Indian


It had been more than a year since I had last gone here, but I just went back again.  For a good year and change, no one could talk to me about Rasika without me talking about their popcorn.  Have you had it?  It’s an amazing combination of spices, sweet, salty, spicy — it’s absolutely fantastic. It’s truly like nothing you’ve ever had before. 

  • Food:I went with a friend and we were there in time for their pre-theater menu (I think it’s from 5:30-6:30 PM and $30).  We ordered the calamari chili garlic which was not fried, but sauteed and absolutely delicious.  Then we also ordered the seekh kebab which was spicy with fantastic flavor.  For the entree, w ordered the tandoori salmon which was sweet with a hint of cardamon. 

That’s right — I ordered cardamon.  Here’s what I’ve figured — I don’t know like it when it’s overpowering which is what happens in a lot of Indian restaurants.  Not at Rasika.  It’s perfect. 

I ordered the lamb pistta korma and the sauce was phenomenal while the lamb was moist, tender and awesome.  For dessert, it was the gulab jamun.  It’s 2 dumplings with honey drizzled and super sweet with cardamon ice cream.  The carrot pudding with cinnamon sabayon was shredded carrots, cashews, raisins missed together with the sabayon holding it together.  It reminded me a bit like a carrot cake without the cream cheese frosting.

  • Service: Our server was incredibly nice and was helpful with telling us what was in some of the entrees.  Great servers! 
  • Atmosphere: There is a small bar with only 10-12 stools, but there’s also 7-10 small tables and chairs in the bar.  Then there are two main dining room areas.  With dim lighting and comfortable Indian-inspired interior, it’s an impressive restaurant to take anyone.  But it does get loud and cozy, so don’t go if you need to talk about anything you want to keep quiet!
  • Attire: Business casual
  • Price: $$$
  • Overall: I love Rasika and I think I could eat here every week.  The food is always good and the popcorn is insanely unique.  I have to get that recipe! 

Details:

  • Reservations strongly recommended.
  • Hours: Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30 am-2:30 pm; Dinner: Mon-Thu 5:30-10:30 pm, Fri 5:30-11 pm, Sat 5-11pm, Closed Sun
  • Address: 633 D St, NW, Washington, DC 20004
  • Ph: 202-637-1222

It was raining and crappy and so my friend and I decided to order in.  Plus, I had a bottle of Rose that I wanted to try. 

I don’t like Rose.  I never have.  But for some reason, when I was in the liquor store to buy some sparking wine (loved this one he recommended — Segura Viudas Reserva Heredad Cava from Spain), the liquor store guy told me that even though I don’t like Rose, I’d like Juno Rose from South Africa. Now why is it that even though I know I don’t like Rose, I still ended up buying the wine?  Regardless, my friend was a super trooper and joined me in trying this bottle.  It was fine, but I didn’t love it and won’t buy it again.  The Cava was dry (but not too dry) and was a great sparkling wine to cool down from the humidity!

Segura Viudas Reserva Heredad Cava from Spain  Segura Viudas Reserva Heredad Cava from Spain  Juno Rose from South Africa

Anyway, we decided to order from Jyoti.  Menu here.

  • Food:I first need to tell you that I don’t like cardamom.  I never have.  So ordering Indian is a bit of a challenge, but I do like Indian food!  I just need to be careful.  My friend ordered paneer makani (the orange container) which had a strong cardamom flavor.  I ordered the lamb rogan josh which was really good.  Then we got a side of roti and raita.  I thought it was really good!  They also gave us a huge portion of rice — look at it! And yes, their naan was better than the one I make (but they have a tandoori!). 

Jyoti Restaurant  Jyoti Restaurant

  • Service: Our delivery took over an hour.  And we were starving.  So it gets poor marks for taking more than an hour. 
  • Atmosphere: No idea, they delivered!
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $$
  • Overall:I was excited to hear that there’s Indian delivery ($15 min).  On their menu, they tell you it’ll take 45-60 minutes to deliver and if it’s bad weather or traffic, it’ll take longer.  My next order is going to be chicken tikka and samosa. 

