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Himitsu - Chef-Owner Kevin Tien's and GM-Owner Carlie Steiner's Japanese-Inspired Pan-Asian in Petworth - Closed


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On 9/30/2016 at 6:07 PM, DonRocks said:

Himitsu, with Chef Kevin Tien, is replacing Cappy's Crabs, which replaced Crane & Turtle.

Just wanted to bump this thread and let people know that Himitsu had its official opening last night.

I was lucky enough to attend a preview dinner on Wednesday; raw fish preps and the entire beverage program are absolutely going to be highlights. Not really fair to "review" or critique, as they weren't even really open yet, but multiple plates are priced substantially lower than they should be. Happy to post photos of the menus and / or food if helpful.

A super talented young duo, and one that should do quite well in the space.

Cheers!

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i was disappointed when crane and turtle announced its closing; while subsequent meals didn't always live up to the promise of our first c&t dinner, we had a lot of interesting, enjoyable food over its short tenure, and i was sorry to see it go.  but after dinner on saturday night, himitsu's arrival is more than ample compensation.  this was the best first meal at a new restaurant that i've had in recent memory (beating some very good dinners at hazel, kyirisan, etc.).  i wasn't sorry to see that the space is essentially unchanged since its c&t days, with the minor exceptions of differently colored seat cushions (i believe) and a delightfully crass, giggle-inducing mean girls homage in the bathroom.  

we were quoted a 45 minute to an hour wait, giving us time for a few very good cocktails at the twisted horn (soon to be rebranded as hank's cocktail bar, apparently) across the street.  our your-table's-ready text arrived about 50 minutes after we left a number; props for accurate estimation.  we sat at two bar seats, giving us a prefect perch from which to watch the action, especially carlie's not-to-be-missed cocktail skills.  she is making some of the most interesting cocktails in town right now -- think pineapple vinegar, green tea, and sake -- and cheerfully making conversation/answering questions while doing so.  (when i commented that the multiple-amaro cocktail she was making for another diner looked like my worst cocktail nightmare -- my dislike of bitter aperitifs is my failing as a cocktail lover -- she poured me a bit to prove me wrong.  it was like the long island iced tea of amaro cocktails, tasting sweet and easy drinking and nothing like i'd expected from the fernet et al. that went in.)  

unfortunately, i can't find a menu posted online, so my reconstruction of the details of our order will suffer accordingly.  (i'm pretty sure we had one nigiri, one roll, two cold dishes, four hot ones, and dessert.  more food than we needed but not so much that we felt terrible.)  we started with the porgy nigiri, which carlie selected for us after we gave her the rest of our order and asked her to pick a nigiri.  the rice was more aggressively seasoned than i'd expected, in a good way -- the slab of fresh pink fish tasted more like a composed bite than your typical nigiri thanks to the savory-sour rice.  the non-sushi dishes run the gamut from refined to homey fare.  from the cold section, silvers of yellowtail and tiny orange supremes floated in a delicate, bright broth that i reluctantly abandoned for lack of a spoon.  (i'm sure that i would have gotten a spoon had i asked, but we had plenty of food still to come.)  my memory of the tartar is of large-ish chunks of deeply red tuna, delicious if not stand-out creative.  from the hot section, nicely cooked cobia was served in a lovely, creamy coconut broth.  agedashi tofu was a familiar dish done well: crispy on the outside, very soft on the inside, with ample bonito flakes that i dredged in the scallion-ginger broth until there was nothing left to pick up with my chopsticks.  but the tofu standout for me was the vegetarian karaage, a hearty plate of fried tofu served with addictive pickles to balance the sweet-spicy sauce.  (we don't eat meat, so skipped the chicken version.)  a bowl of seared bok choy, mushrooms, and other vegetables, topped with a poached egg, was simple umami deliciousness.  a soft, sweet panna cotta balanced with crispy, at-the-edge-of-bitter brittle -- honey? caramel?  i asked but have forgotten -- showed that offering a single option doesn't mean that dessert is an afterthought.  

as with any small plates restaurant (especially one with excellent cocktails), it's easy for dinner to add up quickly if you're not careful.  we ended up at around $100/person pre-tip, for more food and drink than was probably good for us.  the range of dishes means that it would be possible to focus on raw fish and have a lighter meal, or look to the heavier hot dishes and leave stuffed.  (or order some of everything, because you're a glutton like we are.)  no matter how you order, go now, before the waits inevitably get long.  we will certainly be back soon.  

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My wife and I had a really enjoyable meal here the other night.  The food and the drinks were delicious, and the service pleasant.

We got there right as it opened at 5 on a Friday, and were the only table seated.  Within 15 minutes, it was mostly full.  They don't take reservations, but it looks like if you still get there early enough, you can grab a table easily.

