Meaning “flavors” in Sanskrit, the restaurant Rasika has no trouble living up to its name. A modern twist on traditional Indian food combined with a trendy yet inviting atmosphere will be sure to wow all.
Owned and operated by restaurant tycoon Ashok Bajaj, owner of other D.C. eatery institutions including The Bombay Club, The Oval Room and Ardeo + Bardeo, Rasika has followed in the footsteps of its predecessors since it opened in 2005. Due to Rasika’s excellence, not only has Bajajbeen considered for the illustrious James Beard award but also have the restaurant’s chefs.
While getting reservations can feel like an uphill battle — I had to make mine months ahead of time — by the time your meal comes, it will have been worth the wait. As an avid lover of Indian food, traditional dishes and themes throughout the menu comforted me, while, at the same time, I was enticed by its unique and modern twists.
Going along with online recommendations, we started with the palak chaat, flash-fried baby spinach paired with a light yogurt sauce and date chutney. This dish was amazing —one of the best balances between sweet and savory that I have ever tasted. Even if you’re not the biggest fan of spinach, or dates aren’t your thing, I promise you’ll love this.
Such an amazing appetizer to start off with was a difficult act to follow; however, the tenderly cooked chicken makhani with a rich tomato-based sauce came close. Balanced nicely with a side of light and fluffy naan, this dish was a treat. Although presented beautifully, be warned: The richness of the dish, as well as others, could be overwhelming to some.
If you find yourself intimidated by the long list of unknown dishes with unfamiliar ingredients — as I did — do not worry. An extremely helpful and friendly staff will be happy to offer explanations of the whole menu, if that’s what you need. Rasika also boasts an extensive list of options for vegetarians.
Half the experience of going to Rasika is the atmosphere. Dimmed lights, warm earth tones, silk panels and hanging glass curtains create a modern and friendly atmosphere, appropriate for intimate dinnerdates and boisterous celebrations. Be aware though — it can get quite noisy at peak hours.
While I cannot sing Rasika’s praises enough, as a poor college student myself, I am obligated to tell you that while Rasika should definitely be on your to-eat list, its deliciousness comes with a price. Rasika should be considered more of a special occasion location, especially as it offers a nice getaway from the Georgetown neighborhood.
From the outside, Rasika looks like any other restaurant in the culinary-filled Penn Quarter, but venture inside and you’ll understand why it is a cut above the rest.