Navy Yard is getting an injection of color and spice this week with the arrival of Rasa, a fresh take on Indian dining from rising hospitality duo Rahul Vinod and Sahil Rahman that invites customers to sip from coconuts while lounging in swinging chairs.
The bright and airy 2,300-square-foot eatery at the base of the F1rst building (1247 First Street SE) is scheduled to begin serving build-your-own rice bowls and kebab plates on Wednesday, December 6.
The founders, sons of hospitality vets and longtime business partners chef K.N. Vinod and Surfy Rahman (proprietors of Indique and Bombay Bistro), learned the restaurant ropes starting at a young age. As high school classmates, they dreamt of making Indian meals more accessible.
That welcoming mentality starts with the literal entrance, which features a towering turquoise door alongside bright neon signage to lure guests inside. A $10 price point for custom protein bowls also aims to stimulate foot traffic.
Inside, customers can feast on 360-degree views of every hue in the rainbow. The duo spent hours attaching multi-colored strings into a zigzag pattern across the ceiling.
The restaurant’s name has multiple meanings. Translating “to taste,” it’s also the combination of the owners’ first names. And a yoga tie-in alludes to the nine rasas, or human emotions, that range from joy to fear.
As an ode to that reference, nine huge panels painted by local artist Nandita Madan — who is also Rahman’s aunt and designer of Bombay Bistro — line the massive wall near the ordering line.
The menu’s split up into four categories. Five pre-set bowls come packed with chicken tikka, green jackfruit, or lamb kebabs, while a mix-and-match option allows diners to add in bases including tofu, cauliflower, and spiced beef.
Featured sauces include tamarind chili, tomato garlic, coconut ginger, and peanut sesame; toppings range from mango salsa to dehydrated bitter melon. Sides and sweets include naan, mini samosas, kulfi pops, Indian yogurt, and masala chai cookies.
Giving back is also integral in the restaurant’s theme. They partnered with Bangalore-based Akshaya Patra to contribute one nutritious meal to kids for each bowl sold at Rasa.
The restaurant is projected to operate from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.
Status: Scheduled to open at 11 a.m. Wednesday, December 6. 1247 First Street SE; website.