The menu is divided into sushi, cold plated, and hot plates.  We got a tuna roll from the sushi section, which was fine, and the rest were from the hot plates section.  The stand out dishes were the agedashi tofu and the karaage.  The sauce for the tofu was spectacular; we followed Sietsema's lead and asked for a bowl of rice to finish it off after eating the tofu.  The karaage is covered in gochujang, a combination I'm kicking my self for not trying at home.  With a bit of Kewpie mayonnaise and a pickle, this made for a great bite.  It's also a sizable portion, possibly making for a meal for one.

We were also happy with the 5-spice pork belly and navy beans, and the grilled vegetables and poached egg in a light mix of soy sauce, mirin, and rice wine vinegar.

Equally impressive were the cocktails.  My first cocktail mixed bourbon with burnt honey, and had a very light smokiness from holding the glass over smoke.  I'm usually not a big fan of that technique, as I think it makes the drink too smoky.  But here, it was just a hint of smoke.  The second mixed japanese whiskey and cold-brew coffee.  The only complaint I had of the entire meal was that the cocktails, while delicious, are a bit small for the price (generally between $13-$15).

While the price will prohibit us from coming back often, I look forward to my next visit.

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don, may I put in a request to have discussion of himitsu broken off into its own thread, rather than buried past the discussion of two other restaurants that formerly occupied the same space?  

himitsu is quickly becoming one of my happy places for dinner.  cocktails continue to be excellent, but we particularly loved a round of sherry-based dirty martinis (which i believe carlie calls a "bad rap") that we'd loved on an earlier iteration of the cocktail menu, garnished with one of the best olives i've had outside of komi.  (in general, i'm a big fan of carlie's use of sherry.  the adonis -- essentially a sherry-based manhattan -- was also very good, and such options make for a nice lower-alcohol choice.  useful when you want multiple rounds on a tuesday!)  

we reordered a number of dishes that we'd had before, including the excellent hamachi to orengi (yellowtail, thai chili fish sauce vinaigrette, orange, and yuzu tobiko); this time we did ask for rice to soak up the vinaigrette.  shishito elote -- blistered peppers subbing for the corn in the Mexican street food classic -- made for a tasty snack to start.  standout new dishes included ora king salmon (replacing the spanish mackerel listed on the menu) in caramel fish sauce, like the fanciest version of a vietnamese restaurant favorite of mine.  such a good sauce (and another use for our rice).  meat-eating friends enjoyed the peking duck, and we loved the light biscuit that we stole from their platter, along with garnishing cucumber, pickled onions, and a scallion-garlic heavy sauce.  a cold dish of madai with cucumber and pickled onions was an elegant, light way to end when we wanted just a bit more savory food.  the bread pudding with caramel sauce is another dessert hit.  

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5 minutes ago, jca76 said:

don, may I put in a request to have discussion of himitsu broken off into its own thread, rather than buried past the discussion of two other restaurants that formerly occupied the same space? 

[There's a long and (surprisingly) complicated algorithm that determines what gets its own thread, and what doesn't - in this case, the fact that the same owners change names and concepts in the same physical location isn't enough for me to make it a separate thread. There are probably two dozen other examples on this website of this very same thing. The simplified way of thinking about it is: Take the three big things: 1) Owners 2) Name 3) Location, and if two of the three things remain the same, the thread remains the same. There are a shocking number of variations of this (like, ten), but these are the basic three. Cheers, Rocks]

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Don,

Are you sure it's the same owner?  I'd thought Crane and Turtle (and the Cappy's popup after it) were owned by Paul Ruppert.  Himitsu's website and press describe Kevin Tien (the chef) and Carlie Steiner (who runs front of house and the cocktail program) as co-owners.  Is Paul Ruppert a partner?  And if so, is that enough in your algorithm?  

In any case, while I don't mean to veer off into a discussion of website organization, why wouldn't you want a new thread if the same owner opened an entirely different restaurant at the same address?  I'd have thought that because the thread tracks the restaurant, if there is a distinctly new restaurant, then you'd want a distinctly new thread.   

Thanks!

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17 hours ago, lotus125 said:

Don,

Are you sure it's the same owner?  I'd thought Crane and Turtle (and the Cappy's popup after it) were owned by Paul Ruppert.  Himitsu's website and press describe Kevin Tien (the chef) and Carlie Steiner (who runs front of house and the cocktail program) as co-owners.  Is Paul Ruppert a partner?  And if so, is that enough in your algorithm?  

In any case, while I don't mean to veer off into a discussion of website organization, why wouldn't you want a new thread if the same owner opened an entirely different restaurant at the same address?  I'd have thought that because the thread tracks the restaurant, if there is a distinctly new restaurant, then you'd want a distinctly new thread.   

