RW 06: Disappointed by Mie N Yu
I like to think of Restaurant Week as an introduction. I'll go to a new restaurant with only moderate expectations, ready to allow the place to introduce itself to me. If it's smart, it will find a way to impress me, even with (especially with) a limited menu. Certainly there are opportunities to create a positive impression with customer service, good timing, interesting decor, etc. As long as my initial experience is remotely positive, I'll be likely to return... and recommend the place to friends.
Mie N Yu didn't exactly create the greatest first impression.
Two of us went to Mie N Yu for dinner last night. I've been hearing buzz on this place for a while so I was fairly optimistic. And our experience started off fairly well: with Georgetown students still on break, parking was easier than usual.
The interior of the restaurant looks, as my companion put it, as though it was decorated with the leftovers from the set of the "Survivor" finale. He seemed to find it a bit tacky but I was more forgiving. Some of the round tables enclosed in netting looked like cozy spots to enjoy dinner with a group.... but we were seated adjacent to the waiters' data entry stand, in a small booth with a too-small table (which meant neither of us could sit back in our seats if we wanted to be able to reach our food). Many tables are atop a set of maybe 4 stairs so diners are at different heights throughout the space, which is interesting visually but probably a tripping hazard for the waitstaff or guests wearing high heels.
I was ready to order a glass of sake... but couldn't justify paying $18 for a single glass. So we stuck to H2O.
Our starters were enjoyable. My crab pot stickers were crispy and hot, well-complimented by the hot mustard. The salad was delicious -- wonderfully fresh bibb lettuce with walnuts, orange segments and blue cheese with a sherry vinaigrette. The four selections of cold bread that the server bought were accompanied by forgettable toppings: an oil-balsamic combo, lightly salted butter and an edemame-wasabi spread that somehow managed to taste like neither ingredient.
And it went downhill from there.
My main course was miso marinated black cod in a coconut milk, with black sticky rice and carrot ginger sauce. To call the dish mild would be to phrase it kindly. To call it bland wouldn't be inaccurate. The cod had a bit of sweetness from the miso but that was its only distinguishing feature, aside from the scallions which topped the fish. The black rice was virtually tasteless, except for the fact that it was overcooked to the point of being hardened into clumps and unpleasantly, inedibly crunchy.
My companion's main course was a little better -- he ordered the wild mushroom and tofu fried rice with asparagus, ginger, bok choy, and mushroom soy with bamboo rice. His rice was more flavorful than mine but it was still far from an outstanding dish.
For dessert, Mie N Yu offers only the tiramisu at the regular Restaurant Week prix fixe rate; cheesecake and a chocolate truffle cake are available for an additional $4. So we ordered one tiramisu and one chocolate truffle cake. Now, I won't fault a restaurant for not having a pastry chef on staff when there are so many good ready-made options available to the commercial food industry. But I can fault Mie N Yu for not picking any of those good ready-made options! First of all, why is an Asian-inspired restaurant not only serving but _featuring_ tiramisu? The dessert that arrived managed to be overly dry, under-liquored and still frozen in the center. An utter disappointment. Meanwhile, the chocolate dessert was one of those ubiquitous molten-center chocolate cakes but this one was overcooked on the exterior so the edges were burnt. It's hard to screw up one of these pre-made babies, but the restaurant managed to do so.
I mentioned to our server that the tiramisu was still frozen; if they were going to continue serving that dessert for the rest of the evening, someone ought to let the other portions thaw out. He looked alarmed and hurried off to the kitchen but didn't mention it again.
I do give the designers credit for creating an interesting restroom. The basement space is co-ed, with individual stalls and an attendant who even turns on the water for each guest. (Personally I love the not-so-subtle encouragement to wash your hands). The basins are copper, with black river rocks in the base -- stylish. But don't do like I did and leave your purse at the table when you use the washroom: that attendant is very clearly looking for a tip.
Overall, service was timely and fairly attentive, although the person who took our order was different from the person who delivered each of the courses and there was too-little communication between the two. The overall noise level wasn't prohibitive. And that's about all the positive feedback I can offer from this initial introduction.
I'm sharing this review in case you were considering a trip to Mie N Yu this Restaurant Week. I wouldn't advise it. I might consider returning if I were to make a meal out of appetizers and salads, particularly if I were going with a group that wanted to sit at one of the cushion-filled banquettes.
But when the meal ended, I'd be sure to head out to M Street to Ben & Jerry's for dessert. Because unlike at Mie N Yu, I know I’d walk out of that experience with a sweet taste lingering in my mouth.
Up next: Notti Bianche. Any advice on dishes to embrace/avoid based on your most recent visit to that restaurant?