Bourbon Steak Lounge should be shaken off—I was there for some cheap(er) food.
When I got an email offering me and a guest a FREE meal at MNY to try a new $25/pp three-course meal I decided to grab it. Several other Urbanspooners took the same bait - DC Socialite and Two DC, to be precise! The host told me they were also inviting prominent Yelpers. MNY wants the word out on the new menu, and I finally got to go inside this fabric-swathed themed establishment. This is somewhat of a test run for me – I like getting a run at new stuff, and I don’t doubt that I can provide an unbiased yet fully disclosed review. But we’ll see if it gives me just an icky feeling. So far I’m ok.
Mie N Yu is pretty obsessed with the Silk Road, which is another way of pretty much saying it's Asian fusion. Everywhere you turn is a different themed room. The Turkish Tent, the Moroccan Bazaar, etc. The spaces upstairs for events are spacious, private, and beautiful. I was told that the interior designer who worked on MNY went on to create interesting spaces like Brasserie Beck. While the variety can be interesting, not every diner wants to be so involved with a restaurant’s concept. Some just want to sit in a comfortable, beautiful (doesn’t hurt) space, and eat delicious food.
The menu being hyped up is the Blind Tiger, a 3-course tasting menu for $25. Off the bat I was impressed--that's certainly a deal. Also, the third course is NOT dessert, which made me glad. I often feel like dessert during Restaurant Week is a bummer---me want more food. Let's get down to it!
A bowl of edamame was a great start to our meal – some course salt on top, but not too much. I appreciated the extra bowl for the shells. It worked out better than awkwardly piling them on a side plate or something. We were offered more, but I didn't take 'em--gotta save some room.
For the first and second courses we just picked “one of each.” A salad with soba noodles, blue crab, and pickled quail eggs was cool and light for a hot summer day, and the rice vinegar dressing was quite tasty. The za'atar hummus was really good, but we probably could have used more pita. The ratio was off! Even though we really liked the hummus, part of me was like "Well, I make hummus at home all the time, I wish there was another choice..."
Second course we had lamb kabobs and Beijing style duck with little pancake wrappers. I think the lamb was my favorite dish! Flavorful, simple, and distinctive. Lamb is the bomb. The duck was good, but hoisin-drenched duck is hoisin-drenched duck, whether it's at Mie N Yu or in lettuce wraps at countless other places. It's just not special.
Third course was the Pakistani cinnamon and ginger striped bass (in a spiced yogurt casserole with tamarind scented basmati rice) and lamb, wild mushroom, and tofu fried rice. The striped bass wasn't what I expected--because of the yogurt and cinnamon I expected more of a korma-type flavor, sort of sweet and creamy. Instead, there was a citrus-y pepper-y bite to it. The fish was still nice, and J seemed to enjoy it a lot. The lamb dish was hearty and tasty. I can imagine digging into it on cold winter night; it was the epitome of comfort food. I felt like one overpowering (but good) flavor overwhelmed the dish--there wasn't much contrast.
We decided to grab dessert, too. We needed a well-rounded experience, and the pecan and chocolate croustade sounded like just the thing. One thing is for sure: it smelled positively divine. I was expecting the inside to be more gooey, like a nice warm pecan pie. It was warm, but the inside was not gooey. I didn't get much of a straight-up chocolate flavor, just sort of a charred nutty flavor. J doesn't really like the gooeyness of pecan pie, so he preferred the croustade the way it was. I liked the cinnamon gelato, local from Dolcezza :)
Several friends told me there was a “surprise” about the bathrooms, and even my server said that they were award-winning. (A sign explaining how MNY was voted Best Restaurant Bathroom in 2009 by the Express is unmissable on your way to the facilities.) After all that build-up for a unisex room of single-stalls and common sinks (and a mirror that definitely tricked me into thinking the whole thing was twice the size), I was just annoyed that the bowl sink filled with decorative rocks = splashing water all over myself. Some things in life, like bowl sinks, are somewhat beautiful but totally impractical. Also, the Best Bathroom in my book is one that doesn’t require taking the stairs (or an elevator…I’m looking at you Hotel Monaco/Poste). Especially if you have a few cocktails.
I’ll stop picking on the theme now, and instead tell you about how my heart swelled with joy when I saw Kluge wines (from Charlottesville) on the list. MNY is very focused on local. Their list of farms that they partner with is quite long – everything from lamb to produce to eggs is coming from nearby (check out a list at the bottom of the page here). But many restaurants tout their existence on the local train without giving a hoot to the grapes. I’m not saying you gotta wave goodbye to France, Italy, or even Napa Valley. I’m just saying if you’re going to be all we’re-local-this and we’re-local-that, the least you can do is carry one local wine. In my opinion. So good for MNY!
The reservation system is a little funky. I like my OpenTable. I have points, a login, and of course, the app. To set up another account with yet another company is just...ugh. Why. Also, my confirmation went directly to my Spam. C'mon guys, it's Gmail. Everybody's doing it.
Overall I had a good time at Mie N Yu; the food is fun, the atmosphere is different, and this $25 menu is definitely a good deal.
Mie N Yu
3125 M St NW
Metro: Blue and Orange Lines to Foggy Bottom or Rosslyn, walk or take the bus. Or take the bus from a convenient location near you.