Thanks!

[Let me ask Paul - new owners will mean a new thread. Thanks for the info!

To answer your second question - you've got to trust me on this one: There are countless examples of restaurants changing concepts, and I'm really following the history of the "business"; not necessarily the "name of the business." All you have to go is go to the Dining Guide and do a find on the word "formerly," and you'll quickly get an idea of the problem).

One example is when the Armstrongs took control of "Majestic Cafe" and changed the name to "The Majestic." Meshelle wrote me and asked me to begin a new thread. Since the name had changed (albeit only slightly), *and* the owners had changed, I went ahead and began a new thread.

You might find this post of interest. Cheers, Don]

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22 minutes ago, DonRocks said:

[Let me ask Paul - new owners will mean a new thread. Thanks for the info!

To answer your second question - you've got to trust me on this one: There are countless examples of restaurants changing concepts, and I'm really following the history of the "business"; not necessarily the "name of the business." All you have to go is go to the Dining Guide and do a find on the word "formerly," and you'll quickly get an idea of the problem).

One example when the Armstrongs took control of "Majestic Cafe" and changed the name to "The Majestic." Meshelle wrote me and asked me to begin a new thread. Since the name had changed (albeit only slightly), *and* the owners had changed, I went ahead and began a new thread.

You might find this post of interest. Cheers, Don]

Hello All - Carlie and Kevin are the owners of Himitsu. We got them set up in the space but are not involved in the restaurant. Hope this helps clear it up - Paul

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4 minutes ago, PaulWRuppert said:

Hello All - Carlie and Kevin are the owners of Himitsu. We got them set up in the space but are not involved in the restaurant. Hope this helps clear it up - Paul

[Well, there it is then. I'll split all the Himitsu posts into a separate thread. Cheers, Rocks]

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Has anybody been recently? And any thoughts what the wait time would be on a Friday or Saturday night? 

The wait for four last Saturday night was about 35 minutes when I left a name around 7:25; we were quoted 30-45, so a very accurate estimate.  Carlie did mention that the wait time would have been longer for a two-top, FYI.  I'm not sure if the holiday weekend made things quieter (we generally go on weeknights), although we have found that the increased capacity with the patio has improved wait times a lot.  And there are plenty of good drinking options on the block, with Fridays and Saturdays offering the added bonus of Chantal Tseng's literary themed cocktails in the Petworth Citizen Reading Room after 7:00.  

I've been loving the cabbage e pepe -- a play on cacio e pepe with cooked cabbage instead of pasta -- on my last few visits, and a new salad of heirloom tomatoes and pickled strawberries is a delightfully balanced, sweet-and-acidic summer dish.  (You generally can't go wrong with any of their cold plates, although I don't love radicchio in general, so their grilled radicchio wasn't for me.)  And the awesome biscuits that used to come with the duck now come with the karaage (which they'll let you do half vegetarian, half chicken, to the delight of my carnivorous friends who otherwise would have been forced into the tofu version).  

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10 minutes ago, Gadarene said:

(And last time I was there, we were seated right next to Justice Sotomayor: appeal to authority!)

Either we were there on the same night, or she's been back -- she was leaving as we were sitting down a few weeks ago!  (Given that three of those posts are mine, I'm in firm agreement with you on how great Himitsu is.)  

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19 minutes ago, jca76 said:

Either we were there on the same night, or she's been back -- she was leaving as we were sitting down a few weeks ago!  (Given that three of those posts are mine, I'm in firm agreement with you on how great Himitsu is.)  

This was almost two months ago (May 13th), so it might have been different nights.  Pretty cool if she's a semi-regular; we got into a short conversation with her, her dining companion, and Carlie about the merits of Barcelona vs. Madrid.  Her companion said Barcelona, and she concurred.

Judge puns!

Food was phenomenal as always.

 

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2 minutes ago, Gadarene said:

This was almost two months ago (May 13th), so it might have been different nights.

Hmm, the meal I'm thinking of also would have been in May, but we weren't there on the 13th -- 20th or 31st.

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41 minutes ago, Gadarene said:

How does this thread have only thirteen posts?  Himitsu is one of the most sublime dining experiences in DC right now.  (And last time I was there, we were seated right next to Justice Sotomayor: appeal to authority!)

100% in agreement.

5 hours ago, Mark Dedrick said:

Has anybody been recently? And any thoughts what the wait time would be on a Friday or Saturday night? 

