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Indian Ocean, Van Ness - North Indian in the old :-) Coat of Arms Space - Closed


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You beat me to it! I just saw the sign as well. It's a shame since they spent so much time renovating the place. [Well, at least it's North Indian.]

Next! That was fast, making me wonder if Coat of Arms managed to serve meals to even twenty paying customers.

There's a sign in the window now saying "Indian Ocean - Seafood, North Indian Cuisine."

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One thing: isn't it South Indian food that emphasizes seafood? Not that I have high hopes (or any hopes, really) that this will be a good restaurant.

My (limited) understanding: the North is spicier and more meat oriented. The South has more emphasis on vegetarianism and rice. Although fish isn't a part of the vegetarian diet, it heavily consumed because of its availability.

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My (limited) understanding: the North is spicier and more meat oriented. The South has more emphasis on vegetarianism and rice. Although fish isn't a part of the vegetarian diet, it heavily consumed because of its availability.

Kinda, sorta.

South Indian cuisine does tend to be spicier, mainly because of spice mix (and chillis) used. North Indian curries tend to be creamier as most recipies call for yoghurt while coconut milk is used in the South.

As for seafood, all coastal regions, North or South have their own takes, but by far Goa and the Kerala region, on the south western coast have more notariety as to "from the sea" aspect of the cuisine.

Honestly, I don't think the Van Ness neighborhood needs another Indian restaurant, unless the fare is vastly different from what the others offer (Dehli Dhaba, Indique in CP, and the three that are in WP).

But like everyone else, I'm waiting and seeing.

Nanther

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Kinda, sorta.

South Indian cuisine does tend to be spicier, mainly because of spice mix (and chillis) used. North Indian curries tend to be creamier as most recipies call for yoghurt while coconut milk is used in the South.

As for seafood, all coastal regions, North or South have their own takes, but by far Goa and the Kerala region, on the south western coast have more notariety as to "from the sea" aspect of the cuisine.

Honestly, I don't think the Van Ness neighborhood needs another Indian restaurant, unless the fare is vastly different from what the others offer (Dehli Dhaba, Indique in CP, and the three that are in WP).

But like everyone else, I'm waiting and seeing.

Nanther

Great first post! I'd be interested if you would recommend any of the three Indian places in WP?
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Great first post! I'd be interested if you would recommend any of the three Indian places in WP?

Thanks! It's nice to hear.

I'll be honest. I've had food from two out of the three establishments, and that too, it was takeout from Little India and a dine-in dhosai at A Taste of India.

I was a little underwhelmed with both. Not that my standards are particularly high, and I have been in this country long enough to know most ethnic restaurants that aren't in a "native" neighborhood have the double challenge of keeping food tasting authentic and a full dining room. But even then, the dhosai was crispy and soft in all the wrong places, and the sambar and coconut chutney were watery.

Little India didn't fare much better, but everyone's mileage varies. Heh.

I haven't been to Rajiji yet, but I've been amazed that all three restaurants in such close proximity have lasted so long. Maybe they're all owned by the same person. :P

Nanther

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Please don't confuse Van Ness with Cleveland Park. Van Ness needs restaurants PERIOD. The only Indian food available in Van Ness (or anywhere north of Cleveland Park) is Delhi Dhaba. And, after one too many greasy meals, I pestered my South Asian friends to teach me how to master the spices and cook my own saag paneer, aloo gobi, dals and the ill-fated cod in spicy coconut sauce.

Honestly, I don't think the Van Ness neighborhood needs another Indian restaurant, unless the fare is vastly different from what the others offer (Dehli Dhaba, Indique in CP, and the three that are in WP).
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Please don't confuse Van Ness with Cleveland Park. Van Ness needs restaurants PERIOD. The only Indian food available in Van Ness (or anywhere north of Cleveland Park) is Delhi Dhaba. And, after one too many greasy meals, I pestered my South Asian friends to teach me how to master the spices and cook my own saag paneer, aloo gobi, dals and the ill-fated cod in spicy coconut sauce.

Understood, and quite the opposite actually. Despite the heavily-residential populations of both neighborhoods, Van Ness has always been, and probably will continue to be, Cleveland Park's lesser-known cousin. It doesn't help that Van Ness, with UDC, the Intelstat building and all the embassies, also has a huge M-F, 9-5, working culture. That's why we've got four sandwich shops within a block or two of each other, a cafeteria-style joint and a Taco Bell/KFC Frankenstein (a guilty pleasure, I'll admit).

