Tasting tea and ethnic delicacies

Teaism at Penn Quarter
400 8th St. NW

Teaism offers real ethnic food, real fast, for a price that won’t burn a hole in your pocket.

With a casual dining atmosphere, the restaurant welcomes you to the cashier first. Place your order, and then find your table. Within minutes, your number is called and you are enjoying a warm bowl of Thai chicken curry or udon noodle soup.

For a price similar to Panera’s, you can expect to find much more than a sandwich or a cup of soup. From bento boxes to various hot and cold noodle dishes, to sandwiches and kebabs, this restaurant has all things Asian inspired, including the afternoon tea menu.

I sampled three very different dishes and the famous Thai style bubble tea, for $3.15, sweetened with milk. I ordered the salmon bento box for $9.25, complete with chilled teriyaki salmon, a cucumber-ginger salad, edamame and steamed rice. The salmon, while very flavorful, was a little too chilled for my liking. It wasn’t as soft and buttery as a traditional salmon dish, and I could tell it had been sitting in a fridge for quite some time. The cucumber salad was light and refreshing, and the rice was topped with a flavorful combination of seaweed, sesame seeds and powdered ginger.

Next, I tried my friend’s Korean barbeque beef with spicy cabbage and brown rice, for $11. The beef was especially tender and juicy, as if it had been braised all day. The spicy cabbage tasted very authentic. It was crisp yet soft, sweet yet acidic. I also tasted the Thai chicken curry, $9, and was impressed that, despite having been sitting out on our table while we sampled other dishes, it was still at the perfect temperature. Tender chicken floated in a bath of coconut milk-based yellow curry, crunchy jicama, carrots and green beans. The combination of flavor and texture was exceptional. The sticky rice was more of an afterthought, but I didn’t think the dish needed anything to supplement. I definitely enjoyed the curry the most, and I wish I had ordered it as my main course.

The calm atmosphere and dim lighting mixed with the sweet smell of a variety of freshly baked oat cookies is welcoming no matter the time of day, and the array of meal options is sure to satisfy any customer.

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