Went with three others (myself and another are both former roommates of [new homeowner!] Chef Kevin's, and two others were in from out of town) on Saturday night. Amazing, as always. Walk in, say "please tell Chef to send out whatever he wants," say the same to Carlie, and settle in for the night. Funnily, Kevin's [also a new homeowner!] girlfriend and a big crew of our homies rolled in right after us. We got seated as a 4-top right away (this was at probably 9:45 pm).

Fryer is on point - fried oysters were fantastic, plump and juicy and oceanic and paired with a bright green garlic spinach puree and dusted with fermented spinach powder. There's a new-ish squash dish that's Kevin's take on elote, covered in cojita cheese and popped sorghum that looks like mini popcorn. Charred radicchio was good, but you have to like bitter flavors. Composed raw fish dishes are still the Chef's forte; the hamachi with a fish sauce, thai chili, and orange vinaigrette has been on the menu since Day One (still great), but he has a new dish of bigeye tuna and compressed watermelon that's visually gorgeous and really, really delicious. Karaage because of course, and cabbage e pepe because innovative. Favorite dish of the night was the new tomato and strawberry salad that @jca76 referenced above - the parsley and tarragon puree that sauces this dish is insane. Bottle this, please. 

@Gadarene couldn't have put it better: this is one of the best restaurants in DC, hands-down.

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1 hour ago, Gadarene said:

How does this thread have only thirteen posts?  Himitsu is one of the most sublime dining experiences in DC right now.  (And last time I was there, we were seated right next to Justice Sotomayor: appeal to authority!)

[It's because I forgot to split it off until this afternoon. I also had it too low in the Petworth Dining Guide]

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9 hours ago, DonRocks said:

[It's because I forgot to split it off until this afternoon. I also had it too low in the Petworth Dining Guide]

I sincerely think it should be in bold.  And "one of Petworth's best dining destinations" is a bit of an undersell; if I could choose literally any dinner in DC right now, it might well be Himitsu.  I didn't write about it at the time, but the dinner I had there in March or thereabouts was almost literally perfect from start to finish.  Amazing food.

(That being said, if extolling their virtues this much here ends up making the wait times longer, I will be happy for them but sad for me.  I prefer them as a well-frequented and quite successful secret, relatively speaking.  We can spill gallons of virtual ink on the $40 entrees at Mirabelle; just leave the miraculous composed dishes at Himitsu to me and like-minded brethren and sistren.  Any secret society whose members include Justice Sotomayor is a secret society worth not publicizing.)

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15 hours ago, Gadarene said:

And "one of Petworth's best dining destinations" is a bit of an undersell; if I could choose literally any dinner in DC right now, it might well be Himitsu.  I didn't write about it at the time, but the dinner I had there in March or thereabouts was almost literally perfect from start to finish.  Amazing food.

The Academy Awards oscars academy awards clapping applause GIF

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On 7/6/2017 at 6:40 PM, lhollers said:

100% in agreement.

Went with three others (myself and another are both former roommates of [new homeowner!] Chef Kevin's, and two others were in from out of town) on Saturday night. Amazing, as always. Walk in, say "please tell Chef to send out whatever he wants," say the same to Carlie, and settle in for the night. Funnily, Kevin's [also a new homeowner!] girlfriend and a big crew of our homies rolled in right after us. We got seated as a 4-top right away (this was at probably 9:45 pm).

Fryer is on point - fried oysters were fantastic, plump and juicy and oceanic and paired with a bright green garlic spinach puree and dusted with fermented spinach powder. There's a new-ish squash dish that's Kevin's take on elote, covered in cojita cheese and popped sorghum that looks like mini popcorn. Charred radicchio was good, but you have to like bitter flavors. Composed raw fish dishes are still the Chef's forte; the hamachi with a fish sauce, thai chili, and orange vinaigrette has been on the menu since Day One (still great), but he has a new dish of bigeye tuna and compressed watermelon that's visually gorgeous and really, really delicious. Karaage because of course, and cabbage e pepe because innovative. Favorite dish of the night was the new tomato and strawberry salad that @jca76 referenced above - the parsley and tarragon puree that sauces this dish is insane. Bottle this, please. 

@Gadarene couldn't have put it better: this is one of the best restaurants in DC, hands-down.

No Supreme Court Justices when we were there last night, but nevertheless a fantastic meal.  Basically agree with all that lhollers writes above--the elote (popped sorghum!), hamachi and strawberry/tomato/insane parsley-tarragon sauce were particular favorites.  I really liked the rapini dish, too.  And the nigiri--wow.  Best ikura I've ever had, among other things.

What a wonderful addition, to Petworth and to DC.  (Is that now the best eating/drinking block in town?  Chantal Tseng honoring Zadie Smith this weekend, btw.)

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Hit Himitsu last night with a couple friends. Waiting time drinks at the Reading Room where Chantal had to explain the meaning behind the use of dark rum and blanche armagnac in a Zadie Smith inspired cocktail...

