The following review appears in The Washington Post’s 2018 Fall Dining Guide.
Rasika West End
The original in Penn Quarter got the ball rolling, but the offshoot in the West End expanded on the modern Indian theme with a whimsical design that finds patrons eating avocado-banana chaat and ginger-sharpened minced lamb kebabs under the sprawl of a faux tree or inside a carriage-shaped booth. (Table 12 in the corner allows a couple to see and be seen.) Wherever you’re led, you’ll eat like a raj. My current obsessions embrace pancake-like uttapam, carpeted with minced kale ignited with green chiles and a dollop of coconut-lentil chutney; and salmon marinated in spiced yogurt and cooked, like the excellent naan here, in the tandoor. Lime leaves and turmeric give the fish its glow. Meantime, sweet potato in a rich paste of fried peanuts shows off the joys of meatless dining. Indeed, the closest competition the restaurant has is its flagship sibling across town.
Rasika West End: 1190 New Hampshire Ave. NW. 202-466-2500. rasikarestaurant.com.
Open: Lunch Monday-Friday, dinner daily, Sunday brunch.
Price: Mains $19-$32.
Sound check: 70 decibels / Conversation is easy.
The following review appeared in The Washington Post’s 2017 Fall Dining Guide.
Rasika West End: The second location of the Indian favorite is a looker
If you want spectacle with your modern Indian food, the West End offshoot of the Penn Quarter original delivers in spades. Diners might graze under the canopy of an angular “tree,” inside a teal booth in the shape of a carriage or to the side of the underground kitchen, which has a round table for seven. (Icebreaker: President Barack Obama celebrated two birthdays there.) Equally enchanting is the food: My last meal was a tease of beetroot patties with cores of molten goat cheese and meaty red snapper, bedded on turmeric-colored vermicelli and finished with coconut milk fueled with fennel, onion cloves and ... can they bottle this stuff for purchase? Like its more formal sibling, Rasika West End does just as well by vegetarians as meat eaters, while also endearing itself to the Sunday brunch crowd with the likes of coconut jaggery pancakes.
The following review appeared in The Washington Post’s 2016 Fall Dining Guide.
It would have been easy for the owner and the chef behind this sibling of the revered Rasika to open a mirror image of the original. Instead, Ashok Bajaj and Vikram Sunderam came up with a novel script, enticing India-philes with turquoise booths that look like wedding carriages, private seating in the downstairs kitchen and some of the best reasons to get out of bed on Sunday morning: fluffy steamed lentil cakes on a stripe of mint cilantro chutney, pressed rice threaded with sweet crab and mustard seeds, and coconut jaggery pancakes. Meanwhile, lunch finds me hoovering up super-moist, gently tingling chicken tikka with the help of olive naan. Anywhere else, this breezy establishment would be the top Indian restaurant in town, never mind one day’s chewy lamb curry or a constantly interrupting server. Compared to the pitch-perfect Rasika right now, the spinoff is a great second choice for vegetable biryani.