Some say there’s a sixth sense. This is debatable. What’s not debatable is that we have a fifth taste: sweet, salty, spicy, bitter and umami. Searching for umami can sometimes feel like a quest to find big foot or the abominable snowman. However, at chef-driven Sei in Penn Quarter, you don’t need to look any further than the dish in front of you. Almost every menu item has an earthy, delicious twinge to it, which can only be described as umami. For more information on this whimsical flavor, visit the Umami Information Center (we’re serious, this exists).
Our dinner at Sei was one of those meals where we felt pulled in different directions in selecting our top dish. Raw or cooked? Land or sea? Traditional or adventurous? After much debate, we arrived at the Best Thing on the Menu: Fish and Chips – Flounder, Malt Vinegar, Potato Crisps and Wasabi Tartar. This is already a critically-acclaimed roll, and we’d like to purchase two tickets aboard the fish and chips bandwagon! The Washingtonian, for one, calls this dish by world renowned Japanese Chef Noriake a must-try and CBS included it on their list of top fish and chips in DC. The freshest rare flounder we’ve ever encountered sits atop a roll of perfectly seasoned rice, complimented by all the traditional toppings you would find at a British pub.
Other notables included the S.O.S. roll, which featured the winning combination of salmon and strawberry; the miso caramelized kabocha, which tasted like Asian-inspired Thanksgiving; and the seared fatty tuna nigiri known as toro aburi. Although we didn’t have it on this Sei adventure, we’ve tried their sashimi pizza in the past and recommend it as a fun way to get the evening started.
Everything was plated beautifully, making it clear that they had a true artisan in the kitchen. However, the food wasn’t the only thing that was visually stunning. The white and gold decor felt regal, elegant and cool (and maybe even a little Miami). We’ll be back in just a few short weeks to try their new menu, and you should too.
Fish and Chips not your BTM? Post your favorites in the comments section.