Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Rasa, DC

I practice flying trapeze in the Navy Yard area. When I first started practicing, it was like a food desert. There was absolutely nowhere to eat. That was 2012. Fast forward to today and you will see that the transformation there is amazing. They've even built the fast casual mecca of DC complete with Cava Mezze Grill, Roti, Taylor Gourmet, Chop't, Chipotle, and Rasa. You may recognize all of those except Rasa because this is Rasa's first location.

Founded by the sons of chefs at Indique, one of my old favorite restaurants, and Bombay Bistro, this has quickly become my favorite fast casual restaurant in DC and you know that I don't give praise generously. It's been open for a few months, but I was skeptical. One of my trapeze teachers came to me raving about this Indian restaurant and telling me they had vegan options, but I only half believed her. I took a look at their menu online and wondered if the "v" designation next to certain items meant "vegan" or "vegetarian." A quick call confirmed it meant "vegan."

So, I went over one night after trapeze. Their menu concept is similar to most fast casual restaurants in our area, but what's different is that 83% of their menu is vegan. Oh yes.

You choose a base: spinach, romaine lettuce, sexy greens, supergrains, basmati rice, or South Indian rice noodles. All bases are vegan. Then, you pick a main of which three are vegan: sweet potato tikki, green jackfruit, or tofu and cauliflower. Then, a sauce of which three are vegan: tamarind chili, coconut ginger, or peanut sesame. Then, you can pick one veggie and all are vegan: charred eggplant, tossed green beans, sauteed spinach, or roasted Brussels sprouts.  And they have lots of vegan toppings as well!  Meals are priced from $9 - $11 each.

It was a little overwhelming so I went with one of the preset meals--the Aloo You Need is Love. That is so cute. On top of supergrains is sweet potato tikki, charred eggplant, masala beets, and pickled radish topped with coconut ginger sauce. They actually forgot my masala beets. But, as I was checking out, I introduced myself to one of the owners, Sahil, and that made it all better.

The meal was fantastic. The supergrains were absolutely delicious as was the soft, yet crispy sweet potato and pea patties. My favorite though was the charred eggplant--unbelievably good. And that coconut ginger sauce--more, please!

Sahil told me about how he and his partner traveled to India to do their research before opening the restaurant. It's like fine fast casual, he said, and I agree. He brought me a sampler plate of a bunch of vegan items and the flavors took my taste buds away! Surprisingly to me, the jackfruit was my favorite. I don't usually enjoy jackfruit, but the way they cooked it is exceptional! The sauteed spinach was also exceptional as was the tofu and cauliflower. Honestly, it was all good.

I asked if they had hot sauce and they actually make their own really good hot sauce and are experimenting with a hotter sauce. I got to try the new formula and I love it.

I also love that they not only serve beer and wine, but a Masala Gin & Tonic too. I just had to try it and it was pretty good!

Sahil also let me know that the samosas were vegan, but the mint sauce they serve them with is not, which is why they aren't labeled as vegan. So he brought me the samosas to try with a tamarind chutney. They were incredibly flaky--like pastry and really fresh. They have to be some of the best samosas I've ever had.

Watching Sahil break open a coconut for a customer was also quite entertaining.

It was so good that I returned the next week and ordered another bowl, but this time I built the bowl myself. I ordered the sexygreens with jackfruit, tofu and cauliflower topped with peanut sesame sauce. For my veggie, I ordered sauteed spinach and I topped it with cucumber cubes and pickled onion. This bowl was even better than the first! That peanut sesame sauce is so rich and creamy--it draped all of the vegetables creating a flavor explosion! You won't go wrong if you order this combo, that's for sure.

Oh, and the decor is really bright and beautiful. Rasa is a combination of the owner's names and also means "all emotions." The artwork inside is meant to represent all emotions. It's very colorful.

So, I'm a big fan. It's been a while since a place got me this excited. Highly recommended.

1247 1st Street SE
Washington, DC 20003
(202) 804-5678

Rasa Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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