Details:

  • Hours: Sun-Thurs 12 PM-10:30 PM; Fri & Sat 12 PM-12 AM
  • Address: 2433 18th St NW; Washington, DC 20009
  • Ph: 202-518-5892

I’ve walked by The Indian Experience (formerly Ascot Resturant) a lot whenever I go to Naan and have always said I wanted to try this place out.  I finally went!  And by the way, Ascot and Naan are owned by the same people. 

  • Food:I went with their buffet.  Now we know how I feel about buffets, but as far as buffets go, this was not bad.  The food they served was pretty good and the naan was freshly made throughout the meal.
  • Service: Not great…they’re a little gruff and unfriendly.  I went with 3 other people and they put a 15% gratuity on our bill.  I wasn’t a fan of that at all. 
  • Atmosphere: You walk downstairs and they have a pretty big restaurant.  On the left-hand side, you’ll see an elevated level with the buffet and tables.  The decor is a bit worn and the chairs are pretty comfortable, albeit a little low for the tables. 
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $$
  • Overall: If I remember correctly, the buffet was $12.  If someone wanted to go to their buffet, I would be fine with that.  But my aversion to buffets remains so I’d prefer going to Naan for my chicken tikka and veggie samosa. 

Details:

  • Hours: Mon-Fri 11:30 am-9 pm
  • Address: 1708 L St NW, Washington, DC 20036
  • Ph: (202) 466-6404

Yet again, another new dining experience!  This time, it was the Bombay Club, owned by the same folks who own a favorite restaurant of mine — Rasika

  • Food: With my love of spicy food, I asked the waiter what would be better — green chili chicken or the Tandoori chicken chops.  He said the Tandoori chicken chops was spicier than the green chili chicken.  So not feeling like having a running nose and tearing eyes, I ordered the green chili chicken.  I went with a couple other folks and one of them ordered the other “spicy” dish.  Folks, my dish was a thousand times spicier than the Tandoori chicken chops.  I had tears and my sinuses were definitely cleared.  But, I did like it — even though the spiciness overpowered the cilantro and mint.  We also ordered a basket of their assorted breads which were very good (and helped ease the heat).
  • Service: Our waiter was very nice, but he was dead wrong on the spicy food.  Thankfully, I have a pretty strong spicy food tolerance, but it was still hot. 
  • Atmosphere: The interior is classic, simple elegance. 
  • Attire: Business casual
  • Price: $$$
  • Overall: I’ll definitely go back to try some of their other dishes like their chicken tikka or some of their lamb dishes. 

Details:

  • Reservations strongly recommended.
  • Hours: Lunch: Monday – Friday: 11:30am – 2:30pm; Dinner: Monday – Thursday: 6:00pm – 10:30pm, Friday – Saturday: 6:00pm – 11:00pm, Sunday: 5:30pm – 9:00pm; Sunday Brunch: 11:30am – 2:30pm
  • Address: 815 Connecticut Ave., NW; Washington, DC 20006
  • Ph: (202) 659-3727

I’ve walked by Malaysia Kopitiam a thousand times and have always meant to try it.  Finally, I went and grabbed lunch.

  • Food:Self-described as “fine Malaysian cuisine with the influence of Malay, Chinese, and Indian food,” it was pretty good.  I ordered the spicy tamarind squid with stir-fried squid, pineapple, okra, onion, red pepper, carrot, and tomatoes in spicy tamarind sauce.  It wasn’t very spicy, but it was good.  And yet again, enough for lunch and dinner!

Malaysia Kopitiam Spicy Tamarind Squid

  • Service: Who knows, I ordered for pick-up.
  • Atmosphere: It’s a basement restaurant, which means it’s a bit dark and has an 8-10 stool bar.  While the atmosphere isn’t the most impressive, it’s not horrible either. 
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $$
  • Overall:They have a pretty good mixture of Asian beers and for only $4, it’s almost like a happy hour special.  Their food is way better than Penang and I would definitely go back.  Their menu has a lot of yummy sounding options such as their seafood tofu clay pot, noodle soup with stuffed mix vegetables, and seafood noodle soup.

