Fresh sea urchin at Sushi Capitol
This is where I want to eat sushi right now— Minoru Ogawa’s chill, jazz-backed hole in the wall on Capitol Hill.
And this is the taste I want to end my meal with: two large lobes of sea urchin, served in their spiky shell.
That’s it. That’s the dish.
The stippled orange lobes are superbly sweet and creamy, and leave your tongue washed with the clean, pure taste of seawater.
Will I kill it if I mention that these are the sex organs of the urchin?
Should it matter when something is this delicious?
So delicious that the only proper response after finishing the second of two bites is to close your eyes and savor the lingering taste and silently acknowledge how lucky you are to be sitting here right now.
Here’s the other great thing: It’s only $12. It’s hard to find a good appetizer in this city for $12.
Ped grapao at Little Serow
From the moment you walk through the door to be greeted with the broad smile of Jill Tyler—Little Serow’s longtime service director—Johnny Monis’s basement Thai restaurant makes you feel at home. The food’s always delicious, the music subtle, the drinks crisp and well-chosen. While I have a lot of familiar favorites on the always-rotating menu, last Thursday night included a new-to-me item: ped grapao, duck mixed with basil and topped with a duck egg, which consistency-wise closely resembled a hash (without the potatoes). As instructed, we broke up the egg and mixed everything together, letting the yolk soak the rest of the tender meat, and then gobbled up every bite. I paired it with a bubbly Lambrusco. As delicious as the ped grapao was for dinner, waking up to this dish on a Sunday morning would be heaven on a plate. Evidently, that same night, food legend Ruth Reichl had dinner there, too; you can see her roundup of the meal (and a photo of the ped grapao) here.
Crunchy edamame tacos at Tico DC
One perk of this job is getting behind the scenes. Tico DC just opened on 14th Street on Sunday night (look for a Best Bites preview soon), but chef Michael Schlow invited a few lucky writers to come by for lunch before the debut. We sampled a variety of dishes, from scallop ceviche with avocado dressing and crispy rice to a standout cabbage salad tossed with salsa verde and almonds. The one I’m most looking forward to trying again is the crunchy edamame tacos. None of Schlow’s menu claims to be authentic, and this mash-up of Mexican and Middle Eastern flavors makes you wonder why you haven’t seen falafel-filled tacos more often. The crispy, spiced edamame patties arrive atop lightly charred tortillas, decked with a bright tomatillo salsa and yogurt—a combination that’s warm and crumbly, spicy and cool. Quality is inevitably top-notch when a James Beard Award-winning chef cooks for a small group, but if the kitchen keeps it up in real time, I’ve found a new favorite dish on 14th Street.