Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Oya (Washington Restaurant Week)

I finally caught up with my Washington Restaurant Week excursion, and as I said earlier I had to visit a place that carried the deal out through January. That place was Oya. This was such a fabulous restaurant, and I think i am going to visit this place again soon. It's certainly better than the sh*t they pass off as "food" in the overpriced cafés at the Museum of Natural History (mind you, the Mitsitam Café in the Museum of the American Indian is tasty enough for museum food, if grossly overpriced). The eating is the one and only thing to avoid at the NMNH.

I got to DC from College Park (NB: DC Metro parking is free on federal holidays - remember that on the next Martin Luther King Birthday!). Taking the Green Line in from College Park got me to the Archives, actually quite close to where I needed to be (eight blocks of walking is nothing for me, even in 10 degree weather). So I stopped in the National Gallery of Art (West Wing), where I lost my Ravens hat (stupid Ravens), meandered past a little Korean woman selling winter hats, and then through the Sculpture Garden. After a brief detour through the Natural History Museum I made it up 9th Street. This took me right past the American Art Museum, which I have never visited (damn stupid Ravens).

I got to Oya about 15 minutes early for my reservation. That was alright. In fact, I didn't even need a reservation, as the place was not full up at all.

A note about the décor here: it's gorgeous, all white marble and clean cut lines mixed in with shimmering columns of shiny circles of things, waterfalls and one of the nicer restrooms I have seen in a DC eating establishment (the toilet is not a stall at all, but a totally enclosed little room). I loved the service about as much as the scenery. As busy as the servers were, they constantly were stopping by to ask how things were. They seemed like they didn't know how to respond when I said "Thank you" whenever they refilled my water. Am I not supposed to do this?

As for the food: even though their Restaurant Week lunch prices end this month, you can still construct a $20 lunch here (minus drinks). Their Hako Executive Lunch features various types of sushi and sashimi, plus your choice of shrimp tempura, spicy crunchy salmon or the tuna tempura roll, and a mini banana bread pudding - all for $20 (literally 8 cents cheaper than the Restaurant Week menu, but one can find that in one's couch).

For my Restaurant Week experience, here's what I got:

  • For my first course, the same tuna tempura roll. I ordered it, went to the restroom and five minutes later it was waiting for me when I came back. It was a nori-wrapped roll covered in a tempura batter, so wonderfully crunchy on the outside with slightly cooked tuna inside the rice. It came with a seven pepper sauce and was sprinkled with scallions. I liked this roll.

  • For the main course, I ordered the tilapia, which came on a bed of intensely buttery and almost caramelly soft potato rösti, haricot verts (mmmm, green beans) and all covered in a red wine and shallot vinaigrette. I loved the mellow and none-too-fishy tilapia, which came in two medallion portions one on top of the other, but the potato was still my favorite part of this course. Did I mention that the food was actually hot?

  • The last course was the dessert, a banana bread pudding with little shavings of coconut inside (you can ask for it without), rum raisin ice cream, and banana quarters topped with a caramelized sugar coating. The bread pudding was nice and warm, and very rich.
Along with this, I ordered a limeade (about $4) with lunch and an espresso (around $5) with dessert. I originally passed up the espresso but I got up early and was already yawning by midday, and not for lack of stimuli. After tax and tip the grand total came to $35. I walked out thinking "Some Restaurant Week savings" but nobody strong-armed me into ordering those drinks - I could've been just fine with tap water. Still it was a lot cheaper than it would have been had I ordered the same things a la carte (the tuna tempura roll alone costs $12; add the tilapia for $14 and bread pudding for $10 and you're out 36 bucks, well before you get thirsty).

So I have a reason to wander far beyond the Mall and Adams Morgan for a good meal. Mind you, there is many a good meal to be had in Adams Morgan (not so much on the Mall). But next time I'm in town I need to wander back to Oya. Then again, there was that Spy Museum that had those tasty sounding hot dogs...

BTW: I will have the rest of my DC photos up on Flickr soon enough. I've got some photos of the Air & Space Museum, Natural History and National Gallery of Art, as well as some candid photos around town and what little is on display from the closed-for-renovations American History Museum. All that's coming soon.

Other photos of Oya:

The moment of truth has arrived. I am about to enter, but I just want to get one little photo before I do that.

A little blurry, but at least it shows you what's there. The reception area is through that opening.

Have I really become that weird guy that takes photos of empty bathrooms? (At least I wait until it's empty.) Nice and clean - a truly not-gross experience. Maybe I should put bamboo in my own bathroom?

The restaurant was actually quite bright, so it looks much darker than it could possibly ever have been at 1 in the afternoon. Still, I like the picture.

I really did like Oya. I will have to go ba... wait, what's this place?

Oya Restaurant & Lounge on Urbanspoon


jmc said...

Your lunch looks fabulous. I'm planning on having lunch at Oya next week (hooray for the extended RW menu) and am now very much looking forward to it!

John said...

Oh it was! Glad you're looking forward to it now. Remember: for each course of the prix fixe menu they offer several choices, so yours could look completely different from mine, or exactly the same.

Ms. Cute Goth Kitty said...

Just happened across your blog when I was looking for some restaurant reviews. Great stuff! That bread pudding looks amazing, and I don't even care for BP that much!

John said...

Thanks! Is it just me, or all the shee-shee restaurants starting to do bread pudding a lot?