Warning, the first: This is a really long restaurant recap. I know people skim over these most of the time, but when you have the meal that I’m about to write about, you have to ramble on about it for 2000+ words. Sorry.
Warning, the second: Not vegetarian friendly.
As a person who is literally obsessed with food and eating it, I have had many a wonderful dining experience.
I’ve eaten at fancy places with creative culinary concoctions, world-famous eateries known for their foods, food trucks, wine dinners, beer dinners, cooking demonstrations – you name it and chances are that I’ve done it.
I am more likely to spend money I don’t have on food than any other thing, even shoes.
So, when Mr. T asked me if I’d rather go shopping for my Christmas/birthday gift (his was a hotel room in Vegas) or go to the #1 restaurant in D.C. (as rated by the Washingtonian this year and several previous) you can go ahead and guess what I chose.
Last Saturday night, I got to cash in my gift at Komi in Dupont Circle.
Komi is located in a rowhouse in a discreet part of D.C. that is hard to find if you’re not looking for it. They specialize in extremely innovative cuisine, offering a 12+ course pre fixe dinner.
The standout hospitality of Komi started as soon as we walked in the door. Our coats were taken, we were seated immediately, and Kat Bangs – the adorable sommelier in a chic vintage dress I coveted all night long – arrived promptly to assist us with our drink orders.
We decided to go with a Greek viognier, after receiving complimentary tastes to ensure we liked it. I picked this wine on my own, and later learned that the restaurant liked it so much they bought out the vineyard. This, of course, means I’m a wine expert now. It was reasonably priced, around $40 and was light enough to go with the first several courses we were served.
The reason I’ve had to wait so long to write this review is that I’ve been waiting for the list of dishes we ate to arrive in the mail. There were so many, and they were all so unique and exquisite, that I couldn’t remember everything properly.
Pictures are not allowed at Komi, but even if they had been, I wouldn’t have taken any. Mr. T and I were in a lovers/foodie paradise and had the most incredible time tasting, talking and drinking that I wasn’t thinking of anything that was going on outside the perimeter of our table, specifically beyond what was going on in my mouth.
Komi seems to want to keep their flavors a surprise for newcomers, so even the list they sent isn’t very descriptive. I can understand why they do this, because as hard as I’m going to try to tell you how amazing the food was I know I will do it no justice.
I’m not even going to wait until the end of this to tell you that if you ever have a chance to eat at Komi, do it. Even if it means eating ramen for the next two weeks. It’s that special.
The way Komi works, is that they bring you several small, light dishes at first – featuring mostly raw fish, building up to the main course, and then going back to small dishes with several desserts. It is not for the faint of heart. You have to be willing to try new things, and eat past the point of uncomfortable satiety to prevail.
Okay, so here’s the breakdown of our dishes:
Salt Cod Puffs – When we were presented with the description of these, I began to worry that I had perhaps gotten in over my head. I like seafood, but I’m not an adventurous seafood eater. However, knowing what the meal was going to cost and that I’d probably never have better salt cod puffs in my life, I threw it down the hatch. This is when the love affair began. I can’t even explain the flavors, but they were just powerful enough as to ignite my taste buds to prepare me for the rest of the meal. I was intrigued.
Madai: So this was some sort of fish jelly, and sadly, the only dish of the night I didn’t like. Throughout the course of explaining the dish to us, I missed the part warning me that it was jellied fish and only heard things about honeycrisp apples and other lovely things, so I was a bit surprised by the taste. Mr. T ate my portion and seemed to enjoy it.
Scallop: This scallop was served sashimi style, meaning raw. I’m sure it was “cooked” in acid or something, but I really couldn’t tell you. It was pounded thin to where it almost looked like a sheet of paper. I was dubious, especially after the fish jelly, but again resolved to try all the things. I say this a lot, but I assure you this was the best bite of food I’ve ever eaten in my entire life. Ever. Mr. T said that he always hated the phrase “orgasm in my mouth” (as do I) but that there was no other way to describe this scallop. And, he was right.
Sea urchin: This was served alongside the scallop, and because I was so enamored with its predecessor, this one kind of got overshadowed. I just remember being impressed with myself for eating sea urchin. Urchin isn’t a very appealing word.
Shrimp/Pear: At the beginning of the meal, I was asked if I had any dietary restrictions or if there were any foods I didn’t want to eat. I mentioned that I don’t care for shrimp, so while Mr. T was served a shrimp dish I was given a pear creation instead. At the table behind us, a patron had requested an all vegetarian dinner, and I was impressed that they were able to accommodate. I’m sure the pear dish I was served was part of the vegetarian menu, and it was very good. The flavors combined to taste like barbecue sauce, which doesn’t sound as good as it was. Mr. T said his shrimp was almost as good as the scallop, but I didn’t believe him, only because I hate shrimp.
