Saturday, August 21, 2010

Washington, DC

I always forget- until I'm back- how pretty our capital city is. The grand marble columns... the wide boulevards... the perfect vistas. The glory of planned cities! On our last visit, we got to do some tasty touring as well as eating, and I wanted to feature two restaurants, one new, one a classic- that we sampled!

Masa 14

The concept of this restaurant is latin-asian fusion tapas- an interesting idea, and one which produced many tasty dishes, though I had two fairly consistent comments: too much salt, and too much sauce. Everything was just slightly saltier and "wetter"- for lack of a better term- than was really necessary. And this is a tad bit a shame, because otherwise, the food was really delicious- and this seemed unnecessary!! So, overall, good stuff, but perhaps ask them to hold the salt and sauce on the side....

We tried a sampling of dishes, not even sure if this covers them all- and accompanied them with tasty margaritas and mojitoes.

The baby spinach salad with mushrooms, red pepper, and black bean dressing was fresh and featured great flavors, but as mentioned previously, had waaaay too much dressing.

The wild mushroom flatbread with oaxaca cheese, red pepper and avocado was actually one of my top favorites- the flavors balanced nicely and it was not over-seasoned. I also was surprised to like the crispy crab wonton rolls with cream cheese, corn, mushroom, shiso, truffle, and spicy ponzu- I think the cream cheese and crab combo for me works well. Finally, the wok seared cauliflower with ginger and an (extremely spicy) chile de arbol was another top favorite, as was the fried tofu with spinach, and sweet and spicy sauce.

Less successful as a complete dish was the green tofu curry with potato, carrot, and cortija cheese. The curry itself was tasty, and creamy- but I found the cortija cheese to seem forced 'fusion' flavor where perhaps a splash of lime would have served better. The feta-like cortija cheese and creamy coconut curry seemed completely at odds, and luckily was easily picked off.
Ryan also tried the pork belly steamed buns, which seemed like the perfect combo of all of his favorite things- but was disappointed by the pork and the bun- which instead of looking like a traditional asian-style steamed bun, looked more like a pita-bread taco shell... Finally, the yucca fries with chimichurri and garlic- lime aioli dipping sauce should have been amazing, but was sooo salty, that the flavors of the delicate yucca were hard to detect.

Overall, my feeling is that as at many tapas restaurants, it is a process of finding the small plates that you like. I'd try this spot again in the future, but I'd also make sure to tell them to lay off the salt.....


Probably well over 15 years ago- seriously- I had my first-ever taste of gazpacho at this DC classic spanish tapas restaurant. In my brain, the gazpacho here has yet to be paralleled in the states- for the traditional, real-deal thing. And, 15 years later, the memory proved true- it is indeed the best classic American take on this classic.

We also tried an eggplant and red pepper salad, as well as papas arrugas- potatoes with green mojo sauce- only like my favorite thing... ever. Sooooo good.I mean, how can a green sauce made with cilantro, cumin, and garlic ever taste bad? Oh, by adding some sherry? nope, still awesome....

If you are ever in DC, make sure to come by this amazing spot. Of course, now I know it is owned by the world-renowned chef Jose Andres, but that only makes me all the more proud to have such an advanced palate back at 8, lol.

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