The following review appears in The Washington Post’s 2017 Fall Dining Guide.
“Eleven-thirty or 2 p.m.?” I hear a host offer available time slots on the phone — in August. Regulars know to book well in advance for a shot at the cooking of Vikram Sunderam, a James Beard Award winner for his magical way with my favorite cuisine. From the tawa, or griddle, come plump scallops on pools of tamarind-tinted, chile-warmed sauce, and from the tandoor, or clay oven, emerge lamb chops flavorful from a marinade of yogurt, ginger, garlic — an Indian spice cabinet, really. The best new dish on the menu, idiyappam, a staple in Kerala, is meatless: see-through nests of rice flour noodles and minced vegetables rendered glorious with a pour-over of coconut sauce sparked with curry leaves. Every bit as indulgent as the food in the jewel-toned dining room is the service. “Would you come to my house?” a tourist next to me jests (I think) to her solicitous waiter. There’s hope if you want
in on the pleasure but haven’t reserved a spot: The lounge is
first come, first served.
Rasika: 633 D St. NW. 202-637-1222. rasikarestaurant.com.
Prices: Mains $18-$32.
Sound check: 75 decibels / Must speak with raised voice.
The following review appeared as No. 9 on Tom’s Top 10 restauramts in The Washington Post’s 2016 Fall Dining Guide
Hard as I try, I can’t find an Indian restaurant in the country better than this one. A national treasure, Vikram Sunderam is a chef who never rests on his laurels and constantly refreshes his menu. Calling to me these days are roasted cumin-spiked corn cakes set on a brilliant red onion puree; Dover sole slathered in cilantro, mint and coconut and cooked in a banana leaf on the tawa (griddle); and ruddy chunks of lamb cloaked in a sauce that’s warm with cloves and hot with chilies. But even the chef’s oldies — crispy baby spinach (palak chaat), mango tart — remain goodies. Flattering the food are a gem-colored dining room and attention that bridges Secret Service watchfulness with Miss Manners’s decorum. The rare four-star establishment open for lunch as well as dinner, and offering a pre-theater menu for $35, Rasika will be even more accessible come next fall. That’s when Sunderam plans to share some of his secrets, in the form of a cookbook. I, for one, can’t wait to repeat some of Rasika’s magic tricks at home.