The Rickey, a summer refresher created by adding half a lime to bourbon
and sparkling mineral water, was invented in 1883 at the well-known D.C.
watering hole Shoomaker’s. These days, a 15-floor luxury hotel stands
on the site: the original JW Marriott, built in 1984 as a homage to company
founder J. Willard Marriott. The JW MARRIOTT WASHINGTON, DC has
newly renovated rooms (featuring tweed easy chairs and hardwood foyers)
and a state-of-the-art wine dispenser in the concierge lounge. In a nod to
tradition, the 1331 Lounge in the lower lobby serves the Rickey as its
trademark drink—the ideal start to enjoying the city’s thrilling dining scene.
Drink it in
I’ve often wondered why ethnic food in Washington
wasn’t as good as that in New York or San Francisco. The
city’s working-class immigrants are buttressed by an
international community of foreign-service officials and
executives that knows authenticity when it tastes it. After
a week of eating, I’m ready to say D.C. is nearly there.
“People here are more open to try things than even a few
years ago,” says Luangrath, who arrived in 1989. “We
couldn’t have had a restaurant like this before now.”
hese days, Japanese restaurants in
the U.S. can specialize in a particular
type of cuisine, as they do in Japan. One
night I visited Izakaya Seki in the U
Street corridor. I sat at the bar, which
is what you do at an izakaya. I drank
sake from a list that could have been
lifted from the streets of Tokyo, and I ate beef tongue
and chicken meatballs, pan-fried seaweed with fish cake
and grilled mackerel served with grated daikon radish.
“Only what you’d find in a genuine Japanese izakaya,”
stressed Cizuka Seki, whose father was running the
kitchen with a brisk efficiency in front of me.
Jonah Kim’s Yona, a quick Metro or taxi ride away in
Ballston, Virginia, is different. It has the neon sign, wood-beamed ceiling and concrete floors of a traditional ramen
bar. But it also plays the Talking Heads and B-52s—and
serves a sea-urchin waffle with ricotta cheese. The dish
not to miss is a Japanese/Korean hybrid that reflects
Asia’s cross-cultural currents. There’s no broth in Ja-Jing
ramen, just hand-pulled noodles coated in a deep, dark,
umami-rich bean sauce that tasted like it had been simmering on the stove since Kim’s grandmother was young.
Maketto is even further out philosophically, but equally
impressive. It includes a clothing shop that sells expensive
sneakers and nylon jackets while a coffee bar upstairs
peddles muffins and flaky croissants. But the real reason
to venture out to H Street Northeast is for Sunday dim
sum, when elegant little jewels like a firm chive and