Monday night supper club debuts at Himitsu

Everyone who knows me (or follows me on Instagram) knows that I love Himitsu. Chef Kevin Tien’s food is so good that after I eat there I don’t want to eat anywhere else – which is a problem because I can’t only eat at one restaurant for the rest of my life. I try to convince everyone I know to eat there, but for some, the no reservations rule is a barrier. To appease these diners, Himistu has actually changed its no reservation policy slightly and is offering reservations on Monday nights only. Monday nights will be supper club nights, which means there will only a prix fixe dinner menu available. The $150 price tag for the meal includes multiple courses of food with a beverage pairing that includes wine and cocktails.  Is it worth it? You bet it is.

I have already been to supper club twice in the month since it debuted. You may call me obsessed. I cannot disagree. Let me give you a play by play of what I ate at the last supper club, keeping in mind that the kitchen changes up the menu often, so you may not find some or all of these dishes when you visit. And that’s a “when” not an “if” because this is one supper club you need to partake in.

When you buy your tickets in advance you can list all dietary considerations, so of course my meal was vegetarian. In terms of cuisine, the dinner doesn’t focus on one type of cooking or food from one specific place. The variety of ingredients and cuisines incorporated into the dishes showcases the chef’s background. His family hails from Vietnamese, but he has spent time in the south, most notably Houston and New Orleans, and so the different courses reflect his ethnic background as well as his experiences in the different places he has lived.

Our eight course dinner opened with a delicate, compressed fruit salad, sprinkled with thai chili powder. The sweet-spicy contrast will bring your senses to life; beware it is pretty spicy. Next, a savory Asian egg custard, silky, smooth and light, followed by a tartless tomato tart that was pure magic. A thick slab of tomato comes adorned with crispy quinoa and drizzled with a bright cilantro oil. It was fresh and fragrant and an ode to late summer tomatoes.

My favorite course was the third one, where cubes of panisse, which are fried chickpea dumplings, are piled onto a bed of creamy cauliflower puree. The panisse are crispy on the outside and soft and velvety on the outside, almost like a fried gnocchi but with the nuttier, earthier flavor of chickpeas. Sichuan peppercorns add heat and depth of flavor. The dish is super savory and highly seasoned; I could eat it every day. Next up was fried cauliflower, with a crunchy shell and soft interior, served in a pool of super spicy buffalo dip and alongside cool, crunchy coleslaw. The final savory course was roasted root vegetables, accompanied by charred okra and crispy, salty fingerling potatoes, all served over a generous smear of spicy salsa verde. After that came dessert, which was purple rice soaked in a decadent, coconut cream, and crowned with sliced kiwis, mango and avocado. The addition of avocado, creamy, rich, and a lovely contrast to the chewy rice, was nothing short of genius.

Carly’s drink pairings have always been spot-on; from my experience her beverage recommendations always make the food taste better but that may also be because I drink too many of them.

I have raved enough. Go try it for yourself.


Spectacular summer menu at Blue Duck Tavern

What I love about Blue Duck Tavern is the decadence from beginning to end. From salads to sweets each dish is a culinary work of art; as tempting for your eyes as it is for your palate. With a new Executive Chef at the helm, Troy Knapp, and a new seasonal menu available, this is the time to visit this iconic DC venue again.

Blue Duck’s latest menu is no exception to this rule of decadence. Kick off your meal with a trio of salads to share. One is the baby gem lettuce salad, where delicate, bright green leaves are adorned with browned onion rings and dressed in a savory ramp and pecorino sauce. Equally as good is the smoked beet salad where the beets mimic beef tartare, from color to texture to plating. Crowned with bright orange sections and served with crisp country bread, this dish will entice even the most reluctant beet eater. Finally there is the most seasonal of all, the pea salad which hosts a trifecta of peas: pea pods, pea shoots, and pea sprouts. Almond butter adds a creamy element, while a citrus chili dressing brings heat and acidity.

Next: the cavatelli is my current favorite entrée with pasta is swirled in a heady brown butter sauce and dotted with peas and ricotta. Roasted wild mushrooms with earthy black garlic are also delicious and oven roasted asparagus is another seasonal hit.

And then we move on to my favorite part of the meal at Blue Duck Tavern: dessert. Erin Reed, Blue Duck’s pastry chef, is a dessert genius. Her sweets are reminiscent of your childhood dreams, with the artistry and attention to detail of a true culinary wizard. Her coconut tapioca is pictured above; this stunning dessert is a whirlwind of flavors with cubes of carrot cake, curried nuts and all spice pineapple sorbet. Sweet, spicy, nutty and earthy; this dessert is heavenly. It’s also available vegan!

Chocolate lovers should definitely order the chocolate cake, which has layers of cake and malted pudding. The real treat in the dish however is the hunks of rice crispy treats, crunchy and sweet and oh so satisfying. Smoked vanilla ice cream adds depth of flavor, but fellow vegetarians beware of the caramel which is not vegetarian! You can get the dish without it.

For those who are wondering where Blue Duck’s famous apple pie is, the dish has been replaced by a morello cherry cobbler. Don’t worry, this cobbler is up for the challenge of replacing the pie. Tart and luscious, the filling is summer in your mouth and the crumbly, sweet crust is the prefect contast to the silky filling.

But wait, there’s more. I saved the best for last. The strawberry parfait, with its funfetti cake and bubblegum foam, its sunny colors and delightful textures, is easily this summer’s best dessert. It will remind you of every happy strawberry-filled childhood memory, and really, what’s better than a dessert that can make you feel like a kid again?