Tonight's Awesome Laotian Pop-Up at Toki
I was lucky enough to snag a reservation for tonight's Laotian tasting menu at Toki Underground (2nd floor of 1234 H Street) tonight. First, I love Toki for the awesome ramen and dumplings, but tonight was something special. H Street is blessed with many terrific restaurants, and one of the fun things that many of them do is special dinners. The pricing for such dinners (tonight came to $88 with tax, pre-tip, once I added the suggested drink pairing) means that they are a rare splurge for me. But, in my experience, they are well worth it. This one certainly was. I love the fact that we have such a thriving culinary scene on H Street.
The area has changed so much since I first moved to the neighborhood in 2001. I can grab a quick bite at Shawafel, or Horace and Dickie's, or sit down for a different experience at Boundary Road, or The Atlas Room. I sometimes feel that everything I need is right here. Yet, I digress. Here's what I ate (with a friend, and neighbor) tonight (sorry for any blurry cell phone photos, but you get the idea):
This was a sausage served with a slight spicy dipping sauce. That stuff on the leaf is a tomato chili paste.
Crispy fried rice balls, coconut, peanuts, and maybe lime? You wrap it in a lettuce leaf to eat it.
A super spicy papaya salad with tomato and lime. I'm not a spice wimp at all, but I had to take a break mid-way through this one. Even so, we left not a bite on the plate. Oh, I think they said that fried thing was pig ear.
This was a delightful duck dish that you eat on top of a lettuce leaf. Like everything else we tried, it was full of flavor (but, thankfully, not spicy).
This is the pickled fish. Served with mushrooms, chilies, and crispy lime leaf. This was far and away my favorite dish of the night. Simply out of this world delicious. If I could only eat 10 or 15 dishes for the rest of my life, this would be among them.
Next up was a curried fish stew. This was excellent as well, but I was still reeling from the pickled fish delight. I worried about the dill (about which, I am generally iffy), but I was wrong. The balance was perfect.
Our dessert course was a most decadent coconut tapioca concoction with glutinous rice cake bites. Yum. But I had to box it up after a taste. I was stuffed.