Tom Sietsema insists there’s a rich, fatty prize for those brave enough to enter the ultra-luxe omakase bar adjoining the Trump International Hotel: sushi worthy of a three-star review.
The Washington Post critic writes that five people declined to join him over the course of several reporting trips, and their ethical or political hangups caused all of them to miss out on a theatrical, two-hour experience under the masterful guidance of chef Masaaki Uchino.
Sietsema was particularly taken with scallop sushi that gets a pop from yuzu pepper, the first of a few courses that tickled his senses:
“The unexpected dynamite causes diners’ eyes to pop and the chef to grin as he points to the source of the heat in a small bowl on his workspace. Squid, dotted with plum sauce and sliced so sheer you can read through it, reveals the green under it to be shiso, that punchy relation to mint. A lobe of house-cured karasumi, or dried mullet roe, is grated over a strip of black fin sea bass. The sunny yellow filings that threaten to hide the sea bass add a sumptuous salinity to the fish.”
The Post also published an early review from Sietsema of Cielo Rojo, the recently opened taqueria in Takoma Park. The critic seemed to savor everything in the tiny spot, except for a mole he deemed too sweet:
“I’d gladly return for a blue corn tortilla wrapped around beer-braised, orange-juiced and shredded pork and white cheese, a quesadilla striped with tingling chile de arbol and tomatillo salsas and sprinkled with pepitas.”
Sietsema’s colleague Tim Carman reports that Barrel on Capitol Hill has struck gold by promoting one of its own line cooks, Guatemala native Walfer Hernandez, to executive chef. Hernandez learned from former boss Garret Fleming but had to wait his turn while another chef from New Orleans flamed out of the top spot. Once he got the job, Hernandez showed he has a way with braised short ribs and has no regard for basic, boring brunch:
“This menu is packed with modest ambitions, some just clever riffs on dinner plates: a croque madame with a crab Mornay sauce, tagliatelle alla carbonara, cauliflower migas and house-cured bacon.”
Bombay Street Food
Washington City Paper introduced a new feature, called “Spice Route,” in which food writer Warren Rojas subjects himself to various potent peppers. In the inaugural edition, Rojas shows a little love to the vindaloo at Bombay Street Food in Columbia Heights, giving it four sirens out of five:
“The slow-cooked curry is rich and complex, marrying cumin, two heat sources—ground green chile paste and red chile powder—pearl onions, and a protein of choice. A splash of vinegar imparts a tangy kick. ... The end product stops just short of face-melting fury.”