Yin and yang or what?

After an hour a long day spent at the Postal Museum in Washington, D.C. gazing at the endless pull-out shelves of stamps from around the world, my dad, sister, and I were in dire need of dinner.  Especially after a mediocre meal at the yi ding hao “Southeast Asian” buffet for lunch, which was more like a Cantonese buffet with pho.  I mean, seriously?  Yi ding hao? “Definitely good?” Good what?  Good tasting?… sorry, but rubbery tea eggs and dry dim sum isn’t very appetizing.

I’d been dying to try out this small, three-store chain in D.C. called Teaism.  The reviews I had read on Yelp had been rather mixed, but after looking at the menu, I decided that I couldn’t forgo it without a taste.  Bento boxes, curries, and ochazuke (Japanese tea and rice soup)?! “Wholesome” food with vegetarian and even vegan options?  Irresistible ;)

We went to the restaurant in Penn Quarter, which had a rather serene dining room downstairs from the ordering place.  My dad wanted the plum ochazuke.  That was what I had set my eyes on, but I was happy to get something different (I’m a family-style girl).  It’s better to get something different just in case what you order is terrible, so at least you can steal share better food, right?  So I opted for the veggie bento box, which included grilled vegetables, sweet potato salad + miso sauce, tofu + toppings, edamame, and rice.  For drinks, my dad got the Teaism chai, and I got the genmaicha, green tea with toasted brown rice.

So basically, it’s like fast food–order and go, which I definitely wasn’t expecting.  My dad didn’t really like his ochazuke, probably because he didn’t expect the “plum” to mean umeboshi. He also put all of the tea into the dish.  Dad, I don’t think the tea mug they gave you with your meal was for purely decorative purposes.  Maybe you should pour some tea to drink.  Just sayin’.  I stole one of his umeboshi to taste, but I don’t know if tea-soaked is the best way to enjoy it.  :/

‘Tis a crappy, flashy picture of my order, which I tried to take discreetly.  I was discreet, yeah, but the photo looks terrible.  :(

I demand a well-lit section for people who want to take drool-worthy pictures of food.

I thought my picture bento box was rather meh. I didn’t expect everything to be freezing cold?  I mean, I did get grilled veggies–I’m picturing something warm with that “grilled”/roasted flavor.  This was more akin to chewing on cold… nothingness.  The edamame was quite underwhelming as well, but maybe that’s just a personal preference–I’m used to eating it either salted or dipped in soy sauce.  This was cold, unsalted, and soy sauce was nowhere to be found.  :(

The sweet potato salad was freezing, too, and it was way too sweet.  And miso?  What?  Where?  O_o  It was more of a donut glaze than a sauce, and I couldn’t taste the miso at all.  Orange sweet potatoes are already quite sweet on their own, and the glaze just put them way over-the-top.  If you look at the picture, there’s a pool of orangey-sugary looking stuff in the bottom right compartment.  Miso donut glaze.

Sadly, the tofu and rice were better than the all of the above.  The tofu was better-suited to being served freezing-cold, to say the least.  The rice was plain white with furikake, which probably had MSG, but it added TONS of flavor <3  (Was it wrong to expect brown rice from a place like this?)

On the upside, my dad and I really enjoyed the genmaicha. It had an underlying roasty, toasty flavor that I loved, like the mugicha (barley tea) that I refill cup after cup at Korean grocery stores :D  It was a great medley of flavors, with the toastiness of the rice cutting the bitterness of the tea somewhat.  I thought the chai tea was generic, but my dad didn’t like it.  He’s not one for sweet teas–save sweet milkiness for bottled Starbucks mocha frappucchinos.

I had ordered a salty oat cookie for dessert, but decided to take it home for a snack tomorrow.   Of course, I couldn’t resist a taste!  Despite a disappointing dinner, this was surprisingly good–buttery and not overwhelmingly sweet, with slightly crunchy, thick clusters of oats coating the outside and a chewy interior.  I think texture combo would have been even better if they had put coarse sea salt on top instead of regular table salt.

In short: mediocre.  If I go again, I’ll probably just get their “afternoon tea,” which consists of tea and a bunch of different pastries that all sound absolutely delicious, if the cookie was any indicator of the quality of their sweets. :)

EDIT: If anyone wants to win free stuff… go to Chocolate-Covered Katie’s blog. Naoo. ;)