Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Imagine Mie N Yu

Last week, O. and I were invited to sample the Blind Tiger Chef's Tasting Menu at Mie N Yu. I used to work (and still live) a few blocks away from Mie N Yu, and have always found myself appreciating the ambition of its concept rather than its actually culinary prowess. Much like Yo Yo Ma's Silk Road Ensemble, the attempt to represent so many traditions and approaches makes for an interesting combination.

At $25 per per person, Blind Tiger (named after Prohibition-Era speakeasies, as you need to know about it through various digital platforms, including various blogs) is a good way to sample the wide array of dishes available at Mie N Yu, many with ingredients that are locally sourced. The menu also offers 50% off listed prices on select bottles of wine, which include a few surprises (I was very much inclined toward the Idaho wine for sheer novelty). I've normally gone to the bar at Mie N Yu only, and was pleasantly surprised to see such an expansive wine list (with a helpful pairing guide). O. and I started the meal with some cocktails. O. went for Buddha's Blues, a mix of fresh juices with acai liquor and Absolut Berri Acai Vodka. I have no opinion on the Acai berry debate, but she did declare it a fun alternative to her usual cranberry/vodka. I had the Pied Piper, a champagne cocktail with Perrier-Jouet Brut, grapefuit, pineapple and peychaud's Bitters. While the bubbles were definitively there, the strong acidity overpowered the champagne, and the bitters kept it from the realm of the mimosa.

As anyone who's ever peeked through the window, the best part of this restaurant is it's décor. There is much to look at, but the multi-level approach keeps you from becoming overwhelmed. Blind Tiger is only offered Sunday through Thursday. Our server, who was attentive and relaxed, made sure that we took the time to enjoy our dishes - which is a nice departure from the mid-week grind. That being said, it is best to go when you have ample time to dine in order to make the best of the experience.

For a first course, I had the Zaatar Hummus with Ful. I've had these separately but never together (though this is a common combination in the Middle East). The olives were perfect - plump and briny. For such a big portion of hummus, I would have like more bread, as the only way to finish it all was with a fork. Though the level of spice was very good, my main issue with this dish was the temperature - it was ice cold. While the temperature did not affect the flavor, the texture was off. It also reminded me of eating hummus straight out of the container (something I do more often than I care to admit). However, given the chance to adjust to room temperature, I am sure the dish would work. O. had the Sumonomo Blue Crab Salad, which she enjoyed.

As a second course, I had the Beijing Style Lacquered Duck. Duck is one of my favorite proteins, and I order it more often than not. The duck's local (from PA), and the portion size was not overwhelming. The Hoisin sauce had a very pleasant tang, which complimented the glaze very well. O. had the Char Masala Lamb Kabobs, also locally sourced. As an arbiter of lamb entrées everywhere, she liked this one.

My favorite dish on the menu was the last course. I was completely surprised by the Pakistani Cinnamon and Ginger Stripped Bass. The yogurt casserole concentrated all the flavors and aromas wonderfully, a treat for nose and tongue alike. In line with its commitment to sustainable food, the sea bass is sustainably raised. I would have never expected such a wonderful fish dish at this restaurant, and it was a great way to finish the tasting menu.

Sit back, relax, and enjoy the journey.

Mie N Yu on Urbanspoon
Mie N Yu
3125 M St NW
Washington, DC 20007

Monday, June 7, 2010

South Africa 2010

DC has to be one of the best places in the US to watch the FIFA World Cup (this is a very funny take). I come from a country where the GDP goes down during the World Cup, and until I moved here I never had to think long or hard about where to watch it.

Germany 2006 I watched from the office as well as various Georgetown bars. Most of the matches will be broadcast in the morning. The first game is Mexico-South Africa this Friday, so if you have an understanding boss, your priorities straight, or just a general disregard for the work day, here are a few places you should consider, all near office hubs:

1. Lucky Bar (Dupont-Farragut)
The year-round sentimental favorite of the OAS. The food isn't great but the ambiance is befitting of futbol.

2. MadHatter (Farragut North)
Though I mostly think "Kickball", their new location is decked out in soccer balls with non-sensical messages, including alternative spellings for Uruguay.

3. Public Bar
Across the street from Lucky Bar, making its first foray into World Cup broadcasting. I suspect once Latinamerican teams start playing each other, half the Lucky Bar crowd will flock over there.

4. Urbana (Dupont Circle)
The classier option, this wine bar will honor host country South Africa by serving its wines along with select items from the brunch, lunch and bar menus. When Italy, France, Spain or the U.S win a game, guests can mention “World Cup Wine Special” and receive 25% off bottles of wine from that country on the day of their win. If you can't leave the office, Urbana will show reruns during happy hour serving a special selection of $5 small plates (in addition to regular happy hour specials).

5. Jackson 20 (Old Town)
Chef Denis Marron will feature a special $20.10 menu during live games and a large flat screen out in its courtyard.

6. ESPN SportsZone (Metro Center)
You're going there for the many many TVs.

This is a purely self-serving list based on my current work stomping grounds. Send us your suggestions!


7. AGAINN (Metro Center)
Is getting in on the fun with “Bangers vs. Burgers 2010”. At 2:30 PM on June 12, guests can watch the game on three flat-screen televisions in the 19-seat bar while selecting from the restaurant’s signature Bangers and Mash or Burgers and Chips along with a choice of six different beer shandies. Both featured dishes are available at a discounted price of $15 each for this day only. Bartenders will keep track of the sales for both dishes, and the team with the most sales at the end of the match wins bragging rights until the next FIFA tournament.

Each of the games will be televised leading up to the finals on July 11th.

8. J. Gilbert's (McLean)
J. Gilbert’s in McLean is throwing a World Cup wines event on the evening of June 15th from 5 to 7 pm: for $30 per person, you get to taste six gorgeous South African wines (the pours are big!) and munch on six passed appetizers inspired by the cuisine of South Africa. There will be a rep from Cape Classics on hand to share info about the wines. Reserve early as space is limited. 703-893-1034.

9. Jaleo (Penn Quarter, Bethesda, and Crystal CIty)

All three Jaleo locations will be open at 9:30 AM and feature their “Jaleo Hour” specials during the games which includes a variety of Jaleo’s most popular tapas, priced at $4 each including Patatas bravas- 2009, fried fingerling potatoes topped with a spicy tomato sauce and alioli; Gambas al ajillo, shrimp sautéed with garlic and guindilla pepper and the tasty Croquetas de pollo, traditional chicken fritters. To quench one’s thirst, Jaleo’s famous white and red sangria, rail drinks and draft beer will be offered for $4 at the bar only.