It was my 2nd time at Himitsu and the meal was not as delighting as the 1st. Excluding the nigiri/sashimi, we ordered everything except for 3 plates. 

My biggest criticism is that there really isn't flow or progression to the food, no connection from one course to the next -  it's just a bunch of plates: some good, some not. Second biggest criticism is the wine program is pretty poor and while I believe they allow corkage, they charge $35 for that.

We had:

chicken liver mousse - OK. But the 4 small, crouton-sized pieces of baguette served with the mousse struck me as ungracious

tomatoes and strawberries - pretty nice dish, though the tomatoes were not so good (I think they were underripe). The parsley sauce and crisped quinoa along with good strawberries made it nice.

hamachi with "orenji" (which I think is just orange) - OK, but the fish sauce flavor was overdone and too powerful

Akamai + "meron" (it would be even cuter if they used 漢字) - poorly conceived. The flavor and texture of the tuna was completely obscured by the watermelon and some hot peppers

eggplant - good but quickly surfeits as the fermented black bean flavor is very prominent and not much else comes into play

cabbage e pepe - actual cacio e pepe would be much better

squash done in "elote" style - ok. best part was the popped sorghum on top

rapini, snap peas, pea leaves, soft egg - good, definitely my favorite dish

fried chicken and biscuits - mediocre. I preferred their duck with biscuits (which came out too cool and sweet this time). The fried chicken had a heavy gochujang covering that wasn't good

braised pork shank - OK. The meat seemed a little dry (not sure how that happens) and a little bland. Each bite definitely needed the pickled shallots that were in the dish to be tasty

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On 7/26/2017 at 1:40 PM, Gadarene said:

Welp, that will make it more difficult to have one last meal there on Friday like I'd planned.

The bf and I had the same "this will make it a lot harder for us to get a table" conversation when we saw the (well-deserved) news.  And then yesterday, Bon Appetit put them on their list of 50 best new restaurants (along with P&P and Himitsu neighbor Timber).  (Fingers crossed for their performance in the top ten.)  The wait for two last night ended up being a bit over an hour when we left a name around 8:15 (frustratingly, much exceeding the 30-45 minutes we were quoted), but we were told (when we asked) that they aren't sure yet to what extent the accolades are extending waits.  

We tried three new dishes last night, all of which were excellent:  Thanks to my love for the simple-yet-excellent bibb lettuce and blue cheese dressing salad at 2 Amys (which I'd never have ordered had Kirsten, one of my favorite 2 Amys staffers, not insisted on it ages ago), I was excited to try the wedge salad (iceberg, herb buttermilk ranch, everything furikake, grated egg yolk, black pepper), hoping for another boring-sounding classic made novel.  Himitsu delivered: creamy, rich but not too heavy, salty, herby, crunchy from the lettuce, and sprinkled liberally with the furikake blend (think an everything bagel with added seaweed) -- just great.  The corn in yellow squash elote (roasted squash, crema, cotija cheese, chili flakes, cilantro) was popped and dusted with chili powder; the dish is basically the fanciest, most delicious cheese popcorn you could imagine.  (The yellow squash didn't add much beyond texture/a base for popcorn and crema, but I was glad to have it for that purpose.)  Our favorite may have been the kanpachi + coconut (hawaiian amberjack, red onion, coconut milk, cured squash, lime + peanuts), which was very evocative of the Rose's Luxury lychee salad given the coconut, red onion, and peanuts, but with fish instead of sausage (a very worthwhile trade-off, as far as this pescatarian is concerned).  Loved the rich coconut milk sauce, which made me consider asking for a spoon (or picking up the bowl to slurp up the dregs), but I restrained myself.  And we repeated the heirloom tomatoes + strawberries (parsley-taragon puree, pickled strawberries, crispy quinoa, black pepper + shiso), a lovely seasonal dish that had me dredging the last bits of micro shiso through the vibrantly green puree.  

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I enjoyed a lovely meal at Himitsu the weekend before last. We put our names in shortly after they opened, and we had about a 25-minute wait. To pass the time, we popped over to the bar at Taqueria del Barrio, where I thoroughly enjoyed my "Miggie Goes to Mejico," a refreshing cocktail made with Milagro Anejo tequila, grapefruit, lime and chocolate. It was happy hour, and my dinner companion ordered a $5 glass of Charles de Fere Cuvee Jean Louis sparkling rose. Both were delicious and the time passed quickly.

