Don’t We Recognize 701’s Tapioca Caviar?

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Top Chef fans: Remember the tapioca “caviar” that hyperactive contestant Andrew D’Ambrosi made repeatedly last season? During the zoo challenge, he served balsamic tapioca on top of squid ceviche. Then, he whipped up a soy version for the collaborative smoked-salmon dish he made with Richard and Dale. Tom, Padma and crew loved the faux fish eggs . . . and so do we. After a recent meal at 701 in Penn Quarter, we raved to chef Bobby Varua about his crispy tempura-tuna roll, a beautiful dish strewn with tapioca pearls that bursted with soy sauce flavor. Had we seen those somewhere before? Turns out, D’Ambrosi learned the technique from Varua. “He was my sous-chef at China Grill in New York,” Varua told us with a laugh. “I didn’t give him too hard of a time about it.”

701 Restaurant, 701 Pennsylvania Ave., NW; 202-393-0701; 701restaurant.com

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