Bottom line, Cleveland Park is a dining destination and Van Ness isn't (might be soon, but not now). I do agree that Van Ness needs restaurants, but I'd rather have something more unique to the neighborhoods like West African, Moroccan, or Malaysian (sorry, got to pitch the home cuisine! :P ).

Personally, it doesn't look like there's a lot more space for restaurants in Van Ness, although I would love a decent coffee shop/diner that stayed open on weekends and one less sandwich shop.

BTW, I'm not sure when the last time was you hit up Delhi Dhaba, but they have a new main cook now (came from ex-Mr. Everest on 18th St.). Their weekend lunch buffets have been good, although the quality of vegetable dishes do tend to vary. ON regular days, I've had good luck with their channa, salmon tikka and goat curry or biryani. Haven't tried everything on the menu, but like Shanghai Garden, it's become more like a "Cheers" for me, than an actual dining venue, although I'm quite happy with the food most of the time.

Nanther

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I work in the Van Ness area and have been to Delhi Dhaba 3 times in the past 2 years. Each time they have gotten a little better, but not enough to make me keep coming back.

Indique in Cleveland Park was different, in a good way. It's nice to have the dishes that you are used to done a little different once in a while.

I have yet to venture out to Woodley Park for lunch, but would like to try it out.

I am from South India and from a town that especially has a lot of seafood in the diet of most non-vegetarians (anyone wanna make a guess where?...no it's not in Kerala or Goa :unsure: ) & I hope the seafood here will be better than what I have had elsewhere.

If nothing else, I'll be able to justify going somewhere other than Epicurean and Co for lunch, it's getting a little old :lol:

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I am from South India and from a town that especially has a lot of seafood in the diet of most non-vegetarians (anyone wanna make a guess where?...no it's not in Kerala or Goa :lol: ) & I hope the seafood here will be better than what I have had elsewhere.

Chennai (Madras)?

I'm also hoping that the seafood is good and plentiful. There are many good Indian restaurants around, but none that I know of that specialize in seafood. Heritage India and Passage to India have some nice seafood dishes, but only a few.

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Not only have diners ignored this space, the police have too.

As I walked to the Van Ness metro stop tonight just after 9, I heard Indian Ocean's alarm going off loudly and persistently. A strobe light flashed out front, illuminating the suit of armor in the vestibule just enough to make me wonder "is that a red sari in which they've draped the poor dude??" As I got to the metro entrance, I heard multiple sirens and figured police were perhaps heading that way.

Just over three hours later, I return from a [lame, unavoidable] meal at Clyde's downtown. The alarm is still ringing. The strobe is still flashing.

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A bit of historical perspective, if you will, on the dining wasteland referred to as the Van Ness area (aka, north Cleveland Park; aka South Forest Hills).

Cleveland Park was one of Washington’s first streetcar suburbs, and the ‘Park and Shop’ just south of Porter Street was put up in 1930. Always an affluent community, and anchored by the Uptown Theater, the community energetically supported its commercial strip, including ‘new cuisines’ like Italian (The Roma) and Hungarian (Csikos in the Broadmoor) long before the rest of Washington became a bit adventurous. The Van Ness area was vacant land except for the Bureau of Standards on the northwest corner of Connecticut and Van Ness (now UDC) until the Van Ness apartment complex was built in 1970 (then only a brief Boomer stop on the path to buying a first house in Chevy Chase where four bedroom colonials could be had for less than $80K). In the restaurant space that you are discussing was the Royal Warrant, a joint that boasted huge drinks at small prices and served as the geriatric forerunner to the Yacht Club. Up the street stood the Shanghai Gardens which, curiously, has been successfully serving up macerated slop for over thirty years. That was it, and even with the enormous changes in that neighborhood over the years, it seems destined to remain a bridesmaid.

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The Van Ness area was vacant land except for the Bureau of Standards on the northwest corner of Connecticut and Van Ness (now UDC)

We were talking about the BoS a few days ago and figured that, it stood where UDC now stands. Kinda nice to know for sure.

I have forgotten to look inside the past few times I've been past this place.

Any progress?

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I'm baffled. Today as I dropped off my dry cleaning, I noticed that the sign at this cursed location has again changed. The new green awning is up, and covered with a temporary white signing announcing "Coat of Arms. New management!" No signs of Indian Ocean, the restaurant that never was, remain.