Trout Roe: So, I like fish eggs. A lot. This is something I never would have tried, ever ever, unless in this environment – but I’m so glad I did. I believe it was actually served with raw tuna, with the roe on top. It tasted like bacon. I don’t even like bacon. So yeah, nothing about me liking this makes sense – but that’s just how good Komi is.
Spanikopita Bites: Little warm puffs of spinach and cheese pastry lightly breaded and fried(?) to perfection. My former vegetarian/more normal food loving side really appreciated this one.
Vitello: I must have been wrong when I mentioned the tuna earlier, because I’m pretty sure it was in this dish which was a carpaccio type creation with both tuna and veal. I rarely eat veal, but I did it here, and it was good.
Foie Gras: While we were getting pre-dinner drinks, I asked Mr. T what he thought would be the weirdest thing we’d eat that night. I said I was pretty certain we’d have foie gras, which has always been a fear food of mine. Duck liver just doesn’t sound delicious, regardless of how much it costs. And here it was, but just saying foie gras is insufficient. This was actually a deconstructed gyro, with the foie gras, lamb, and other components I can’t recall that, when eaten all at once, tasted exactly like a gyro. So good.
Half Smoke: A hot dog! Okay, not really, a smoked sausage. One of the awesome things about Komi was that as soon as you thought you were adjusting to one kind of flavor experience or weird food mixture, they’d surprise you with something completely different. The half smoke was perfectly cooked, served on a crusty bun and topped with cabbage. It was a way more delicious version of something you’d find at any football tailgate, and made me feel comfortable and nostalgic.
Mascarpone Stuffed Salted Dates: Do I really have to convince you guys that these were drop dead amazing? No? Well, I will anyway. There are two kinds of people when it comes to dates – those who are obsessed with them (mostly health bloggers, I would say) and those who have never heard of them. That’s kind of a lie, because I don’t fall into either of those categories, but I still think I have a point. Anyways, I knew they were good and kind of like them a lot and Mr. T had never heard of them. We both talked about them for at least three days afterward. The waiter said they were to cleanse our palette and prepare us for the upcoming main course, but they really just made me want 50 more just like them. The dates seemed to have been boiled or baked to soften them, then rolled in sea salt and stuffed with glorious mascarpone. Second to the scallop mentioned above, this was the best thing I’ve ever eaten in my life.
Gnocchi: I’m typically pretty picky when it comes to gnocchi. It’s usually either too crumbly, or too gummy, or too mushy. It’s hard to get it right. This was a potato gnocchi with rabbit ragout and it was a standout. We were starting to get a little tipsy on the wine at this point, but still stopped to marvel at how good the rabbit (sorry vegetarians!) tasted. I’ve only had rabbit once before on a charcuterie plate at Lyon Hall and it was awful. Like, I gag just thinking about it awful. But this was amazing. If I wouldn’t have known it was rabbit, I couldn’t have told you as much.
Katsikaki: THE MAIN EVENT. Roasted goat shoulder served on the bone, with pita, meyer lemon sea salt, charred onion relish, pickled peppers, tzaziki, and beet salad. Goat shoulder is my new favorite meat. I’ll probably never eat it again (where can you find goat shoulder?) but it was so succulent and tender, a lot like brisket, but better. And all the accoutrements were just outstanding – particularly the peppers and the beet salad. If you put it all atop a pita it made a fabulous sandwich. As lovey dovey as Mr. T and I were during this meal (nothing spurs great conversation like awesome food and wine), I wanted to stab his hand with my fork and eat this all for myself. I couldn’t, because I was too full and he was paying, but I wanted to.
Butterscotch Pudding: Then came the desserts, served with a complimentary dessert wine that escapes my memory. I was so full at this point that my level of enjoyment went down a notch. I’m also not a huge dessert person. However, the butterscotch pudding was terrific. I am sure there was some fanciness added to it, but that escapes me as well.
Date Cake: The date cake was topped with a Greek yogurt gelato. Mr. T liked the cake, but not the gelato. I liked the gelato, but not the cake. This wasn’t our favorite, but still good.
Peanut Butter Caramel Truffle: Beyond good. I had a nibble and took the other half home because it was too good to give to Mr. T.
Beeswax Milk Chocolate: Same as above.
Cardamom Truffles: These were my birthday gift from the restaurant, and I saved them for later, but they were wonderful. Just the right amount of spice from the cardamom to make them interesting, without going so far as to be unpalatable.
Salted Pineapple Lollipop: These are given at the end of the meal to take home. Such a cute way to top off the evening.
From the first dish to the lollipop, we received the best service I can recall ever receiving. The wait staff was incredibly knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the food (we got different servers for most of the dishes), our water glasses and our wine glasses were always full and we just felt incredibly welcome and at home at Komi.
Wow, that was even longer than I thought. Some things just cannot be said quickly.
In summary, this was the best meal of my life. Do whatever you can to eat here.
Would you have tried all of these dishes? I always thought I would never try foie gras, but it was a much better experience than I had anticipated.