Rasika restaurant at Penn Quarter in Washington DC is definitely the best in Indian cuisine! No wonder it is difficult to make reservations, they are always fully booked. Good thing you can do a walk-in and still get good seating at the Chef’s table and watch while the food is prepared. The only thing that seemed un-authentic was the Chef, who was not from India! DC has a lot to offer in terms of international cuisine but more often than not, you could walk into a sushi bar and have a non Asian making sushi for you.
I managed to overlook this minor point about the Chef at Rasika because the food was so good! The lamb biryani was the best I have had in DC so far, especially because it is not cooked with Green Giant frozen vegetables that you can buy from Safeway! Although it may not be as authentic as Hyderabad biryani, Rasika’s is close to having the real thing. The menu only offers chicken biryani, but they will prepare the lamb by request. Rasika serves biryanni in a portion size heated copper bowl topped with naan, and it comes with a generous serving of raita. You can probably do without the naan but it is hard not to give in to temptation, especially if you have the fish curry for dipping the naan.
The fish curry is a separate dish served with a cup of basmati rice. The curry sauce had a perfect balance of flavors coming from the curry and spices. You can actually taste all the flavors put together. Perfect with the naan, but curry sauce on basmati rice is always a good combination.
Also try the fried spinach with chickpea flour for appetizers. It would be nice to have the spinach coated with more chickpea flour to make it crunchier. This appetizer is more like a salad, so if you are expecting something crunchy-like chips, not with this dish. But it does not disappoint! It is mild in flavor and very tasty, and very light in the belly. It will not make you feel stuffed before you start with the main dish.
What’s good to drink? The Chili Fizz was definitely very exotic, mixed with chili but not too spicy, Tanqueray, and citrus flavor. Keep drinking (with caution) while it is very cold.
Rasika Restaurant is at 633 D Street Northwest Washington, DC 20004
(202) 637-1222, www.rasikarestaurant.com.