Details:

  • Reservations are accepted.
  • Hours: Monday-Thursday 11:30 AM-10 PM; Friday & Saturday 11:30 AM-11 PM; Sun 12 noon-10 PM
  • Address: 1827 M St NW; Washington, DC 20036
  • Ph: 202-833-6232

I wanted to try another Indian restaurant since I loved Naan & Beyond so much.  So I found Nirvana and was able to go with a friend to try it.

  • Food:The menu (Nirvana Menu and Nirvana Menu Side B) looked really good and we couldn’t really decide what to order.  So we decided to try the buffet so we could try a little bit of everything.  I don’t remember everything that was available, but do remember Puris (Indian fried bread); Sev Ni Birang (vermicelli and sugar cooked together); and Kobi Nu Shak (cabbage curry).   I thought the food overall was fine (though really didn’t care for the Sev Ni Birang dessert).  I ordered an ice tea, but they didn’t bring any sugar with it and it was just flat.  The Diet Coke my friend ordered was also flat. 
  • Service:Since we did the buffet ($11.95), we didn’t really interact with our server.  However, there were a lot of them there. 
  • Atmosphere: It feels a bit worn down inside and the buffet isn’t huge.  It’s just a standard rectangular table (30″ wide x 72″ long). 
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $$
  • Overall: I know Nirvana had gotten some decent reviews before, but I think it’s changed — or maybe it was the buffet.  Don’t get me wrong, I think it was fine, but I’m not running to go back.  Heads up — the buffet changes daily with each day of the week focusing on different regions (Mon – North Indian; Tues – Gujrati; Wed – South Indian; Thurs – Savories; Fri – Rajasthani). 

Details:

  • Reservations accepted.
  • Hours: Mon-Fri 11:30 AM-3:00 PM and 5:00 PM-10:00 PM; Sat 11:30 AM-3:00 PM and 5:00 PM-11:00 PM; Sun closed
  • Address: 1810 K Street NW; Washington, DC 20006
  • Ph: 202-223-5043

Another fantastic restaurant in the Golden Triangle area is Naan & Beyond.  It’s simple and fast cuisine — plus, they’re open late during the weekdays!  Menu links are below.

 

Naan & Beyond is a perfect place to grab and go, but in the summer, they also have a few tables outside. 

  • Food: It’s simple, yet solid.  I’ve never ordered anything but chicken tikka (right hand photo) and their simosas (veggie or chicken).  The veggie simosa (left hand photo) was good.  It’s flakey and has a great little spice kick. Inside is a mixture of spices, peas, carrots, and pototoes.  When I was recently in line, 10 out of the 15 people ordered the same thing I did — the chicken tikka.  It’s truly a popular dish!  The chicken can be a little dry, but when you add the mango chutney (or mint), it gives is the perfect taste.   The naan is made on-site and if you sit during the lunch rush hour, you’ll hear the guy kneading the dough throughout your meal. 

Veggie Samosa Chicken Tikka

Naan & Beyond Veggie Samosa  Naan & Beyond Veggie Samosa  Naan & Beyond Chicken Tikka

To change things up, I tried their lamb tikka.  The image does not make it look delicious, but it actually was.  Unlike a lot of places, they didn’t overcook it so it was moist and good.  But I prefer their chicken tikka…

Naan & Beyond Lamb Tikka

  • Service: Quick and efficient.  Make sure to keep the receipt because your number is on there!
  • Atmosphere: It’s a small, hole-in-the-wall restaurant.  About 4-5 tables are inside, but it’s more of a grab-and-go place than one for sit down dining.
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $
  • Overall: It’s a great place to shake up your monotonous sandwich/salad/soup lunches.  And just in case you’re wondering if it’s that good, there is usually a line out the door — even when it’s cold outside. 

Details:

  • Hours: Mon-Fri 11 am-9 pm Sat 11am-5pm
  • Address: 1710 L St. NW, Washington, DC 20036
  • Ph: 202-466-6404