The menu at Himitsu is divided into three sections: snacks, raw plates and hot plates. Dishes recommended by owner and executive chef Kevin Tien are marked with a cartoon of a fox, while owner and beverage director Carlie Steiner's picks have a depiction of a unicorn beside them. We ordered the five dishes recommended by the pair, plus the chef's choice shiromi. Kevin and Carlie used their animal icons on the flip side of the menu to recommend drinks. I had one of Carlie's cocktail pick, "Honey Pipe," with mezcal, yellow chartreuse, honey and orange bitters. It was interesting and good. I would order it again.

We started with "Play on Pate," chicken liver mousse, lime zest, herbs, Thai chili, peanut and french baguette. This dish was quite good (but not nearly as good as Kinship's play on foie gras, Torchon of White Mushroom, which remains one of the best dishes I have ever ordered in a restaurant).

Our first raw plate was hamachi. This fish was sublime, but overwhelmed by the fish sauce vinaigrette with Thai chili, orange and Tobiko. The sauce was not bad, in fact, it was extremely tasty, but it took away from the delicate flavor of the yellowtail. 

The heirloom tomatoes and strawberries were a hit. With parsley-tarragon puree, pickled strawberries, crispy quinoa, black pepper and Shisho, it is a delightful combination of fresh, seasonal flavors, and the quinoa gave it an unexpected and delightful crunch.

The crispy quinoa again made an appearance in our second raw plate, the "Chef's Choice Shiromi," which featured (Tsukji) white fish, cucumber, ponzu, extra virgin olive oil, pickled fresnos and crispy quinoa. The sauce in this dish nicely complemented the fish.

Our first hot dish was Nasu Dengaku, Japanese eggplant, Szechuan, chili fermented black bean, peanuts, basil, cilantro and pickled red onions. This was good, but not nearly as good as our final hot dish, "The Benihana." I didn't want to order this, as it was the most expensive item on the menu and sounded like something I could make at home. Boy, was I wrong. This was by far the best dish of the evening. It featured "Kobe" beef, tri-tip steak from Snake River Farms served with umami butter rice, Napa white kimchee and garlic-soy sauce. The meat was so tender and full of flavor, and the rice--I can't adequately describe how wonderfully decadent rice can taste when hot, flavored butter is melting into it. My only complaint is that I was eating this rice with a pair of chopsticks, instead of a very large spoon.

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Does anybody know he actual line rules for this place?  Is is truly first-come-first-served where you get in line and if they just seat you whenever space opens up, or can you line up and 5:00 but say you want a table for 7:00-ish and they will text you when ready as close as they can?  I'd love to try it for an upcoming birthday dinner on a Friday night, but both of us would never be able to make it in time for one of the first seatings, and I'm of the age where showing up at 7:00 to wait until maybe 9:30 to eat is not going to happen.  If I can be there right before 5:00 and put our name down for a later time it would be worth a try.

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2 hours ago, TedE said:

Does anybody know he actual line rules for this place?  Is is truly first-come-first-served where you get in line and if they just seat you whenever space opens up, or can you line up and 5:00 but say you want a table for 7:00-ish and they will text you when ready as close as they can?  I'd love to try it for an upcoming birthday dinner on a Friday night, but both of us would never be able to make it in time for one of the first seatings, and I'm of the age where showing up at 7:00 to wait until maybe 9:30 to eat is not going to happen.  If I can be there right before 5:00 and put our name down for a later time it would be worth a try.

You can line up early and request to be in the second (or third) seating. They'll provide an approximate time and text you about 10-15 minutes before your table is ready. We were there this past Saturday and a few people in front of us did this. The hostess was telling guests that 2nd seating would likely be around 6:30-7p and third seating around 8p. 

I don't think you can ask for a specific time to be seated, however, so your party will still need to be semi-flexible and ready to move somewhat quickly once you get that text.

Also, for the record, 2 of us arrived at about 4:55pm on Saturday. There were ~30 people already in line when we got there. We were included in the second seating (we would have eaten right away if available) and got our table at 6:30--had a drink across the street at Petworth Citizen while we waited.

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42 minutes ago, cantjosh said:

You can line up early and request to be in the second (or third) seating. They'll provide an approximate time and text you about 10-15 minutes before your table is ready. We were there this past Saturday and a few people in front of us did this. The hostess was telling guests that 2nd seating would likely be around 6:30-7p and third seating around 8p. 

I don't think you can ask for a specific time to be seated, however, so your party will still need to be semi-flexible and ready to move somewhat quickly once you get that text.

Also, for the record, 2 of us arrived at about 4:55pm on Saturday. There were ~30 people already in line when we got there. We were included in the second seating (we would have eaten right away if available) and got our table at 6:30--had a drink across the street at Petworth Citizen while we waited.

Excellent!  Thank you.  Unless it's awful weather I'll give it a shot.

