News & Politics

Rasika Owner Invites Gene Weingarten to Lunch

Days after the Washington Post columnist panned Indian cuisine, he may learn what a curry actually is.

Photograph courtesy of Rasika.

Even though Washington Post Magazine humor columnist Gene Weingarten’s piece on his distaste for all of Indian cuisine has elicited a lot of f***-yous from all corners of the Twittersphere, one DC restaurateur is extending him an invitation. 

Ashok Bajaj, owner of Rasika, an acclaimed Indian restaurant with locations in DC’s Penn Quarter and West End, plans to call Weingarten and teach him how to properly order and enjoy his food. “I look forward to converting him as well as I’ve converted, I would say, thousands of non-Indian fans before,” Bajaj says. 

In the column, Weingarten listed the entirety of Indian fare as one of the foods he could never eat. He went on to incorrectly claim that the cuisine, which uses a variety of rich and flavorful spices, was based on one. 

The invitation comes after Weingarten dragged Rasika into his response to the backlash, tweeting that he visited the restaurant, but while the food was “beautifully prepared” it was still “swimming with the herbs and spices he most despises.” Bajaj says he had no idea that Weingarten had visited Rasika until he saw his tweet.

Attitudes like Weingarten’s are not that uncommon, according to Bajaj, who opened his first restaurant, Bombay Club, in Washington in 1989. “I’ve done this all my life,” he says. “People are a lot more educated now than they were 30 years ago when I opened Bombay Club. We’ve had a lot of people [we’ve] converted to Indian cuisine because of the Bombay Club, and of course because of Rasika.”


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Clara Grudberg joined Washingtonian in July 2021. Originally from New York City, she studies history and journalism at Georgetown University.