Words: Mark Aquino
Images: Mark Enriquez
Maketto – a resounding name when it comes to DC dining. Owned and operated by Chef Erik Bruner-Yang, a young local DC celebrity chef responsible for other successful eateries such as Toki Underground.
A couple of friends decided to visit Washington, DC to celebrate New Year’s Eve. While in town, they’ve decided to link up for lunch. We decided on Dim Sum, so naturally Maketto was the place to go. It was a first for some of us, honestly I was expecting a large food hall with dim sum carts circling around me. This wasn’t quite the case. Finding a parking spot was relatively easy (then again this was on a Sunday right after New Year). The restaurant is located on H street alongside other culinary places. If you feel like going on a food trip, this is definitely one of the places you’d want to visit.
The Maketto experience starts when you open the door, a sense of confusion suddenly hits you. Wait a minute, did I walk into the wrong place? Then as you look up beyond the boutique, you’ll see a familiar setting you were hoping for. Yes, this place has a retail storefront which is pretty awesome if you’d like to kill time browsing through while waiting to be seated. The wait was about 45 minutes for a party of well..many people. While waiting for the rest of our friends, we strolled upstairs to find a nice little cafe with a relaxed ambiance.
Few moments later, our buzzer vibrated and it was time for us to be seated! We were led straight back, past the bar and tables, through a door leading outside. My first thoughts were “But wait there’s more!”. We went out back where there was a long table waiting for us inside a heated tent. I was told that the space is usually open during summer time. We took our time going over the menu and ordered our drinks. I had the fusion Bloody Mary which had an interesting flavor to it. One of the ingredients was fish sauce.
On to the food! They came our fairly quickly. I highly recommend the Taiwanese Fried Chicken – fried chicken with a blend of flavorful spicy sauce paired with slices of bread (easily my favorite). Another one I’d recommend trying is the Steamed Leek Bao – similar to a pork bun but without the pork and has a curry like flavor to it. Both buns come with sweet but savory dipping sauces.
Among other favorites, we also got the Taiwanese Rice Soup which is similar to the Filipino’s “Lugaw”. Rice porridge with green onions and ginger. Toppings included sliced 100 year old egg which gives it a distinct salty flavor. For our steamed dish, we ordered the Pork and Shrimp Shumai and paired it with Pork Gyoza – both very tasty dishes. Our friend was feeling curious so he ordered a plate of 100 Year Old Egg with Tofu, that didn’t disappoint him at all. We also got to try the Crispy Fried Dumpling with Braised Beef. Overall, every dish was good, each one tickled my taste buds in its own unique way.
After the amazing meal, we decided to head out and grab ourselves a little treat. As we were discussing our next move, we saw award winning celebrity chef and his family walking out of Maketto – Jose Andres. He owns several restaurants in DC, Vegas and LA. Feeling a little star struck, our friends took pics with him. He was pretty awesome!
The next plan was to pay a visit to Momofuku’s Milk Bar for some tasty treat. Momofuku is pretty popular in New York City and have recently opened up shop in DC. They have a restaurant and a separate milk bar that serves cookies, cakes and the popular cereal milk soft serve. They are located on I Street. The line wasn’t terribly long, it just gets a little crowded because of its small venue. Our friends ordered the soft serve with crunch while I got the cereal milk shake (less messy). I recommend trying the cookies and their crack pie.
Ending our little food adventure, we stopped by the Christmas tree just outside of Momofuku and took a group pic. We’ve started the New Year with good food and great people. The best meals are those that consists of tasty food, great conversations and amazing company.
1351 H Street N.E.
Washington, DC 20002
Momofuku Milk Bar:
1090 I St N.W
Washington, DC 20001