Saturday, March 31, 2007


Indian restaurants are great. Many have virtually identical menus (with minute transliteration variations); but variations between the dishes themselves can sometimes be extraordinary. My favorite litmus for any new Indian restaurant is the muttar paneer: homemade cottage cheese and green peas cooked in a spiced sauce. I have had tomato-cream-saffron sauces golden with turmeric. I've had sauces brown and lush with onion-coriander-cumin heat. Before tonight, we've been unable to find a better-than-average Indian restaurant within the District. The few times we've managed to even locate one the fare was mediocre or limited. Tonight, it was our plan to eat reportedly great sushi at a little upstairs place near the corner of I Street and nineteenth. We've had a hard time finding better-than-average sushi, too. Being fair: it's traditional sushi I'm talking about--there's plenty fancy little Asian fusion places around here. I typically enjoy these, but sometimes I yearn for a top-dollar, beautifully austere, perfect-simple-real refined Japanese meal, too, without dodging crank cocktails and craftily-named special frat rolls to do so. I was excited. Only, it seemed pretty touch-and-go as to whether we'd get a seat without reservations on a Friday: we were told we could wait a half-hour to discover, finally, whether we'd eventually get a table or not. Instead, we opted to try Aroma,* the half-empty Indian restaurant next door. Their matter paneer was exceptional: cooked in a creamy spicy tomato-onion-yogurt sauce. After dinner we wandered in a random, after-dinner way that took us to the shiny back slabs of the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial.* The wall is almost too much to contemplate. Stand too far away from it, and the names printed there begin to look like a pattern, maybe a texture, maybe dots. But nobody stands that far away from it. Everyone stands really close. [Cavin]

Then, a 0 sided conversation ensued...

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