Wandering around DC before seeing Jersey Boys at the National Theatre, my family and I happened upon Asia Nine Bar and Lounge. The restaurant was practically empty, which didn’t inspire confidence, but it was barely six in the evening on a Thursday night so we decided to give it a try. We were greeted with smiles as soon as we entered, and the service remained impeccable the entire evening. My mouth started watering as soon as I opened the menu, which has a collection of Asian fusion dishes. The quiet, relaxing yet elegant décor was the perfect atmosphere for a sleepy Thursday night before a show.
Asia Nine offers a wide variety of small and entrée sized dishes, and a sushi bar. For you sake fans, there is a plethora of brands to choose from. We decide to pass on drinks. (Falling asleep at the theatre is so not cool.) After much deliberation we settled on three of their small plates and two entrées which we ate family style. Presentation from start to finish was perfect. Unfortunately the same can’t be said for flavor. Most dishes were wonderful, while others just didn’t work.
Our first appetizer, the Peking Duck Roll, was one of our favorites. The meat, wrapped with cucumber, scallions, and hoisin sauce was delicious, but it was the Indian Roti wrapper that had me. I would have been content with a basket of the bread for dinner. The Asian Shrimp Ravioli, served with a sesame-sake crème was Debra’s favorite. I loved the ravioli, but found the sauce a little too rich and plentiful for the three small bites swimming in the bowl. The Nuta Salad, which contained a variety of fresh raw fish, sliced cucumber, and seaweed, was our least favorite dish of the evening. There was also no mention in the menu that the sesame sake and miso dressing was spicy. Had we known, we would have ordered something different as only half of the family enjoys spicy food.
Our two entrees, chosen from the list of signature dishes got split reviews. Julie and Bruce both loved the Korean Sizzling Beef, which we heard coming long before we saw it. The sliced and marinated sirloin came to the table sizzling and bubbling with a smattering of vegetables. It smelled lovely, and the taste was reminiscent of Korean barbeque, but not quite. The Grilled Salmon with New Style Udon consisted of a grilled salmon fillet laid across a bed of Japanese udon noodles. Debra and I loved the flavor of the light sauce, which didn’t taste particularly garlicky or creamy despite the description. There was just enough of it to flavor and coat all the noodles without being soupy. Bruce didn’t care for this dish at all and Julie wasn’t thrilled with it either.
Dessert, which is ordered and served through a different waitress, was the highlight of the meal. We found two to share from their limited selection. Thai tiramisu, a layered chocolate, coffee and almond confection was light, rich, and full of flavor. I made sure to run my fork across the chocolate & caramel sauce crisscrossed over the plate with each bite. The real winner was the Sticky Rice with Fresh Mango, which wasn’t even on the menu. The creamy and coconut flavored rice was absolutely wonderful, especially paired with fresh mango.