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The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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VALENTINE’S DAY GUIDE: Caf? Asia caters to crowds

Originally Published 02/12/01

Every D.C. restaurant has its own unique qualities, whether it be a special dish, deal or atmosphere; and even a regular GW location can provide an inexpensive meal for a two-person date.

Caf? Asia has a genuine sushi bar that provides a spectacle for people waiting for tables. Bonafide sushi chefs cut, toss and roll the seafood delicacies, although the sushi itself would be classified as mediocre by D.C. standards.

Caf? Asia shares the crowded surroundings of many D.C. establishments, as servers race around the bottom floor and up and down the stairs. The restaurant’s busy atmosphere is well-suited for a night out with friends, but dinner conversation with a date may be stifled by the cramped ambience, and a private corner of romance is nowhere to be found.

The wait for a table is a little long if you are hungry, and there is no waiting area, so even a short wait is spent shifting around the sushi bar and making way for transient patrons.

While bouncing back and forth from surrounding tables, the waitress took our drink orders almost immediately, returned shortly to take sushi orders – which the customers fill out on a sheet resembling a miniature-golf scoring card – but took a while to return and finally take appetizer and dinner orders.

A winter breeze swept through the compressed cafe every few minutes as the door to the restaurant opened with incoming or departing diners.

The wait for our food was long, but interspersed with watching our college-aged neighbors doing saki bombs at their table before their food arrived.

By D.C.’s slow-service standards, the wait for the food was reasonable given the complexity and authentic presentation of the sushi, appetizers and entrees.

The menu is diverse enough to please a picky date, with ample assorted soups, salads, entrees and sushi to please the restaurant’s returning patrons. For newcomers, the menu’s diversity piques curiosity and interest, which will leave a date impressed with a wide selection of fine D.C. cuisine.

The presentation of Caf? Asia’s b?n (pronounced “bone”) was lovely. With a base of lettuce, sprouts and vermicelli (a long, thin, white Asian noodle) the carrots and spring rolls were complimented by mint leaves and basil. The dish would please the least adventurous of Asian food diners, the lime sauce was a bit spicy but the dish was overall pleasing to a tame palate.

For the animal friendly among us, Caf? Asia offers vegetable and tofu dishes up to par with any creature on the menu. The szechuan-style garlic sauce with fried tofu served with broccoli is easily manageable with chopsticks and absorbs the szechuan taste so perfectly the tofu-consistency is barely distinguishable in the dish.

The waitress waited until after we finished our dinner to refill our drinks, and she was probably too busy rushing around the narrow restaurant to harbor any complaints we might have had anyway. Luckily, both dishes surpassed expectations and proved the restaurant worth the outing for quality authentic dishes.

Caf? Asia is not the most romantic place in D.C., but is neutral enough for a casual date. The restaurant’s prices will not hurt the wallet, allowing a return visit for Valentine’s Day memories.

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