serves small plates. My total bill with tip came to around $60, which to me was very reasonably priced (also included a Bengali beer) given I was at one of Zagat’s top 20 restaurants in America in 2014. There is no debate this was great.
So to summarize Rasika, for my review, I thought I’d end, in a haiku.
Great Indian Food.
These small plates are really great.
Love ya Rasika.