DCFoodies.com

The Politics of Dining

Supporter's Links

Follow/Subscribe

Search

Favorites

Recent Posts

Recent Comments

Archives

Subscribe

XML

« Food, Film, and Friendship, Italian Style | Main | I'm Not One to Boast »

Thu, Jun 21 2007 at 09:07 PM

Komi - Oh how I missed you!

Posted by Jason, Jun 21, 2007

"Jason, Are you ok? Are you crying? " Heather asked.

(pause)

"Yes, perfect. This is just SO amazing!!"

(flashback four days earlier...)

When I found out that our babysitter Heather was leaving town permanently and had NEVER been to Komi, I insisted that she let us take her as a going away present. It's my favorite place to eat, anywhere, and I just couldn't bear for her to leave town without eating there. My motivation might have been a tad selfish, because I was looking for an excuse to return to Komi, but regardless she obliged and let us take her.

Given Komi's recent press (with Johnny being in the upcoming July issue of Food and Wine's Best New Chefs 2007), I would've expected to have had to call further ahead to get a reservation, but I only had to call a few days in advance. Granted, we were going on a Tuesday, but I still expected to be turned down because of my usual lack of planning.

In preparation the day of the dinner, I didn't eat all day. I never eat breakfast anyway and I skipped lunch completely. I had a late meeting at work and traffic getting into DC from out in Reston was a nightmare so we were running very late. I've never actually had to drive to Komi. Up until our recent move, it's been a quick 10 minute cab ride away, but now it's a 20 minute drive for us. Luckily, our reservation was early, and Komi doesn't overbook their tables, otherwise we would've been hard pressed for time.

When we arrived, Heather already had a glass of champagne and was happy. Our waiter came over to our table, who'd interestingly enough been our waiter many times over at 2 Amys and had moved up in the world. "Whatever she's having is good enough for me. Thanks!"

The menu was what I was expecting -- a vast array of dishes that I can't get anywhere else, making it  impossible to choose. There's now an option to order what is called the "Degustazione", which puts you in the hands of Johnny for the evening. You get what Johnny thinks is you should eat; sometimes things from the menu, sometimes not. If he has a spare cut of meat in the back that he's experimenting with  it might just be on your plate at some point -- you never know.

"Degustazione" is more food than you receive for ordering the regular "Dinner" -- usually a couple meat and pasta courses each, and a couple more starters (or what they call mezzathakia), a cheese course, a dessert, and also includes a wine pairing for $150. The "Dinner" alone is now $78, a little more than it was the last time I was at Komi ($64), but still a steal for all the food you get.

With dinner you get a flight of several mezzathakia (or starters), a choice of pasta course and a choice of meat...and you get to choose your own dishes, but what's the fun in that. Since Heather doesn't eat red meat, we went with the regular "Dinner" menu instead, which turned out to be more than enough food for us.

The mezzathakia started coming out one at a time. First, the house-cured olives. These have become a staple at Komi, much like the dates filled with mascarpone or the speck-wrapped white tuna (R.I.P.). I can't think of a better way to start a meal. Next, some buttered radish topped with salmon roe and butter, cut to look like little fish. It was a great little bite of creamy salt and pepper.

Ever heard of Amberjack fish? Yeah, me neither, but Johnny was serving a simple Amberjack sashimi with sea salt, chives and Meyer lemon oil. Next came the dates filled with Mascarpone cheese. As I said they're a staple now. I can't remember not ever having them at Komi and I hope they never go away. I've attempted to recreate them on my own, but I've never been able to match the delicate flavor that Komi's kitchen produces. The mascarpone cheese was oozing out the side of the date oh so slightly and the date was warm and just slightly caramelized. MMMM!

The next delicacy to come out was a deep-fried foie gras fritter, probably about the size of a medium-sized marble with crispy breading and the nutty, sweet filling. After that, a mint and english pea panna cotta with a quail egg in the center. It took me back to the cauliflower panna cotta that I always would've ordered by the quart if I could, and this was better than that. It was like Spring in a Jello mold. Amazing.

I didn't think that anything could top the panna cotta, but then the next dish appeared and was probably the most odd combination of ingredients I've ever had -- charred octopus with sliced avocado, quail egg, on top of a mold of lentils and pig knuckles. The octopus was crispy and tender and when you mixed it with the rest of the ingredients it was a fabulous combination of texture and flavors - creamy, salty, meaty. I don't know if it was this dish that was suddenly made me start to cry or if it was that I had just realized how long it'd been since I'd eaten at Komi, but either way, I was in heaven. I wasn't balling and there weren't really tears, but Heather and Amy could tell I was moved. We all started to laugh a little. Amy said, "Now if only I could get him to react that way!"

After that, everything is a little fuzzy although I remember everything was equally amazing: a sardine with a salad of carrots, currants, capers, raisins, mint and pine nuts; a soft-shell crab fried in crispy Japanese panko bread crumbs, a peekytoe crab cannoli, and a mint fennel cucumber compote and quite possibly quite the best soft-shell crab I've ever had; a spoon with celeriac soup, sea urchin, and crispy fried sweetbreads (seriously, where does he come up  with this stuff?); and the Komi gyro with oxtail meat, a sweet yellow beet tzatziki and pomogranite glaze. That finished off the starters.

We were served three different pastas for the pasta course. My favorite pasta was actually the one that Amy was served, a fava bean and mint ravioli with lamb tongue ragu. I had an agnolotti (basically tiny ravioli cut in little cylinder shapes) that was served in a broth too salty for my tastes.