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We came, we saw, we ate...and we liked it!

The full menu won't be available until later this week at the grand opening, but they had a fair bit available to gauge with.

Other than having a large selection of seafood dishes, we were told there's an ambition to cook with less sugar and oil than one normally expects for Indian fare. This was definitely apparent in the dishes we had.

My baseline was appetizers of samosas and vegetable pakora. Both were not greasy, as you tend to find in some other places, which helped make it a great start to the meal.

The Wife ordered the Vegatarian Platter for her entree and I ordered the Seafood Platter. It's apparent that Indian Ocean is positioning itself beside Indique (down the street, as it were) rather than Delhi Dhaba (up the street). So presentation took a bit of a precedence to portion, I would say. The Wife's Vegetarian Platter consisted of two vegetable dishes and rice and my Seafood Platter comprised a salmon fillet, two shrimp and a solitary scallop (which wasn't mentioned in the menu, so I'll take the bonus!). Not complaining, just observing, as I have been spoiled by larger portions at other places that were more like eateries than restaurants. :angry:

However like the appetizers, the entrees were tasty and comfortably filling without the greasy afterglow. This is definitely difficult to accomplish with dishes like saag paneer or mung bean curry and salmon fillet done tandoori style. I say "tandoori style" because most other places really don't have a tandoor so their tandoori dishes are basically meats or veggies slathered with "tandoori seasoning" and stuck on a grill or baked. This nicely seals in the oil and fat, if any, which makes for a scary au jus presentation when served. Not at Indian Ocean, as far as we can tell.

We shared a kheer for dessert, which seemed like a larger than usual portion, and I'm definitely not complaining there! And no, I'm not portion obsessed...OK, maybe just a little.

All in, it was an enjoyable meal, well presented and in a very cosy setting, with friendly managers (didn't find out if they were the actual owners!) and wait staff (maybe it was because we knew the wait staff from ther time at the Van Ness Dehli Dhaba), and we're definitely going back this weekend for the grand opening, to give the kitchen a proper test, if nothing else!

Nanther

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Thanks for that excellent review.

Do you know if they are open for lunch before the grand opening? (It's the only meal for which I am in Van Ness during the day)

Thank you, and you're quite welcome!

They are indeed open for lunch, and apparently they have been getting a good sized lunch crowd.

Bon Appetit!

Nanther

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Ominous sign #1:

The ugly vinyl sign outside advertising a Champagne brunch.

Ominous sign #2:

The restaurant was empty - not one table or bar stool occupied - at 8:30 on Saturday night as I headed to Lucky Strike.

Ominous sign #3:

One table was occupied Sunday during the advertised brunch.

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Just got back from trying out their lunch buffet. Saw the sign mention in #1 above :angry:

They definitely need to work on their whole deal B)

Gonna give it another try in a few months.

Sorry to hear your experience wasn't what you expected and I'm really glad that you'll be giving it another try in a few months.

We haven't been to the buffet yet but have been there to dinner at least once a week since they opened, and have had amazing experiences every visit.

They've been having been working on getting things in order post opening. As the cuisine is not typical of most Indian joints, Raj has had to get the staff used to the menu items. Sure they have some of the expected fare, but it's the stuff that isn't expected that will make any visit to Indian Ocean memorable.

Not, I'm not a compensated endorser, but I honestly believe that this place, given the fullness of time will become a dining destination the likes of Indique, or Heritage. I think its time is almost here.

The diners might have been sparse (but we've never seen it empty) the last few weeks, but last night, it was packed...with large groups - not the usual, pairs of diners one typically sees Friday nights. It probably helped that they finally launched their full menu yesterday.

For those who do venture here, make sure you speak to Raj if he's in. His passion for what he does, and for the food, is palpable. He will be more than happy to recommend dishes along with appropriate wine pairings.

Their website is still being worked on but you can access it here http://www.indianoceandc.com/.

Nanther

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As the cuisine is not typical of most Indian joints, Raj has had to get the staff used to the menu items. Sure they have some of the expected fare, but it's the stuff that isn't expected that will make any visit to Indian Ocean memorable.

I looked at the website, but the menu's not up yet. Could you describe the dishes that they offer that are not typical of most Indian joints/not expected?

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I looked at the website, but the menu's not up yet. Could you describe the dishes that they offer that are not typical of most Indian joints/not expected?

