It had truly been a minute since I have had a fancy meal at a new place in DC, and I have my girlfriend, Kate, to thank for changing that. She surprised me by taking me out to Himitsu, one of DC’s buzziest new restaurants, under the condition that I put my FDC writin’ shoes back on. I had seen Hitmitsu from afar once, noted the large line of people waiting out front, and immediately wanted in. The FOMO is real when it comes to the noms. Despite having to eat at old person dinner time (a 5pm reservation is another price you pay for buzziness), getting back on the FDC horse made me realize that I had left the old girl in the stable for too long. I am done with the weird cowboy themed metaphors now. On to Himitsu!
The first thing you notice when you walk into Himitsu is that it’s a lil place that does its best to seem bigger than it is. Lots of bright colors, open kitchen, and zen decorations all made the approximately 25 seat restaurant feel like it had at least like…32 seats. It was an interesting contrast to Bad Saint, which felt homey because it was so dark and intimate; Himitsu went the opposite direction and still felt very cozy. I am also always a sucker for small-to-medium sized plants being randomly placed around a space, which this place also has in spades.
We started out by perusing Hitmitsu’s drink menu, on which all the wines were created by women and all the cocktails were inspired by influential women. I went with the Singani Swoosh (inspired by BET co-founder Sheila Johnson) while Kate chose the Peanut Butter + Jelly (inspired by Patricia Andrés, the better half of badass chef José). Side note: I know you’re not supposed to define a woman by her husband, but I didn’t know who she was and the internet is NOT helpful in educating me. So cut me some slack. Anyways, my drink was gingery and limey and best described as “tasting like tingly”, and Kate’s legit tasted like PB&J. One of my favorite drinks of all time is the Pancake Breakfast, where somehow combining Jameson, butterscotch schnapps, and OJ somehow tastes exactly as promised. Another side note: I made fellow FDC-er Matt do one of those at his wedding without the schnapps or OJ (read: just Jameson) and we both almost threw up. It was pretty funny. Anyways, the PB&J did the same thing with pineapple, toasted sesame rum, and rice wine vinegar (minus the near ralphing) and that’s pretty cool.
Alright, back on track (it’s just a meandering kind of day, you know?). For our first course, we had the Hamachi Crudo, which our server informed us was one of the few dishes to survive the many menu changes since day 1. This was the kind of delicate dish where you bring each bite from the plate into your mouth real slow so you make sure you get all the components. The fish was buttery, and I poured the spicy, citrusy sauce all over mine. Also was replete with orange slices so beautiful that they would make youth soccer players weep. The sauce really stuck with you, in the most pleasant possible way. I found myself cutting each bite smaller and smaller to extend the experience. It was outrageous.
Next was a pair of panko fried oysters in a horseradish/parmesan cream sauce. This dish gets extra bonus points for presentation. The reusable oyster shells? The bed of rocks? It made me want to visit the alt-universe Willy Wonka factory where these oysters lived on the shore pre-fried and swimming in that sauce. It was basically like eating the most decadent fried air ever, if that makes sense. The food was barely there, but also it was. Some pretentious bullshit, I know.
The next plate was something I was super excited for, which was roasted carrots prepared elote style. I was really curious how well carrots could swap in for corn on this one, and they very much delivered. I liked to pretend I was eating the biggest corn kernels that GMOs ever GMO’ed. Hitmitsu’s chefs also nailed the elote spices and the crema. Also I don’t know if this was intentional or not, but some of the carrot pieces were very firm, others very soft. All definitely cooked, but the texture in each bite was always a surprise (in a nice way!). Like they always say, life is like a-plate-of-carrots-cooked-in-a-regional-manner-typically-reserved-for-corn, you never know what you’re going to get.
Near the beginning of the meal, one of our servers highly recommended the squash, Himitsu’s entirely vegan option. It was described to us as being inspired by and as hearty as an andouille sausage. I always like trying the veggie options at fancy restaurants, especially when they involve ingredients I don’t love (in this case, squash). Nine times out of ten, the chef makes me completely rethink what I thought about that ingredient. The only exception to that rule is dill. Dill is the absolute worst. Lucky for me this was one of those dill-less nine times. The sauce was smoky and really did remind me of the crappy grocery store andouille sausages I eat on the regular (but like…good). The squash even had an almost meaty texture to it. The crunchy, crispy, fried sunflower seeds? What even was that? Hitmitsu managed to elevate sunflower seeds far beyond their usual role of being sucked and spit out by gross high school baseball players. And then there were some shallots and fried sage leaves just causing havoc. It was magical. Apparently this dish was a happy accident where a sauce had been created without a good pair. Even the whoopsies at Himitsu are great!
All of these dishes led up to the grand finale, the chicken karaage. This was truly one of those masterpieces where the whole was greater than the sum of its parts. We were first delivered a build-your-own-mini-sammie platter of chicken, biscuits, mayo, and house-made pickles (sans dill – woo!). The chicken had a chili glaze that was just excellent and tempered by the mayo and pickles. And those biscuits. Paul Hollywood would have given so many handshakes for those perfect buttery layers. I know it’s become a really cliche thing to do, referencing Paul Hollywood any time one encounters good bread, but he would have loved-not-liked them so back off, okay! My only very minor beef with this dish is that there was not enough biscuit, pickle, and mayo to make sandwiches out of all the chicken. I mean the chicken was delish and we were very full so I didn’t feel gypped on food, but as I said, this was all about the combo of all the elements.
There were very few things to pick at during the entire meal. Other than the slight chicken-to-biscuit ratio mismatch, neither Kate nor I really enjoyed our second cocktail (we both ordered the same thing). Despite having very similar ingredients to the Singani Swing, instead of tasting like “tingly”, it tasted like “this drink is attacking my mouth.” It was called Finding Nori (so maybe it was just a classic Ellen prank), but it has disappeared from the menu online, so probably a moot point. The bartenders are still spittin’ fire. What matters, though, is that we went 5/5 on the Clean Plate Club for the evening. And that’s really all Himitsu needs to earn the coveted 4 out of 4 om noms from this irregular food blogger. I will go all in on old person dinner time from now on if this is what it gets me.