Komi is the best restaurant in Washington, DC.
It’s not up for debate, so don’t bother with it’s too expensive, or the decor is too simple, or worse, the menu is too limited. If you’re a foodie at even the lowest level, add it to your bucket list. Immediately.
Granted, Komi isn’t much to look at from the outside. My first time dining there I remember walking into the somewhat outdated and unassuming bi-level townhouse thinking, “don’t judge a book by its cover.” True to the proverb, once you step foot into this temple of culinary creativity, you are immediately transported to the Mediterranean – the decor is simple, the lighting soft, and polished servers briskly pace back and forth from the kitchen, situated at the restaurant’s far end.
Chef/Owner Johnny Monis adheres to the formula that less is more, and his presentations are technically flawless. Insanely fresh fish and seafood – in most cases presented raw – dominate at the start of the menu, leading way to family-style preparations of delicious roast goat and suckling pig (I prefer the less fatty goat) served with warm, house-made pita. Throughout the meal, diners are treated to a variety of flavors and textures, including one of the best pasta courses – cooked perfectly al dente – in the city. Other recent highlights included roasted, mascarpone-stuffed dates drizzled with olive oil and a riff on the classic DC half-smoke (Ben’s Chili Bowl should take notice). The leisurely paced evening concludes with some of the area’s best desserts, and Monis deserves credit for leading the current trend of adding sea salt to sweet courses.
I’m certain critics would agree it’s a crime that Monis hasn’t taken home a James Beard Award to date, considering he’s been a finalist for its Rising Star Chef each of the past three years, and this year for Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic. Maybe it’s because Monis isn’t a household name like Batali or Puck or, even locally, José Andrés. From an outsider’s perspective, he seems quite content just being a chef, without the “celebrity.” If you ask me, that’s just fine. After all, it’s really all about the food.
As you might expect, the service at Komi is spot-on. Most of the staff members are on the younger side, and you can tell that they enjoy doing what they do. Make sure you ask for a quick peak into the kitchen at the end of your meal to say hi to Johnny. He’s always a gracious host.
|Address:||1509 17th St., NW (P St.) Washington, DC 20036|
|Parking:||Street and Valet|
|Go for:||A once-in-a-lifetime dining experience; mascarpone-stuffed dates; any of the raw seafood preparations; scallop with truffle emulsion; any of the pastas; baby goat with house-made pita|