The name "Rasika" is derived from the Sanskrit language meaning "flavors," but to us in DC, it just means incredible Indian food! Rasika has been rated the number one Indian restaurant in DC by Zagat in the past and I am happy to second that. Being part of the family of restaurants that includes The Bombay Club and the Oval Room sets the expectation that the food would be top notch and it doesn't disappoint. This is not your typical homely Indian restaurant, rather a trendy, upscale restaurant with eclectic decor both in the bar and dining room.
On this particular trip, I was just going for a business lunch. I wasn't able to get a reservation for any time between noon and 1:30 p.m. so we made a reservation for the only time available -- 11:45 a.m. A word to the wise: make a lunch reservation far in advance! We were promptly seated and greeted by our waitress who strongly recommended we start with the Palak Chaat (hold the yogurt), a favorite at this restaurant. So, I ordered that along with their only juice offered that day -- an apple juice. I was initially disappointed to hear there was only apple juice, but when it arrived in a wine glass and was green, I was definitely intrigued. I wish the waitress had mentioned how good the juices were as I'd never tried them before! Apparently they only offer one juice each day, which is freshly made. The juice was green because it had just been made from fresh green apples. It was very good.
We ordered our entrees, then the appetizer arrived. It wasn't at all what I was expecting. When I think of spinach dishes at Indian restaurants, I think of sauteed spinach with spices and perhaps some chickpeas, but this dish was very different. The spinach had been flash fried with chickpea flour to get it extra crispy. Then, it was cooked with onions, tomatoes, and mango and topped with tamarind sauce. Together all of these flavors were amazing! This dish is sure to delight.
My entree arrived next -- I ordered the Gobhi Mattar. I had initially wanted to order a couple of the smaller portions, but my waitress told me this isn't really a tapas-style restaurant and that most people order a full-sized entree along with some sides. Well, after I received my entree, I wished that I had just gone with my gut and ordered a couple of smaller entrees. The dish had cauliflower, peas and onions sauteed with curry spices. It was very good, but it left me wanting more. I have dined at this restaurant several times and with so many vegan entrees, I'm sure I haven't tried them all. I should have ordered this dish with another one like the Bhindi Amchoor (sliced okra) or Dal Makhani. Oh, well....I guess this just gives me a reason to come back and try more!
The chef, Vikram Sunderam, does an excellent job of taking traditional Indian dishes and transforming them into delicious modern versions of the same. The service was impeccable as each course was served at just the right pace. The manager even stopped by after our meal to ask us if we had a good experience, which I always appreciate. This was my first lunch experience at Rasika and I really enjoyed it, but I think this is an even better restaurant for a dinner date. It has an intimate feel even though it can get loud at times. But, no matter which time you choose to dine here, you will not disappointed.
633 D Street NW
Washington, DC 20004