Monday, June 13, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC: A Food Adventure at Komi

I'm a sucker for style, and for restaurants, I like the style of one that surprises me. Our first experience with a "no menu" menu was at Momofuku Ko in New York, a genius restaurant by David Chang. Tony and I reminisce often about the amazing shaved foie gras with riesling jelly. When I discovered Komi, (as always, thanks Chowhounders!), a restaurant featuring a multi-course meal with no printed menu, I decided this would be the right place for a special night out in DC. First, the challenge of getting a reservation. In truth, I'm not sure how hard it is, but Komi takes reservations starting one month in advance, Tuesday to Thursday between noon and 5pm....I was not about to risk not getting a reservation, so I called exactly one month in advance, the first chance I had. I would say that the phone was busy for a while, so I was relieved when someone picked up and I managed to get a reservation. Whew.

Komi is located in the Dupont Circle area, lined with restaurants and great vibe of the gay and lesbian community. We had a chance to walk around the area after and loved the young, lively neighbourhood. Komi itself is not flashy - we arrived to find a simple house, belying of the multitude of tastes ahead! You'll have to use your imagination through this tasting tour, as no pictures were allowed and I wouldn't have wanted to ruin the experience of other patrons in the dark, intimate setting.

After starting with a refreshing Japanese white beer, Kitachino Nest, we were ready to start our tasting menu, a diverse food adventure at Komi. We started with a number of small dishes making up the really big appetizer course, the mezzethakia:

House smoked trout roe with Greek yogurt on warm brioche - this was a one bite dish and the thing just exploded with taste in my mouth. This was probably one of the most memorable dishes we had all night...what a way to start!
Two sashimi style fish (I'm sure that's not what they called it but you get the point), South pacific king fish with green tomato, which was interestingly slightly salty and Scotland salmon.
Scallop 2 ways: sliced raw with cured crab roe served on the half shell, which was extremely clean, fresh and delicious (this was one of Tony's favourites of the night); the second serving of scallop I was not so fond of, diced with cilantro and coconut which was a bit too sticky and creamy.
Crispy purple artichoke with apricots and ailoi - a very interesting dish that probably looked better than it tasted. The concept was very good and unique, but the artichoke was a bit chewy and the aioli was overpowering.
One bite spanakopita with liquid center which literally burst with warmth and flavour in my mouth. I was really enjoying these one bite dishes! They were always great surprises.
Egg yolk ravioli with shaved smoked tuna, shaved truffle (real truffle!) and local asparagus. This was another very memorable dish for me, very tasty although the ravioli was just a tad thick. But don't get me wrong, we absolutely loved the flavours and left the dish sparkling! It was just so tasty.
Half smokes with tomato marmalade and pickle zucchini - essentially, a fancy spicy hot dog. The marmalade was like a relish, spicy, sweet and sour all at the same time. It was just PERFECT. I definitely could have eaten a full size Komi dog :) This was another of my favourites for the night.
Foie gras with pickled chantrelle mushrooms, pickled vegetables with a green pea puree. We normally love anything foie gras, but the other flavours were over-powering. This dish was sadly, a bit disappointing...
Oven roast date with stuffed marscapone topped with fleur de sel - was very warm and sweet. I don't care much for dates normally but I found this dish to be quite exciting - perfect warm temperature for the blend of flavours and texture.

Well if you can imagine that we had any room and taste buds left for more dishes, we moved on to a heartier pasta, a tagliatele with salt caper berries flash fried (we loved these), and current with pine nuts in a tomato sauce. Not much needs to be said for fresh, simple pasta. And the star of the show was goat shoulder, served family style for sharing! Imagine a simple, giant slab of meat, and that is exactly what was served before us - forget all the intricate, small dishes we had before, this was straight up meat. You can also only imagine my excitement to be served something as unique as tender goat shoulder, and a selection of sauces to accompany: fresh tzaziki, this was incredible and probably some of the best tzatziki I've had; pepper mustard, a smooth hot kick; lemon salt, least used by Tony and I but certainly was very complimentary with the goat meat; hot pepper, which was a bit too fiery for me. I really enjoyed the meat, I would likely most closely to beef brisket. It was very satisfying, although I was too full to have too much (just enough to try it "bare" and with all the sauces). Good thing I had a hungry husband so as not to waste any food!

And yes, there was dessert to finish, and never just ONE, but a selection:
Cheese course with lemons, a simple dish to almost cleanse the pallet.
Rolo with cardamom - I did not know what cardamom was before, so this was a unique chocolate treat!
Ginger snaps and ginger beer sorbet - this was very refreshing with great ginger flavour.
Greek donuts with cream and blueberries - the donuts reminded me of these Chinese donuts I like, which are sugary, fluffy and light. The cream was also light and the blueberries tasty. This dessert was my favourite.
Ginger lollipop - our parting gift, but I was simply overloaded with flavours and tastes I could not fathom a lollipop on top!

We had a great time at Komi and would certainly recommend it to anyone planning to visit DC and looking for a unique tasting experience or to celebrate a special occasion (there were a lot of birthdays!). We liked some dishes more than others, but that was really part of the fun, to taste and try things out of the ordinary - we felt the Greek influences in ways we never imagined and really enjoyed it. It was also a treat to have the chef and owner himself, Johnny Monis, serve us some of the dishes. We appreciated the extra personal touch, even if the did it slyly...you never would have known he was the chef if you didn't recognize his picture from the website :)

Komi
1509 17th Street (between P and Q streets), Washington, DC
202-332-9200

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