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Teaism Penn Quarter Report

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I had a meeting there and didn't have to time to eat beforehand, so I did the natural thing and ordered a salmon bento box. I have had the same at the Dupont Circle location years ago and while I don't remember the fine details, I do recall the meal being a pleasant affair. Not so this time at Penn Quarter. $10 bought me a bento with two mounds of white rice with a heavy sprinkling of Japanese rice seaweed rice seasoning, lightly pickled baby cucumbers, a heaping of edamame, and a small piece of COLD salmon with teriyaki sauce. COLD, not chilled, lukewarm or room temp, but COLD as if not completely defrosted.

I am one who has never complained about airline food. There goes Teaism with CakeLove, local high profile brands delivering mediocre eats. Someone might counter with great experience with the same box but *consistency* is a major component of professional food service.

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  1. I don't like it either, I could put that in the I'm in the monority thread. I had a chicken one and everything had sweet eavy sauce and just wasn't good. They did have really good rice pudding though.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ktmoomau

      The best of the bento boxes that I've had are:
      The fried chicken - light panko crust
      The tandoori chicken - this is their best meal imo - but it's usually a "special" and not on their everyday menu.

      I've found them to bit hit and miss as well.

    2. Often the edamame is partially frozen too. Not to mention times when the salmon has seemed a bit off. The salmon bento used to be my favorite, but lately I've been ordering the veggie burger, which is cooked when you order and therefore much better.

      I've experienced similar problems repeatedly at the PQ Teaism. It used to be consistently good, but has slipped in recent years.

      1. I have to say I like their noodle soups and their ice teas. And that's it. With exception of the noodle soups, almost everything I've had at the Penn Quarter and Dupont Teaism's were pretty much underseasoned to my tastebuds. Count me in as someone who just doesn't get why they are so popular. I also don't like how they don't roast the kim/nori/seaweed laver that they include in their bento boxes.

        Unroasted seaweed is only good when it's crushed up and used as a garnish in soup. It's not difficult to roast seaweed. All you need is an open flame, sesame oil and salt. Lightly brush the kim with sesame oil, hold it over an open flame and then lightly sprinkle salt on it.

        4 Replies
        1. re: botnot

          I think a large part of their popularity is probably due to the very reasonable prices for the area. It's also fast if you're going to see a movie or play nearby. The last 2 times I was there I had the Thai Chicken Curry which was very good, and the Palak Paneer which the menu says is made with "homemade cheese". While the spinach and the spicing were good, the paneer was very strange. It had no taste and was much firmer than any paneer I've had in an Indian restaurant. I was wondering if it was tofu, though it was too firm for that as well.

          1. re: botnot

            To me, the draw of Teaism is the accessible sanctuary it provides for reading or being friends or alone with thoughts.

            Ahh, something didn't feel right about the seaweed, but since I seldom seldom have it that way over rice, I couldn't pin down the lack of roasting. For a kitchen that can't be bothered to warm or cook salmon, roasting nori for the rice is a big stretch.

            1. re: Minger

              i've only had lunch food there once and i liked it...i REALLY like their cilantro scrambled eggs and the salty oat cookies. The tea is wonderful, and the one time i had the edamame, i liked it fine and it wasn't frozen (this was at the Penn Q location). Oh yeah and they were out of the coconut pudding or whatever it is once and they almost forced us to get the jasmine creme brulee...sounded weird but tasted great...

              1. re: DCDOLL

                i was gonna say, the salty oat cookies are delish... but they don't come out of the kitchen. the positive side of this thread is that i will make an effort to find and try the yummier things on the menu.