I’m a little late to the party obviously, considering Rasika has been “wowing” Washingtonians for a decade now, but I know for a fact that there are locals that still haven’t tried the place. So if you’re in that minority, go, now!
Indian food isn’t exactly my favorite. In fact, I just recently tried it, in San Francisco of all cities. When I met and told my cousin that it was my first time trying it, she was shocked, particularly since she knew that I’m quite the traveler. Anyway, Rasika certainly has changed my perspective when it comes to Indian food, and though I wouldn’t necessarily say Indian ranks as my favorite cuisine, Rasika, Penn Quarter, does rank high in my list of best eats. Here’s why…
Rasika, Penn Quarter
Rave: Palak Chaat
I came to eat here with family as a belated birthday and we ordered a number of different dishes to share. The meal started off with the restaurant’s crispy spinach dish and a bread basket. In all seriousness, if those were all I ended up eating, I would have left a happy gal. The dish was called Palak Chaat, a bowlful of baby spinach, fried and mixed with sweet yogurt, tamarind, and date chutney. The result was a complex flavor of sweet and tangy complimented by the crunchy texture. It was like eating crisps, but with healthier ingredients. It paired well with the garlic naan, though I reckoned it would be even better with just the plain one. Palak Chaat is the restaurant’s signature dish and for good reason.
Rave: Black Cod
This was the recommendation of both my cousin and her husband who are frequent Rasika, Penn Quarter diners. What can I say about this dish that hasn’t already been said? It was perfectly cooked, silky and smooth to the taste. The flavoring was subtle and the spices used blended well together. It didn’t quite melt in my mouth immediately but it certainly felt like it did a few munches later. This was the most expensive dish on the menu ($28) but the portions were big enough to share especially if you order other dishes (which we did).
(Minor) Rant: Rasika, Penn Quarter Desserts
Our stomachs that night barely had room but I was curious about the desserts offered and needed something sweet to neutralize the spicy food and cumin flavoring so we decided upon the first item on their dessert menu. We ordered the mango tart tatin. Perhaps it was my ignorance that I expected to get something more of a fresh mango dessert, similar to the Thai version of mangoes and sticky rice but what came was a very caramelized mango that took away the natural sweetness of the fruit. I was somewhat surprised and a little disappointed with it. Nonetheless, it did its job of removing the spicy aftertaste.
Rasika’s Palak Chaat can turn me into a vegetarian if only I can eat it everyday. It really was that good. With that in mind, rest assured, I’ll be back though I will likely skip over the desserts next time.