Shrub District – Blueberry-Basil
Onsen Tamago – 63° Egg, Paitan Broth, Parmesan Crisp, Sesame Scallion, Truffle Butter
Uni Toast – Buttered Brioche, Uni, Hackleback Caviar, Alabama White Sauce
Sapidus Farm Oysters – Cornmeal Fried, Chili-Kosho, Lemon Crema, Garlic Spinach Puree, Fermented Spinach Powder
Hamachi – Yellowtail, Fish Sauce Vinaigrette, Thai Chili, Orange, Tobiko
Akami – Bigeye Tuna, Ginger-Scallion, Crispy Fried Shallots
Masaba – Mackerel, Parsley Tarragon Puree, Plum, Pickled Shallots, Crispy Quinoa
Aka Dormau Dai – Crispy Skin Red Drum, Roasted Mushrooms, Charred Negi, Tomato Lemongrass Broth
Kare Ebi – Gulf Coast Shrimp, Uni, Thai-inspired Green Curry, Pea Leaves, Trout Roe
Dark Chocolate – Pistachios
At this point the most accessible of The DMV’s “No Reservations” Restaurants, though that may soon change thanks to local and national press calling it one of the year’s Best, it was just days before Himitsu’s first anniversary that a party of three sat down for dinner, the white building in Petworth benefitting by a surprisingly warm day which allowed them to seat diners both outside and within the small space.
Owned and operated by Chef Kevin Tien and Carlie Steiner, the 26 year old Beverage Director who cheerfully greeted guests at the door on this particular night, Himitsu is described as a “Japanese-inspired Restaurant” that also borrows from Latin America and Southeast Asia for influence, the flavor pairings bold an unique with a small-plates menu that evolves as seasons and sourcing dictates.
Sporting only 24-seats including banquets and chairs, a wide-open kitchen and windows overlooking the Patio the only forms of visual stimulation save for the food, it is shortly after seating that guests are greeted by affable service happy to explain both cocktails and foreign ingredients, Tien’s Asian-by-way-of-Louisiana background frequently seeing his kitchen serve dishes pairing elements of each, his Peking Duck with Buttermilk Biscuits unfortunately not available on this day but the offerings still enticing and diverse.
Celebrated as much for the Cocktail and Wine menu as the food, tablemates selecting two Drinks that they appeared to love both solo and in relation to the Food, it was with a lightly fizzy Shrub clearing the palate between bites that dinner started off with bowls of Soup placing a sous-vide Egg in creamy broth fortified by Truffle Butter, the Parmesan Crisp giving the whole thing a sort of “Egg Drop Soup” flavor that prepared the palate nicely for slices of Brioche topped with Sea Urchin, Hot Sauce and a tiny garnish of Caviar.
Moving next to Fried Oysters, the Cornmeal Breading certainly not Japanese but fiery Chili-Kosho and pickled flavors unmistakably the focus of the plate aside from the briny center, it was in follow-up to this that three selections from the menu’s “Raw Plates” would arrive, the Bigeye Tuna a modest disappointment as Scallions overwhelmed Fish while the Hamachi with salt, sour and heat as well as the oily Mackerel with Fruit, Tarragon and crispy textural contrasts were both great.
Passing on the large-format “Benihana” Beef but happy to take a look at more Fish, Kevin’s Southern roots again seen by way of Red Drum lent a lot of flavor by burnt Onions and Lemongrass, it would be hard to say whether the aforementioned Egg, Mackerel or “Kare Ebi” were the night’s best item, the later featuring three sizable Shrimp charred with Head on atop a tangle of Greens swimming in Green Curry.
Quiet enough for conversation but still lively, the music and kitchen noise barely noticeable despite close confines, it was with no Dessert menu offered that the check arrived along with three pieces of Chocolate topped in pulverized Pistachios, the price appropriate for the product served and Chef Tien making a good impression on all by doing something familiar in terms of “fusion” but also speaking with a voice that is very distinct.