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Rasika?

Is Rasika really that good? The reviews look are great but the pictures look pretty Americanized.

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  1. It is really that great...in fact I think it is one of the best restaurants in DC. If you are used to your Mom's Indian cooking than yes this might seem different. But what this really is is gourmet modern Indian cuisine. I sometimes describe it as Indian cuisine with French technique.

    You should certainly check it out though.

    1. It's great. I was also skeptical. My recommendation is to order anything that seems especially creative or modern. The more traditional dishes - curries and stuff like that are still delicious, but are pretty expensive and not that much better than what you'll find at other Indian places around town. Rasika really shines when you branch out from what you'd find at other Indian restaurants.

      1. What do you mean by "that good"?

        In other words, what are you expecting from Rasika?

        That will go a long way to determining whether it is "that good" for you.

        1. DO believe the hype, but (if I interpret the other's comments right and if so I agree) don't order the 'safe' dishes you know. JUMP!

          it may LOOK like what you find somewhere, but it doesn't taste like that.

          lotsa recommendations of dishes here and in the MSM (WaPo) so read and trust them. don't go looking for some old Biryani (unless it's on special)

          1. I've only been to Rasika West End. (Some people say that location is even better.)

            I am also a huge skeptic about Indian restaurant food, especially typical Americanized Mughlai-Punjabi food or Indian food made with an attempt to be "upscale" with the result that everything tastes oddly creamy and sweet.

            The food at Rasika is well made and very delicious. Some dishes are Westernized or East-West fusion, but I am fine with that. The dishes don't taste like home cooked Indian food, but like well made restaurant style Indian food. None of the overly oily and overly spicy stuff at a bad "authentic" Indian restaurant, and none of the creamy bisque sauces at the Americanized restaurants. Just nice food in an upscale atmosphere with very good service.

            9 Replies
              1. re: Steve

                Paalak chaat is excellent as a starter. If you are in a large group, get several orders of this.

                Daal dhungaree is a basic daal makhni recipe perfumed with a smoking coal. The smokey flavor just puts this daal over the top, it's extremely delicious---a must-try.

                The dum biryani (lamb) was excellent. It was real dum biryani---cooked meat-gravy layered with parboiled rice and sealed "on dum" to finish the cooking process. It's spiced like proper N. Indian style biryani without a lot chile heat (probably still spicy for people who don't eat chile) but with great brown fried onion flavor and garam masala fragrance. And it was moist.

                We ordered a bread basket and I recall enjoying all the samples of flat breads that came with it.

                I've enjoyed everything I've tried there except for the Khatta Meetha Black Cod, which I wouldn't recommend just because I found it unimpressive.

                Some of the dishes came with quinoa pullao instead of the typical white rice or zeera rice on the side, an example of the East-West fusion. A lot of Indian home cooks experiment with quinoa pullao, quinoa upma, quinoa kheer, etc., so it isn't like some far out there radical thing, but it is still an interesting item to be served in a restaurant. I can't remember what dish it was which came with that, so that would be something to inquire about.

                1. re: luckyfatima

                  I agree about the black cod, uninteresting. Good to hear you enjoyed the rest. I am taking copious notes.

                  1. re: luckyfatima

                    ok I retract my comment about biryani and substitute 'it won't be your typical biryani'

                    funny the black cod gets low marks, never had it but gets so many raves in some quarters.

                    if it's a splurge night go for for the tasting menu (2 orders will satisfy 3) but know while the vegetarian is just that, the non-vegetarian will also include some of the vegetarian dishes. both good but with hindsight, the next time we ordered the non-V and a few V sides (somehow I've only been with visitors from out of town and it's just such a great place for that)

                    1. re: luckyfatima

                      luckyfatima, isn't "real" dum biryani made with kachi gosht, not "cooked" gosht?

                      1. re: bmorecupcake

                        That's kacchi biryani, special to the city of Hyderabad, which is also sealed by dumming it. Other regional biryanis tend to be pakki (cooked gravy) but are properly cooked on dum. I was contrasting real with fake since many restaurants have a pot of orange sauce which they use , then adding your protein of choice (or add veg) and layering it with cooked rice when you order it, instead of making a giant pot of dum biryani with 3/4 cooked rice the traditional way.

                        1. re: luckyfatima

                          Living with and around Hyderabadis, I've been brainwashed that kacchi gosht ki biryani is the only true biryani. Personally, I can never get it right so I use cooked masala and then dum, but don't tell anyone please. ;)

                          I always wondered how Indian/Pakistani restaurants make, say, eight different biryanis to order. Thanks for the insight.

                          1. re: bmorecupcake

                            My Pakistani born husband has roots in U.P. and specifically Lucknow, but some how a lot of his paternal uncles married Hydro born Pakistani women (except one who married someone from Meerut), and all of his Indian and Indian-American family members have married people from Hyderabad and the Indian side of the family mostly all now live there, so his family is about half Hyderabadi. This has caused inner family food rivalries between the Lucknow wallahs (pakki biryani!) vs the Hydros, some of which are absolutely amusing to witness, and involve bitterly relayed anecdotes over slights about food issues. For example, my husband's Mamoo (Lucknow born) and Momaani (Hydro woman) live in Hyderabad, and whenever my MIL's brother (the Mamoo) come to visit her, she makes a huge deal about cooking "all of the best foods which he must miss so dearly" in that culinary desert of curry leaves, mushy vegetables, and excessively spicy and sour gravies that is her impression of Hydro cuisine, as Hydro food is more aggressively seasoned, and Lucknow food is more perfumey and delicate. Momaani politely lets her nand indulge, but always talks on about the gloriousness of Hydro cuisine, and how U.P. wallah's make X this way, but we make it inherently better. I just take advantage of this by trying dishes cooked both ways, being a foodie. (My fave biryani is actually Sindhi biryani, which is also a pakki biryani.) But "kacchi biryani is the only true biryani," thems fightin words for some people.

                            1. re: luckyfatima

                              Thanks for sharing your experiences! We have lots of little Punjabi-Hydro-Guju hybrids running around now. I wonder what their food will look like. Sadly, the recent trend among all my Gujrati and most of my Hyderabadi friends and family is to shift toward Punjabi, "North Indian" style food. I used to look forward to all the different Gujrati dishes when invited for dinner, but those are long gone. The reasons are usually "kids these days won't eat it" and "it's so much work for something Pakistanis won't eat." You're fortunate to have relatives living in India.

                              I still remember coming home one day from a dinner at our Hyderabadi friends' place and asking my mother why we don't tarka our dahi baray. She still laughs about it till this day. Most Punjabis I know find the concept silly. More for me, I guess.

                              I just met someone from Delhi the other day who professed her hometown's biryani is the original biryani. And it's a yakhni biryani. "What?! Isn't that a pilau?", I asked. Apparently not. So many biryanis, so little time.

                2. I'm definitely a minority of opinion, but I didn't love my experience at Rasika (I did find it quite good, however).

                  If you're set on dining there, I would suggest going for lunch; ordering the palak chaat (it really is worth the hype); and whatever else strikes your fancy.

                  1. I'm also in the minority in my opinion on Rasika West End, but the one time I went, I was really unimpressed. My biggest issue was that everything was really quite bland, especially for Indian food. Also, both the lamb and fish curry dish featured dry, overcooked meat. Although not Indian, it's arguably my favorite cuisine, and I've cooked my way through the majority of half a dozen Indian cookbooks. All I kept thinking when eating my meal, and sampling my dining companions dishes, was, "I've cooked dozens upon dozen of better dishes than this...and for less money!" Sadly, I also felt similarly about the cocktails.