crackers

Rasika, with 2014 James Beard Award Winning Chef Vikram Sunderam, and Rasika West End, Modern Indian in Penn Quarter and West End

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This place has gotten a few mentions - most recently in this weekend's first edition of the Wall Street Journal's Weekend rag. Slated to open in November, it's supposed to bring Portuguese-influenced Indian food from the Goa region, as well as coconut and curry leaf dishes from Kerala and almond and pistachio infused cuisines from the Mogul region. 633 D St. NW. Any other buzz?

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What I thought from the mentions in the local media was that the place was to focus on Tawa Cooking ( which is a kind of griddle cooking, think of the monogilian grill) and ' Sigri' cooking ( which is grilling skewered meats, vegs etc on an open charcoal grill)

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From Rasika's press release:

Bajaj and Sommelier Sebastian Zutant crafted an International wine of 100 selections that pair well with the flavorful Indian dishes and bottle prices range between $30-$200, while the by-the-glass options are also well rounded featuring six reds and six whites that are priced from $7-$10.

Eh? Is there something I don't know about?

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From Rasika's press release:"Bajaj and Sommelier Sebastian Zutant crafted an International wine of 100 selections that pair well with the flavorful Indian dishes and bottle prices range between $30-$200, while the by-the-glass options are also well rounded featuring six reds and six whites that are priced from $7-$10."

Eh? Is there something I don't know about?

Saturday will be Sebastion's last night at Komi.

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Website? Menu? Did you find the press release online? Am looking for someplace new to go over the next few days.

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I don't make a habit of cutting-and-pasting press releases, but since Paul asked:

Renowned Washington Restaurateur Ashok Bajaj Opens Rasika,

Showcasing Authentic Indian Cuisine Served with Modern Flair

Washington, D.C., (November 23, 2005)-Penn Quarter is now home to Rasika, Ashok Bajaj's new sophisticated jewel, which seats 140 guests, located at 633 D Street, NW. The name Raiska is derived from Sanskrit meaning "flavors" and Chef Vikram Sunderam, who has relocated to DC after being at the award-winning Bombay Brasserie in London for 14 years, is preparing an innovative menu that delivers authentic Indian fare with a modern emphasis. Sunderam is a native of Bombay, India where he remained pursuing his culinary training and honing his skills before moving to England to join Bombay Brasserie.

Signature dishes guests should not miss at Rasika include the crispy spinach salad with date and tamarind sauce; black cod with fresh dill, star anise and fennel seeds cooked in a clay oven and the tawa Dover sole hand-rubbed with chile and prepared on the griddle. Warm apple jalebi with cardamom ice cream and chocolate soufflé cake with star anise are two of the tempting desserts ideal for completing the dining experience. Menu options range from $7-$24 and a $28 three-course per theater menu is also available.    

   

Bajaj and Sommelier Sebastian Zutant crafted an International wine of 100 selections that pair well with the flavorful Indian dishes and bottle prices range between $30-$200, while the by-the-glass options are also well rounded featuring six reds and six whites that are priced from $7-$10.  Rasika's temperature controlled cellar is visually an important component in the restaurant along with the open kitchen and wall of spices displayed behind the open tawa (griddle). Guests can be seated at the open kitchen to watch the preparation of the barbecue (sigri) and tawa. Raiska will also feature tandoori and regional dishes via small plates and full entrée portions.    

 

No stranger to the hospitality scene, Ashok Bajaj has five additional highly successful restaurants in the nation's capital including Bombay Club, 701, Oval Room, Ardeo and Bardeo. Rasika is Bajaj's newest conception and it promises to deliver outstanding service and authentic, modern Indian cuisine in Washington's most popular dining Mecca. The sexy atmosphere and stellar location are ideal for pre-theater dining and MCI related events, plus business luncheons and special

occasion dining as the restaurant has two private dining options.

