Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Teaism in Dupont, DC

Imagine this: you have a thirty minute lunch break. You want something that is quick and casual, but still with made-to-order restaurant quality (meaning not Chipotle-esque food). You just happen to be in Dupont Circle (or Penn Quarter, Lafayette Park, or Old Town). So what do you do? Go!

Answer: Teaism.  

Teaism serves Asian fusion cuisine with a markedly healthy, vegan/vegetarian/gluten-free friendly spin. The restaurant concept is quite unique. You place your order and pay at the counter, wait for the couple chefs to make your food on the spot, and then proceed to carry your own food to your seat, grab some utensils, eat, chat, lounge around, and leave whenever you're ready. 

Look at all that wok hei! Hint: that's why restaurant Chinese food always tastes so much better than homemade. Secret is in the way the chef controls the heat.

I'm really diggin' how everything is made right in front of you.

Salmon ochazuke // cooked salmon + cabbage + radicchio + cilantro +carrots // 10.50

The ochazukes are described as a Japanese rice and green tea soup. The bowl comes to you with various toppings over dry rice and a small pot of hot green tea and it's up to you to pour as much or little as you wish. Typically eaten in Japan as a light snack, the serving at Teaism is substantial enough to fill me up for lunch without leaving me feeling overly bloated. I only wish the salmon was warm because the cold salmon + hot tea only left me with a lukewarm "soup".

Udon noodle soup with shrimp // large noodle soup with spinach + scallions + ginger // 12

Zhenzhou pearls // 3.40

The udon soup was not as sweet as typical udon, but nonetheless very good and perfect for the absolutely brutal weather. The zhenzhou pearls is Teaism's version of bubble tea and word on the street is that they make their boba in house, which I'm totally enjoying. The tea is on the weaker side, very milky, mildly sweet, and bubbles are slightly softer than I'm used to.

Jasmine creme brûlée // 4.50

Funny story about the creme brûlée: the entire meal I sat there waiting patiently for my friend to crack open the caramelized shell. As soon as she did, I grabbed it out of her hand, pulled out my camera, and started photographing it. She sat there with a flabbergasted for a minute before proceeding to snapchat me. 

Getting back to the creme brûlée though, I only got a taste of it, but my gosh it was so tasty! After cracking through the glass-like candied crust, the underneath custard was absolutely silky and luscious with a rich, milky note. Unfortunately I didn't get any of the grassiness or fragrance from the jasmine, which I felt like would have been very appropriate given the heavy nature of the custard. Nonetheless, it was a great bite to end the meal with!

While Teaism serves a substantial-sized menu, they are self described as a tea shop and does sell several varieties of teas to drink in house or brew at home, along with beautiful cast iron tea pots.

While Teaism is a bit on the expensive side for self-serve, I did enjoy my visit and can see myself returning again when I'm in the mood for some healthy Asian-inspired food before hopping over to get some work down in a nearby coffee shop. Oh, and I do want to try their breakfast menu sometime!

Teaism on Urbanspoon
400 8th Street NW 
Washington, DC 20004