Tash brings Morocco to Barracks Row


Lamb kubideh from Tash near Eastern Market. (Photo by Tracy A. Woodward/The Washington Post)
February 20, 2013

The source of the signature kebabs at Tash on Capitol Hill also inspires the young restaurant’s name: In Persian dialect, tash translates to “flame,” as in charcoal fire, says Vanessa Lim. She’s the wife of owner Nariman Modanlou and says she’s “helping out” at Tash as she prepares to open a second branch of her pan-Asian Nooshi downtown — conveniently just one floor up from Tash.

Modanlou brings street cred to his restaurant. Iranian by birth, he’s also the owner of Moby Dick House of Kabob in Ashburn. That’s a diner’s cue to dip into the smoky baba ghanouj and forge on with lamb kubideh, a rope of ground meat freckled with parsley, garlic and peppercorns and presented with fragrant rice dotted with lima beans. But you might want to crowd the table as well with Tash’s very good olive dip. Made with ground walnuts and tomato sauce, the appetizer is meant to be mopped up with hot-from-the-oven pita. Do not, however, waste your time on the dull fried chicken drumsticks.

The fresh face in the neighborhood is good company. Tiles painted to look like Middle Eastern fabrics and booths separated by walnut walls with open windows make a clever design statement. In good weather, the restaurant will spill out onto a patio.

The menu will grow, too. Down the road, Modanlou plans to take customers on a taste tour of skewered meat and offer dishes representative of Afghanistan, Morocco, Mongolia and other places known for their kebabs.

As for Lim, she hopes to open the second floor of the building she owns with her husband in March. The next Nooshi will expand on the noodles and sushi offered at the original. Remember the superb Peking duck from Lim’s much-missed Yanyu in Cleveland Park? She plans to bring it back for her future feature.

524 Eighth St. SE, 202-733-1133. Entrees, $11.95 to $17.95.

Weaned on a beige buffet a la “Fargo” in Minnesota, Tom Sietsema is the food critic for The Washington Post. This is his second tour of duty at the Post. Sietsema got his first taste in the ‘80s, when he was hired by his predecessor to answer phones, write some, and test the bulk of the Food section’s recipes. That’s how he learned to clean squid, bake colonial cakes and distinguish between nutmeg and mace.
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