Entrees were better than ever. To accommodate Heather's diet, she was served an individual serving of the whole bronzini (Mediterranean sea bass) which normally comes in a portion for two. It's cooked in a salt dome to keep the heat even and give the fish an extra flakey texture. Amy and I shared the spit roasted kasikaki (or kid goat), a whole thigh of kid goat, roasted until the meat is falling off the bone, amazingly tender and juicy, and a smoky flavor that tops that of the old suckling pig that Johnny used to make.

I'd be missing half the meal if I didn't mention the wine pairings which Derek Brown described in great deal before each course. The wines are paired very well with the food and do a great deal to enhance the entire meal. If you order the pairings with dinner, it will cost you $50, but the pairing is included with the "Degustazione". My favorite pairing was an unfiltered 2004 Gewurztraminer from Lazy Creek Vineyards with a smoky fruit flavor and not too much residual sugar. There was also a slight acidic flavor that cut down on the fruit a little.

At a little over $400 for the three of us, it was quite an expenditure. Komi is still an incredible value and worth every penny, but it's solidly a special occasion restaurant for me now rather than the whim place it used to be. The increase in price is partially due to the success that Johnny Monis has had recently, but also because the menu isn't available a la carte anymore.

Komi
1509 17th St NW
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 332-9200
Map

Hours:
Closed Sunday and Monday.

Dress Code: Business Casual
Parking: It's very difficult to find parking in this area. There is a pay parking lot around the corner in an office building that's open until 12.
Smoking: Not Allowed.
Closest Metro: Dupont Circle
Reservations: Taken and recommended.
Baby-Child friendly rating: 1 diaper. I wish I could give it more but the atmosphere just isn't appropriate for a child.

 

Categories: Dupont Circle, Foodie Experiences, New American, Restaurant Reviews
Link To This Post

Adam

My wife and I have followed your exploits here for a long while now (lurkers that we are) but I just wanted to chime in because I did *exactly* what you did on Wednesday night. Skipped breakfast, took a friend to Komi with Leila, basked in Johnny's glory. His secret's getting out more and more, and prices are indeed moving up, but man, for those special occasions, there is no substitute.

Also, 2 Amy's is a gift from God.

We have eerily similar tastes sometimes :-).

Best,
Adam and Leila in Cleveland Park

Heather B.

BEST. MEAL. EVER.

Now I'm weeping. And Johnny, oh Johnny, le sigh. Thank you again.

tom

We went to Komi a couple of weeks ago, and the menu (the mezze included) was identical.

It was pretty amazing, though they cut out the cheese course in the set menu that had been there at our last trip in February.

SB

I've been reading your posts for over a year now, and love your taste in food. I'm completely obsessed w/ 2 Amys...in fact went there twice on the same day as you, but a little later in the evening :) I'm there at least every two weeks.

My husband and I are finally planning a Komi outing for our anniversary this summer. Do you recommend the wine pairings? Are the pours sufficent to keep you going through the courses?

Jason

The wine pairings are definitely worth while. Derek is a very good Sommelier and knows what he's doing.

Robert

Where exactly can I send my resume regarding the baby sitter position? For dinner at Komi I will gladly wash dishes and possibly mow lawns. LOL

I have been waiting anxiously for your review and it did not disappoint. Your site had much to do with my trying Komi for the first time. Which certainly won't be my last.

Also I tend to think the price increase is mostly due to seeking quality ingredients more so then the recent publicity.
My gut tells me that unlike many chefs Johnny welcomes the attention. But it is not his driving force by any means.

JoeHoya

Komi is a godsend. And, as such, I continue to cheer everytime Johnny gets good word of mouth for his amazing dishes.

Even so, I can't help but feel a twinge with each glowing review I read, because I know they're going to make it that much harder to get in next time I want to go!

Leonardo

I went to Komi for the first time last Friday and was amazed at how wonderful it was. The service was especially great: attentive but not intrusive and very knowledgeable about the food and wine.

JoeHoya

The praise for Komi keeps on coming. In this month's issue of Bon Appetit, they are listed as one of a dozen of the country's best "Small Restaurants, Big Ideas."

No interior shots from Komi in the magazine, but you can read the online version of the article here: http://www.epicurious.com/bonappetit/features/small_restaurants_big_ideas

SB

The price for Komi went up again!! Dinner $84 and Degustazione $105. They also changed their wine pairing option to 3 glasses for $36 and 5 glasses for $61. I'm finally going there for my wedding anniversary this Sat. I knew I shouldn't have waited this long.

Jason

We gotta get these magazines to stop giving Komi all this press. The price seems to go up everytime they get another mention. Latest one is Derek's mention in Wine and Spirits.

rmr

wow komi is getting so expensive. at 84$/person, it's now dangerously close to citronelle pricing...i remember eating there with my husband for less than 100$ total a year or two ago...

Rich From New York

I just felt I had to add a comment. In April 2006, I took a trip down to DC for the annual cherry blossom festival and was looking for a nice restaurant to eat at while in town with my girlfriend (now fiancee). At that time, your website and review helped me clinch my decision to make it Komi. The food was absolutely amazing, and I wanted to say a late thanks for helping me find my way there. If I am ever in DC again, I'm definitely planning to hit Komi up again, and it's always the place I recommend to people that I hear are going to DC.

Jason

Glad to be of service Rich and very glad you liked your meal at Komi, although I'm not surprised.

Neil

I will be dining at Komi in a couple weeks and was wondering does the $105 Degustazione menu include the wine tating too?

The comments to this entry are closed.