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Tom Sietsema Praises the Ceviche at Ruta del Vino

What the critics are saying this week

Hazel just made Bitches Who Brunch’s list.
R. Lopez

The Washington Post’s Tim Carman treks it up the third floor of an elevator-less building to Kanji-Kana along Vermont Avenue NW.

"The entrance to Kanji-Kana looks like a doll house inflated to adult proportions. Flower boxes lie at your feet. A picture window, its pink drapes pulled back, offers a peeping-Tom view of the interior. Once you’ve made eye contact with someone inside, you are practically required to walk into this “home,” lest they deem you a stalker lurking outside the window.”

The interiors don’t disappoint either, going with a wall anime series and a TV playing kodomomuke cartoons.

The restaurant is from the team behind Tonton Chicken, which sits on the first floor. Their affordable and tasty model that targets nearby workers is simple: “Think of Kanji-Kana as the old downtown deli rejiggered for the ramen generation.”

There’s no pressure for customers to understand the difference between cloudy paitan and a clear chintan broth, since it’s a judgement-free zone. He could have “slurped that broth all afternoon,” referring to his miso ramen with chicken teriyaki. But as for the chicken, he thinks it was “dry breast” meat that lacked the grill flavor he expected.

The tonkotsu ramen, with chicken and pork and added slices of chashu (slow-roasted pork belly), was “all divine”—except for an “overcooked” hard-boiled egg. He notes that Kanji-Kana’s kitchen uses the same proteins across multiple categories: “So if you like the chashu in your ramen, you’ll probably enjoy it in your bento box or atop your donburi rice bowl, too.” [WaPo]

And The Washington Post’s Tom Sietsema heads to Petworth’s new Latin American food and wine joint Ruta del Vino, which means “wine trail.”

The welcome replacement to the dilapidated Riyad Market features a black pressed-tin ceiling and a “rough-hewn wooden bar” in the middle, while a semi-private area features slats and banana leaf wallpaper. “The details make a jaunty backdrop for a menu that roams from empanadas and ceviches to grilled meats and whole fish,” he says.

The spot doesn’t go the popular small plates route, but rather on a trail of a traditional trio of an appetizer, entree, and dessert. The range of cuisine offers something for all, he observes. Ceviches ooze “goodness” and a “meatless pleasure” pick is the lightly battered chile relleno. He has the wood-fired grill to thanks for some of his “pet dishes” like the lightly charred octopus. He also enjoys “blushing slices” of hanger steak with a chili rub that’s got a kick. He also gives props to the “crisp” and “succulent” roast chicken. Two misses on the menu included the Cubano, “smacked of a lesser kitchen” and the torta with “dry” meat.

"Otherwise, the restaurant has all the makings of a neighborhood hit: well-balanced cocktails, including a caipirinha that got a thumbs up from the Brazilian at my table; a list of Latin American wines that consider Brazil and Uruguay as well as Argentina and Chile; and a happy hour (5 to 7 p.m. weeknights) bound to get bellies up to bar. Four-dollar glasses of vino in the company of $2 cheese-and-bean pupusas or masa fries with chimichurri add to the charms, ever-increasing, of Petworth.” [The Washington Post]

DC Dining’s Don Rockwell gave Comet Ping Pong a try during the restaurant’s newsy week. After planting himself in the center of the bustling bar area, he “probably waited at least twenty minutes” for one seat to open.

Expect 15 “interesting” beers, and he tallied 66 bottles of liquor behind the bar. The jerk style wings are “delicious” but “not super-hot.” As for the pizzas, he reports a “wonderfully” fresh sauce. [DC Dining]

And after noting an abundance of senior citizen-aged eaters at Essy’s Carriage House during lunch, Rockwell was “almost stunned at how expensive” its lunch menu was, with some entrees surpassing $30.

The Crab Imperial was a classic version (“which I adore”) that’s baked and served in a scallop shell with a scoop of mashed potatoes. [DC Dining]

FROM THE BLOGS: Bitches Who Brunch just posted its Best & Worst Brunches of 2016 guide in D.C....DMV Dining tries brunch at B Too.

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