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Finally got here Saturday for our anniversary.  Got there at 4:45 before the 5 p.m. opening and was about 20th in line.  At 4:55, the hostess asked if we wanted first seating or later, and I asked for third seating, around 7:30.  Went home and changed, then came back when we got the text.  We were seated at the bar, which is my favorite place to sit at these places. 

I had told the hostess it was our anniversary, so we were greeted by two delicious glasses of Champagne ($15--Don, apologies, but I don't remember which it was, only that I don't usually like Champagne and I loved this).  We had had a late lunch at Shouk, so we ended up getting only smaller plates and none of the larger ones.

We started off with three crudos, described below.  We loved each of them, and the Kanpachi reminded us a lot of a very similar dish we'd had and enjoyed at Canosci.  The tempura with the Kurodai was perfect.  We then had the oyster kimchi, which was delicious kimchi with 4 fresh oysters at the bottom.  These flavors worked absolutely perfectly, and we loved this so much we ordered it again.   We were then brought a gratis order of the eggplant with yuzu-miso sauce.  My girlfriend doesn't normally like eggplant, but we both raved at how tender and flavorful the spears were.  I thought it would have worked even better with zucchini spears, but that was just a personal preference.   It was very nice of the chef (who also served as our waiter at times) to give that to us.  The charred carrots that came next may have been our favorite dish.  These were some of the best carrots i'd ever had, with phenomenal garlic robiolina cheese.  The chili-garlic, sweet carrots, and sweet/zesty cheese worked perfectly.  The chef then gave us a free half order of the "gnocchi" made of rice cakes.  While we really appreciated the free dish and the texture of the creative faux gnocchi was delightful, we found that this lacked the flavor of the other dishes.  Finally we had the decadent uni toast, which is about as good as buttered brioche with a quail egg and unis sounds: outstanding.  

To drink, I had a fantastic "ambidextrous" which mimicked a drink I've been making at home often with rum, sweet vermouth and amaro--this was better though.  My girlfriend had two of the my pal mezcals, which was deliciously smokey with a nice sweetness (I would have swapped the oloroso for a drier sherry, but that's just my aversion to even semisweet drinks).  Overall, it was one of the best meals we've had in a while. 

Interestingly, there was no dessert/coffee menu that we were offered, but the sesame toffee brought with the check was a nice end to a lovely night.

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On 2/5/2018 at 11:16 AM, funkyfood said:

Interestingly, there was no dessert/coffee menu that we were offered

When I ate there last fall they told us they don't serve dessert. I was with a friend who LOVES dessert and was celebrating a birthday, so she was somewhat disappointed. It never occurred to us that they wouldn't serve dessert.

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On 9/21/2017 at 7:31 PM, DIShGo said:

This was good, but not nearly as good as our final hot dish, "The Benihana." I didn't want to order this, as it was the most expensive item on the menu and sounded like something I could make at home. Boy, was I wrong. This was by far the best dish of the evening. It featured "Kobe" beef, tri-tip steak from Snake River Farms served with umami butter rice, Napa white kimchee and garlic-soy sauce. The meat was so tender and full of flavor, and the rice--I can't adequately describe how wonderfully decadent rice can taste when hot, flavored butter is melting into it. My only complaint is that I was eating this rice with a pair of chopsticks, instead of a very large spoon.

I'm willing to bet this Wagyu (I won't say Kobe) tri-tip is the same as this one.

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On 1/30/2018 at 3:06 PM, funkyfood said:

How did it go?

We went last Friday, and our experience mostly mirrors the recent ones here.  I got there at 4:30 just to be sure we could get a seating time we wanted.  The "line" was 3 guys milling about the entrance, and two of them were paid line-standers, so I took a short walk on a nice evening and got back at 4:50 to about 8 people lined up. Host came out at 4:55, took our numbers and preferred seating and I went across the street to Petworth Citizen for a couple of drinks (very nice happy hour there, BTW).

We ended up getting 5 dishes that are on the menu posted above: oysters, kanpachi, brussel sprouts, eggplant, "gnocchi" (my wife is celiac, so we didn't try anything that couldn't be gluten free, but I now regret not getting the uni toast after seeing one on the way out the door).  The eggplant was the surprising standout, and we really enjoyed the kanpachi preparation; the pickled elements + coconut milk worked very well.  Drinks were excellent across the board, and I wish I remembered all of the details.  One involved green tea and a nori garnish and it had a smoky sweetness that really went well with a couple of the dishes.  It was undoubtedly a great meal, and I'm glad we went, but I don't think I'd return for two reasons: 1) dinner for two easily hit $200 with tax and tip, and we didn't indulge in many dishes with 4 or 5 drinks total between us; it seemed a little over-valued.  2)  I hate (hatehatehate) the line-up-for-your-table thing.  I know we're in the minority, but with 3 little ones to arrange coverage for and the uncertainty of when, or even if, we could get a table it's just not worth the extra hassle.  It was fine to try out for a special occasion, but once was enough.

