Teaism is an Asian-inspired teahouse in DC that serves a variety of vegan dishes. This cafe moved into the district proper in 1998 and I have not known DC without them. There are three locations, but my favorite is the one in Penn Quarter only because that is one of my favorite areas to eat. Other locations include Lafayette Park and Dupont Circle. Each of their restaurants consists of a tea shop at which you can buy tea kettles, tea cups, and a variety of teas; and a restaurant.
On this particular occasion, I had been sitting in a jury selection room for the past five hours without any food or drink so I was very hungry. It was about 1:15 p.m. when I walked in and I was hoping that the lunch crowd would have cleared by then, but, alas, I was not so lucky. As soon as I opened the door, I saw the typical line all the way to the door. It usually moves pretty quickly as was the case that day and I at the front of the line within a few minutes. My two favorite dishes are the Japanese veggie bento box and the seitan stir-fry. It is always a toss-up between the two and this time the seitan stir-fry won. I placed my order and waited for my number to be called.
The cafe is really nice with dark wood accents and a clear, easy-to-read menu. There is some seating on the main floor where you first walk in and additional seating downstairs. I always prefer to sit downstairs. After about 5 minutes, they called my number, I picked up my food, and headed downstairs. I took a seat at a 2-person table and took a look around. The lunch crowd was in full swing at almost half past one o'clock.
I took a sip of my ginger limeade, which I always love. It was as perfect as always.
My entree, however, was not. They had plopped a large scoop of brown rice on top of the seitan stir-fry. I mean there was a lot of rice. I've ordered this dish many times before and the rice is not usually placed on top of the other food. When I finally pushed all of the brown rice over to the side, I realized there was much less of the greens and seitan than they usually serve. That was disappointing. The flavors in the dish were still very good -- they saute the greens and [store-bought] seitan in a sweet chili sauce made with soy sauce and sugar and top it with macadamia nuts. It is so simple, yet so pleasing. The brown rice is topped with white and black sesame seeds. The dish, itself, was great -- the portions were just off and the presentation was lacking.
As I was walking out, I was reminded of the poor captive Koi fish they have in a pond on that level. As much as I love to see them, it saddens me that they keep these big fish in an artificial pond inside the restaurant. They aren't even allowed enough space to swim about freely.
I love the food at Teaism as it is usually pretty consistent albeit maybe not so much this time. The stir fry is $9.75 so a little pricey for lunch, but the dinner prices and portions are exactly the same as they are at lunch so it isn't too bad considering that. Now, if only they would release those Koi back into their natural habitat...
400 8th Street NW
Washington, DC 20004