Masa 14: Spicy Tuna Nachos

Tuna Nachos

Masa 14 has a bright and shiny new chef de cuisine, Felipe Milanes, and he just rolled out (literally) a whole line of new sushi like the Rainbow Tropico Roll with tuna, hamachi, salmon, avocado and a mango-papaya salsa. But the Best Thing on the Menu isn’t in roll form however…it’s far more representative of the restaurant’s Latin/Asian fusion persona: Spicy Tuna Nachos. Thick, crispy wontons are dressed in their finest sushi attire: Generous chunks of spicy  tuna tartare plus avocado, cotija cheese, and salsa picante.

Foie Jita

The menu at one of the original 14th Street spots has gotten a whole lot more creative under Milanes, who hails from Panama City. For example, he dares to serve Foie Jitas, like the fajitas you used to get at Chili’s on high school first dates but with foie gras, shallots, poblano peppers, red peppers and guava creme. It ALMOST works. The guava crema is divine, but unfortunately overpowered by the red peppers and onions. Lose those and this dish is a 10.

Other can’t misses include the Scorpion Roll and Pork Belly al Carbon. Look for new menu additions to continue to stream in and await the Twitter war that always follows when favorites are taken off the menu to make room (Just ask Taylor Gourmet). Change is hard. Click here for more photos from the meal.

Spicy Tuna nachos not your BTM? Share your favorites in the comments section.

Toro Toro: Cachapas

Toro Toro Cachapas

If $79 doesn’t sound like a deal to you, give us a moment to change your mind. That’s how much the Rodizio Experience costs at Richard Sandoval’s latest iteration Toro Toro. By latest iteration, we mean they opened this week. We also dare to say it’s Sandoval’s best DC concept to date.

For that chunk of change you get unlimited small plates (there are 27 to choose from), unlimited sides (there are six), plus the entertainment of handsome young men visiting your table with skewers of seven different kinds of meat (and one hell of a grilled pineapple). Someone might want to get these strapping lads some cougar repellant though…

Toro Toro

The rodizio meats were all executed well, especially the chorizo, which tastes a bit like it made friends with a Kiełbasa. But, the Best Thing on the Menu is a small plate selection: Cachapas a.k.a. duck carnitas served under corn pancakes topped with oaxaca cheese and tomato jam. The good news is that you’ll be ordering this dish multiple times, so you’re likely to get the pronunciation down at some point. Wherever they eat this for breakfast, that’s where we want to move.

Another top pick from the small plates section is the seared seafood ceviche. Prawns, calamari, and scallops swim in a milky ginger, sweet potato broth that gets some help from habanero peppers.

If you want to experience Toro Toro with the vibe volume turned up to 10, check out the grand opening party featuring DJ Robbie Rivera from 10 PM to 3 AM on April 5th. Get your tickets here.

Cachapas not your BTM? Share your favorites in the comments section.

Zengo: Pork Carnitas Rice Noodles

Zengo Noodles
These noodles, tucked away in the bottom corner of the Zengo menu under “From the Wok,” have the holy flavor trinity of sweet, sour and spicy. The piercing acidity cuts through the runny messy egg that, when tapped, unfurls its yolk over a perfectly portioned pile of rice noodles dotted with chunky carnitas and flavorful veggies.

The Best Thing on the Menu: Pork Carnitas Rice Noodles  (pork / mushroom / cashew / egg / hot & sour sauce) comes in at a bargain price of $12 and if you use your imagination you can picture yourself purchasing the noodles from a very talented street vendor in Asia. The portion is also larger than all of the other Asian fusion tapas on the menu. Visit Zengo on your way to or from a game at the Verizon Center and plop down at the bar with an exotic cocktail and a pitcher of water to tame the spice.

Zengo is a Richard Sandoval restaurant so its DC friends include Masa 14, Ambar and El Centro. He also has several restaurants in Dubai! Traveling and want to visit a Zengo? They exist in Denver, New York and Santa Monica as well.

Another notable menu item are the duck tacos, which utilize lightly pickled daikon radish slices as the taco shell, making the dish gluten-free, paleo-friendly and probably any other fad-diet approved – unlike the official BTM which is not disguising its hit on your health.

Pork Carnitas Rice Noodles not your BTM? Share your favorites in the comments section.