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the bf and i checked out himitsu's monday "supper club" last night, which i ringingly endorse. :)  seven course menu for $90 (pre-tax/tip), which is expensive but not insane given the quality and quantity of the food.  i would even go so far as to call it a good value (in the expensive world of tasting menus -- all relative, of course).  how are these reservations not impossible to snag?  (there are currently tables at a variety of times available every monday in september, which is as far out as they're currently booking.)  but come hungry: it was a lot of food.  multiple dishes basically felt full-sized, despite the tasting menu format. (i wonder if this is something that they will tweak with experience.)  and be prepared for spice; almost every dish was spicy to some greater or lesser degree.  

the meal began with the akami crudo (tuna, compressed honeydew, chile, white onion, and shiso), which was the only item that pulled from the regular menu (although subbing shiso for . . . cilantro? if i recall correctly from a dinner last week).  as expected with crudo at himitsu, it was a bright, balanced combination of fish, sweetness, spice, and acid.  one of my favorite crudos since they've opened.

next up was a sort of shumai (although i believe our shrimp filling was a pescatarian sub for boudin blanc -- bits of southern influence on this menu) in a soy broth liberally studded with salmon roe.  i quite liked this dish, but it was right on the edge of being too salty for me, and i'm a salt fiend.  i imagine some diners will find it too much.  the dumplings themselves were a bit too big for one bite but a bit too soft to easily scoop from the bowl with the provided fork.  (plus, all that roe!)  i should have asked for a spoon.  

maybe my taste buds were a bit overwhelmed by the shumai, but a sprinkle of finishing salt on the "tartless" tomato tart probably would have been fine with me.  (again, salt fiend; not necessarily a technical flaw.)  a thick slice of heirloom tomato sitting in a pool of tomato water, topped with little heirloom grape tomatoes (peeled, maybe slightly cooked to condense flavor or just really good to start) and dotted with a spicy yellow paste (more tomato?).  i vaguely recall something crunchy -- fried red quinoa, maybe?  very summery.  (i requested a spoon for the tomato water.)

next up, a little pyramid of perfectly fried panelle cubes stacked atop concentric pools of a peppery-garlicky sauce and cauliflower puree.  (yes, i did use my fingers to swipe up the last bits of that puree.  screw spoons.)  tasty but starchy -- could have easily had half as many cubes, given how much food was still to come.

back to the southern influence with fried catfish over coleslaw.  the coleslaw was bright (not creamy), with raw slices of beautiful purple carrot (which are presumably the same as they use for the awesome roasted carrot dish on the regular menu), the catfish was well fried (of course), and everything was complemented by creamy hot sauce underneath.  deceptively simple-looking, immensely satisfying to eat.  i think i had three small fillets, and i ate them all.  i wasn't hungry by this point, but i couldn't leave anything behind.  (really, the bf and i should have packed one dish up for someone's lunch today and split one plate at this point.  hindsight.)  

given the size, we would have expected the catfish to be our last savory but for the fact that we were paced behind an adjacent table, which received a beef dish after the fish.  our sub: seared scallops (at least three, possibly four?), fingerling potatoes, charred okra, a pool of salsa verde.  very good but also the least favorite dish of an excellent meal, not really more than the sum of its (well-cooked) parts.

for those who remember the early himitsu desserts fondly or just lament the lack of dessert offering on the regular menu: the supper club includes dessert!  and it is excellent: a (coconut?) forbidden rice pudding studded with roasted pineapple, slivered avocado, and roasted peanuts, and dusted in lime zest.  satisfying and complex without being too heavy at the end of a very filling meal.  possibly my favorite dish of the night.

the meal was great, but between the large portion sizes, the spiciness, and more than one fried/starchy dish, i definitely left in second trimester food baby territory.  carlie's cocktails never disappoint; i love how much sherry she uses.  (there were also three levels of wine pairing available, and the regular drinks list.)  and it was great to have a way to experience himitsu's food with a reservation!  

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On 9/17/2018 at 2:23 PM, Pat said:

Via Popville: Tien has a restaurant named Emilie's coming to the Frager's project at 1101 Pennsylvania Ave., SE, next spring.

Has anyone been to the semi-reincarnation of Himitsu, Pom Pom?

Nov 12, 2019 - "Himitsu Is Now Pom Pom, a Restaurant Dedicated to 'Whimsy'" by Kate Stoltzfus on dcist.com

[This is a fuzzy area, but Pom Pom will have its own thread despite Carrie Steiner remaining as owner.]

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