For a romantic, first night out on vacation with your boyfriend, there are many cuisines that come to mind. French, Italian, even Greek. But Indian? I’ll admit, I was a bit skeptical when my boyfriend, Brad, told me he was taking me to dinner at an Indian restaurant near Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C., and a little less skeptical when he told me President Obama went there for his birthday. The second I walked inside Rasika, all fears immediately disappeared.
Rasika gives off the vibe of a Lower East Side restaurant in Manhattan; lit only by candle light, spices fill clear boxes in the spaces between bottles of wine lining the walls, sleek benches and booths enhance the theme of the restaurant. It’s trendy, it’s chic, and the clientele mimicked the vibe.
We were promptly seated in the back room, glancing over the menu before ordering drinks. My eyes instantly went to a flight of Indian Whiskey to drink, which we ordered to share.
A quick search on FourSquare revealed that Palak Chaat was not to be missed. The waiter called it their signature dish, and I understood why.
It’s like kale chips, only better, sweeter and crispier. Leaves of spinach are lightly battered and deep fried, coated in a savory spice mix and topped with yogurt to cut through the spice. Damn, these are addictive.
I love eggplant. Love, love, love (going to my belly). So when I asked for a recommendation for the best eggplant dish on the menu, the waiter chose Tawa Baingan, which is essentially a Neapolitan of eggplant and spicy smashed potatoes topped with a sweet and spicy peanut sauce. The pieces of peanut provide much needed texture to the veggie tower. For me, this dish was absolutely incredible, combining all the necessary flavors in a unique way.
Sweet, spicy, savory with a hint of peanut (I think), the sauce coating chicken is phenomenal. Served with a side of rice, it’s addictive, tasting like the best spicy peanut sauce you’ve ever tried (and I’m not even speaking in superlatives). If you want to go a little bit wild, order a side of Truffle Oil Naan to dip into the sauce.
And finally, our last dish of the evening, Salmon Tandoori.
The salmon was cooked perfectly, but I found myself craving a sauce. The pickled lemons were a bit bitter for my liking, but the pickled zucchini and carrots on the side acted like a sauce, complimenting the salmon with that necessary acidity to cut through the fish.
The meal was incredible, and for those who think Indian food can’t be sexy like me, Rasika will change your mind. It’s delicious, the service is phenomenal, and the ambiance creates the perfect date night.
If you find yourself in D.C., and want to surprise the person you’re with, take them to Rasika. They will be confused at first, and ultimately end up thanking you for finding a place they would never discover on their own. Because, it’s quite the spot.
Rasika – 1190 New Hampshire Ave, NW – Washington, DC