Sei: Fish and Chips

Sei Fish and Chips

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.

Land and Sea Sushi at Sei

Land and Sea Sushi

Maple Miso Kabocha at Sei

Maple Miso Kabocha

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.

Out of Town Edition – Baume & Brix (Chicago)


This is the first Best Thing on the Menu: Out of Town Edition.

BTM took a trip to one of the food capitals of the country – the windy, deep-dish city of Chicago. With one night to shoot for the culinary stars, BTM headed to newcomer Baume & Brix.

The concept behind Baume & Brix is that each item on the menu, including desserts, incorporates both sweet and savory flavors. The restaurant is appointed like most in Chicago, with a melting pot of exposed brick, industrial steel and polished wood – a terrific backdrop for a melting pot of a meal.

The Best Thing on the Menu: Octopus in the Style of Fun Dip was a treat. The sous-vide (the clever cooking technique involving vacuum-packed plastic bags) then grilled octopus comes ready to dip in three different powders. First you roll a tentacle in a small trough of olive oil, then you choose between a coconut lemongrass power, spicy curry powder and a smoky umami paprika powder. All are outstanding.

While not Alinea or Top Chef owned Girl & the Goat, Baume & Brix is creative, modern, unpretentious and elegant. Adorably, their menu is divided by Explore, Summit, Conquer and Divide.

Been to Baume & Brix in Chicago? Share your favorites in the comments section.