Hours of Operation:

Lunch:  Monday - Friday 11:30 am - 2:30 pm

Dinner:  Monday - Thursday 5:30 pm - 10:30 pm

Friday & Saturday - 5:30 pm - 11:30 pm

Lounge Hours - Serving light meals throughout the day

Monday - Thursday - 11:30 am - 11:00 pm

Friday - 11:30 am - 12:00 am

Saturday - 5:30 pm - 12 am

Closed on Sundays

Open Thanksgiving, Easter, Mother's Day, Christmas Eve

Closed New Years Day, Christmas Day, Memorial Day, July 4th

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The last time I tasted Sunderam's green chicken masala, I was a student in London four years ago. The Bombay Brasserie staff ushered me and my friend out very quickly when I used the larger entree plates for the dessert buffet (as opposed to the tiny dessert plates they'd prefer you to use), but the chicken was so good I bore them no ill will. I've probably thought about that green chicken dish once a week since then.

It was every bit as good tonight at Rasika. Very dark, very complex flavors. The service was a bit spotty and rushed, but the space was beautiful and every dish was perfect. Amazing chaat, spinach with corn, piping hot, very fluffy naan, a whole trout cooked just until its flesh set in the tandoor (for just $16!), superb bread. I loved the walnut kulfi and the bread and butter pudding - definitely not run-of-the mill Indian desserts.

The place has the same feel as Indique, but it's a lot better. Reminded me of Tamarind in London. Definitely a step up from Bombay Brasserie for Sunderam.

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The last time I tasted Sunderam's green chicken masala, I was a student in London four years ago.  The Bombay Brasserie staff ushered me and my friend out very quickly when I used the larger entree plates for the dessert buffet (as opposed to the tiny dessert plates they'd prefer you to use), but the chicken was so good I bore them no ill will.  I've probably thought about that green chicken dish once a week since then.

It was every bit as good tonight at Rasika.  Very dark, very complex flavors. The service was a bit spotty and rushed, but the space was beautiful and every dish was perfect.  Amazing chaat, spinach with corn, piping hot, very fluffy naan, a whole trout cooked just until its flesh set in the tandoor (for just $16!), superb bread.  I loved the walnut kulfi and the bread and butter pudding - definitely not run-of-the mill Indian desserts.

The place has the same feel as Indique, but it's a lot better.  Reminded me of Tamarind in London.  Definitely a step up from Bombay Brasserie for Sunderam.

why is their site's splash page so tacky?

the menu seems like a bizarre pastiche to me, but i suppose that's par for the course for so-called nouveau indian cooking. do the entrees come with anything? or do you have to order dal and veg separately if you want them?

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My thoughts after an initial dinner here.

Charles:

Great write up. I see that you were attired in standard "press gallery" garb. Glad to see that Sebastian has not lost his touch. Is there a bar menu (read "potential DR.com happy hour venue")?

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Charles:

Great write up.  I see that you were attired in standard "press gallery" garb.  Glad to see that Sebastian has not lost his touch.  Is there a bar menu (read "potential DR.com happy hour venue")?

You don't need a bar menu; there are lots of small plates to choose from - and Sebastian is doing a good job here with wines by the glass.

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Went to Rasika for an early dinner before a play last night, and it was pretty good. The interior is gorgeous, with dark wood tables and earthy red, orange, and yellow paint on the walls. The bar and lounge area are spacious, but the curtain separating them from the dining area doesn't keep out smoke or noise. Even the tableware is stylish, but the cutlery is rather unfortunately unbalanced, so that it slips easily off plates and onto floors - even when the waiters and not klutzy me are handling those plates.

mango lassi: not on the menu, but Rasika has them. Very good, thick, only lightly sweet.

reshmi kabob: minced chicken on a stick. A competent rendition.

sev batata puri: six small crisps mounded with potato and two chutneys (tasted like the ubiquitous tamarind and, um, green). These were excellent, nice texture and mix of tastes, but rather sloppy to eat with a fork. I kept fighting the temptation to pick them up with my fingers and pop 'em in my mouth whole.

edit: Now that I can see the menu online, I think we may have been served the dahi batata puri instead

lamb dahiwala: very complex and subtly spiced, mild flavor with coriander foremost. Seemed plain at first but I found myself taking more and more tastes of the sauce, because it was intriguing.

paneer methi: cheese cubes with fenugreek leaves - very tasty but glad I only got a half-portion, as it was a rather unsatisfying dish despite its complexity. (Rasika gets major props for offering all the vegetable dishes in half-portions.)

palak makki: spinach with baby corn - delicious, complex, compelling, probably my favorite of the evening.