I knew I should have fully checked the website before I sent the link! B) Apologies. I'm currently at work, and don't have a copy of the takeout menu. I'll try and post some solid examples later today.

However I'm a big fan of seafood, in general, and to find an Indian restaurant serving such a large variety of it, is extremely gratifying. Most places do offer Goan-style curries with shrimp or salmon, but Ocean goes a fair bit further. Dishes like tandoori lobster, fish dishes (both tandoori and curry preparations) using something other than salmon (Alaskan halibut, for example), and seafood curries with lobster, scallops, squid and shrimp (in one dish!).

I had a soft-shell crab dish last night that I loved. Now, you have to understand...growing up in Singapore, I considered soft-shell crab...wimpy. My mother used to prepare an amazing curry with whole blue crab (if memory serves) that I attacked every time she made it. No mallets used...that's what teeth are for! Add to that South Indian style fish curries, deep-fried curried fish, and chilli tiger shrimp and you would understand why I had given up on finding good Indian-style seafood preparations. Granted, North Indian cuisine is quite different from South Indian cuisine, but gosh...I'll take what I can get.

For those who aren't keen on seafood, my current fave is their green chilli chicken. It's not terribly spicy (well, if you can handle a vindaloo or Madras curry, you'll be fine) but it's got great flavor with a nice bite. They also have an amazing smoked tomato soup. The tomatoes are smoked inhouse with cinnamon.

A lot of the condiments are homemade - the spicy lemon and sweet mango pickles - as are the desserts, like the pistachio ice cream or the mango, strawberry or banana sorbet (try the milaps, any one of them!).

Great...now I'm really hungry.... :angry:

Nanther

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Raj at Indian Ocean tells me they're still accepting reservations for New Year's Eve. He's added some new items to the menu just for the evening! I'm trying to get him to make them permanent additions.

I did persuade him to give me a copy of the menu for the evening (see attached).

My wife and I definitely plan to make an evening of it. Hope to see some DR folks there as well!

Indian Ocean

4221 Connecticut Ave NW

Washington, DC 20008

(202) 362-4444

I'm just a customer...honest!

Nanther

Indian_Ocean_NYE_Menu_2009.pdf

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Just got word Indian Ocean has closed. It was great neighborhood hangout, and in my opinion, one of the best Indian restaurants in the city.

The owner is fine, and managed to sell the place on short order to someone who wants to open a Caribbean restaurant. As much as I'll miss Indian Ocean (you have no idea how much!), I am intrigued to have some island cuisine in my neighborhood.

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Just got word Indian Ocean has closed. It was great neighborhood hangout, and in my opinion, one of the best Indian restaurants in the city.

The owner is fine, and managed to sell the place on short order to someone who wants to open a Caribbean restaurant. As much as I'll miss Indian Ocean (you have no idea how much!), I am intrigued to have some island cuisine in my neighborhood.

Not surprised by this since the place was chronically empty...And I'm sorry, but their Indian food was mediocre at best.

I am interested to see what the Caribbean restaurant has to offer.

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I know I know, say nothing but good things about the dead, but, after being intrigued by this place driving by (my daughter lives nearby), I did go there for lunch one Saturday afternoon. The place was quite empty and, after being pressed hard to take the buffet rather than ordering ala carte, I found the fare on the buffet to be underwhelming at best...it is quite possible that, by that time (just a month or so ago), the kitchen staff was just phoning it in, but I found it to be very lowest-common-denominator generic steam table Indian.

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it is quite possible that, by that time (just a month or so ago), the kitchen staff was just phoning it in, but I found it to be very lowest-common-denominator generic steam table Indian.

DItto, hate to pile on, but I'm surprised it lasted as long as it did. I got takeout a couple of times when I was really craving Indian food (before Masala Art opened) and it was meh to awful. The place always seemed dark and unwelcoming and there was rarely more than one table occupied. However, I will say the staff was very nice.

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I used to work across the street from Indian Ocean, and tag team between Indian Ocean and Delhi Dhaba when I wanted Indian. Both were mediocre, but not many lunch choices around. One time, some years back, I had such a bad meal at Indian Ocean I never went back and only went to Delhi Dhaba until that closed down...until last November when some colleagues wanted to take me out to lunch at Indian Ocean. Well, I couldn't refuse. It turned out to be delicious! I don't know when the turnaround came, but I guess also too little too late.

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