Wednesday, March 17, 2010

D-Day: The Invasion of Komi

D-Day, aka Degustazione-Day. Just as the Allied Troops stormed the beaches of Normandy in the largest invasion force in human history, I went about yesterday with the rigorous determination and systematic approach of a trained soldier. The mission was Komi, and I had a battleplan. I ate lunch at 1pm and forced myself not to snack on anything for the next 8 hours. I drank filtered water all day. I took good allergy medicine to clear up my sinuses so I can smell and taste my food. In other words, I was ready to obliterate the food.

I got to DC’s house around 2040h, and it was nice to see him just as excited about dinner as I was. Because Komi sits in a busy Dupont neighbourhood that houses a number of businesses, parking has the potential to be an issue during peak mealtimes, but with a 9pm dinner reservation, there were spots galore. The restaurant does not have valet, so for those expecting this at the number one restaurant in DC, sorry! Better collect quarters now! The entrance to the restaurant was unassuming and not flashy, except for the giant K-O-M-I letters on the front. DC and I walked in and were greeted warmly by the staff. As I have read, the restaurant is small and intimate, maybe with a seating capacity of 60. This is probably why I was told that photographing the food was not allowed; the flash would disturb the other diners, since everyone is in such close quarters. It was also dimly lit, with single votives on each table. DC got a little nervous about this, since I have threatened him with fiery bodily harm many times before. Hah! Don't worry, I'll play nice since you invited me to dinner.

Our main server was polite and attentive, and without any pretense, explained how the menu worked. He even managed to overhear my whispered, off-hand mention of a possible pomegranate allergy (or was it to Hpnotiq?), and assured me that substitutions would be made. Wow, dude had supersonic hearing! Do all the people who work at Komi possess superpowers or something?

Beforehand, DC and I had already discussed that we would get the Degustazione, the Chef's tasting menu. With it, we would get a progression of small dishes, going from light to robust, then the pasta course, the main meat course, the cheese course, and finally, dessert. Food decisions were going to be made for us, and I was more than happy to relinquish the job to such an accomplished chef. We sat back, and eagerly waited for the first dish to appear.

How I wish Komi had written descriptions or at least allowed me to take photos, because I wanted to remember everything we ate! Each mezze was truly like a visual work of art: simple, artistic, beautiful. And don’t even get me started on how awesome everything tasted! DC and I were making such ridiculous sounds at our table you would have thought there was some R-rated action going on! A few times I did feel slightly hurried, with the servers rapidly switching out the empty plates for new ones, but my stomach did not mind. In fact, I think it grumbled, "Bring it on!". Over the course of the evening, DC and I made a bet as to how many total mezze there would be. He said I couldn’t pull a The Price Is Right-move, by just guessing 1. Fine, with you and your rules! I said a dozen and he guessed about 24. Of course, I won. DC, please pay close attention to the knots around my shoulder blades, thanks!

It was surprising how full we got with such little plates. By the end of the night, I was requesting that a bulldozer haul me back to the car. Those dozen plus dishes completely creeped up on us. Alleluia, for Lycra and Spandex!

Here are the food highlights, with some pictures:

Amberjack crudo, with smoked turbot broth, olive oil, chive, sea salt? Love. So fresh. Simplicity at its best.

Scallop crudo with grainy mustard topped with slices of black truffles? Like. The scallop was perfect, though I found the grainy mustard too overpowering and pretty much gave no point for the truffles. C'est dommage. 

Mini pork belly sandwiches? Love. No wonder it is the ingredient de rigeur these days! Pork belly is just so delish.

Grilled octopus with braised brussel sprouts? Love. Not a fan of sprouts, but braising them imparted a smoky, almost caramelized flavour. The octopus was cooked well and not at all chewy.

Roasted date with mascarpone and fleur de sel? Love. A bit much on the sea salt, but the oozing mascarpone more than made up for it.

Mini brioche buns topped with Meyer lemon Greek yogurt, salmon roe and chive? Love! We said we’ll attempt to recreate this. Um, right.

Katsikaki for two, homemade pita bread, and condiments? Love! The house's specialty: baby goat shoulder. The meat was so tender, it was literally falling off the bone. The skin was crunchy, yet not greasy. If you want to hear DC make dirty, dirty sounds, feed him this!
Ouzo ice cream? Like. I’m a huge fan of the anise flavour, but this is where some sea salt would have tempered the super-sweet taste.

Thanks to my resourcefulness and my secret connection (thanks David B. from and Anne from Komi!), I managed to get picture proof of the food! Surely you did not expect me to go through D-Day and not get any kind of intel, did you? Feel free to drool.

In the end, with the right amount of research, prep, anticipation and excitement, DC and I managed to survive Degustazione-Day. The only casualties? The awesome food at Komi. And with this, I say R.I.P.

Komi Restaurant
1509 17th Street NW
Washington, DC   20036
Komi on Urbanspoon


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