Dessert proved interesting. I asked the waiter if the carrot halwa had walnuts (I'm allergic), and when he (finally) returned after inquiring, he said that every dessert except the apple jalebi had walnuts. :) "Bad menu planning", I thought. While enjoying the apple jalebi, a manager asked how everything was, and I expressed mild displeasure that so many wonderful sounding sweets were inaccessilbe. Well, the waiter was wrong, although a majority of desserts have either walnuts or cashews in them. The manager, sorry that poor information kept me from ordering what I wanted, brought me the carrot halwa (over my protests, as I was stuffed silly by this point and besides it was a simple misunderstanding) free of charge, which was very kind of him.

apple jalebi: much better than I thought possible. The manager explained that the base is a traditional Indian dessert, deep-fried batter soaked in honey-rosewater-saffron syrup; the dish was updated by using the batter as a coating for apple rounds. This was served with a small scoop of cardamom ice cream. I could hardly taste the rosewater, and the saffron was detectable but not overwhelming.

carrot halwa: sweet carrots with golden raisins and cashews, served with cinnamon sabayon. A nice take on a traditional dessert, not as sweet as I've had elsewhere. The sabayon didn't really do much for it, though.

So far as I could tell, the kitchen seems to be on its game, but the service needs work. Though polite and attentive, the waitstaff were fussy, frequently rearranging flatware or glassware when it wasn't necessary. I know some people on this board like attentive service, but I prefer mostly to be left alone once my food's arrived. For me, the line between attentive and fussy is veeeery thin, but that's just my peeve; ymmv.

Would I go back? Yes. Definitely. Just be aware that this is not your hole-in-the-wall, traditional flavors, mama's-cooking-in-the-back ethnic restaurant.

PS the website really is awful. <oooh my head>

Edited by porcupine

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I had the same silverware issue. I started feeling like a moron after the 10th time my fork slid into my lap, slopping goo—albeit tasty goo—on my shirt. I finally figured out I needed to balance it in the upper righthand corner of the plate, leaning on the table.

Phew, eating out can be so stressful sometimes. :)

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I hate that. I'm clumsy already so I don't need silverware to make my condition look worse!

Has anyone tried that old favorite, chicken makhani, at Rasika?

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the cutlery is rather unfortunately unbalanced, so that it slips easily off plates and onto floors - even when the waiters and not klutzy me are handling those plates.

I had the same silverware issue. I started feeling like a moron after the 10th time my fork slid into my lap, slopping goo—albeit tasty goo—on my shirt. I finally figured out I needed to balance it in the upper righthand corner of the plate, leaning on the table.

My fork took the plunge as well!

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My fork took the plunge as well!

Sounds like we need a support group: "Hi, my name is Elizabeth and my cutlery keep sliding off my plate". The bummer of it is that it's such nice looking cutlery.

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Sounds like we need a support group: "Hi, my name is Elizabeth and my cutlery keep sliding off my plate".  The bummer of it is that it's such nice looking cutlery.

It's not the cutlery, it's the stupid plates.

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I had the most wonderful meal at Rasika last night. I started out with naan and roti and raita, while my friends tried the ginger scallops and the mango shrimp. All three appetizers were great. For my main course, I had the lamb dahiwala, which was tender and flavorful without being overpowering. Our dinner was paired with an amazing dry reisling, that balanced the spiciness of the food perfectly. Overall, a great new restaurant that is being run very smoothy considering it has been open for 12 days! My only complaint is that they charged $6 for 2 pieces of naan on top of the $6 small bowl of raita. Seems a little steep.

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